Shortly after our second child was born, we were at a fundraising event. I was sitting at the back of the hall, having just finished feeding my new-born, when a lady came over to me and said, ‘Oh what a privilege and a blessing to raise a son for the Lord!’
I looked at my sleeping baby and beamed with pride. Yes, I am indeed raising a son for the Lord. What a privilege!
Later that same evening, while tucking my first-born daughter into bed, I began to wonder if raising a daughter for God is any less of a privilege than raising a son. Is it not just as important? Solomon seemed to think so. He saw that all children — whether boys or girls — are blessings from God: ‘Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth’ (Psalm 127:3-4).
As I raise my children, I want to remain mindful that, God willing, I am raising someone’s wife and someone’s husband. At our wedding, my husband promised to love, honour and cherish; I promised to love, honour and obey. Our vows are similar, but distinctly different, one for a man and one for a woman. Now as I discipline and encourage my children, I do so with these vows in my mind.
I want my son to learn to love as Christ loved us, not with a mushy romantic love, but a deep-rooted, committed love. I want him to know that God loved us even though we failed him. He loved us enough to lay down his life for each one of us.
I want my son to learn how to love in purity, how to resist being swept away by a simple feeling and emotion. I want him to learn to use God’s Word as a guide for how to love and be loved. I want to teach my son to honour God first above all else, to seek him with all of his heart.
Solomon urged parents to ‘train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22:6). I want him to be a man of honesty and integrity, a man after God’s heart. To do this he needs to store God’s Word in his heart, so that he uses it, even unconsciously, as his standard to live by.
What about ‘cherish’? The dictionary meaning is ‘to protect, to care lovingly, hold dear, to be fond of or be attached to’. I want both my children to cherish God’s Word, to hold it dear, to be attached to it (Psalm 119:11). Hopefully, neither of my children will remember a time when Bible reading and praying were not an everyday part of their lives.
I love hearing my three-year-old ‘read’ a book. Even though she cannot read, we hear her reciting her memory verses. As I raise my son to be someone’s husband, I want him to see my husband cherish me. I want our children to see their father provide for us, love us and protect us.
I want my girl to know that she is a daughter of the King of kings. I want her to know that she is loved beyond measure. I aim to teach her that love is not simply an emotion; it is an action to benefit others. I want her heart to be filled with love for God’s Word, so she will guard her heart with that great two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), keeping her heart pure.
Honour for a woman means something a little different. It holds the meaning of chastity and purity. As a daughter of the King, I aim to teach my girl modesty and purity. I want her to become a Proverbs 31 woman. If I can teach her to honour God first in her life, then all else should follow.
I want my daughter to know that purity, chastity and modesty are all positive things — even in a world where often they are seen as negatives. As I teach her to look for a husband — yes, a husband, not a boyfriend — I will teach her to look for a man who honours God and puts him first in all that he does.
Then there is obedience. This concept has fallen out of favour for wedding vows. A few eyebrows were raised when we chose to use this in our wedding vows. I don’t want my girl to be a push-over, never able to make her own choices. But I want her to learn to see her father and then her husband as the head of her home.
Obedience is not simply blindly following someone; it is trusting someone, trusting that they will not lead you out of God’s will. As a woman, my daughter has been created to be a helper for her husband (Genesis 2:18), not a hindrance or a distraction. If I can teach her to love God with all her heart, to follow him and to make his Word her standard, obedience should follow.
Yes, I have slightly different standards for my son and daughter. After all, men and women have each been created for very specific tasks. I am raising both children to be God’s children.
Do I love one more than the other? Absolutely not! Both children are miracles given by God. Both are a blessing. I have the privilege of raising a daughter and a son for God. I have the privilege of teaching them to love and honour a living Saviour, my Lord Jesus Christ.
Hannah Butt is married to Daniel, who is the pastor of Fairview Bible Church in Canada, and they have two children. Hannah and Daniel both studied at Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh. This article first appeared in First, the magazine of the Faith Mission, and is used here with kind permission. (Pictures used here are solely for illustration.)