When I picked up Vicki Courtney’s book Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter, my first instinct was to recoil a little bit.
The title didn’t sit well with me. Essentially, the author is saying, to be a good parent you absolutely “must” have these specific conversations with your kid. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of awesome parents walking around out there who have not specifically had these five conversations with their daughters, and they are doing okay.
But despite my initial criticism, I really liked the book. In fact, I decided to also check out Courtney’s counterpart book, Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Son.
The Daughters book suggests the following five conversations:
- You are more than the sum of your parts. We should help our daughters navigate what our culture says about beauty because it’s often not true. Courtney covers topics like body image, clothing choices, and setting a positive example.
2. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Courtney discusses fashion, media, online communication, and other things. A girl’s friend group is key to helping her navigate the growing up years, without growing up too fast. I personally appreciated Courtney’s perspective and tips on dating, since I feel like that season might be just around the corner for us.
3. Sex is great and worth the wait. I appreciated Courtney’s insight, gleaned from years of counseling numerous girls, in addition experiences with her own daughter. Even sheltered children will be exposed to a lot of things, and parents should be mindful about all of this and know how to equip our kids.
4. It’s okay to dream about marriage and motherhood. Our culture is increasingly anti-marriage. We have always tried to promote marriage as a wonderful and happy thing, while also encouraging our girls to be purposeful and not fixate on it.
5. Girls gone wild are a dime a dozen—dare to be virtuous! Here, again, we need to teach our kids to be different and stand up for what they believe in. We need to teach our kids that their reputation and character matter.
The Sons book also suggests five conversations:
1. Don’t define manhood by the culture’s standards. It’s okay to be a man! We need to nurture our boys’ hearts, while also encouraging them to be the godly men they were created to be.
2. What you don’t learn to conquer may become your master. I loved this section because I am definitely seeing a lack of self-control right now in my own son. Courtney encouraged her boys to “Stop, think, pray” before taking action.
3. Not everyone’s doing it! (And other naked truths about sex you won’t hear in the locker room.) Again, like in the Daughters book, Courtney gives the plain truth about what our boys (yes, even more sheltered, Christian boys) are exposed to, and are going to go through, and how we can have necessary conversations to help them navigate all of it.
4. Boyhood is only for a season. P.S. It’s time to grow up! It’s a little ironic that, in the Daughters book, one of the conversations is about how to avoid growing up too fast. In the Sons book, it’s the opposite. We want them to grow up, because many boys have the opposite problem! Courtney has great tips for coming up with a plan to help your boy “launch” into manhood. She says parents should have a timeline for when this will happen, and stick with it.
5. Godly men are in short supply—dare to become one! Courtney says we should train our sons to be men of integrity and dare to be different than the cultural norm. We should train them to be gentlemen.
It is interesting to me that both the Daughters book and the Sons book ended with a call to be different from our culture.
I think it’s crucial to raise children who can stand up for their values and “be different” when they need to be. I try to tell my kids: “We are different. We don’t just do everything other people do. Our choices are going to look different because of who we are, and because of our values.”
Although I initially balked at the titles of these books, the more I think about it, the more I tend to agree with the author. These conversations are probably all necessary for my husband and I to have with our children, and not just once or twice. We need to talk to our kids repeatedly about these important topics.
What are some important conversations that you want to have with your children? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Anna Soltis. Following photo courtesy of author.