I think a lot of it was really, it's just so much of like the media. It just affects you because you just see all this stuff on TV and all these commercials of these women looking so perfect and you're like, oh, okay, if I want to be beautiful, I have to look like that. Even though they are photoshopped and you know, everything, like that's not even real.
That's not even them. That is an example of just one of the many lies that women of all ages believe. And it doesn't start when you're an adult.
It begins when you're much younger than that. And we'll be talking about that today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and our guest is Dana Gresh. She'll point out some of those lies and how you can talk them through with your daughter.
Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller. John, I have all sons, so this is not my experience. I wish I would have had at least one daughter, but it didn't happen.
I know you have three daughters. Describe that season when they were in their tween years. Was that pretty difficult? And did you and Dana have help in fighting those lies that they might have been believing? Well, we had plenty of help because, of course, I work here at Focus on the Family, so a treasure trove, as you call it, of resources.
But we did have plenty of challenges. The relationship that they had with their... Opportunities. I like that.
There you go. I think one of the biggest opportunities we had with regard to lies was to help them realize it's not how you look, referring to that clip there. It's not what you do.
We love you for who you are. And that's not a lie that is easily countered. The culture seems to just say it's all about who you are, what you do, what you say, how you look. Well, and that well can be so deep that parents can't even keep it filled in their daughter's hearts.
You can do the right thing all day, and it's such a cavernous well that they don't feel adequate, they don't feel beautiful, whatever it might be, that you need God's help to help them fill that void. You know, that relationship between mothers and their daughters is so, so special, and mothers want to get those conversations right so their daughters will open up to them and talk about different things that are going on in their lives. Tweens face so many lies when it comes to their friends, both boys and girls. Today, we are going to concentrate on the girls. So it's vital that parents have these conversations.
Dads play a critical role as well with the daughters, obviously, too, with their sons. But again, we're going to concentrate on Dana's great book today. Yeah, Dana Gresh is a seasoned guest here. It's been a while since we've had her here, but we're so glad to have her back. She's the founder of the ministry, True Girl, and co-hosts a podcast for Revive Our Hearts and is a speaker at a number of women's events. She has two great books for us to talk about today. One is called Lies Girls Believe and The Truth That Sets Them Free.
And then there's a companion volume, A Mom's Guide to Lies Girls Believe. So we'll cover a lot of ground here. And if you want to learn more, stop by the show notes.
We've got all the details there for you. Dana, welcome back. It's good to see you. So good to be back. It's been a little while, but it's wonderful to have you back in Colorado Springs. Hope you enjoy the beautiful weather. It is beautiful.
Hey, let me let me get right at it. You start off in the books talking about the insecurity that crept up on you. What happened and how does it relate to the lies girls are told about friendship? Well, I think every woman, I don't know if men experience this, you'll have to tell me feels lonely. At some point, we feel like we don't have enough friendship or the right kinds of friendship or we hear about somebody else's great connection and best friend and we're like, I don't have that.
It's a craving in our heart that really ultimately is reminding us of our need for friendship with Jesus. But I experienced that recently. Not recently, but when I was writing the book, I was just having one of those days. I was like, I don't think anyone likes me. I probably got some hate mail or something from somebody that started me on a spiral. And you know, you play that tape in your mind of all the negative thoughts that have ever been said, all the negative things you've ever thought. And that was playing in my head. And I don't know why, but I specifically thought of my friend Laura Booze.
And I thought, I bet she doesn't like me. Now, I'm dramatizing here. I'm not that childish. But who am I kidding? Yes, I am.
I was that childish. And, you know, I just finally I said, Lord, I'm coming to you with my loneliness. I'm coming to you with this sadness.
What do you want to teach me? And I had a great time with the Lord that night. The next morning I walked into my office and would you believe it? My friend Laura Booze, who I hadn't heard from for months, there was a note on my desk from her that she had dropped off that morning that just said, I don't know why, but God just had you on my heart today. I wanted to tell you how special of a friend you are to me.
That's amazing. But you know what that showed me is it really is a God is driving us with our loneliness and our fear of missing out and all of those things to him. And as moms, we have to run to him for those things and be really careful that we don't try to give our daughters an artificial fix when he is using loneliness to draw our daughters to him. Yeah, you know, I'm back at your comment there about, you know, the differences between men and women. And I think it's interesting, of course, all the books out there, you know, Venus and Mars and spaghetti and waffles, men and women are different. But men do have an incredible capacity to compartmentalize. Yeah.
And I think that that works for us. You know, they talk about men that go to war like World War Two, they could have seen horrific things. They never talk about it again, they lock it away in some compartment in their head and in their emotions, which they should not do. Correct. We should say it's not healthy, but it is kind of the wiring that we have that if we are in a bad spot, we just kind of lock that door of our heart and throw the key away.
Right. And it may come up in different ways. Women are so interconnected in their brains and their emotions, that spaghetti factor, you know, just wiring everywhere. Well, one of the interesting things is the part of the brain that really processes relationship and friendship and connection. The thalamus it male brain is two to three times larger, just because you know, men have more weight, more mass, so they have more weight, more mass in their brains, but this, their brain is not two to three times larger, their brain is larger. This part of the brain, the thalamus, which is kind of in the center of the brain and it helps us relate and remember and have friendship is two to three times larger in the female, even though the male brain is generally a bit larger. So God has even just given us more geographical space to experience friendship and relationships.
And that's why it hurts more when those things aren't going quite. Total sense. I mean, I see that my, you know, conversations with Jean and she'll tell me about her friends and I can't remember who suggested this, but this is a great idea for the guys listening.
Ask your wife how her relationships with her girlfriends is going. And it's, it's a, I mean, I thought you've done it. Yeah. Jean was like, wow, she just started sharing all this stuff. And you know, at some point went, wow, I didn't, I didn't know I'd get that much information, but it's a great question. So that's a good opener. What is the first lie that was told to Eve in the garden?
I think we all, if we've read the story, we kind of know it, but it played to her emotions. Describe that the way you process. Well, can you imagine life before lies and deception? It's hard.
Yeah. And the beauty of that place they lived in and they're cocooned in fellowship with God. They walked with God every day in the cool of the afternoon.
They walked with him. What an, what a gift that they experienced friendship with their creator. And then Satan comes disguised as a snake. And the book of John says that he is a liar and he is the father of all lies. Every lie you've ever heard originates with one source, Satan. He is the father of them. And he comes with that first lie to Eve. And think about this. It's this beautiful garden full of trees, right? And God has given them some instructions. You can eat of every tree in the garden.
So many to choose from. I don't know what kind of trees, but there are a lot of trees, right? And he says, this one tree is the only one is that's off limits. So what God had given to them was far more significant than what he was withholding. There's a lesson in that for somebody today, but Satan comes and what does he try to tell Eve? He essentially tells her, did God really say?
So he makes her question, right? And she starts to embellish what God says. And she says, God said, we can't even touch the tree or we'll die. God didn't say that. He didn't say, don't touch the tree.
He said, don't eat from it. There's legalism from the beginning. We see legalism alive and well, we take God's rules and we make them a bigger rule than they really are. Don't do that in your parenting. Don't do that in your parenting. Rules without relationship are so damaging to the heart of a child. But right from the beginning we see we had a proclivity for that. And what Eve ultimately believed, I think at the base of that tree is the first lie we write about in Lies Girls Believe.
I should say Nancy DeMoss Walgamuth helped me a lot with forming this book. God is not enough. God is not enough. I need that piece of fruit because if I have that piece of fruit, I'm going to be like God, right?
That was the lie she believed. And that's really the lie that all of us believe when we reach for whatever it is, when we reach for food, when we reach for the remote control, when we reach for our phones to scroll mindlessly through social media, when we reach for pornography, when we reach for friendships that aren't healthy for us, we're saying God isn't enough. Now what do you think girls between the ages of 8 and 12, you got to really put your creative thinking caps, John has a better chance of getting this answered.
So what do you think, I mean girls said a lot of things. If I could get on the soccer team, then God would be enough. If I could have a best friend, then God would be enough.
If I could have this kind of schooling, God would be, if I could have a puppy, God would be enough, right? But what do you think was the one thing that most of them mentioned every time? John? I don't know, I guess...
It might hint, it might be what we're talking about. Relationships! Yeah, there we go.
They were like, if I had a friend, or if I had more friends, or if I had a best friend, then God would be enough. And so right here you have something that really needs to be addressed because that ache in her heart is for what? Who did God create her to have relationship with?
Right, with him. God created your daughter to have relationship with him. And until she has that relationship with him, you know, I remember one of my girls was in college. She decided to stay for a summer and do some work there on campus. And she was really lonely.
Well, I'm an author, I can write from anywhere. So I go into mom fix it mode, which is, moms pay close attention because we should not do this. The dad thing, let's fix it.
But moms do it too. I was ready to pack my suitcase and go just like, at least for a week, be with her, go out with her for dinner at night, be her friend, fix the brokenness, right? Fix the ache, fix the loneliness.
And I'm weeding my flower bed and I'm just like planning the trip. And suddenly I sense in my heart God saying, do you really want to get in the way of the work I'm doing in your daughter's heart? Wow, that's tough. What if this loneliness, I'm allowing it to happen, so she'll need me. And I knew it was true. And I just sat down with my weeding equipment and cried because I knew that the pain she was going to feel there was no way around it. But that I as a mom, the best thing I could do was help her to understand God is enough. Yeah. In this lonely summer.
Yeah, that is so good. And I think, you know, it's important we're concentrating on your book lies girls believe. So we're not trying to bash women and girls without, you know, a reciprocal boy man thing. But that's the topic today. Yeah, you guys have your issues. And for those women are highly sensitive.
Yes. And we'll get criticism that why were you so tough on women? It's not to hurt or harm anybody. We're talking about those lies that girls believe that those little seeds get in their heart.
And as parents, we've got to be attentive to helping them better understand their image in Christ, who they are in Christ, etc. And loneliness really is a problem right now in a special way. Really about the year 2019, I started looking at stats and trends because we saw what can only be described as hockey stick growth in the loneliness of teens. Now anytime you see hockey stick growth, that means something significant happened. Generally, sociologists see slow climbing trends or slow declines, right?
You don't see boom up or boom down. What we see is this hockey stick trend of loneliness in teenagers, starting about the year 2007 or 2000. Now, at the same time, we were seeing hockey stick trends, a downward trend of kids not spending time hanging out with each other. You see kids in the 70s. It's like they're all hanging out. And then it must have been the Reagan years suddenly in like the 80s and 90s.
It comes down a little bit like slowly slopes down. But then in 2007, boom, kids are not hanging out with each other. Again, starting about 2007.
What happened in 2007? Smartphones. Smartphones, social media came to be. And now kids, they say kids are spending an average of nine hours a day on their phones for entertainment.
I think it's a lot higher than that. And that tweens are spending about five hours a day on some sort of a device. And they're doing entertainment, YouTube, sometimes social media, even under the age of 12, even though it's really not recommended under the age of 12. So that is creating a a new dynamic of loneliness that we haven't seen previously.
Yeah. Dana, in addition to that loneliness factor, you're talking about in a highly connected culture, teen culture, pre teen culture, where they've got so much accessibility to chat, do their Twitters or whatever they're doing now, I don't even know. That's how disconnected I can be sometimes. But in that regard, cyberbullying is something that seems to be heavily weighted toward girls you know, girls that get really ridiculed and bullied in a social media context, describe that and the importance of combating that and being in touch with your daughters about the effect of that. Well, I think that is part of what creates the loneliness. It's not just that there's not a friendship right in front of me who I can trust, and I'm getting to know and I'm making eye contact, I'm reading non verbals, and I'm feeling loved and connected. But when she's on social media, she's not getting any of that.
And it's really easy to distort even a neutral message. Let's say you see a picture of your friend at a friend's birthday that you didn't get invited to, suddenly that becomes FOMO, fear of missing out. And that spirals into a lot of insecurity. But then there is literally cyberbullying can be very deadly, very dangerous, not always to a girl's physical body, but to her spirit.
It crushes a girl's heart. And she can begin it can feed lies that she already believes about herself. You know, lies that she's not loved, that she's not worth anything, that she's not beautiful. Like we heard that example at the top of the program that not feeling beautiful is really an important thing. God created women to be kind of, I think, the epitome of his creation, this beautiful expression of his beauty. And I think that's a good and beautiful thing.
And it's to be celebrated. But when the world is distorting it with lights, and makeup and poreless skin, and this girl shows up and she's like, I don't look like that when I wake up. Guess what? Neither does that celebrity look like that when they wake up. They've already been through hair and makeup to fake that picture. But then you put on top of that the bullying where they're actually told horrible things about themselves. In that friendship and relationship space, you've talked about that. How do we combat that lie of our daughters that I don't have friends and you know, in some cases, it may be true that they don't have a close friend and they want that and they seek that. And they're just not getting that response from the friendship circles. Two things. One is that loneliness is a real thing.
Don't pass over it, acknowledge it. I'm sad that you feel lonely. Can you tell me about that? Like, I just want to listen. All I want to do is listen. For moms, that's a very painful thing. There were a few things that hurt me more than listening to my daughters talk about when they were bullied, or when they felt lonely at school. I hated that more than anything. It hurt me so badly. Because you experienced that? No, because I hated that she was experiencing it.
I couldn't stand that my daughter was experiencing that pain. And that's where the temptation for us, I think as moms comes in to fix it. I'm gonna go fix that.
But then the next thing that I would really recommend, and it's not the most important thing, because I'll get to that in a second. But the next thing I really recommend is so many times when you listen to them, what they're saying is nobody noticed me, nobody affirmed me, nobody invited me to sit with them on the bus today. Nobody invited me to their birthday party. And it's really a backwards and unbiblical approach to friendship. And until your daughter starts to do friendship the way God designed her to do friendship, it's not going to work. And what is that?
That is she needs to be a friend. I don't know if this is still true. I'm shifting a gear here. But as I was reading the book and looking at the prep this morning, I was talking to Jean about this. And I said, Were you ever boy crazy? You know, and you know, we're talking about elementary school junior high.
And she said, Oh, yeah, you know, it was all silly stuff. And her and her girlfriends would see if some guy would notice her in sixth grade or something like that. But that idea of the influence of boys in girls lives at that age, and the importance that many girls place on it kind of the boy crazy craze, describe that and the damage it can do and how to develop that in a healthier way. Well, to write lies girls believe we surveyed 1500 tween girls, these are all church going girls.
And we did focus groups with dozens of moms want to make sure that the 20 lies that we addressed in the book were the lies that were in fact the most relevant. And one of the really big ones was this area of needing a boyfriend. Here's what made me really sad when we talked to the girls, is it wasn't just this cultural trend of I need to have a boyfriend, right? And some something like 32% of girls by their 11th birthday have had a boyfriend.
Yeah, and now that's that would be, you know, broad, yeah, secular numbers. But that's the kind of pressure that's out there that a third of the girls who have really not a specific need to be in a relationship with a boy have one and that puts pressure on all of them to experience talking, they call it talking together today. I don't know if you know that, but they call it they want to talk with someone. That's the beginning of relationship. But the research tells us that when you start with that when you're an eight to 12 year old range, when you're 13 plus, being in a dating relationship for six months or longer puts you on a conveyor belt to an early sexual debut. So it that boy craziness really isn't a cute thing. It's not something we should be encouraging and nurturing.
And here's here's the long term problem of it is I need the guy I need the guy I need the guy till you're married and you have the guy becomes God fix the guy well and back to your point relationship is critical. Yeah, especially for that mom and daughter to have those discussions and then those self awareness things become you know, they start to happen for her. Yeah. Okay, mom was right. You know, and that's good. Let's we're right at the end.
I want to cover at least one more speak to the lie that says that parents just don't get me. I mean, is that a team thing or what? That's boy and girl by far to be true. Of course. She just doesn't get me.
Yeah. A lot of times that when we asked the girls this 1500 girls that like, why do you feel like your parents don't get you? Why do you feel like your family is weird?
That was one of the lies that we addressed. My family is weird. That one came up a lot. And it was, you know, everything from my family has goats, goats, we have goats, one girl said another one's like, we're not allowed to eat sugar, all these things, my family doesn't get that I want to eat sugar, my family doesn't get that I don't want goats, my family doesn't get that I don't want to go to church, like some of them were really serious things, comes back to wanting to fit in and wanting to be normal. And we have to teach our girls that normal is very overrated. And that at the end of the day, they want to be special and they want to stand out. Like there's a craving that they have to be the celebrity, the influencer on social media, right. And at the same time, they're hanging over here on this to this live, I want to be like everyone else. That's double mindedness.
That's what the Bible calls it. And so having really rich biblical conversations with your daughter, about the fact of, let's talk about what's special about you, God made you so unique. And we might not get everything about you. But tell us what what really excites you that's different and unique about you. Don't tell us you want Instagram, or Snapchat, because all your friends do because we're not going to do the normal thing. You just need to know that upfront.
But tell us what where are you unique, we want to foster and encourage that. So your nos need to come with yeses, you know, in that same respect, right at the end here. It's so important that your children feel loved by you. And so often back to your original point that we can get so into the rules and the legalism that we forget the relationship. And let's end with that exclamation point that as we're doing the parenting responsibility, to actually talk with them, sit with them. And I've always envisioned when my boys walked away from one of my conversations, that they feel loved. Yeah, they know even if it was, you know, a reprimand or a correction, that they know I love them. And if you can go in that way, in this context with your daughters, you will get so much farther along and helping them spiritually and emotionally than just going with the rules.
Right? Let me tell you something really interesting that we discovered when we surveyed these 1500 girls is one of the big lies they believe about God. They believed God loved them when we asked them, does God love you? But when we dug and tried to get qualifiers for if there's any, when they sinned, they believed they were completely unlovable by God and by their parents. Isn't that the, we've all experienced that, right?
But to have eight to 12 year olds experience it. And God's word tells us that he loved us while we were yet sinners. He loved us when we were ugly and messy and hard to deal with.
And still loves us. And I'm still ugly and messy and hard to deal with sometimes, but our kids need to know that we love them when they don't get it right. I agree. And Dana, this has been so good. You have, I think, spoken to the hearts of many moms who are struggling a bit, not knowing what to do. And dads too, with their daughters to help them to fill that void and make sure that they understand that God is there to fill it first and foremost.
And once you have that as a teen girl, as a teen boy, man, it sets you up for the right things in life. And this is a great reminder. So thank you. Thanks for being with us and reminding us of these things and to the listener, we want to get this into your hands.
I mean, and we often do this. You know, if you can make a gift of any amount to help the ministry here, because that's what we turn around and use with the proceeds. We just put it back toward people and helping people in the name of Christ. Send us a gift of any amount. If you can do that monthly, let's do it together. Let's do ministry together. And if you can, we'll send you both of these, I believe, right, John?
That's right. We're bundling these together. We'll bundle them together and we'll send them to you as our way of saying thank you.
If you can't do that monthly, a one-time gift will do the same thing. So be a part of the ministry and get a great resource from Dana Guresh that will help you in your parenting journey. Yeah, go ahead and contact us. Request this bundle of books, Lies Girls Believe, and A Mom's Guide to Lies Girls Believe.
And wait, it gets better. We have a free audio download that we'll include with that bundle. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. We're stopped by the show notes for all the details. Next time, Karen Ehman will join us and she'll help you let go of habits of people pleasing and encourage you to serve God instead. What is our motive? Are we saying yes because we know that other person wants us to say yes or because we really feel God's called us to serve in this area?
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. As Christians, we're called to bring light to the world. And as Christian parents, we want our kids to answer the call too. Bring Your Bible to School Day is a great way to do that. It's a chance for your kids to grow their faith, evangelize, and be a light in their schools. So if a faith-filled light-giving home is important to you, join Bring Your Bible to School Day on Thursday, October 6th. Register now at bringyourbible.org.
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