Lately I've been pondering the power of modeling. What do we as women model to girls? Is what they see equivalent to what they imagine they could be? Fellow Redbud, Sharon Hodde Miller recently wrote a great piece on the personal impact of seeing Beth Moore speak at a Passion conference. Seeing the model of a strong female teacher of the Bible created a new paradigm for Miller to pursue her own passion to study and teach the Word.
Personally, I attribute much of my social activism and work with the marginalized to my mom's career in Head Start and later as a family worker with at-risk school children. Her stories crafted a compassion in my heart long before I encountered Chicago's West Side. My sister also became a special education teacher and now preschool director. Do we merely have a cool mom worthy of emulation or is there something to the influence the women in our lives play in our future?
Perhaps this is why my impulse buy of 2014 was the complete Courage Series of I Am Elemental toys. When I read the tagline, "Give a Girl a Different Toy and She'll Tell a Different Story," it took me all of two hot seconds to purchase. And get this, the 8-year-old receiving them for Christmas was willing to wait when shipyard workers went on strike and the boxes didn't arrive until January 10th! They were worth it to her. Her first female action figures.
What I love about the Elemental figures is that the 7 in the series make up the necessary elements of courage: bravery, energy, honesty, industry, enthusiasm, persistence, and fear. They have been words to springboard some great conversations, including the inspiration behind the series, Joan of Arc, a young heroine of the 15th century.
What I'm banking on is that these words will become a part of my 8 year old's vocabulary. I'm hoping that a backdrop of strong character toys will aid me in my parenting. I'm raising my girls to tell a different story than Barbie and Disney Channel TV.
But as a mom, I'm wondering what I model. I don't really need my kids to take up the banner of fighting human trafficking, but I do want them to be passionate enough about something that they're willing to sacrifice time and money to see it change. They might not require courage to face the things I face, but they'll need courage to live out their own story. As women, perhaps what we model most is a paradigm of being rather than a prescription of living. What do you think?
For now, I'm just enjoying some really cool action figures!