Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Tough Issues for Tweens

Leslie Basham: Girls today are being pressured to grow up so soon! It can cause moms a lot of worry.

Mother: My daughter, in fifth grade, learned about abortion and feminist rights. This teacher had a political agenda. I didn’t have to worry about that at my age. Why does my daughter, at this age, have to worry about it?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for February 4, 2019. It seems like the challenges tween girls face today are more complex than ever.

Are the young girls in your life equipped to recognize harmful lies and combat them with the truth? Nancy and Dannah Gresh are here today to announce the release of a brand-new book to help girls walk in freedom in Christ.

One more thing before today’s conversation: sadly, some of the issues girls face today are mature, and if you’re with younger kids, you may want to busy them somewhere else as we talk about these serious topics.

To begin, we’ll hear some comments from moms about the challenges they face while raising their daughters.

Mother 1: There’s just more targeted advertising. Media giants decided they weren’t making enough money and looked around and identified the tween market. They’re especially targeting to our girls. They used to target toys and games and stuff like that, but it’s now it’s food and makeup and clothes.

Our daughters don’t need these things, and the media is making them think that they do.

Mother 2: My daughter came home with a book from the library that had a character in there with two moms, and another character—another boy in that book—also had two moms. I was really disappointed the library had an agenda they were pushing like this. My daughter’s only in second grade! She shouldn’t be exposed to topics like this yet.

Mother 3: So my daughter was in third grade when she was eight years old, and her friend who was in fifth grade committed suicide. I really don’t think that people my age were committing suicide at that age.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: [sighs] Wow! You’re listening to the voices of mothers of girls who are ages eight to twelve—eight to twelve-year-old girls! Those moms are sounding the alarm for their daughters’ generation!

These are some Christian women who attended nationwide focus groups that Dannah Gresh facilitated as she was preparing to write a new book: Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free . . . along with a mom’s guide to the Lies Girls Believe book.

We’re thrilled to introduce these latest editions to the whole series of books: Lies Women Believe, Lies Young Women Believe, Lies Men Believe. . .and now, these books for girls. I’m so thankful to have in the studio with us this week as we’re releasing those books, the author and my longtime friend, Dannah Gresh.

Dannah, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah Gresh: Oh! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to be on a radio program . . . ever!

Nancy: This feels like a launch party, a birthday party.

Dannah: It’s so fun!

Nancy: This is something that’s been a long time coming, a long time in your heart.

Dannah: A long time. You always talk about writing a book as giving birth. This one was much overdue! I think we started talking about this in 2011. Here it is, what? . . . 2019 . . . and finally releasing. I’m so excited, but I’m trusting God’s time, because tween girls need this more than ever!

Nancy: Well, thank you for persevering and for pressing into me and to our team on this. You kept saying, “Girls need this; girls need this! They’re not too young. They need the seeds of truth before the lies are planted in their hearts.” They end up with these huge complex issues that so many women our age are experiencing today—ones that started when they were much younger.

Dannah: Exactly! When you wrote Lies Women Believe almost twenty years ago . . . I hear story after story. I meet women all the time who know that we’re friends and say, “Will you please tell Nancy how I was set free through Lies Women Believe.

It’s, like, a million women have been set free through those pages! Did you ever imagine when you were penning that almost twenty years ago that you’d be releasing a book for eight- to twelve-year-old girls?

Nancy: I didn’t. And you’re the one who’s really helped me to see that these are issues that start when we’re really young . . . and more so today than ever, perhaps. You’ve done the research, you’ve done these focus groups, you’ve talked to girls, you’ve talked to moms.

We’re going to hear some recreated audio from what you learned in those focus groups. I think that some moms and grandmoms listening are going to be maybe really astonished.

Dannah: Shocked!

Nancy: Shocked.

Dannah: I’m in the minutiae of these girls lives. I’ve been ministering to tween girls since about 2003, and I know what they’re facing, I know what they’re struggling with. Even so, some of the things these moms told me, some of the stories, broke my heart!

I’ve watched the statistics. For example, when I started ministering to this age group, the average age of an eating-disorder clinic patient was fifteen. Now it’s ten—with girls as young as five years old in those clinics! That’s the drastic difference.

Another thing is the incredible rise in depression and anxiety. Girls today—tweens and teens—score as high on anxiety and depression scales as girls that age who were admitted into clinics in the 50s.

But now we’re just saying, “Hey, you’re gonna be fine. Go ahead, keep living your life. You may be a little depressed; you may be a little anxious.” No, no! Something’s very wrong! Something needs to be fixed.

Nancy: And so, you said, “Something has to be done. We can’t just let this go!” And God has put these tween girls, these eight- to twelve-year-old girls, in your heart. We’ve agreed together that our God is a search-and-rescue God.

The Lord kept pressing into our hearts that we have to do something to help rescue the hearts of these tween girls—eight- to twelve-year-olds, we’re talking about—from the lies of the enemy. So we said we need to extend this line of “Lies” books beyond women and young women and the one that my sweet husband wrote for men, Lies Men Believe.

Now we’re releasing this Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. And there are some reasons for that. One is that the world is really targeting girls at a younger and younger age with its content and its message.

Dannah: . . . very mature content. One thing that I saw just a few years ago is that mascara and eyeliner sales for these tween girls doubled. And I thought, Why is there anything to double? Why do tween girls need mascara and eyeliner? That’s ridiculous!

But the reason they’re being marketed to this age group is because the only way for marketers of beauty products and fashion lines to expand their bottom line is to go into a younger and younger demographic.

I read this fascinating thing about beauty icons. The first American beauty icon really was Marilyn Monroe, and she’s was almost thirty when she was . . .

Nancy: That’s interesting!

Dannah: Doesn’t that put perspective on it?

Nancy: Like, “an old lady!”

Dannah: That’s “retired” in the beauty world now. And since we wrote Lies Young Women Believe, we’ve had our first tween beauty icons on television channels.

Nancy: Wow.

Dannah: The only way they could expand their market was to target these little girls. They don’t care how it impacts them . . . and the impact is devastating!

Nancy: And it’s in every area of content. It was obvious that we wanted to talk about topics like beauty and friendship and academic pressure . . . and boys—yes, at that age. But then you also said, “We’ve got to address things like social media, gender identity issues,” and I flinched a little bit.

Dannah: You did!

Nancy: I said, “We’re talking about children here!” I was thinking of some of the eight-, nine- and ten-year-olds that I know. I’m thinking, Are you sure !? And we had these conversations.

Dannah: Well, and I’m glad that you flinched, because I think there are women right now, there are grandmothers who just flinched and said, “You’re going to talk to my granddaughter about social media? She shouldn’t even be on social media! You’re going to talk to her about gender identity? I don’t think she’s ready!” So what that forced me to do was extensive research.

Nancy: Which I’m so glad you did! You did these focus groups. Tell us a little bit about what you did with that.

Dannah: We went to eleven cities across the country. We also did some online focus groups so we could involve women from Canada and the Dominican Republic. We really wanted to hear the hearts of these moms as they directed the content of this book: “These are the things our daughters are struggling with! These are the areas where they’re believing lies! Will you please help us implant truth?”

The stories we kept hearing over and over about social media were so alarming! One mom said, “We don’t believe kids should be on social media, so our daughter wasn’t allowed. I walked past her phone one day . . .” (Which I kind of was like, “Why does your daughter under the age of twelve have a phone?” But I think sometimes there are safety reasons.)

But she walked past her daughter’s phone one day and a message came up that said, “Matt (or somebody) accepted your friend request.” And the mom said, “I went crazy! I was like, ‘What!? She’s not allowed to be on social media. Why does she have a friend request?”

But the research also backed up the opinions of mom—-the concerns of moms—with a survey of fifteen-hundred tween girls (and these are girls ages seven to twelve). Sixty-nine percent claim to be Christians; they’re predominantly from evangelical homes. Forty-two percent of girls age twelve said they have Smartphones with the Internet on them.

Nancy: So they’re being exposed—not only through that means but other means as well—to a lot more things than what their parents are probably aware of.

Dannah: Yes. And sometimes the parents were really trying to shelter them—in a good way. Like, they wouldn’t have Internet on the phone or the parents were saying, “You’re not old enough for social media, so don’t go on social media.” But the peer pressure their daughters were facing was such a bother!

And they asked, “How do I talk to my daughter about the fact that . . .” Nancy, you use the idea of salmon swimming upstream [against the harmful trends of culture]. “How do I tell my daughter it’s good to be ‘salmon;’ it’s good to swim upstream? She needs to be reminded how that’s making her stronger and better. But she’s not really believing it because of all the peer pressure. What do I say to her about that?”

Nancy: Can you give another illustration of how the girls in this tween age group are facing mature content that we didn’t face at their age?

Dannah: Just anything from gender they’re being exposed to the questions. Sometimes it’s what moms called “the scariest content,” where the kids might be exposed to a neighbor who’s “transitioning.” We heard that in the focus groups.

A mom said, “I have a fifth-grade boy that lives down the street who’s transitioning to be a girl. How do I talk to my child about that!?” Sometimes it wasn’t that complicated. It was just, they would be hearing this message over and over again: “There’s no difference between men and women.”

The moms were saying, “But the Bible says there are differences, so how do I say that? Is it okay to say that even though it’s politically incorrect to say that?” These were the kinds of questions the moms were asking for help with.

Nancy: And I know, Dannah, that as you were listening to these moms tells stories about what their girls were walking through, it was heartbreaking for you!

Dannah: Yes. One mom told me this tragic story . . .

Mom: My daughter’s friend had used the word “sex” at school, and my daughter was curious. So she came home and Googled it, and she saw horrible things! Now she’s seen sex in a horrible way! What was made to be beautiful has now become ugly. Maybe if I would have had the discussion with her sooner, it wouldn’t have ended up like this.

Dannah: So, I have to emphasize, Nancy, that this was a Christian mom. These are Christian mothers who are facing these just heartbreaking stories: pornography, boy-craziness, gender confusion. Their daughters needed help!

They were sounding the alarm to me, saying, “Will you please tell the other moms that they need to talk to their daughters about these topics that they’re afraid of so that they can avoid the pain that we have felt!”

Mom: If we don’t tell them, the world will! And that’s what makes them lose their innocence.

Nancy: This is a huge responsibility—and a hard one—that’s on moms and parents today. There is so much external pressure, including with this whole thing of social media. As we’ve said, we didn’t face this in the same way at all when we were growing up. We heard a lot from moms about that topic.

Dannah: What’s alarming about so many tweens being on social media is that there’s actually an online privacy protection act called COPA that forbids collecting any personal information: name, email, age, anything from someone under the age of thirteen.

That’s why most social mediums will say, “The recommended age restriction on this is thirteen.” Some of them is eighteen. And still, moms are saying, “I’m respecting those limits. I’m respecting those recommendations, but my daughter’s friends’ parents are not.” And that’s creating a lot of conflict and confusion in those sweet, little girls.

These girls were saying to their moms, “Well, everybody else is on social media. Why can’t I be?” And that was putting pressure on moms to maybe talk about the risks of predators, the risks of bad pictures—dangerous pictures—that they could run into, and even just social media bullying.

Moms were scared, and I understand that. It’s hard to talk to your sweet, innocent daughter about those dangers.

Nancy: I think it’s important to keep in mind that these are not just statistics, these are not just studies. You read a lot of those, you did a lot of research. But these are moms, these are families, these are daughters, these are friends. I know that one of the stories we included in The Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe is a story about a dear friend of yours.

Dannah: I couldn’t even get myself to fictionalize their names. To protect everybody, the stories are real, but I used fictional names. I could not do that with this story because it was too close to home for me!

I had a dear friend come to me with a picture of her daughter on social media. It was one of the most tragic photographs I’ve ever seen in my life! And the reason might be is because I have a framed picture of this little girl in my office. She’s giving her heart to Jesus at one of my live events for tweens.

It was just such a sweet moment! It’s my friend, the mom, and this little girl. A mutual friend of ours was one of the prayer counselors that night. I remember rejoicing the night this sweet little girl came to Jesus and watching her faith blossom and grow!

Fast-forward just a few years and this mom is showing me a picture on her phone. This little girl had gotten on Twitter behind her mom’s back as a twelve-year-old and posted a photo of self-harm. She had cut her wrist, was holding her hand up, and had this dead look on her face, as if she wasn’t feeling anything, while blood was streaming down her arm!

My heart broke into a million pieces for and with my friend that day. This was a mom who had respected the social media limits, couldn’t imagine her daughter being on social media—let alone self-harming and taking a picture of it and posting it!

I’m not talking about some crazy family that’s never walked into a church, that didn’t have a passionate love for Christ, and a non-Christian girl. I’m talking about the person sitting in the row next to you in your church! That’s who this family is to me.

Nancy: Well, we know that the devil comes to steal and to kill and to destroy (see John 10:10), and he’s working hard on this. We can’t be blind or dumb to that. We need to be alert to his schemes in our own lives, in the lives of our families, and those that we love.

As tragic as those kinds of things are, as determined as the enemy is to wound and destroy and deceive people like that little girl, what is even more powerful is the power of the truth! And you’ve seen God work in that situation to bring a process of redemption because of the truth and the light starting to shine into it.

Dannah: My friends didn’t immediately set up limits and consequences—they did do those things—but because this friend had read Lies Women Believe, she knew, “There’s a lie under this sweet, little girl’s heart. There’s a reason why she’s acting out in this way.”

Nancy: So she didn’t just react to the the behavior, but she said . . .

Dannah: “Why!? Why did you do that, my sweet, beautiful daughter?” She held her. Her daughter was angry because she’d been found out. She wanted to run, but her mom just held her fiercely with love, and she said, “I love you! I don’t know why you did that, but we’re going to figure it out together.”

My pastor was in the home within hours, investigating. This sweet girl had been bullied and had been hearing really terrible words—words that I couldn’t get myself to put in the book—words that no woman, nor any little girl, should ever hear. She’d begun to believe those and internalize them and think those things were true about her. They became labels and lies in her heart.

And that night, my friend got out her Bible and she began to bathe her daughter in truth. She found verses that were the antithesis of those lies, and she began to bathe her in truth. It’s been a few years now, and I’m still watching them walk that out.

But I’m seeing that daughter transformed! This age group is capable of deep spiritual transformation! It’s not just that the enemy can mold their thinking and their thoughts and their emotions . . .

Nancy: But the Lord can, too!

Dannah: Yes! Exactly!

Nancy: Both you and I have experienced that in our own journey. Both of us came to faith in Christ at a young age (and some people would say, “How can that really be true?”). My first conscious memory is trusting Christ to save me at the age of four.

Dannah: What a sweet first conscious memory!

Nancy: It is. But as many memories in those early years—five, six, seven, eight, in those tween years . . . I can’t take any credit for this. I was in an atmosphere where there was a lot of Scripture, a lot of love, a lot of parental engagement and schoolteachers, Christian school teachers and preaching in the church, just an environment of grace and truth.

I can remember during those years really a clear sense that God was drawing my heart, that He was speaking to me, that He was giving me an appetite and a desire for Him. Now, I also remember battles within of sometimes wanting to resist truth, not always eagerly receiving it. But there was this . . .

Dannah: You mean Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth sometimes wasn’t obedient and submissive?

Nancy: I wasn’t “Wolgemuth” then, but yes. Then and now. Yes, I’ve got flesh like everybody else, and there’s a battle between the Spirit and the flesh, but there was a strong pull of the Spirit of God in my life. I really believe that so much of who I am today—the convictions in my heart today, the love for truth, the love for serving the Lord and others—those were seeds that were first planted in my tween years.

In fact, it was during those tween years that I first really sensed a call of God on my life to serve Him with my life. I had no idea what that would look like, but God was drawing me to the truth. As we’ve gotten to know each other, your experience has been similar.

Dannah: Yes. I came to know the Lord when I was four-and-a-half. I don’t remember much from then, but I remember the scent of two pine trees on either side of me.I remember a crack in the sidewalk. I remember a little American flag in the grass in front of me.

The woman who was praying with me—a little Bible club teacher—I kind of remember her like the Charlie Brown teacher, “Wha-wa-waa.” You know, she was there, but it was just this sweet moment of me and Jesus. Then I remember at eight years old being given a devotional by my mom and being taught how to devour the truth.

I believe that those years were what ultimately rescued me from lies that I would face in the future, because a foundation was being planted.

Nancy: And, by the way, I learned as we talked last night that your mom was a young believer at that point, so it wasn’t like she had always had this wealth of biblical understanding. So wherever moms are in their journey of faith, they can be an instrument that God uses in the lives of their little ones. We can’t overemphasize how important it is for those seeds of truth to be planted in the lives of these young ones!

And I know, Dannah, that one of the reasons you’re so committed to helping these girls experience freedom from lies is that when you became a teenager, the enemy really took a swipe at this sense of God calling you and setting you apart that you had experienced as a child.

Dannah: I was so in love with Jesus! I was obeying a call He had put in my heart when I was eight years old to be a missionary, a Bible teacher . . . or a veterinarian! (There were a few things!) But I really sensed, “Teach the Word. Teach the Word.” And I was doing that.

I was teaching three- and four-year-old Sunday school class. I was a missionary for Child Evangelism Fellowship. And the lie that I believed was that I was immune to some of the sin and temptation that many of the teenagers around were experiencing. I really thought that could never happen to me.

And, in the middle of that, I was blindsided by sexual temptation and sin . . . and then believed God could never use me! So I resigned from teaching Sunday school; I withdrew from my youth group; I sat in the back row at church; I quit my volunteer position with Child Evangelism Fellowship. And for ten years nurtured the lie, “God can never use me.”

And you know what, though, Nancy? I’m so grateful for the seeds that my mom planted in me when I was a tween. Because, though God used many things, ultimately what she and the Lord planted in me as a little girl were what rescued me.

Nancy: That’s the truth that is so much more powerful than the lies! And the time came when God drew your heart back to that truth that addressed the lie that God could never use you, and that’s what set you free!

Dannah: Yes. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 1:3–4. It says, “Praise be to our God and our Savior Jesus Christ who comforts us in all of our troubles . . .” Not just the ones others have brought on us, but the ones we have brought on ourselves. “. . .so that we can comfort others with the same comfort we ourselves have received” (NIV84).

And you know, your sin, your purity, your testimony—however difficult or hard or ugly it may be—the more comfort you have needed from the Lord, you have that comfort to pour out on others. I began to look at things differently because I had a mother who said, “The truth is not what you’re feeling, the truth is not what you’re experiencing. The truth is what is written in this Book.” And I returned to that.

Nancy: And now you’re planting those seeds of truth in the lives of moms and their daughters. I’m so thrilled, Dannah, that you’ve gone through the hard, “birthing” process of writing this book Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free along with this mom’s guide.

These are two amazing resources! It’s one set; you need them together. We want moms to walk through this with their daughters. These books,I wish you could see them They’re beautiful! They’re fun; they’re creative; they’re beautifully designed; they’re truth-packed.

They’re based on extensive research and conversations with moms and daughters, and we’re going to talk a lot more about that over the next few days. We want to make this set, Lies Girls Believe, and the mom’s guide available to you. It’s our way of saying thank you when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts this week of $30 or more.

You ask the Lord what amount He’s putting on your heart—$30 or more—and that’s our way of saying thank you. We’ll send you both of those books.

Dannah: Both of them? Hey!

Nancy: The set, Lies Girls Believe and the mom’s guide. Just give us at call at 1–800–569–5959 or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Let us know that you’d like to make a donation—$30 or more—and ask us to send you that set of books, and we’ll be glad to do that!

And, Dannah, speaking of girls and the heart the Lord has given both of us to reach tween girls with His truth, we have an exciting announcement to make this week.

Dannah: Oh, so exciting! Nancy, this morning you texted me that it was official, and I felt butterflies in my tummy. I’m so happy! For a few years, we’ve been feeling that we needed to change the name of Secret Keeper Girl.

Nancy: And for those who are not familiar with that, Secret Keeper Girl are events that your ministry has done for tween girls and their moms. They’re a really effective ministry. You do them in cities all across the country. God is really using those, and you’re still doing those events, but . . .

Dannah: We have a new name, and that new name is . . .

Nancy: Drum roll, please!

Dannah: “True Girl” Does that sound familiar to you . . . a little bit?

Nancy: It does! I’m thinking everybody must have butterflies now, because, for years, Revive Our Hearts has been doing True Woman events, and now, you’ve got these True Girl events. And it’s not just the name change that’s exciting . . . it’s the partnership.

Dannah: We’re going to do it together!

Nancy: We’re going to do it together! We’re thrilled to announce a strategic partnership between your ministry and Revive Our Hearts, where we’ll be presenting together these True Girl events all across the country.

Dannah: All across the country. We’ll do between fifty and eighty of them a year. Now we’ll be ministering to girls ages eight through . . . eighty plus! And I’m very, very excited about that! Nancy, you’ve been such a big part of my ministry growing and reaching more women, and this is just formalizing that blessing.

Nancy: Well, I think of those True Girl events as true women in the making and passing on the baton of faith to the next generation. So I can hardly wait to see what the Lord has in store as we partner together in this True Girl ministry.

I’m so excited, Dannah, about how God is going to use these resources to set free a whole new generation of young women, girls, who one day will be the moms doing this for their daughters.

Dannah: I’m so excited, too!

Nancy: Tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts we’re going to begin to explore three lies that moms believe. These are some of the lies that can keep moms from recognizing when their daughters are in danger. So be sure to tune in, because we want to help you discover the truth that can set you free so that you can become a powerful tool in God’s hand to help set your daughter free!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you invest in future generations. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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