Parenting Help

Thinking Beyond Her Selfie


Teaching Your Daughter to See Beyond Her Social Media Feed

We have all seen the tween/teen girls at the mall, park, game, and even at church holding out their phone and doing their best duckface. We may have even seen the viral YouTube video of “sorority girls at the baseball game,” giving us the ultimate example of the “selfie” culture our girls now live in.

What can a parent do or say to possibly lead our daughters (and sons) amid this self-obsessed culture?  How do we teach our kids to think beyond themselves, their image, and the perfectly filtered edited ideal that has been placed in front of them?

As Christ-following parents this may be even more frustrating and concerning.  We desire for our daughters to have an attitude like Christ (Phil 2:4-8). How do we teach our daughters to see beyond her Instagram/social media feed?

Teach Her Self-Lessness — Even from the youngest of ages, we need to teach our daughters that life is not about them. In the era of helicopter and lawnmower parents, we can show are daughter value and respect without making her feel like she is the princess of our castle where everyone serves her.

Too often as a youth pastor, I have taken a group of students on a mission’s trip or service project to realize that some of my students have never served someone else. Girls (and guys) show up with a suitcase full of new clothes and fully charged phone to get the best pictures of their trip.

Teaching “selflessness” starts at home and it starts early with age-appropriate chores and serving and it starts beyond the home serving and being involved in helping those in need.  Teaching our daughters to think beyond a perfect picture and a self-affirming pile of likes, takes exposing them to an imperfect world that is less about herself and more about others.

The greatest thing I could have done for my own children, daughter and son, is to include them on mission trips and service projects in my ministry, at an early age. There is a power that comes from experience, as I talk to my daughter about the value of who she is and who others are as well.

Teach Her Self-Advocacy — This is a moment of juxtaposition for our culture and our daughters. While women are taking to the streets and screens advocating for respect and honor, the culture continues to push shows and music that teaches the opposite.

As parents, we have a need to teach our daughters that their strength and honor comes from God. (Prov. 31:25-31).  When they advocate and speak up for themselvesrespectfully they are not doing it just in self-defense, but in kingdom worth. The days of the demur, submissive women are over, and your daughter’s strength and power is not found in being a woman but in being a woman of God.

My own daughter was shy in elementary, never speaking up for herself in class. She lacked confidence, even to the point of never being able join other children her age in school and church programs.  She had horrible stage fright and fear, until one day her friend invited her to join her to be a cheerleader for an elementary church basketball league. Over that short season she grew in self-confidence and self-advocacy.

Self-advocacy, in your daughter will allow her to speak and stand up for who she is and not what she looks like.  In a selfie-saturated culture self-expression and self-confidence are reduced to a false self-image.

Teach Her Self-Discipline — “Discipline” and “disciple” come from the same root word and are connected in the life of our daughters.  Our daughters require us to teach them self-control and self-discipline as they see themselves at disciples of Christ.

While students are into sports and working out, there still seems to be a lack of true deeper self-regulation and discipline.  The selfie culture has demonstrated to our daughters a self-centeredness about who they are based on what they have, do and who they know.

We recently experienced this on over-drive in our life, during the homecoming season. My freshman daughter and her friends chose to keep life simple and may I say, “modest.” They enjoyed an evening of parents taking pictures and dinner, before heading to the big event. We talked in our home about a self-disciplined budget on a dress, shoes and other related items.  We knew this is not the norm, as many to live out the social media perfect picture rented tuxes and limos, spending too much for just one evening.

Self-discipline as a disciple of Christ means we live and teach our daughters to live in a way that is Self-controlled (II Tim. 1:7).  Empower your daughter to live a life of controlled strength based on who is on the inside, not what is on the outside.  By doing this you will help her see beyond the social media feed and culture of “selfies.”

* For more great tips and help consider picking up The Teen’s Guide to Social Media… and Mobile Devices: 21 Tips to Wise Posting in an Insecure World”


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Dan Istvanik

DAN ISTVANIK is a Middle Years pastor in Lancaster, PA. He is a speaker, ministry coach and writer who has been working in youth ministry for over 20 years. Dan shares daily middle year ministry specific resources and hints on his site “The Middle Years” at

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