Daughters and Boredom

1 Timothy 5:13 is a warning to women about the sins that come with having too much time on your hands. I know how absurd this may sound to many of you: Did you say too much time? Oh what would that be like?? In the midst of a crowded day of caring for children and running a household, it seems impossible. But that is actually Paul’s point in the following verses. In order to keep from idleness and gossip and being a busybody, he recommends that women bear children and manage the house. In other words, fruitful labor is a protection from many temptations. Idleness is a set up to stumble.

When we are idle, we are tempted to entertain ourselves with other people’s business, and sometimes other people are all too eager to share their business with us. The women Paul was concerned about were “wandering about from house to house, saying things which they ought not” (vs. 13). Of course today, we have the tools at our fingertips to check in on other people’s business while never leaving our home. In fact, we have the technology in our pocket to find out far more than we wanted to know.

Women are naturally good communicators and listeners, which is a mighty big help when it comes to raising children and taking care of people. But this natural strength can also become a natural weakness. We can be tempted to want to know and pass on information that is none of our business.

Given Paul’s warning to grown women, it’s clear we need to teach our daughters about this topic, both by instruction and by example. And we need to see the value of keeping our little girls busy too. Boredom and idleness lead to grumpiness and annoyance, and make fertile ground for fault-finding and tattling. Little girls who indulge in the sins of tattling and tale-bearing can grow up to become gossips and busybodies.

I have ten granddaughters, and most of them are at the stage where they love to help. When they come to my house, they often ask me right off if there is something they can do to help me. I hate saying no, although sometimes if I am in the midst of getting something hot out of the oven at that very moment, I have to say no thanks. But  how much better if I can give them a job?

When they ask for a job and we give them a job, we are blessing them with fruitful labor, and they feel blessed. It’s a lovely exchange. But finding suitable jobs for them may take time and thought, patience and creativity. Even so, it’s a valuable use of your time and will yield long-term fruitfulness. So give your girls jobs they will enjoy. We should think of bestowing on them, not loading them up with burdens. While they love folding napkins, give them napkins to fold, even if it would be easier and faster to do it yourself. But don’t let them be bored. Steward their time, shepherd their duties, and watch over their attitudes. Be a source of blessing and a picture of joyful labor. This will keep them from becoming the kind of women who are idle and unproductive.

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22 thoughts on “Daughters and Boredom

  1. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for this post. As a follow up question, could you give some advice on when or how to train daughters to become busy on their own? In other words, when they are adults they will have to busy themselves looking for things to take care of in their own household. At what point in their upbringing do you start expecting them to look for things to do on their own?

  2. Every night the oldest of my daughters (3 and a half) comes into the kitchen doorway while I’m cooking and asks, “Mommy, do you need any helps?” I love it so much that she asks that I let her carry my good (and only) dishes to the table. Even the salt and pepper. Which usually end up upside-down. 🙂 But I couldn’t have articulated why until I read this. Thanks, Nancy Ann.

  3. I’m sorry for posting this on this article but I’m not sure where to ask this….is there a way to subscribe to your blog so that I have the posts send directly to my e-mail inbox? I can’t always get online and read the blog but I’d love to have them in my e-mail so I can read them on the go. Thanks so much!

  4. So good, thank you! So overwhelming at times with three young ladies, but really encouraging to think of you doing this with your girls and now look at all the fruit! I’d love to read anything else from you on this topic too – anything at all. Or your daughters!

  5. Great subject. Does anyone have ideas of motivating “special needs” daughters? My Amy is 35 and has so many diagnosis including over medication, affective brain disoder, brain injury from enchephalitis, schizo-affective disorder and most recently–autism. Our aim in her live is to make her as independent as possible which we claim Jeremiah 29:11 on her behalf. She speaks reads, writes and can even ride a bike. We are blesed but OLD and very TIRED! Blessings

  6. Thank you for this very timely…I think this may have contributed to my 2 year old’s very very long melt down yesterday…I need to keep her more engaged, especially during teething…

  7. what a wonderful post! Thanks for this. I find that this is even helpful with my two year old son. When is helping me with chores, he is not causing mischief–love it!

  8. Hello Femina Ladies. I wasn’t really sure where to leave my comment, so I’ll just try right here.

    My husband and I are very thankful for your family’s direction in training and loving children unto the Lord. Loving the Little Years, Foundations for Fathers, etc, have been a true blessing.

    My Sister is a Christian, single mother of an 11yr old boy. I realize it’s a lot different at this stage of the game, and I am at a loss of where to send her for Practical,Godly resources and direction. Any direction you can point me??

    Thank you!

  9. Today I was not feeling particularly close to God. I also feel the weight of relationships right now. I decided to come here to see what I could glean. This addressed a decision that I’ve been trying to make about deleting a social network account that I have been keeping away from for a couple of weeks. I’m so glad God has given me this verse to cling to.

    Praise God for older women 🙂

  10. Would you consider a job as a cure for idleness? Or volunteer work? I am married, but do not have children yet.

  11. Thank you for this! Too often I get caught up in “getting things done” instead of using the doing of them as time to teach my little ones. My 4-yr-old and 2-yr-old want to help me cook all the time, and it’s tough to find things their little fingers can safely do, but I’m going to keep trying, and this post reminds me why. Thank you!

  12. Thank you for this blog – always thought-provoking. One thing I’ve always wondered about, ever since I got criticized by my aunt for asking my mother for help with something my cousin was doing that bothered me when I was about five… What exactly is tattling? Where’s the line between tattling and something you should bring to someone’s attention? I know the criticism then caused me not to bring up many things I sure hope my (3 month old!) daughter would come to me for – bullying I didn’t know how to deal with (and that my parents hadn’t prepped me for because they didn’t know it was happening), including bullying from a teacher (later fired when someone wasn’t scared of being called a tattletale, because how can a child be expected to stand up to a bullying teacher?); illegal and dangerous behavior by classmates (one who later lost an arm and nearly his life in drag racing everyone but his parents had long known was going on – but nobody wanted to “tattle” to his parents, who could have stopped it); and so on. I understand the line’s somewhere beyond “she stuck her tongue out at me!” “she breathed on me on purpose!” etc., but where?

  13. At our house, tattling is okay when someone or something is going to be harmed or seriously damaged. I’m not talking about a little swat, but serious pain or blood involved or coloring on walls for ex.)

  14. Thanks for this post. I have recently been struggling with my 3 1/2 year old daughter and boredom. I always ask her to help, but she sometimes just mopes around instead…this is great advice and an encouragement to me.

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