Review by Elizabeth Bittner, Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, of the book, How to Raise a Conservative Daughter, by Michelle Easton
The challenges facing conservative parents seem to multiply by the day. How-to guides exist for any and everything under the sun, but what about raising conservative daughters, grounded and grateful? If any parent longed for a manual on this subject, their hopes have been realized in Michelle Easton’s latest work, How To Raise A Conservative Daughter. In an age when traditional womanhood is under attack, Easton urges “purposeful parenting” in the raising up of America’s daughters.
The obstacles to this endeavor are, the author notes, very real, but so too are the remedies. To parents belong the challenge and privilege of teaching and nurturing conservative daughters. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Ronald Reagan famously stated. “It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.” This book offers practical ideas for conversations and habits that encourage and foster conservatism in young women.
To build up a conservative generation, Easton stresses the importance of constructing “pillars” of conservative values and behaviors. These pillars serve as foundational guideposts for young women as they navigate an entire culture saturated in leftist ideology. These pillars are likened to stars. Parental duty requires helping one’s daughter connect these stars into a cohesive constellation. Since children are adept at recognizing hypocrisy, it is vital that parents themselves exhibit the attitudes and actions they wish to instill in their girls. And even then, Easton admits, there are no guarantees. However, it is worth the utmost effort for the future of their girls—and of America.
A mother to three sons, Easton still knows well the forces arrayed against young women today. A key figure in education for many years and founder of the Clare Boothe Luce Center for Conservative Women, Easton has been involved in the cultivation and education of hundreds of young women. She has seen first-hand the grave ramifications of radical feminist ideology upon American girls. She has also seen the great heights these girls can attain in the spheres of policy, society, and the home when they embrace their true vocation. It is not, Easton insists, a matter of pitting working mothers against stay-at-home mothers (a favorite ploy of the Left and some conservatives too), rather it is a matter of infusing conservatism into every aspect of American life according to one’s ability, talent, and calling. After all, the gifts of the Spirit are many.
Where to begin? This work begins in the home, within the family unit. Even something as simple as a shared meal can have lasting impact. “All great change in America begins around the dinner table” declared Ronald Reagan. So, back to basics, Easton says, and she lays out what this might look like. Go to church. Show your daughter that her worth comes from having been created by a loving God and only He can redeem her. Surround your family with the support of a church family, living shared values and beliefs. When young women find meaningful and fun relationships with people in the real world, they will be far less likely to fall for the shallow associations of social media. Put your family first. Easton stresses the importance of cultivating a strong marriage for your children to see. After all, you get what you give, so give your family your very best. The Left hates a strong family unit because, as Easton reveals, “strong families are bad for business.” Members of a loving, unified family rely on each other, not the government.
Easton is emphatic that parents must teach their daughters history. The school system can no longer be trusted to impart American pride and values. The distortions of the Left would have school children believe this country was built upon oppression and racism. Capitalism and faith are demonized. America, however, truly is exceptional in human history and this is something young girls should be proud of.
Introduce your daughter to impactful conservative women, past and present. She will not hear about them from mainstream media. Their lives and stories will be a striking testament to the amazing opportunities this country affords everyone. Encourage girls to get jobs at a young age and teach them the value of hard work, money and responsible spending. Easton promotes this upbringing because it “obliterates helplessness and the entitlement mentality.” There is no shame in honest work, no matter how lowly it may seem.
As founder of the Clare Boothe Luce Center, Easton is insistent on the key role communication plays in the conservative movement. Young women must strive for good communication. Not just skill with writing and speaking, but posture, eye contact, body language. Mastery of communication is essential to raising a strong conservative activist. Yes, activist. Lest anyone shrink from that designation, Easton strongly believes that young women today need to be fearless activists for conservatism. Conservative girls are not “docile, doe-eyed shrinking violets.” It is time to level the playing field. It is time to make some noise. It is time to “let the ‘princess’ out of the castle.”
When she leaves the home to embark upon life’s adventure, a conservative girl will face head on the assault of the radical left. The messaging will be unavoidable and without disguise. The world will tell her she is helpless, gleaning her sustenance and meaning from the government. She will know that she is created and redeemed by a loving God, with infinite worth and value. The world will tell her a life of service to others is demeaning and burdensome. She will know that serving others is physically and spiritually fulfilling. The world will tell her that her country’s military and police force are oppressive murderers. She will know that these individuals are largely selfless people who risk their lives for the safety and stability of their fellow citizens. The world will tell her that women are victims and at a disadvantage in society. She will know otherwise. She will know that she is capable of any achievement and she will not fear the work involved to make her dreams reality. The world will tell her the unborn possess no value and are disposable under certain, if not all, conditions. She will recognize the lie. She will know that motherhood is a high calling, one essential to society. She will not shrink from defending the most vulnerable, no matter how loudly the opposition may howl.
This young woman is shaped by “purposeful parenting.” She is the result of years of tough love and truth-telling, of forming habits and setting examples, of difficult discussions and following through. In short, she is born of courage. She has grown from childhood to adulthood, but not alone. This journey has been one of child and parent together. Be prepared however, Easton warns, because she may not appreciate it. One day though, she will. If all this seems impossible to parents, Easton offers encouragement: “while there is no such thing as a perfect parent, there is such a thing as a perfect and holy God.” So do the work, for “few things in your life will ever compare in importance.” Enjoy the adventure!
Elizabeth Bittner is a graduate of Thomas More College and holds a Masters in Humanities from the University of Dallas. She resides in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.
Reprinted by permission.