Raising Women of Integrity

I was reminded of The Tea Cup Story while reading Carolyn’s thoughts about creating your own reality.

I was first introduced to The Tea Cup Story through Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girls. It is the story my daughter and I listened to on our first date.

Carolyn posted the story to talk about women creating a personal reality. She does a wonderful job and you should read her thoughts.

I want to repost this story and talk about little girls.

There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

One day in this beautiful shop they saw a beautiful teacup. They said, “May we see that? We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful.”

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke. “You don’t understand,” it said. “I haven’t always been a teacup.

There was a time when I was brown and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘let me alone’, but he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’

“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the teacup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. Stop it! I’m getting dizzy! I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’

Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’

Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ‘There, that’s better,’ I said. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it, stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’

Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head saying, ‘Not yet.’

Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself. And I did.

I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’

‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you’d have dried up.

I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I knew it hurt and was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked.

I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have had any color in your life.

And if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t survive for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.

Dannah talks about the difference between a Styrofoam cup, a coffee mug, and an elegant tea cup. She does a beautiful job linking this metaphor to the thought that how we present ourselves to the world dictates a great deal of how we will be treated by it.

It is my humble opinion that much of what the media attempts to put into our home encourage styrofoam cupness. Give up you talents, use your body, if it feels good do it, sex sells, everybody is doing it, modesty is over rated, and host of other things that is a far cry from raising independent, smart, strong women.

I am very serious about raising women of integrity. So much so that presents are debated over amongst family members before they are given to my children. We don’t have scantily clad Barbies or play dolls with attitudes whose main focus is on the “bling.” I am cautious about what my children watch, hear and wear. I am not sheltering. Exposure happens and we let it. We turn it into what I can only hope are teachable moments.

I write this post not to criticize or lift up my awesome parenting skills, but to solicit help from others who are attempting this same feat. I know I am not in the minority concerning our children.

And alas – I can only speak to raising girls. I would love to hear if the Tea Cup story (or a variation of) applies to boys. I have always thought I would have made a fantastic “boy mom.” But I can only imagine the difficulty it must be to raise Men of Integrity as well.


  1. Oh April, what a beautiful story. This is especially important for parents of children with learning disabilities, unpopular children, overweight children, awkward children and the like- a tangible explanation that you are made beautiful over time despite the pain.

    Naturally, I see this from a religious perspective and as we’ve talked about on the phone, God never gives you (or a tea cup) a cross heavier than you are capable of carrying.

    Men of Integrity is just as challenging and they are pressured even more than girls to give into temptation, in fact, their masculinity in high school is determined by their popularity, thus if they party (aka drink, do drugs, have sex, break laws, etc). Grounding your son in faith is crucial- if he’s not worried about what I as his parent thinks, if he’s reared with religion, he’ll understand that God is watching and that there are consequences to actions.

    Long story short, staying close to your son, instilling morals (faith) in him, and always asking questions despite irritating him create Men of Integrity.

    April, you’re a great mommy and I have no worries about your girls. They have an amazing role model, and THAT is their biggest asset.

  2. Dannah actually talks about it from a spiritual perspective. She discusses being a masterpiece of God versus a disposable object. In her analysis, WE are the teacup, being shaped, tested, and purified.

    I can see that being a huge pressure for young boys.

    The thing that kills me is when people try to say that it is no differnt than any other generation – like Elvis or Joplin or Morris or even Madonna had anything on the influences we have now.

    Thanks for the encouragement – from your lips to God’s ears…

  3. Hi April
    That’s a beautiful story. And you have a wonderful goal in trying to raise women of integrity. It used to be that parents worked to get their children to live up to the standards set by society and school. Now, it’s the opposite – we work to protect our children and control the influences of society and school. We forget that our future is in the hands of the young.

    I have a daughter and three boys and I agree that it is different raising girls and boys. Although I don’t think the story of a teapot going through trials and tribulations to become beautiful would resonate with boys, I could see a parallel story of a sword being hammered, fired and refired to become tempered steel – strong enough not to break under pressure, bold enough to make a difference and valiant enough to stand for righteousness.

    Good luck – Your daughters are fortunate to have a mother like you.


  4. Liz! That is a wonderful idea – you should write that! Instead of cups, you have the butter knife, the steak knife and the sword.

    What an awesome parallel to the tea cup…

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I am raising two girls, ages 13 and almost 9, and I can’t wait to share the teacup story with them.

  6. I took my oldest out for afternoon tea at a local tea room 🙂 we had the best time. Great memories!

  7. April, a moving piece. Thank you. I’m on the opoosite end of the spectrum, gender-wise. Two boys, the first about to hit puberty. They are surrounded by sexual imagery even in kid media. I have worked hard to keep them pure and to keep them unashamed of the body but respectful of others’ at the same time.


    Especially when there are so many moms (or Mums in Australia! 🙂 ) who are content to let their 9 year old dress like a 23-year old heading out to a Rave Party. Males have this unfortunate predisposition to … well … look. It makes the integrity part of things that much more difficult.

    My oldest son made it through to 10 years old without knowing what sex was (and he is not kept in a cellar away from the real world). I had the absolute privelige of talking him through a simple version of birds and bees, and plan the next level of talks for around his 13th birthday – that round of talks will introduce the topic of respecting women.

    So kudos to you mothers who raise women of integrity. My boys will value that one day. But I value it now. Thankyou.

  8. Thank you! I am often curious about the others my children will encounter when it comes time of them to meet people that will be special to them.

    Hmmm…maybe betrothals aren’t such a bad idea 😉

  9. Heh heh, how’s the dowry coming along? 🙂

  10. @ Pete 🙂

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