Modesty can be a difficult topic to discuss with your teenagers. With the standards of society constantly changing with different fads and popular culture determining what is acceptable or in style and what is “outmoded”, “old-fashioned”, or (heaven forbid) “frumpy”, your kids can be faced with a difficult dilemma.
As a parent, it’s important that you care about how your children present themselves. But as you are trying to find the best way to teach them correct principles, here are few approaches to avoid.
Don’t equate her style choices to filth
There’s a meme running around the Internet these days with the quote, “Dear girls, dressing immodestly is like rolling in manure. Yes, you’ll get attention, but mostly from pigs. Sincerely, Real Men.” While the thought from “real men” is hopefully well-meaning, it implies that girls who don’t meet a certain dress standard are disgusting and therefore don’t deserve a “real man.”
It’s true that dressing provocatively sends certain social signals and certain men react to them in unfortunate ways, but equating her decision to something as abhorrent as rolling around in manure is demeaning and can cause harmful long-term shame.
Instead, talk to her about using modesty to show respect for her body, a gift given to her by God. She is one of his precious daughters, regardless of how she dresses.
Don’t make her think she’s responsible for the thoughts and actions of others
Another argument against immodesty is that it makes it hard for men and boys to have proper thoughts. This unfortunate assumption can unduly put pressure on your daughter to feel she has to control the thoughts and actions of men because they can’t do it themselves.
Some people even go so far to say that some women who are raped “deserved it” because of the way they were dressed. But one BuzzFeed article shows the devastating reality that many of these horrific crimes have nothing to do with what the victim was wearing. The fact is that we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions, and making your daughter think she has to manage other people’s actions along with her own can limit her own potential.
Instead, help her understand that she only needs to learn to control herself.
Don’t make it a “girl” thing
When I think back to my teenage years, I sometimes wonder why it was okay for me to walk around the house in nothing but my underwear, but not for my sisters. The principles of modesty apply to both men and women, so it’s important that you maintain that balance in your own home.
If you make a big deal about it with your daughters, but let your sons do whatever they want, it again sends a message that they are different and therefore need to “cover up”.
Do show an increase in love
As a parent, you want your children to make choices that will help them to reach their full potential. But the fact of the matter is, they are bound to make choices you don’t agree with, sometimes solely out of spite. In times like these, more love and compassion are needed. Chances are it’s just a phase and the last thing you want is to alienate her. And even if it isn’t just a phase, she’s still your daughter, and she deserves the best of your love.