Last year I wrote a blog for our church’s parenting blog 7000Days.org. With the warmer weather, I’ve had several friends ask me where I get the white shorts I referenced in my blog. While we were at Target today, I picked up a couple more because they were on sale for $5. You can order them online or find them at Children’s Place too. Lydia wears these under all her skirts and tutus (she considers tutus casual attire) and all her dresses. I teach first graders at our church, and every Sunday they are running around playing games or sitting on the floor criss-cross-applesauce a lot. For girls wearing dresses or skirts that presents a problem. The shorts provide a ton of modesty, and they aren’t bulky or expensive. My wise and wonderful friend Martha passed this idea on to me, and it’s one of my favorites if you’re the momma of girls!
Below is the blog I wrote for 7000Days.org. It includes more ideas moms have shared with me, and I’d love to hear your ideas too…
When our daughter Lydia was younger, after bath time we would dry her off and stand her on the bathroom rug while we went to her room to retrieve her diaper and pajamas. The moment her feet hit the rug, she would start her jaunt around the living room, into the kitchen, back through the living room and fling herself onto her bed. The whole time she would yell at the top of her lungs, “I’m a nakey boo boo!” Matt and I got a laugh at her innocence and lack of modesty, but we knew one of our roles as parents of two daughters would be to teach them what it means to be modest.
Even though my girls are still quite young, I know I must instill in them early what modesty is. It only takes a quick glance at pop culture to see the “standards” my girls will be inundated with. How do I train them to guard and respect their hearts and bodies? I’ve talked to several moms who are further down the parenting road than me, and they’ve shared great wisdom. Here are a few things to remember…
Determine Appropriate: Part of being modest is simply making sure certain areas are covered and that clothes possess a certain square footage to them. I remember my parents being strict on how long my shorts had to be or how high the neckline on my shirts needed to hit. I rolled my eyes, frustrated at the time, but, of course, now I’m extremely grateful. I remember some fights with my mom over this issue, but she never backed down. And now that I’m a mom, I know why she fought so hard. She wasn’t just fighting for a neckline. She was fighting for my purity, my innocence.
Get Involved: My husband, Matt, is mentored by a wonderful man and he and his wife have a daughter who will soon graduate high school. This girl’s mom once told me her husband takes their daughter clothes shopping. The mom doesn’t particularly like to shop, so even at a young age the dad would take their daughter to search for clothes. He even goes with her to pick out swimsuits! When she told me this, I was so impressed. What an amazing investment this dad is making in his daughter, and it definitely shows in their daughter’s modesty and respect for herself and the body God has given her.
Cover Up: I have another great friend who passed along a practical idea for younger girls. She buys multiple pairs of white bicycle shorts for each of her daughters, and the girls wear those shorts under all their dresses, skirts and even loose shorts. I love this idea, and as soon as Lydia was out of diapers and no longer wearing her little monogrammed bloomers (a sad day for this Mississippi girl) I bought a slew of bicycle shorts. My oldest girl favors sparkly tutus as everyday attire, and this keeps her underwear from showing when she’s running around at the park or dancing in the aisles at the grocery store.
Choose Wisely: Another reminder, this one from a friend with pre-teen girls, is to avoid t-shirts with negative or disrespectful messages on them. What do messages like, “Born to wear diamonds” or “I’m too pretty for homework” say to our girls? It might seem like a trivial thing, but words are powerful, and they shape our beliefs.
Set the Standard: As important as these practical ideas are, more than anything else, we train our daughters to be modest by modeling modesty for them. We know more is “caught than taught” so we must live before them a life of modesty. Yes, ladies, it will probably take us three times longer to find a swimsuit and there may be some trends we just have to say no to, but we must remember this isn’t just about clothes. This is about training our daughters to respect their bodies and to establish a boundary that demands others do the same. This is also about understanding the way boys and men are wired to be visually stimulated and assisting them in their efforts to remain pure. If we want men to still be chivalrous, then, as women, we must still be modest. The two go hand-in-hand, and both demonstrate a respect for ourselves and the opposite gender.
If you have struggled with modesty in the past, don’t let guilt or shame weigh you down. Start fresh today modeling modesty for your daughters. When you’re shopping for clothes or choosing something from your closet, if you feel like something is “iffy” put it back. There’s more at stake than just style, and it’s not worth the possible cost of innocence, respect and purity. If you are the mom of sons, give them a model of what to look for in a young lady. And for all the dads of daughters, speak life into your girls. Your words mean more than anyone else’s.