Modesty, When Understanding the Why, Kids Are More Likely to Comply

1 Peter 3:3-4, culture, modesty, appearance, teens,

A question I often get asked,  “How did you handle modesty with your daughters?”

Modesty should be taught in love rather than out of fear.  Early on in our parenting we were more legalistic operating in rule-based living verses freedom.  “Your skirt should be two inches below the knee.” “Your shorts need to be a certain length.” “A girl should wear skirts.”

While modesty may be a difficult concept to teach our daughters, we must persevere.

Our desire was first to instill in the girls character and dignity.  We did our best to show them how their attire and demeanor had a correlation with the way they would be treated by men. Our focus was on their inner beauty rather than outer appearances.  Thereby instilling in them confidence, friendliness, love, joy, kindness, a servants heart and along with other godly characteristics which exude beauty.  It’s a lot easier to teach modesty to children grounded in character.

My husband monopolized teachable moments to point out “sexualization” in the media and discuss how some of the girls on magazine covers, and in movies, were revealing too much skin. He shared the impact that dressing had on some men.  As such, our daughters began to understand that wearing little clothing was like advertising their bodies. He taught them that the bait they used would lure in the type of fish they attract.

Below are 7 tips to consider when teaching modesty to your children.

7 Tips for teaching MODESTY 

M Mom, modesty begins with you.  Remember more is caught than taught. It’s helpful to model virtue and beauty to your children.

It’s certainly okay to look beautiful and be fashionable, but I believe that the posture of the heart is a key that can be accomplished by encouraging our children to cultivate a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus.

O Use Object lessons.  Jesus was a master story teller and often used visual aids such a vine and children to teach object lessons. Walking through a vineyard while traveling to Gethsemane, he taught the importance of remaining connected to him using a grapevine. He placed a child on his knee to teach the disciples if they wanted to be first, they must be last — they must become as “little children.” (Matthew 18).

Amy Bennett shared about what her young daughters (8 & 10) taught her about modesty.  She decided to dress up in (somewhat) immodest outfits and have her daughters dress her more modestly.  Kids learn best by role playing. Visual aids make memorable lessons.

D Define standards for modesty from the get go.  If you haven’t set the tone early on, it will be harder to expect your teens to cover themselves up.  Allowing a young child to wear a bikini until she develops and then insisting she wear a one piece will send mixed messages. It is important to be clear and consistent.

If we allow young girls to wear clothing far too old for them or dress them in a sexually suggestive manner they may want to continue as they get older sending the wrong message.

In our home after my girls went shopping they would model their purchases in front of their dad.  All clothing purchases had to pass both our approval.

E Explain the reasons behind your decisions. Give children a reason to your decisions and be sure you are in agreement as a couple.  As your children mature, dialogue with them about modesty knowing they will probably push the limits from time to time.  Don’t merely seek outward conformity rather develop a heart connection.

Having Caryn’s heart and being unified on clothing decisions when she decided to participate in the local Austin Teen Beauty pageant produced a surprising outcome which I will share in my next post :-)

S Scrutinize clothing choices with your children.  Be sure to compliment and highlight outfits that are appropriate. Use teachable moments to discuss what could make immodest outfits more appropriate.

Ask questions.

  • “Are you trading in your moral values (modesty) to model the latest fashion?”
  • “What do you think about the outfit you are wearing?”
  • Are you trying to bring attention and glory to yourself, or to God?”
  • “Are you mimicking what others are wearing to fit into the current fashion?”

T True Identity matter.  Communicate from early on how valuable your daughter is to you and God.  Focus on her inner beauty more than outer appearance. Remind her that her worth is not based on her looks, abilities, where she lives, or what others may think.  Rather her worth is based on how God sees and values her (Psalm 139:13-15) and it never changes (Roman 8:38-39). God’s love is unconditional.

Y You are a parent. You may feel powerless but ultimately you have veto rights over your daughters’ wardrobe so long as they are living under your roof. Be secure in your role as a parent to exercise that control.  However as the parent explain your decision-making process. When kids understand the why they are more likely to comply. 

Modesty should never be about shaming the female body. We should dress modestly because our bodies are God’s masterpieces and the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’.

1 Timothy 2-9, culture, modesty, appearance, teens,

It is impossible to dress in a way that prevents other people from stumbling 100% of the time which is not the point. Modesty is not about wearing a burlap bag in an attempt to hide the female form and somehow prevent men from lusting. Modesty is about valuing yourself. It is about learning to love how God made you as a woman. It is about knowing how precious you are, every part of you, and not wanting or needing to flaunt it through less fabric on your body. Modesty is not gauged by whether or not someone will easily be tempted to lust after you. It is the poise, grace and a sense of value that naturally manifests itself through the attire chosen on a daily basis. Teach your daughters their value and instill in them an understanding of their strength.

Lastly, I implore fathers to be present in their daughter’s lives as I think my husbands honest, gentle, and loving involvement in our daughter’s lives has had the greatest impact on them.  Dads need to verbalize how proud they are of their daughters and how beautiful they are. Dad’s tell your daughters they can be leaders and have a powerful voice. Words of affirmation will have the greatest impact on what your child chooses to wear. You can teach them about modesty, but without captivating their heart they will see through the rules and have no problem wearing jackets before leaving the house in an effort to cover up their plunging necklines.

Do you talk to your kids about what’s important to you, to them, and to God? Do they understand the WHY behind clothing decisions?

Staying Connected While Apart

travel how to stay connected when apart

Cherie Werner at thewerners.org

Those dreaded words, “Honey, I will be out of town next week for business.”

Business trips have a way of interrupting a good routine, mom flies solo in the parenting department, kids tend to be out of sorts while dad in sleeping in strange beds far away from his domain. Have you ever noticed that once the “master” has left the premises major appliances malfunction, car idiot lights illuminate, wireless networks stop networking and the “simple” remote control no longer controls? At least that’s how it usually rolls in our home.

Let’s face it; business travel is hard on everyone.

Earlier in our marriage, I resented Jon’s travel. Over the years, however, with better communication, honesty and intentionality, my husband and I have learned how to stay connected making our time apart more bearable and fruitful. While I don’t relish his being away I have cultivated a few habits to help us all navigate his travel interruptions.

Growing Spiritually

  • Spend time in the Word daily. More than ever, while Jon is away I need God’s perspective on life.
  • Remember God is the only one who can meet your needs. “And it is He who will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for us” Philippians 4:19
  • Begin and end your day with prayer. Pray for much-needed energy plus love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 Pray for your husbands as business travel usually is lonely and exhausting.
  • Cultivate a heart of gratitude. Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NCV) Thus, be grateful giving thanks for your husband, his job and all that it provides.
  • Find a friend to hold you accountable for your attitude and pray with and for you.  Knowing I have someone who is praying for me and cares has been a blessing.

Growing Personally

  • Get extra rest. I sometimes go to bed when my youngest daughter does.
  • Work on your favorite projects or personal interest. (Scrapbooks, painting, blogging, reading, gardening, etc.)
  • Start or join a moms group to encourage others. The more you give, the more you receive.
  • Build a support system of friends who are willing to help you out (babysitting co-op, play groups, etc.)
  • Phone a friend. I find a meaningful conversation both stimulating and helpful to carry on solo.
  • Keep things simple. Simple in regards cooking and obligations.
  • Keep your sanity (exercise, hiring a sitter, social interaction, daily quite time).
  • Ban yourself from nagging and complaining about his travel as well as comparing his job to others. Our husbands need to feel appreciated.
  • Plan a night out with friends or something special several days after his return thereby giving you something to anticipate.

Growing Together When Apart

  • Create a travel calendar especially when dad must go for an extended time. Include outings, obligations, and a welcome home celebration.
  • Plan fun outings while dad is away. Do a local search for “monthly family outings/events” in your area. Choose a few to do (a library reading for kids, free museum days, etc.). Planning gives kids something to look forward to and keeps all occupied.
  • Have dad map out where he will be traveling to so the family can follow his travels, AKA a geography lesson.
  • Have the kiddos hide notes or pictures in his suitcase. 
  • Tuck a love note in his briefcase.
  • Encourage dad to leave behind a special token with kids. Jon has a 1922 silver dollar that he gives to the girls to take care of when he is gone.
  • Plan special events the kids can look forward to when dad travels. When my husband is away, my girls get to sleep with me. Consequently, this is something that they have to look forward to. We eat breakfast for dinner.
  • Establish a daily time for dad to connect with the kids. Jon usually will call in the morning and before Cayley goes to bed. Today with the wonders of technology you can FaceTime, Skype, text, send silly movies and pictures to each other. Jon and Cayley have various ongoing games they play together (Scrabble, Draw Something, and others).

Growing Closer When Together

  • Welcome your husband home. Warmly greet him with a hug and kiss and teach your kids to do the same.
  • Create a cheerful atmosphere when he returns home. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:11-12
  • Ask about his trip and meetings. Jon likes when I show interest in what he does. The girls always ask him to share funny occurrences.
  • Plan a date night soon after he returns. 
  • Have a “staff meeting.” This is a tool that encompasses a weekly meeting and one soon after Jon returns to be sure we are on the same page in regards parenting goals and expectations, catching him up by sharing upcoming events, and other obligations.
  • Don’t forget that men spell love and appreciation S.E.X.

Now that we are re-experiencing parenting with our youngest daughter, it has become apparent that some things never change. Cayley cries like her sisters did ten years ago each time Jon heads out on a trip exclaiming, “Please don’t go, and “Do you really have to go daddy?” Secretly, Jon longs to hear these words as it reaffirms the special bond he has with our youngest and his desire to get back home as quickly as possible. My heart still aches with each departure but thankfully we’ve learned to stay better connected, joyful, and supportive of each other.

How do you stay connected while apart? What do you find the hardest to balance when your husband has to be away?  Which of the above suggestions might help your family stay better connected when future travel occurs?