Modesty Is An Orientation of the Heart

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As a mother of three daughters I desire to instill in them both dignity and modesty.

My daughters grew up in an environment that valued modesty. As such, we did our best to show them how their attire and demeanor had a correlation with the way they would be treated by men. 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. As such, our daughters began to understand that wearing little clothing was like advertising their bodies.

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7 Tips for teaching MODESTY to children

M Modesty first begins with you. Model virtue and beauty to your children and point out positive role models.

O Own it. Teach your children to walk with confidence and self-respect.

D Define standards for modesty early on and stick to these standards. It is important to be clear and consistent. If you haven’t set the tone early on, it will be harder to expect your teens to suddenly cover themselves up.

E Explain the reasons behind your decisions. As your children mature, dialogue with them about modesty and ask them what they think.

S Scrutinize clothing choices with your children as well as their media choices. Once again, it is helpful to maintain open communication with your children.

T Train your children to think about the reasons behind their choices. This is often accomplished through open dialogues, because it provides a safe outlet for your children to express their thoughts.

Y Your body is good. Modesty should never be about shaming the female body. We simply dress modestly because our bodies are God’s masterpieces. In fact, our bodies are a ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’.

So how is a woman to dress?  In response to this question I wonder whether or not it is about the clothing, or lack there of, or if it is more about the heart attitude. We should be asking our daughters why they choose the outfits they do. Are they trying to bring attention and glory to themselves, or to God? Are they mimicking what others are wearing to fit in? It’s certainly okay to look nice and fashionable, but I believe that the posture of the heart is key. This can be accomplished by encouraging our children to cultivate a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus. I encourage you to be active and interested in your children’s spiritual development.

1 Timothy 2:9 And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.

1 Peter 3:3-4 (3) Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. (4) You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 

It is impossible to dress in a way that prevents other people from stumbling 100% of the time. This, however, 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 and standing tall. 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 poise, grace and a sense of value that naturally manifests itself through the attire that is chosen on a daily basis. Teach your daughters their value and instill in them an understanding of their strength.

Fathers, I encourage you to be present in your daughter’s lives and let them know how proud of them you are and how beautiful they are. Let them know that they are leaders and they have a powerful voice. This, in return, will have the greatest impact on what your child chooses to wear. You can teach them about modesty, and by all means please do, 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.

How do you handle modesty? I’d enjoy hearing from you.

Let’s Talk Sex, Before They Head Off To School

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As children transition from home to a school setting, it becomes increasingly important to keep the communication lines open. It is during this transition that your child gains an increase of both positive and negative influences. When my eldest daughter went to school she started coming home with some very interesting ideas about sexuality. I soon discovered that my daughter was hearing secondhand information from the girl that sat next to her in class.

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With an increase in external influences, it is often a good idea to start giving your children a few more details about sex. Before freaking out, I encourage you to just take a breath. I realize that this may seem like an extremely young age to talk about sex, but if you don’t share with your children who will? Remember our children are like sponges, if you don’t give them accurate information, chances are that they will begin to soak up misguided information from peers, a personal experience, or the Internet. When parents are a safe source of information, however, children are more likely to direct questions to this source versus looking it up on their own or asking others.

Something else to be aware of at this age is pornography. What? MY child looking at… Porn? No way! Well, I understand your sentiments, but according to Focus on the Family, some researchers state that many kids with access to computers have their first exposure to pornography around the age of eight.  It starts out innocent enough, but often becomes a silent addiction. Most often, kids will simply search Google to find out what sex is or other unknown words and will innocently stumble upon pornographic sites. Kids will even show other kids pornography around this age. Many children do not have parents that they can truly talk to about these sorts of things, because their parents either get mad at them, are not a safe place to actually asks questions, or are embarrassed to answer openly and honestly. This is why it is of upmost importance for parents to truly have a grasp on what they are going to share, when they are going to share, and how they are going to share. A plan of action is important. Parents, make sure that you are talking amongst yourselves about this topic!

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Before delving into the sex talk, I would suggest focusing on teaching your younger children godly morals. This might consist of talking to your children about modesty, appropriate entertainment choices, and music. As a family, you could memorize Philippians 4:8 together. This verse helps instill an understanding of seeking what is true, pure, lovely, and admirable. Actions are more important than words. I would encourage you to not only talk about modesty, but also model it for your daughters. While my daughters were young, I would help them navigate through appropriate choices at the store. When we got home, my daughters would model their clothes for my husband. This was a fun way to talk about modesty and make sure that both parents felt comfortable with the fashion choices. Sometimes this meant that we would return a shirt or skirt, but it was all a learning process for our family. When my husband would go shopping with my girls, he would encourage a conversation about modesty by talking to them about how many of the girls on the magazine covers needed more clothing.   He would explain that he wanted to protect our girls from unsafe people by helping them make wise and modest choices. This taught our daughters that modest is a way to honor themselves and those around them.

Some things to consider regarding media choices:

  • Help your children navigate media choices by looking over “Purity Guide for Your Eyes: Navigating our Sexually Saturated World.”
  • Limit your children’s TV and video exposure. According to a recent study by KFF, the average program features five or more sexual references per hour. In addition, only 9 percent of these widely watched shows ever mention responsible behavior, such as abstinence or using contraception.
  • Don’t allow laziness and pride to prevent you from changing an inappropriate movie. The kids may complain but it’s a great teachable moment.  (Phil 4:8)
  • Just because a movie is rated PG it doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for your children.
  • Be sure to explain the whys behind your decisions.
  • When at a friend’s house, have your children call for permission about movie choices.

While modesty is a huge topic for young girls, it is helpful to begin to talk to boys about what it means to be a gentleman. Fathers, model this for your sons by opening the door for your wife and being respectful of other women. Once again, children learn best from example. Talk to your boys about appropriate language and use appropriate language yourself. Our family would allow our daughters to use whatever words we used. This held us to a higher standard. Sometimes, we would use an inappropriate word and our daughters would catch us. It was humbling at times, but we would apologize to our daughters, and by doing so, once again raise the standard. In addition to using appropriate language, talk to your boys about pornography. This is prevalent amongst young men and is a wise thing to begin to discuss at a young age. It is impossible to avoid seeing sexually stimulating material, but you can teach your sons how to properly view women and honor them with their minds. Obviously this will be a topic addressed as your children continue to grow up, but it is good to dialogue with your children about it from an early age and show them what to do with the things that they see and how to make wise choices.

I am sure your head is spinning. The idea of talking to your young child about sex is probably a bit daunting. Let me remind you that this is just a suggestion. If your child is being homeschooled you might consider teaching them a bit later, but it is important for you to be aware of the risk of waiting to give the talk or simply avoiding it all together. When parents are silent, children learn from another source. Oftentimes, this source is inaccurate or leads to unnecessary experimentation.

Recommended Resources for ages 5-8

Let’s Talk Sex – Purity Guide for Your Eyes – Navigating Our Sexually Saturated World

So many helpful resources. These are just a few from our library.

So many helpful resources. These are just a few from our library.

The last few days I have been busy preparing to give a talk entitled “How to Teach Your Children About Sex.” I have truly enjoyed the process of gathering information, as I know the gravity of sharing accurate and specific information with my daughters and others. Today I’m excited to share this information with a group of women who attend a private school here in Austin.  I am a gatherer and giver of information. The process and preparation has helped me to reevaluate if I am on track with our youngest Cayley.  Thankfulness overwhelms me as I consider the choices my older daughters have made and continue to make in regards to dating, purity, modesty, etc… They both are incredible role models.

Caryn (24) and Courtney (22) both learned about sex when I became pregnant with their sister Cayley who is a decade younger than them. Home education has many benefits, one of which is using teachable moments. As such, I ended up creating my own sex education curriculum using the Miracle of Life DVD, a pregnancy journal with the baby’s weekly development, doctors appointments, and misc. books. Their life lesson concluded in the delivery room at 4am on April 6th 2001 when Cayley made her grand entrance into the world.

Recently I have had several interesting conversations with one of my daughters regarding sex. She ended up thanking me for being open, approachable, and honest in regards to talking to her about sex at an early age. It is sad how many young people are uninformed.

Be sure to sign up on my landing page to receive your copy of the Purity Guide for Your Eyes, Navigating Our Sexually Saturated World.  TVsubscribe I’ve prepared this resource to help others make informed decisions regarding media, gaming, and music choices.  I’ve included internet lingo and shorthand for your benefit.  Plus, since as parents we all desire to protect our children from stumbling across inappropriate sites, I’ve include a list of Internet filter providers and wireless providers.  This is an up to date and comprehensive guide.

Oh! Be Careful little eyes what you see.

Below are a few of the facts I came across on Media Wise Choices

  • More than 80% of popular teen TV shows contain sexual content.
  • 70% of content once considered “R” rated now appears in PG-13 movies.
  • Teens exposed to more sexual content in TV, movies, and music tend to have sex at younger ages and to engage in risky sex.
  • 59 million kids, aged 2-17, regularly play video games. One out of seven shows signs of an addiction. One out of three boys admitted that they feel addicted.
  • Research shows that media violence has not just increased in quantity; it has also become more graphic, sexual, and sadistic.
  • The average child who watches 2 hours of cartoons per day may see more than 10,000 violent acts every year.
  • 55% of teens have a social networking profile on a site like Facebook or MySpace.
  • 64% of online teens say that most of them do things online that they would not want their parents to know about.
  • Over 40% of preteens and teens surveyed said they have encountered nudity and pornography on the Internet.
  • The majority of users of online pornography are 12-17 year old boys.
  • MySpace, a site popular with tweens and teens, reported that it had identified and removed 29,000 convicted sex offenders caught using the site.
  • One in five children will be approached by a sexual predator online.

This is the first of five+ posts to help you navigate through talking to your child(ren) about sex. I will include age specific posts with key topics to present along with recommended resources for each developmental stage.  So come back to visit. Be sure not to miss any by signing up to receive the series in your inbox.  Blessings.