Q&A: Forming Convictions About Modesty
My husband and I are concerned about some of today's fashion trends for children and for teenagers. How can we convince our daughter to not wear clothing that, to be honest, makes her look like a slut?
Dennis: I think it's safe to assume that many of today's clothing designers do not share your biblical convictions. Your job as parents is to set some boundaries and guidelines that can guide your children even before they enter the teenage years.
We sought to build a number of convictions within our children on this issue. Perhaps the most important is the conviction that their appearance and dress should not emphasize their body, but their heart's loyalty to Christ. Another conviction is: When in doubt, modesty is the best policy.
We believe it's time for a modesty revolution—a return to what the apostle Paul said: "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God" (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
Modesty in clothing is a particularly critical issue for girls. Boys pay more attention to a more enticing appearance. That's enjoyable for girls, but they often don't fully realize the values they are portraying and what type of boys they're wooing.
The earlier our young women begin learning modesty, the better. It is very hard for teenage girls to cover up more as they mature physically when they've not been trained in modesty from an early age, especially when they are living in a culture that encourages females to flaunt their bodies.
Barbara: Dads can help their daughters by teaching them how a young man thinks when he sees a young lady who is dressed immodestly. One practical way of doing this is taking your daughter on a date and going shopping with her. It will help you appreciate the challenge a young lady faces when she wants to dress modestly. As you walk around you can talk frankly about why it's important for a girl to dress modestly and cultivate the inner person of the heart. Talk about why some young women want the attention that dressing immodestly brings. Discuss what type of young man a young lady is likely to attract when she inappropriately flaunts her sexual beauty.
Dennis: A mom could take her son on a similar date. She might point out why girls appreciate boys who know how to dress appropriately and attractively. Boys often only want to wear t-shirts—and some carry repulsive or suggestive messages. Is this an image he wants to present? He doesn't need to use his chest as a billboard for something that violates good values and standards.
Barbara: As a parent you must prayerfully decide which fads are truly sinful or just choices on appearance your child can make on his own. Where are you going to draw the line and where are you willing to negotiate? The answers to those questions will vary for each family. But a good bottom line is that the appearance must be modest and God-honoring.
Barbara Rainey contributed to this article
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