5 Ways to Help Your Daughter Dress Modestly
Summer is basically upon us. Which means, sweaters and scarves are long gone, and shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits are back in. And can I just say, as a mom of girls, clothing is a lot more complicated in the Summer! Culturally speaking, our girls are told to flaunt whatever they feel like flaunting. The problem is, that’s simply not okay, biblically speaking.
The Bible doesn’t spell out how short shorts can be, or how low shirts should go, or how much skin is too much, or how tight is too tight —So the lines of modesty are gray. But the need for modesty is black and white.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 says,
…women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
There’s no way around it, God expects us to dress modestly. While the Apostle Paul was writing about a specific audience and was giving specific examples of inappropriate attire, the principles still apply today. Basically, Paul was speaking against an outward appearance that was showy, provocative, or purposefully drawing attention to one’s self. And with that, he clarifies it’s our godliness that should beautify us most (1 Timothy 2:10).
If there ever was a day and age in which it would be hard to teach our kids modesty, it would have to be today! Showy, provocative, attention-drawing bodies are everywhere. Movies, social media, the internet, ads, and certainly peers, all display anything but God’s standard (and godliness sure isn’t the focus!). And yet, that is exactly what we want our girls to do— We want them to gladly embrace and display obedience to God, all the way down to the clothing they put on each morning.
What a job we have as parents! If you are up for the task (and I hope you are!) here are 5 ways to help your daughter understand and pursue modesty:
1. Talk about modesty as early as possible.
Whatever the age of your daughter, you can (and should) talk to her about modesty. In fact, the younger you start, the more it will be a natural part of her thinking.
On a basic level, teach your daughter about appropriate clothing for different occasions (such as church vs. the beach). On the heart level, help her focus on others when she goes places, rather than hoping everyone notices her. And on a deeper level, explain that certain areas of her body are meant to stay private, and modesty implies you don’t draw attention to those areas.
At some point you should discuss the beauty of God’s design for sex and attraction in the context of marriage…and the corresponding implication that we should save alluring clothing choices for the confines of the marriage relationship.
2. Be a good example.
If you want your daughter to be modest, you have to set that example. Other influences will come and go, but you can be the faithful example she’ll remember when she thinks of genuine godly beauty. With that, you might as well show her that modesty doesn’t equal frumpy! She should see, in you, the obvious attractiveness of a woman who takes care of herself without purposely trying to draw attention to herself.
3. Parent like you do in every other area.
Often times moms (of teens especially) seem to be at a loss when it comes to their daughter’s clothing. There can be so much working against a parent that it’s tempting to just give up and let our girls wear whatever they want. But surely we know we can’t give up on caring about their attitude or their behavior — yet the same is true of modesty.
So just as you state your expectations in all other areas of life, and just as you follow through with appropriate consequences — do the same when they rebel against your clothing standards. If nothing else, explain that even if she doesn’t think God cares about the clothing she wears, God cares that she obeys you (Ephesians 6:1).
Along these lines, remember if you have little ones: A precedent is being set when you tell your daughter she needs to wear something and she fights you. She may have no desire to dress immodestly, but she is learning whether she’s in charge, or whether she needs to listen (to you and ultimately God).
4. Be flexible at the right times.
You don’t want to be known for being a stickler just because you are a stickler. And you don’t need to push your preferences in order to create a mini-me. Your standards should come from Scripture. Which means you can allow for a little creativity if it fits within the biblical parameters. Your daughter might even listen to you better if she sees you only speak up when it really matters.
A good example of this is when your daughter doesn’t exactly match, or she wears weird things like tights under overalls (or is that just my “creative” one?). Often times, we make a bigger deal over our preferences that have nothing to do with biblical wisdom.
5. Remember God’s commands are good.
Both us and our girls need to remember that God is not a kill-joy. When God tells us to do something (like dress modestly), it is good and right, and ultimately it’s in our best interest. So even when our daughters don’t understand, let’s remind them that they can trust God on the matter. He knows what he’s doing, and obeying him is always worth it.
Though it’s entirely counter-cultural, let’s focus not on drawing attention to our good looks or bodies. Instead, let’s make it our aim (both moms and daughters) to truly live (and dress) to glorify God!
P.S. I wrote this with my daughters in mind, but if you are a mom of boys this is a topic to be sure you are discussing with them as well! Modesty is for everyone!
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