If you’ve been a girl mom for any length of time, you’ve probably struggled to find acceptable wardrobe options for her.
Skinny jeans, plunging necklines, and pants plastered with saying across the rear abound on the clothing store racks. Costumes for dance recitals seem to get shorter and skimpier every year.
The fashion trend in our culture is not to cover up, but to show it off!
Even though my daughter is only nine, the battle over appropriate outfits has already begun. She practically lives in leggings, and it’s a fight to get her into a pair of jeans once in a while.
I don’t want it to become an even bigger battle later on, when the stakes are higher. For her right now, it’s all about comfort.
But I know in the not too distant future, she won’t understand why she can’t wear the comfy, see-through shirt or the daisy duke shorts that may be a stumbling visual block.
We have to be careful that as our daughters are growing and maturing, though, we don’t force a bunch of man-made rules on them.
Modesty is so much more than just making sure your top doesn’t reveal too much cleavage; it’s an attitude of the heart!
A woman who is covered up can still have a thoroughly immodest attitude. Each of us must be less concerned with rules of dress and more concerned with the heart of the matter before the Lord.
1. Teach Her Humility
Your daughter must understand the importance of a modest heart before you even begin discussing the issue of dress with her. True modesty means not purposely drawing attention to one’s self.
Your daughter may not wear immodest clothing, but she may still obsess over matching the colors of her outfits or spend hours in front of the mirror on her hair.
Pride and vanity can be so very subtle. And honestly, pride and vanity can almost seem pretty cute when they come packaged in a sweet little person whom you love and adore. But pride is still a sin and must be dealt with.
Teach her from a young age that she shouldn’t dress in a certain way because her friends will think she’s pretty or compliment her. When she says “so-and-so will love my outfit”, respond with “I bet she’ll be really happy to see you, too!”
Steer her heart towards the underlying problem- pride points others to one’s self; humility points people toward Jesus.
2. Share What It Means to Honor the Lord
An attitude of modesty begins with a desire to honor God. Talk with your daughter about what this looks like in her day to day life.
When we seek to bring glory and honor to Him, we will be more concerned with what’s acceptable to God instead of what’s acceptable to the world. We will seek to represent the characteristics of our Creator, which include orderliness and natural beauty.
Some questions you can help her think through are:
- Does this more closely resemble love for the world or love for God? (1 John 2:15-17)
2. Does this show that I’m set apart for holiness? (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Timothy 2:21)
3. Does this encourage others to pay attention to my external attributes or my inner beauty? (1 Peter 3:3-4)
These questions apply to all matters she will face in life, not just dress.
3. Don’t Judge Others
Personal convictions shouldn’t be a measure by which we condemn other people. Pointing out how other girls are dressed at her school or out at the mall can inspire a lack of humility in your daughter’s heart.
When you draw a sharp comparison between her clothing choices and another person’s, it sets her up to judge or look down on someone else.
It’s helpful instead to say things like, “This is what the Bible teaches, and this is how God has led our family to apply it. Other families are accountable to God for their choices, just as we are.”
We will all have varying opinions of what is attention-grabbing and what is simple, acceptable adornment.
4. Avoid Overemphasizing the “Stumbling Block” Principle
The stumbling block principle says that out of love for fellow believers and a desire to prefer them over ourselves, we should be careful not to cause them to stumble, or be tempted.
However, it should not be the sole reason for modesty, nor should it be used to incite fear or punishment because we somehow “make” another person sin.
The last thing you want to do is make your daughter ashamed of her body! This is the same body reserved for intimacy with her husband, and the same one that will give life to your grandchildren someday.
The Bible doesn’t forbid women to be beautiful. It says beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31:30), so it’s not wise to invest so much time in personal appearance, but we don’t have to hide or downplay our natural beauty.
While it’s probably not a good idea for your daughter to wear that string bikini to the pool party, she shouldn’t have to settle for an unseemly frock either.
Again, as we honor our Creator we should aim to reflect Him, and being disorderly and disheveled are not traits of His. A preoccupation with modesty is still a preoccupation with self.
5. Set a Good Example
While you’re still in control of what she wears because you control the pocketbook, keep in mind that what looks super cute and innocent on her now might make an altogether different statement ten years from now!
A good rule of thumb to follow is: if you wouldn’t buy the same outfit for her at 13 that you would at 3, don’t get it.
While modesty does mean the attitude of your heart, it should also be reflected in your external appearance. Modesty is fleshed out through lifestyle.
So help your daughter establish a habit early of selecting flattering, but tasteful clothing. And pay attention to what you wear and how you may be calling attention to yourself.
The Bible is clear that what’s in our hearts comes out in our way of life (Proverbs 27:19, Mark 7:21-23). Modesty starts in the heart, but it doesn’t end there.
Ultimately, help your daughter see that we’re allowed, within the confines of modesty and humility, to live within cultural norms where they do not compromise our obedience to Christ.
There are plenty of fashionable, modest, and feminine clothing choices that do not purposely draw attention to ourselves. We are freed from unnecessary burdens when we just want to please our Savior!