We hear it time and time again – the over-sexualization of our culture. However, we don’t really do anything about it. On the one hand, we constantly hear and see the objectification of women and girls. However, we also see women objectifying themselves. Furthermore, the trendy fashions of today don’t help and even cause many fights between daughters and parents.
Talking about and teaching modesty can be a highly contentious conversation for parents and their daughters. Screaming fights to slamming doors to even rebellion can be a result of a modesty conversation gone awry. Despite how hard it may be, we should never avoid talking about it. In fact, it should be just as important as talking about sex and chastity. When the time comes, here are three tips to navigating the modesty talk with your daughter.
1. Start Teaching Modesty Early.
As with most life lessons, starting them early is one of the best ways to avoid a potential blowout argument when they get older. When we teach girls to dress modestly from a young age, they’re less likely to rebel against a “new rule” as teenagers. We teach our children such lessons as cleaning up, sharing, and the importance of personal hygiene, but we never really talk about appropriate clothing. It may be that for years we spend the time and money to buy and pick out their clothes. However, when they start picking out their own clothes, it becomes a battle of demands and oftentimes rebellion instead of obedience. Teaching girls from when their young how to pick out clothes, determining what is appropriate and why, is just as important as teaching them to put away their toys when they’re done playing.
2. It’s Not About Hiding Away.
Even teaching her from when she’s very young, eventually the time will come when your daughter may choose an outfit that is far too revealing. In order for her to understand why that’s not a right choice, it’s important to emphasize that it’s not about hiding her body because she should be ashamed or afraid of it. Young teenage girls are very easily influenced and have fragile self-esteems. Between pressure from friends at school to TV shows and music, they’re often caught between pleasing the world and pleasing God. It may sound cheesy and cliché to you, but using such words as “special” and “beautiful” make all the difference to a 13-year-old girl. Using phrases such as “your body is special and a gift for you” as opposed to “no one else should see your body” not only helps build their self-esteem, but also appreciate their own body instead of being ashamed of it.
3. Have An Honest Discussion.
Oftentimes, the discussion around modesty and chastity end up being negative and giving the impression that sex and sexual attraction are bad. However, in having a successful discussion on modesty, it needs to be honest. Modesty isn’t about sex or sexual attraction being bad. It’s about understanding that modesty, along with chastity, is about beauty and respect of the gifts God has given us. Just as we teach our children why we don’t litter – because we need to be good stewards of the earth – so, too, we need teach our children about respecting the human body. We are called to be good stewards of not only the earth, but of all God’s creation and the gifts He has given us, which includes our bodies.
And God Said It Was Good.
The most important thing to remember when talking about modest dress with your daughter is to emphasize the beauty and specialness of the human body – both male and female:
And God said, Let us make man, wearing our own image and likeness; let us put him in command…of the whole earth…So God made man in his own image, made him in the image of God. Man and woman both, he created them…And God saw all that he had made, and found it very good. (Gen 1:26-31 – Msgr. Ronald Knox Latin Vulgate Translation)