I know that, in an effort to enforce modesty/femininity, many families have concrete standards for how their daughters should dress (no shorts, no skirts above the knees, etc.) and while this is one way to have a standard that everyone in the family can adhere to, we’ve chosen to tackle this topic differently with our children.
When most people talk about modesty and femininity, they mean the clothing choices that we make, but modesty is about more than what we wear.
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. ~ 1 Timothy2
Women are to adorn themselves with modesty, self-control and good works all this with submissiveness.
Our daughters can wear loose turtle necks with skirts down to their ankles and violate the heart of this ‘modesty’ command in 1 Timothy. So our approach has been to try to teach them, from the time they are born, to base every action and every decision on the Word of God to submit to Him in all things. This, we believe, will give them a heart of modesty and femininity.
Our three oldest girls are 16, 14 and 12 and they each have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to modesty and femininity.
Daughter A struggles with the femininity part of the issue. She’d much rather climb trees and wrestle with the boys than wear a dress or skirt.
Daughter B struggled with the beauty part of the issue. She dresses very modestly, but had struggled with keeping herself up and choosing items that were pretty on her.
Daughter C struggles with the ‘modest actions’ part of the issue. She dresses ‘modestly’ and she dresses beautifully, but she can be flirtatious and forward.
I think these differences demonstrate the difficulty in writing a post on how to teach modesty and femininity to girls. While we might encourage daughters A and B to wear prettier clothes, add some nice accessories and use a bit of makeup, there is no need for this instruction with daughter C.
And while we have told daughters A and C to not be quite so ‘friendly’ with the boys (in completely different ways, we have to tell daughter A not to wrestle with the boys and daughter C to be a bit more reserved in her speech with them), we’ve clearly told daughter B that she needs to be a little more outgoing and friendly with boys and young men.
Our goal is to teach our daughters to turn to the Word of God as their standard for modesty and femininity in dress and actions.
Teach the Bible
If your girls don’t know God and don’t know what the Bible says, we can not expect them to know God’s standard for modesty and femininity.
I know that I say it a lot, but it’s because we believe it’s so vitally important, your children should be in the habit of reading the Bible every. single. day. You should spend the majority of your ‘school’ time reading, memorizing and studying the Bible, it’s life to those who hear and it teaches us the only way to life and true happiness.
We don’t generally allow actions and dress in our little girls that won’t be fine when they are older. We do not allow them to dress or behave in a way that encourages men/boys to think of them as a sexual object. (For example, while we may dress our 2 year old daughter in a very short dress that shows her little matching diaper cover and looks like a sweet dress for a 2 year old, we won’t dress her in sweat pants that have something written across her bottom.)
We think that it would be confusing for a girl to receive positive attention for the first 4 – 10 years of her life by being flirtatious and dressing provocatively and then to tell her that those clothes/actions are not appropriate.
If your daughter respects her parents and desires to please God (who commands her to obey and respect her parents), if she knows that you love her and want what is best for her, if you have demonstrated this by pouring time into your relationship with her then, God willing, you should have very little conflict over this issue.
I mentioned earlier that we don’t have any concrete, set-in-stone, external standards for modesty. Instead, we make decisions on the modesty of clothes on an individual basis. This means that some of our girls may wear something that our other girls wouldn’t wear. We talk often and freely about clothes.
Generally, our girls will come to us with questions about whether or not something is modest. One of the first things we do is ask what they think about it. (I’m thinking this my be difficult if most of their daily influencers have never considered or do not care about God’s standard of modesty). Often our daughter’s standards of modesty are more strict than ours, so if something feels legitimately immodest to them, we don’t want to encourage them to wear it.
I realize this post is a bit of a hodge podge on this topic. If you have other specific questions or want to know more, please feel free to ask in the comment section.
You may also be interested in:
- Daily Bible Reading for Children
- Bible memorization for kids
- Teaching Bible to your kids and why it’s important
For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.