Thursday, August 2

Teaching the Heart of Modesty to our Kids

Teaching the heart of modesty to our children is a day to day process which begins from the time they are very small.  Personally, this is how we begin with our children.

First, we teach them that their genitals are private and special.  I've never known a toddler that doesn't love streaking around butt-naked and the last thing I want to convey to my children is that their genitals are in any way shameful or dirty.  So I specifically say things like, "We keep our undies on around other people because God made your body special and beautiful(handsome) and some parts of our bodies are extra special and private."  As the kids grow a bit older, we begin including the idea that those special areas that we keep private are to be kept private until they are married. For example, in conversation we might mention that God made the child's body handsome so that one day his wife can appreciate how handsome and strong he is.  We try to point every conversation that comes up about sexuality or anatomy to God's created design and function.  When our children are older still, we teach them more about the form and function of their bodies and their special value.
We've taught our children to look away when they see immodestly dressed bodies, or if they are up close and personal, to look at the person's face and eyes.  If we or our kids are having a conversation with someone, the last thing we want to do is be unloving.  If a kiddo of ours mentions noticing immodesty, and kids do, we cover it with love.  It is okay to teach your children that we love on people regardless of how they are dressed and that we need to be compassionate towards them because they most likely were not taught about keeping their bodies special.  Chances are more than not, that immodesty will be a temptation for our sons even in a church setting and they need to be taught how to deal with it realistically.
Teaching our children to physically dress in a modest manner has been pretty easy - I shop for their clothes and any gifted clothes are screened and then kept or passed on if they don't meet the standards of our home.  I hesitate to pinpoint exact standards because I don't want anyone taking our convictions and making them a rule, or slapping a legalistic label on ours. I will share that we like our daughters to look feminine and don't see anywhere in scripture that femininity is tied to long skirts (Jesus wore a long skirt :) and our boys to look like boys and not walking billboards for cartoons.  

There are practical things we can teach our daughters, like teaching them to bend over in a top to see if it falls open and reveals their chest or having our sons check to make sure their underwear are not sticking out of their pants. 

There is no reason for feminine or modest dress to look frumpy or saggy.  Our older two daughters each have their own certain style preferences that we let them follow: Ella loves bright and bold colors and Annaliese likes both modern styles and vintage styles.  With a little care and thought our dress can be attractive and pleasing to the eye (I love the fun of dressing and fashion!) but worn in a way that holds our brothers and sisters in Christ in regard.
For more encouragement or resources, check out:
Pure Freedom
The Gospel Coalition

Any tips or thoughts to add?