When experienced Raleigh area parents were asked to share practical advice for training children to make wise choices regarding modesty, they listed prayer as the most important and most effective thing parents can do for their children. They also noted that parents should focus on helping their children understand that they are priceless, purposed for purity, and Papa’s priority.
Parents can begin training a child’s heart to prefer modesty during the child’s earliest years. Parents must help their children understand that they are lavishly loved by God and have infinite worth in His sight. Singing songs like “Jesus Loves Me” together as part of the child’s bedtime routine helps reinforce this truth. While little children may be too young to comprehend the ultimate price Christ paid for them on the cross, when John 3:16 and other Bible verses about God’s love are repeated to them often during childhood, the reality of their infinite value begins to take root in their hearts.
When a little girl enters the princess stage, she is especially receptive to learning that as a daughter of the King of Kings, she is the ultimate princess. Since fairy tales tend to place far too much emphasis on outer beauty, parents should help children understand that true beauty comes from within. Kathryn O’Brien’s book, I’d Be Your Princess: A Royal Tale of Godly Character, is an excellent book to read to girls at this age because it teaches girls to value inner character over outward beauty. Kids love this book because it includes beautiful illustrations and a fun imaginative narration. O’Brien also wrote a companion book for boys entitled, I’d Be Your Hero: A Royal Tale of Godly Character.
Purposed for Purity
Once girls being to understand their infinite worth in Christ, the implications of God’s possession of them become more apparent.
1 Corinthians 6:20
You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
God purposed His people for purity. Parents should teach each child that his or her body belongs to God and is a gift that should be protected and kept pure for his or her future spouse. Teens can look on Ebay and quickly observe that used items are priced much lower than brand new items sold in-the-box. If God paid so high a price to purify His people from their sins, why would anyone want to do anything that would devalue himself or herself in the eyes of man? Those who dress or act immodestly are throwing off the box and allowing their bodies to be used by multiple people as “eye-candy” or worse.
One Raleigh parent used a rose analogy to teach his daughter to value modesty. Roses in full bloom are beautiful. When a woman exposes her body, it is like plucking off rose petals to share with others. As a result, she will not be able to bring her full bloom best to her forever mate. It would have been much better if she had safeguarded her petals by purposefully remaining pure.
Another parent instructed his daughter by taking her outside to observe nature. They noted together that in nature, the male seeks to impress the female. For example, the male peacock struts with his feathers out to get the female’s attention. Men should pursue women instead of women trying to attract men. A godly man may notice a woman dressed immodestly, but he will seek a more modestly dressed and virtuous woman to become his wife.
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
Helpful books regarding this subject include Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot and Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard.
Parents must never underestimate the role of the father in helping their daughter value modesty. Counselors at crisis pregnancy centers have noted that most of their clients come from homes where the father is either physically or emotionally absent. Girls who do not receive the love, attention, affection, and affirmation they earnestly desire from their fathers will go to great lengths to get this attention, affection and affirmation elsewhere. These girls quickly learn that nothing gets a boy’s attention faster than dressing immodestly. Unfortunately, the attention each of these girls receives is usually not the healthy kind that her heart desperately needs, so she ends up with a broken heart and all too often, an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. Fathers must make conscious efforts to tangibly express love to their daughters. Spending quality time with his daughter must be a father’s priority. His daughter still needs his affection when she is a teenager. She needs to hear him praise her and tell her how much she means to him. Additionally, a faithful father who honors his wife and values purity sets a wonderful example for his daughter of the type of man she should consider for marriage some day.
Once these three principles are in place, a teen girl is more likely to choose modest clothing. However, nothing parents do can guarantee that their daughters will make wise choices regarding personal modesty. The last installment of this series will address the scenario in which the child rejects the parents’ standard for modest dress and provide additional resources.