Why Modesty Matters Even Early On

A guest post by our lovely mentor, Lorri!

Hi MOPS Moms! Gretchen had asked me after our “modesty” talk a couple weeks ago if I would be willing to share a bit on what my husband and I have done to teach this in our home. A daunting task! For one, we are not finished, for we still  have a 15 yr old at home.  Secondly, I feel like I’m constantly learning and certainly don’t feel like I have any wisdom on the subject. Despite my feelings, I felt like God was leading me to share what I have learned, and hopefully it will  encourage even ONE mom to go forward, and to lean on God for wisdom. This whole topic also bridges into our next MOPS topic in 2 weeks on SEX!

We believe that there are life-long implications in how we display and model modesty in our homes. It will most assuredly will affect the way that our kids will dress, act, and feel about themselves. Teaching our children modesty starts young, even in teaching our toddlers and modeling for them the privilege of using the bathroom in privacy. Mommy and daddy changing in privacy, especially mommy displaying privacy with sons, and daddy with daughters. Pretty early on in our marriage my husband was reading a book entitled Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time by Arterburn and Stoeker. I ended up picking it up and reading most of it in one night. I was intrigued, fascinated, and somewhat horrified in learning about the depth and frequency of this struggle that men are constantly faced and assaulted by in our culture. Following that experience, I had some very frank and revealing conversations with my man regarding his own struggles and men’s struggles in general.  Out of those conversations, we had 2 little boys then, came a determination to, first of all, pray fervently for our kids in this area.  Secondly, to model well and talk about it, regardless of how embarrassing it felt as a parent. Above anything that we have done as parents that has had an impact on our kids having a healthy view on modesty and sexual behavior has been seeking to  consistently pray for them. Praying, begging at times, for wisdom in our guidance and interactions on the subject. The enemy is waging a cultural and spiritual war for the hearts and minds of our kids. The battle has to begin on our knees if there is any hope for victory, large or small.

Much of the teaching we have done on the subject of modesty for both our boys and our daughter has been simply by “talking”, encouraging conversation about anything and everything. Silence sends a message. If parents are too  embarrassed to talk about anything sexual, that sends a negative message that there is something shameful about our bodies and sexuality. Children will be reluctant to ask questions or discuss anything with their parents that they think might embarrass them. Emphasize and reward honesty so your children will be open and honest with you about  everything that happens in their lives. Be respectful of all questions and don’t OVERREACT to anything. As they get older, this can be a real challenge, but I assure you, as one who has overreacted, it hinders them from coming to you the next time.

Scott and I have tried to be intentional in this area. Honestly, I grieved (and still do) the thought of my boys growing up in this world and having to face temptation and seek victory so often. I thought about the times that they would fail and not “bounce their eyes” then have the intense struggle of inward or outward sin that comes from lingering with their  eyes.  That has caused me as a mom to protect them as much as humanly possible, in the way I dress, in making my privacy a priority in our home, and limiting their exposure to sexual images as much as possible as they were young and as they have grown. That has meant a lot of monitoring for both Scott and I through their middle and high school years. What they were playing, who they were with, what they were watching and doing on their electronic devices. It can be exhausting, and husband and I were not always on the same page on what we would see as appropriate. Made for lively discussion between us! There were also devastating (yet growing) experiences when they were caught in their sin and it had to be dealt with. But, it is worth the effort!  What better environment for them, with parents who love them, to learn how to have victory over something they will likely struggle with most of the rest of their lives.

We are smack-dab in the middle of teenage-hood with our daughter.  Pretty much from the get-go, we have recognized that a “girl” is a whole different species. In regards to modesty, my example, as a mom, has become almost inseparable to what she does.  Children automatically tend to imitate their parents, and I especially see this in daughters.  Attitudes and actions are caught more often than taught. If I don’t want her to wear a bikini in high school, then I shouldn’t wear one or buy her one when she’s a toddler. If my goal is to draw attention to myself by the way I dress, even if it is modest, then most likely she will grow up having that same attitude in her clothing and choices. If I look in the mirror and  verbally or non-verbally communicate that I don’t like what I see, you will see that in your daughter at some point. Thankfully, our daughters are resilient and forgiving, mine has responded well when I have pointed out my wrong attitude and asked for forgiveness. She has seen me asking for my husband’s opinion on what a certain outfit is  communicating, or if it’s too short or too low, and she will now occasionally ask him what he thinks about what she’s  wearing. There have been a few times where we told her we thought it was too short, and she has readily agreed to change – we are so hoping that continues! When she was 11, I took her on a “Passport2Purity Getaway” (available  through familylife.org). That weekend began to build heart-to-heart communication and conversations that we are still building on today.  The 5 audio teaching sessions, object lessons and guided conversations help you begin discussions and get you over the hump of embarrassment for both of you with subjects like sex, boundaries, love, peer pressure and relationships with God and with friends.  My husband did this program with each of the boys when they were around that age also. We’ve found the program to be an invaluable tool in being intentional and beginning some of those harder conversations. Put it in your mental file for a few years. 🙂 My daughter does know what a sexual image does to a boy’s eyes, heart, and body. She doesn’t like me  talking about it, but we have talked about it many times, and she knows that God created a man that way, and it’s a good thing in the confines of marriage. I wish I would have known that as a teenager!

One final note of encouragement: please do not be discouraged if there is failure along the way.  We have by no means always prayed consistently.  We have screwed up many times in our example, and even by our reactions and things we’ve allowed them to be exposed to. Yet, God has and will always be forgiving and faithful to bring good out of our mistakes.  He, thankfully has our kids in the palm of His Hand. Please know that any one of us mentors would be happy to chat with you or answer any questions regarding this subject of modesty or even about our next topic coming up! ♥