Jim Bob and I have always talked openly with the kids about modesty and about my missteps as a young lady. It's important to teach them so they can learn from our experiences. When I was a teenager, I had no clue as to what men thought. My focus was just on drawing attention. I always wanted my girlfriends to think I had the cute outfit and the pretty hair. It was all about impressing my friends and not really realizing that there is a responsibility involved with that. Jim Bob is very open about how men see things and what goes on in their minds. He explains the challenges from a male perspective so the kids understand both sides of things.
Because our family is so open and honest in our discussions, I find that my daughters are even more careful with their appearances. Their modesty is their own. They own it themselves. I'm not the one telling them what to wear. As my 12-year-old girls are growing and maturing, sometimes I'll have to mention to them when things are getting too snug or revealing. I realize it may be their favorite blouse or T-shirt from last season, but they're growing up a little bit more and things don't fit the same way now. The girls appreciate it and acknowledge that they didn't even realize that the clothes were becoming more revealing. Sometimes they just need someone to help them notice.
They will always have questions along the way as they walk their paths through life. They have to work it out in their own hearts and do what they feel is right. As they look at clothes that others might wear, they have to ask themselves, do I feel comfortable in that? Is that really what I need? Maybe I'm a little taller. My legs are longer. I can't really wear that and feel comfortable knowing that when I sit down, there's going to be a little bit more exposed than what needs to be. Sometimes they'll ask me, "Mom, how does this look? When I raise my arms, is this going to be too revealing?" And I might say, "Oh, well, yeah, now that you mention it." Our openness and honesty as a family helps them really think about their choices and what's important.
It's especially important to instill in our children that their inner beauty is what's most important. The goal is to draw attention to their inner light. We definitely encourage them to look nice and take care of themselves, but we let them know that they are beautiful on the inside and out.
Top Articles on Appropriate Clothing for Tweens and Teens: