“She wore an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie, yellow polka dot bikini….”
Until her Dad saw what she was trying on and said, “Get back in the house! You’re not going out in public like that!!”
On and on the battle rages--Christian Moms and Dads attempting to go against the culture and teach their daughters to dress like godly young ladies. Many thank God for liberal store return policies when their daughters come home from the mall with their treasures that are just a little too tight, a little too short, or a smidge too revealing. As the temperatures heat up, so does the discussion about how little is too little when it comes to clothing. Honestly, the “modesty discussion” can become one of the biggest battlegrounds Christians parents face in their efforts to raise Christian kids. It can be exhausting for a Christian Dad to be the voice for modesty in a culture that screams the accolades of sexiness.
But let’s be honest---being a teenage girl isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. In 2014, there seems to be one answer to every problem: be Sexy.
If you want to make friends---be sexy.
If you want to be popular---be sexy.
To be successful---be sexy.
To gain approval---be sexy.
To attract boys---dress sexy.
If you want to have a good time---act sexy.
In the world of multi-media, text messages, Facebook, and i-pods, the concept that “Happiness comes to the sexy” is sold 24/7. Even young girls who love Jesus and want to follow Him wholeheartedly can’t help but be influenced by the message: You’re nothing if you’re not beautiful and sexy.
That’s why your job as a dad is so difficult. The truth is that you’re not really arguing with your daughter about her choice of clothing. The true battleground is about her identity, her self-worth, and her desire to blend in and be just like everybody else. That’s why she’s fighting so hard to wear those shorts that are way too short with a shirt that’s cut far too low. She wants to blend in. As a Christian Dad, it’s your job to teach her to stick out and be counter-culture. You’re not just teaching her how to dress. You’re teaching her how to see herself, where to find her identity, and how to present herself to the world. That’s a lot of responsibility riding on a trip to the mall!
We live in a culture that says, “I’m defined by my appearance---how I look is who I am.” As a Christian Father, it’s your job to teach your daughter to look beyond her wardrobe and her makeup case to find her identity. It’s your responsibility to point her in the right direction.
What are some directions you can point her?
1. Teach her to find her identity as God’s Daughter.
Our culture teaches girls today that their worth and value is based on their looks and their sexiness. I was recently watching a show where a 9 year old girl asked her parent if she looked sexy in what she had on…9 YEARS OLD!!!
Girls are programmed to think cool, popular girls have to be skinny and dress scantily so boys will like them. Your job as a Christian dad is to show her what her real identity is…a daughter of God!
Teach her that her true beauty and value comes from her identity as God’s daughter. Rather than allowing her to focus all of her energy on “beautifying” her appearance, encouraged her to focus her energy on building her personal relationship with God and learning to see herself through His eyes.
Dad’s must teach their daughters that her value and identity are not determined by who asks them out or the opinion of the popular girls, but it is determined by God’s view of her.
I know this may sound trite, “Tell your daughter God loves her”, but it is a very important part of forming her identity. From cradle to college, and even beyond, you need to encourage your daughter to look to God for her identity, her value, and her worth. It is only when she finds her value as His Image Bearer and His precious daughter that she will learn to love herself.
The best place for her to make choices and decisions in life is from a position of her responding to His love. When she sees herself through His eyes, she will want to obey His commands not because you told her it was the right thing to do, but because she loves Him and wants to do what will make Him happy.
2. Make her feel loved and valued as YOUR daughter.
Growing up, my Mom did not have a great support system. Her father passed away and her Mom was overwhelmed. Making her daughters feel loved and valued was not high on Grandma’s priority list. However, my Mom determined that my sister and I would have a different life than she did. Throughout our lives, we always knew that we were loved and we had value because we were Kathy’s kids.
This is a gift that every dad can give her children. Even if you didn’t receive this level of acceptance growing up, you can give your children unconditional love, support, and encouragement. You can never start too early. From the day she’s born until the day you go to be with Jesus, your daughter should know that she is loved and treasured because she is yours---not because of how she looks or what she can do---but just because she’s your daughter.
Perhaps no one understands the value of this gift more than those who weren’t given it. This country is filled with women who always had to be the prettiest, the smartest, the most popular, or the most successful to gain their parent’s approval. That’s a tragedy. But it’s a tragedy your daughter doesn’t have to endure. You can give her the gift of knowing that no matter what she looks like or doesn’t look like, you see her as valuable, lovable, and special.
3. Teach her to focus my her abilities and talents, not appearance.
Young girls can become obsessed with their appearance. It’s your job to say, “Enough” and refocus some of their energy toward other areas. Forcing them to walk away from the mirror and participate in other activities will help them find out who they are, not just how they look.
What talents does she have that could be further developed?
Can she sing, act, write, or play an instrument?
Maybe it’s time she was given more responsibility around the house.
What about volunteering to help with a community outreach? This is a great way to develop skills and self-esteem.
Perhaps it’s time she got a part-time job.
Is she great with kids? Why not have her start babysitting or helping out in the Kid’s Department at church?
It’s never too early to start encouraging your daughter to develop into a well-rounded woman. The more successful dimensions you add to her life, the less time and energy there will be to focus on appearances. More importantly, the more positive feedback she gets from other areas, the less she’ll search for her identity in how she looks. This direction will help her figure out early on that society is lying---the answer to every dilemma isn’t “be sexy”. It’s being who God created you to be and enjoying your life as that person.
4. Teach her God’s Principles of Dating
Ask any father of a teenage girl, “Why do young girls want to dress sexy?” and you’ll be sure to hear this answer: “Boys!”
Young girls want boys to like them and ask them out on dates. Modern culture tells them, “The way to attract boys is to dress sexy.”
As a Christian Dad, it’s your job to teach them that these are not the types of boys they want to date. Ultimately, God has given you the responsibility of being their Guide to Dating 101. If you wait until they are 13 to start teaching these lessons, it’s too late. You need to start young.
After all, when do little girls start thinking about little boys? When they start playing house.
That’s the perfect time to start teaching your daughter what type of “husband and daddy” she wants when she grows up. Emphasize that he should be a man who loves Jesus and wants to live his life according to the Bible. He should be a nice man, a good man, someone who will treat her kindly and not be mean to her or the kids.
As she gets older, you need to teach her to look for a husband who respects women, and treats them right. Make sure he’s honest, loyal, hard-working, generous, and trustworthy. Above all else, teach her that it isn’t her job to find a man. It is her job to follow Jesus and allow Him to bring the husband of His choosing into her life. In the meantime, encourage her to pursue her own dreams, enjoy her life, and reach her full potential as the woman God wants her to be.
Hopefully, teaching her to live by this mindset will teach her to dress for herself and not to attract a man. She may even realize that any man worth a lifetime commitment won’t want her to dress in a sexy manner, but will admire a woman who dresses tastefully, stylishly, and modestly.
These are some of the lessons you can teach your daughter to persuade her that it isn’t necessary to follow the culture and dress in sexy attire. Hopefully, they will help her see herself differently and respect herself enough to go against the trend.
However, in the end, teenagers are teenagers and they may still want to be like everybody else. When the rubber meets the road, you’re the parent, and you’re the one who has to draw the line and say, “NO” and stick to it.
Sure she may sulk and pout, and you may not be her favorite person for awhile, but, in the future when she is a strong, capable woman married to a mature godly man, she will thank you!
She will see that ‘Father does know best’. He knew what was appropriate and what was inappropriate. He wasn’t as naïve as she was, and he understood how certain boys/men look at certain articles of clothing. He saw “danger” when she saw “style” and he said, “NO”.
At the end of the day, this is what God expects Christian Dads to do. You see, being a Dad is a Divine calling that comes with responsibilities. It is your job to train your sons and daughters to live as sons and daughters of God. This includes teaching your daughters to dress in a manner that follows Biblical standards for purity and modesty and reflects their identity as God’s daughter. It also includes teaching your sons to respect women for who they are and not how they look or dress.
Is it the easiest job in the world? No.
Will accepting this responsibility make your life less stressful? HA!!!
Is it worth it? Definitely.
With each shopping trip and every purchase returned you’re teaching your daughter to respect herself, to find her identity outside of her sexuality, and present herself beautifully to the world.
So be strong, be courageous, and take your daughter shopping! Be the Dad God called you to be, and teach your daughter to be the woman God called her to be. You can do it! You can teach your daughter to follow “The Rules” of modesty and dress as a fashionable Christian young lady.