Friday, June 11, 2010

Modesty

I cannot wait for the feedback on this one...

A good friend & I have been concerned lately by our children's exposure to sexiness at the local pool. Specifically, the teeny tiny suits worn by 'big girl' teens that our little girls adore. It is concerning because our 5-6 year old girls notice all the extra skin showing and have questions. "Why are they naked?"
"Mommy, I can see her chest."
"Why do big girls like to wear swimsuits like that?"

My boys are too young for the leering to be an issue--but I am already concerned about what their little eyes are becoming accustomed to despite my diligence.

I really like to explain things to my children in a way that helps them understand the wisdom behind the rule whenever possible. It is not a matter of authority or convincing--I know I am the Mom and sometimes that is the only reason they get. But, generally speaking, I think they will be better equipped to make decisions if they understand the hows and whys behind the rules we observe.

Modesty, however, has me stumped. They are too young to understand lust and temptation--so without that as a framework, how else can you explain why you cover up and keep certain parts of your body private?

My children are, thankfully, quite modest. When I insist on a cover up to and from the pool or shirts on the boys outside the immediate pool area I use the reasoning that it is 'rude' to show your private parts. When they ask why (out of true curiosity not sassiness) I have nothing else worthwhile to add except, "It just is."

Anyone have any thoughts?

As for the teen girls--I had an eye-opening discussion with one of their Moms today regarding the real struggle to find cute, conservative suits these days. It seems there is teeny weeny and ultra-conservative and not much in between. So, if there are any resources you are aware of that still seem 'in the world' I know there are Moms who would appreciate that information.

This world is full of minefields to navigate as we protect these little eyes, ears and hearts!

26 comments:

Mountain Girl said...

I would talk about how God wants us to keep our bodies holy - they are his temple and maybe read a few verses that pertain to that subject.

Lauren! said...

I have problems with this from the youth ministry perspective. We talk to the teens about why we want them to be a little more modest, so they buy a modest tankini for church things and then wear their string bikini the rest of the summer. When we discuss, someone always gets offended that they are getting judged OR the holier-than-thou kids just stand around and judge others for their choice of swimwear.

That being said, I love www.limericki.com Cute, conervative swimwear!

Dawn said...

1 Timothy 2:9 - "And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes." (NLT)

1 Peter 3:3-4 - "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (NIV)

kgarner said...

My daughter is 8 and we're in the same situation. Up until bathing suit season, the issue has been not letting your stomach show. The rule for her is that if she lifts her arms above her head and her stomach shows, she doesn't wear it. And the reason is that her daddy and I don't think it's appropriate for our family to let your stomach show and that it is not pleasing to God. And I have to remind her that what's appropriate for our family might be different for her friends' families. But we are responsible for her and her brother, not anyone else. And so far, that's been enough for her. And I'll tell her the same thing regarding bathing suits. I'm AMAZED at the bathing suits I see Christian friends let their tween daughters wear to the pool...amazed.

Kristin F. said...

My daughters are 3 years and 8 weeks old and I'm already worried about what they will wear!

A wonderful resource for cute, modest clothes is www.sensiblystyled.com. They post outfit ideas everyday that are perfect for teens and young adults.
Lime Ricki is a great resource for modest swimwear.

Nicole said...

Lovin' the Lime Ricki site! Thanks for that link! Ordering a suit now for myself!

Kathryn said...

Perhaps using the example of Adam and Eve would be helpful. They were naked in the garden and God made them tunics/clothes to cover up their body. God wants us to keep our bodies covered too. It pleases Him

R said...

thank you for putting this out there. my four year-old is beginning to ask me questions about why she can't wear a bikini like some of HER FOUR YEAR-OLD FRIENDS DO!!! it makes me so terribly sad.

AndreaB said...

I don't know if I've ever left a comment but I'm a long-time lurker =] I don't have children, but I am a young adult who struggles to find modest swim wear. As for what to tell your children about modesty, explain to them that our bodies are from God and that when we show our stomachs and wear immodest clothing (whatever that may be for your family) we disappoint Heavenly Father and make Him think that we are not grateful for the bodies He gave us and we need to be grateful and show respect for our bodies by being modest. Someone else mentioned that our bodies are a temple, which is true. I don't know what you have taught your kids about temples, but if they know about temples and their importance, use that analogy.

As for where to buy modest swim wear, I live in Utah (Mormon Country) and so even places like Walmart have modest swim suits. But a great place to buy modest tankinis and swim suits is shadeclothing.com They make long tankini tops so that girls can just buy one or two tops (as they are a little bit pricy) and then buy cheap bottoms wherever, since the tops are long enough to cover. That way, they are still modest, but they aren't wearing a one-piece if that isn't "cool" =]

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a mother (someday, Lord willing), but I'll offer some ideas. Could you tell your daughter that there are areas of a woman's body that should be saved for her future husband? I know marriage is a long, long way off for her, but it may also help her picture just a little bit what's special about marriage. Even just identifying the immodest clothing as a means to display a desire for attention could be helpful--this teenage girl wears that bikini because she wants boys to look at her or her girl friends to think she's stylish.

Thanks to you and the other moms who have posted for caring. This was never an "issue" in my house--my parents didn't keep up any safeguards for me and my three sisters. I think as you deal with these issues of immodesty now, you'll have an open door to discuss protecting the heart and other very important issues for girls!

Nicole said...

(For some reason my name didn't show up, but I'm Nicole!)

AndreaB said...

Another good site for swim wear is modbeclothing.com

Kylie and crew. said...

Oh J this topic stresses me out!! I can handle explaining to Cora...I can teach her and set a standard that she doesn't wear bikini's....but what about when our boys start to notice bodies...boys are such visual beings and it makes my stomach churn thinking about those girls causing my son or your boys to stumble. I know we (my husband especially) will have to have a lot of open communication with Asher and teach him how to guard his eyes, to look away, to battle his flesh and I just wish I could protect him. I wish there was a conservative pool option! :)

amy said...

i have to laugh at this post. i was just talking to a friend the other day at the pool about this issue. i was questioning "when my child is drowning and the lifeguard dives in to save him, would she care more about saving him or finding her top that she just lost?"
i make a joke of it but i am concerned since my oldest is 9 and will be reaching the point of noticing stuff like that soon enough.

Liz said...

I think it starts with the way mom & dad dress & behave. If modesty is modeled at home, I think kids just learn it to be the 'norm'. I suppose I could be wrong on that but I'm basing it on my own experience w/ my kids, and it seems to be the case here.

I have issues w/ swimsuits. Aside from the fact that I feel like a cow in one, I have real modesty issues w/ them so I don't own one. I swim in a pair of cotton shorts & a Tshirt. The way I see it, we would NEVER walk around a swimming pool in a bra/panties or a "teddy" (lingerie). Why do we walk around in a swimsuit that covers JUST AS MUCH..OR LESS skin than those things? It's the same thing isn't it? If men & boys are visually tempted, then my soaking wet, stuck to me all over bathing suit could certainly be a stumbling block for them....right?

That's just my own personal conviction & I certainly don't expect everyone to feel the same way...but for me, the only person who should ever see me wearing something as 'skimpy' as a bathing suit is my husband...and that's in the privacy of our bedroom.

C R said...

I'm so disappointed you didn't have the answer for this. I have commented before and have a seven year old daughter and a five year old daughter. We do occasionally buy bikinis. I think they are cute, too. We also have a pool at our home and we do occasionally have friends over. I do buy all of our bathing suits at Gymboree. I'm glad some other readers gave some links to research. But this conversation came up at our house this week about "big girls dressing sexy to make their boyfriends think they are pretty." What? I am currently praying for wisdom on that one. Too much Hannah Montana and iCarly, maybe.

Peter and Nancy said...

Land's End has mix and match modest tankini and bikini pieces. The catalog prices are pretty expensive, but the outlets have good deals.

I am pretty shocked by pool wear too, and my kids are interested in tattoos now, because they see so many. We were just at a wedding last weekend, and many of the young women were wearing really immodest dresses that showed lots of tattoos. Yikes.

I also like to give them reasons for my "no"s, because I think it helps my kids think about why -- instead of just thinking that moms just want to say no to everything.
Nancy

Jennifer said...

I am also a long-time reader (who's never commented). :) I work with high school youth, and while I don't have an answer as to what you should tell your children, I remember once hearing in a lecture on "modesty" something eye-opening for me- that women should be modest to "protect their beauty". Just thought I'd share that! Thanks for getting these conversations started!

Keri said...

I think of modesty as reserving something that's super special only for special times and a special person. If you had a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, you wouldn't toss it around in your backyard. You probably wouldn't even let anyone handle it. Because it is precious and unique, you would probably keep it in a case, on a high shelf, and you would be very selective as to who gets to see it and touch it.

Likewise, the private parts of our body are special and unique and holy, created by God to be reserved for very special times with our spouse. By displaying it for all to see, we de-value it and seem to claim that there's nothing really special or holy about it at all.

Perhaps you could put this concept into words that your children could understand...? Or come up with a more relevant analogy for them than a Babe Ruth baseball... :-)

HW said...

We have a 16-year-old daughter and regarding modesty I have told her "moms have to choose their battles and I choose this one."
It is very hard.
I do not believe that all girls want to wear a bikini simply to sexualize themselves for boys. The draw to be one of the crowd is very strong for teenagers, regardless of how strong their moral values are from home.
We never let our daughter wear a bikini - not even when she was little because we thought there was no reason to get her started on that path.
But when she was about 13, she started asking for one. Bible verses, talks about purity and modesty didn't sink in, as much as she struggled to see our view point. I could see how her heart struggled.
So we had to get very blunt.
My husband told her that boys her age, and even grown men, will look at her and other girls in skimpy swimwear and only look at their bodies as a way to please themselves. They will sexualize her if she is wearing what amounts to a bra and panties. We told her that those boys at the pool will one day look back at these hot summer days and say about her "Remember her? She was different. She covered herself...." That is when it started sinking in to her that it was important, not just so she could own her parents' values but so that she could be different, as Christians are called to be different. Teens need to have explanations that they can directly apply to themselves.
We have found one place to compromise on the bikini. She's allowed take a bikini to church camp because boys and girls have separate swim times at church camp - even the lifeguard is a woman for girls' swim time. And the kids must cover up to walk to and from the pool. This has been a wonderful treat for her and the other girls because they get to have one week a summer to do something they don't normally get to do.

As far as explaining to your little ones about modesty. I would just keep doing what you're doing and saying - our bodies need to stay covered as much as possible. They are private.

Sorry to make this so long but I'd like to also add that I think it's important not to villainize the girls who do wear skimpy clothing or swimwear. We have to teach our kids that they are still worthy of our love and respect even if they dress in a way we don't approve of. Some girls just don't have parents at home who know how to guard their hearts and purity.

I could go on forever about this....

Great topic.

Laura said...

I just read an article in Parents magazine about a similar topic. It talked about how a girl's perspective of herself and how life is forming when they are little. It talked about the princess culture that so many kids are in and how that can affect them. They tried not to judge people, but they made several really good points. The article is called "The Princess Diaries." I also just finished a book by Beth Moore called So Long Insecurity. It talks about how women feel insecure either around men or around other women because of their looks. It talks about how we can battle this feeling and trust in God to give us our dignity back. It also talks about being dignified and secure for all of the girls around us.

Tiernan said...

I'm a college student who's been reading for awhile-- thank you for your thoughtful posts!

I don't think going at an explanation of why we should be modest from the perspective of the Garden of Eden would be helpful-- Adam and Eve covered themselves up because they had sinned and were ashamed-- originally, they didn't wear clothing.

Also, these sites came to mind for cute, more modest suits:

www.bodenusa.com: fun prints, and one-pieces that are cut to look younger than the typical one-piece(they also have some tankinis and less-revealing bikinis)

www.titlenine.com: really nice tankinis with long torsos and good support (they're made for water sports/ activity)

A-and-Z's Mom said...

I will be honest and say that I didn't fully read all the comments carefully.

So this may be a repeat, or not all that helpful.

I would ask the question "Why?" Why would you want to wear something that will interfere with you jumping off the platform? Why do you want this one versus that one?

With swimsuits, and clothing in general, it is really hard to not make it work based. The thing is, I actually think God redeems even those who still wears skimpy stuff to the pool. We can do whatever we want, because of God's grace, and so we need wisdom to do what is right. I think it is wise to not wear skimpy stuff just because that would bring the wrong kind of attention. True friends do not care what you wear. However, if this friend is only your friend because you wear 'cool' underwear to the pool, perhaps this friend isn't such a good friend.

This subject does not need to be frustrating, but can be enlightening! Why do we cover up from the pool to the car? Why do you think it would be good or why not? I bet these precious children will have quite the opinion! =)

Anyway, I do remember that my dad wanted me to wear some different shorts when I was 11, and my mom bought me some more shorts, in the right size, so that I wasn't walking around with my behind hanging out. =) However, it wasn't so much an argument, I understood that this was about wisdom, and they knew a bit more about it than I did. Not that I completely agreed with them about other areas of in which they were/are wise.

Anyway, make it a discussion, and I am sure your kids will agree with you in the end. At this age anyway. =)

mymcmlife said...

I grew up in a Christian family and while we were raised to value modesty in our dress, bikinis were never really addressed. My sister and I wore bikinis and still do. I usually wear a 1-piece when I'm in the company of men other than my husband or my father. I don't disagree with everyone's comments and I find the dialogue very interesting. I wonder, though - is showing your belly or not showing your belly really making that much of a difference to the men we're trying to protect? Either way the suit is form-fitting and wet. I'm not sure the difference between a one-piece suit and a two-piece suit is the same difference as modesty and immodesty.

Martina said...

And to follow up after getting my husband's perspective… he suggested that whether or not a woman's (or girl's) bare belly & back are showing is not going to make any difference because men have the ability to visualize right through clothing if they want to so one piece swimsuit or bikini is not really going to make a world of difference. (Besides, I think we all know that tummies & backs are not the places guys eyes are naturally drawn to.)

Marta Jeremy Emily and Abigail said...

It is never too early to begin to talk to your children about modesty and purity. Telling your child that men and women enjoy looking at each other's bodies, but that its something God wants us to save for our future husband/wife, so we keep covered up to remain pure, is a good way to start - that was the line of reasoning that my mom used. Telling them its rude is not true.