Everybody has to make judgment calls, which is especially true with parenting. Parents must take time every day to assess whether or not their children are dressed according to the law of God. The world has screamed, “Don’t judge me!” for so long that people tend to shy away from telling somebody—some, even their own children—that they are dressed inappropriately. Proverbs 3:11-12 states: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction: For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
Parents have the responsibility to be hands-on in their parenting. There is no subject that can be off-limits, or we risk the chance that they will be exposed to and taught it by someone in the world. Children of all ages are inquisitive, so I recommend explaining plainly and with scripture why they should be modest. I realize that as a parent there are times in which we need to lay down the law and “Because I said so” is the best explanation. That being said, with the subject of modesty, our children need to see that God “said so,” because He knows what is best for us; then, we are to give them examples. Our children will appreciate this.
It pains me to go into a department store and see some of the clothes that are advertised to our children. Bikinis and halter tops are marketed to our toddlers along with make-up. Boys’ t-shirts say phrases such as “Future Heart-Breaker” and “Warning, Lock Up Your Daughter.” People, this is not funny! Parents must start teaching modesty as soon as they have taken on this all-important role, and it needs to continue for the rest of our children’s lives. We cannot expect children to grow up dressed immodestly, and then, as soon as they begin developing physically, to start covering up their bodies. Proverbs 27:12 states, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on and are punished.” We need to be preparing them to want to be modest, so we can avoid heartache when they are grown.
Again, parents must be “hands-on” in their role. How many souls have become entangled in sin because parents have given into philosophies of the world, such as “The Terrible Two’s,” “Teenagers stop listening when they are 13, and will not start again till 20,” or my least favorite, “Boys will be boys”? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of men (1 Cor. 1:20)? Parents need to regulate the environment to which their children are exposed. This does not mean we need to be controlling (they will despise this and rebel), but it does mean to show genuine interest in their life, to get to know their friends and their families and to make changes concerning with whom they spend time, if need be. Read their magazines and watch the shows in which they show interest—and if they are inappropriate, put an end to it. Our children’s surroundings will affect their self-image, which, in turn, will affect their sense of and desire for modesty. We cannot protect them from everything, nor should we—but God gave us the charge to return these precious souls to Him, and this means we must be actively involved in their lives.
“Do as I say, not as I do” has done more damage than can be counted. Nobody likes a hypocrite, and teenagers especially have a strong distaste for them. When it comes to being modest, we, as their parent or guardian, need to dress and behave in like manner as an example. Moreover, we must be aware of current fashion trends and show them with our own attire how to make them modest. We do not want our teenagers to distance themselves from us because they feel we dress frumpy or “so twenty-years-ago.” If we do this, we will lose some of our influence on them. They need to see that they can relate to us.
The point about openness is for us to teach them why being modest is so important. No parent can successfully raise their children to desire modesty unless they are thoroughly trained to do so. We cannot just assume that someone knows how to dress modestly. As with Adam and Eve, God had to show them, because their first attempt was a complete failure (Gen. 3:7, 21). This most likely will require some research on the part of the parent so they can make sure they are giving God’s mandates to their children and not their personal preferences in regards to fashion.
These practical principles are by no means exhaustive, neither are they to be followed in order. They are designed to be used all together as we rear these precious souls with whom the good Lord has blessed us. Remember, it is not just teaching them to dress modestly—it is a matter of teaching them to desire modesty, and this also means in other people. Blushing should never go out of style!