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Modesty starts young

April 24th, 2008 / 9 Comments


When my girls were little, I hear parents with teenage girls who dress with too much skin showing (that’s the nice way of putting it) say with a resigned sigh, “Well, I can’t control what they wear anymore.”

At that time, I thought, “I still have control of what my girls wear for about the next 8 years. They are solely at my mercy. They wear what I buy and they can’t wear what I don’t buy.”

I realize then the seriousness of my calling a a parent. While my children are totally under my guidance, what values am I teaching them? Even something seemingly simple as clothes, am I teaching them the respectable value of modesty? It is my responsibility to teach them what is proper to wear and what isn’t. I only have a few years to do that. When they grow up, that window of opportunity is lost.

I decided that I need to make conscious decisions when I shop for my girls.

Oh, that is such a cute little skirt!

Wait a minute…
It’s a mini-skirt paired with a tiny tank top for a 4-year-old. What values am I teaching my girls if I let them wear this supposedly innocent outfit? If she was 16 years old, would I want her to wear a mini-skirt that shows her underwear when she bends over? Would I want her to wear a tank top with no bra? Is dressing a 4-year-old that much different from dressing a 16-year-old?

Each piece of clothing I buy for my girls is teaching them something. Modesty begins at an early age.

Here are some guidelines of modesty I’ve learned about buying clothes for my girls:

1. Choose styles that cover the shoulders. This includes sundresses. This teaches my daughters to be modest about bearing their shoulders and chest. One of my daughters is 18 now, and she does not wear tank tops and straps. It’s better to minimize skin exposure to the sun anyway.

2. Wear skirts at a decent length, and wear shorts underneath. When they play on the bars or sit on the floor, their underwear is not exposed.

3. Make sure shirts cover their belly buttons when they hold their arms up. This is the same test we use to buy clothes for my girls now.

4. Swim suits for girls are especially an issue with me. Do parents want their teenage girls wearing skimpy swim wear? Yet, what do they buy for their little girls to wear? I keep to one-piece bathing suits. They are not easy to find anymore, but we can still find one-piece Speedo. My girls like to wear swim short over their suits as some styles ride up the thigh and have a very narrow crotch (I hate those designers!).

5. I stay away from the latest fads and styles. I don’t want my girls to get caught up worrying about name brands nor do I want them to grow up with shopping as their favorite pastime.

6. If you get clothing as gifts that you don’t think is appropriate, return it or you might even have to throw it away. I know that is hard to do, but if I don’t want my daughter to wear it, why would I want another little girl to wear it?

I know I may sound like a prude, but do you want men leering at your daughters? The culture has conditioned us to think immodesty is ok, But we don’t have to play by those rules.

On the practical side, I find that modest clothing makes for better play clothes. How can you play comfortably when you are constantly have to pull up a strap or pull down a shirt?

I also find that little girls don’t like to wear immodest clothes. They seem to naturally have a sense of propriety not to show their underwear or their belly button. It is only when we allow them to expose more skin that they are conditioned to think it is OK.

Little girls clothing is not just about looking cute and sweet. There is a message that we are teaching them.

I know many moms out there reading this have little girls. You have yet time to influence them to be girls of modesty. By the time they are teens, it hard to turn the tide.

What other ways do you have to teach your girls modesty?

Photo by cogdogblog

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  1. I totally agree about children having automatic modesty. I bought my 4 yr old daughter a slightly oversized green shirt for St. Patrick’s Day. I wanted her to be able to wear it next year, too. However, because it was a little big, it hung lower in front than most of her clothes. When I picked her up from preschool, I saw that she was still wearing her jacket. Her teacher said she didn’t take it off all day because she felt uncomfortable with her shirt. Poor little thing. Maybe it will fit for real next year.

  2. I completely agree! My daughters learned early on about what’s appropriate and what’s not and they’re not comfortable showing too much skin. Also, since they’re pretty fair skinned and we live in Southern California we have to be careful of that anyway.

    I’ve been buying my girls rash guard tops and board shorts as swimwear, and they’ve become much easier to find and more affordable lately.

    My kids’ school has a pretty strict dress code and they have to wear tops long enough to cover their bellies with their arms up. I also buy bike style shorts for them to wear under their dresses.

    When they become teens, I’m hoping they still feel the same way about covering up. 🙂

  3. Warrior: That’s funny, my daughter was the same way. When they wear an oversized shirt, it makes it look like they are not wearing anything underneath.

    Christine: Great ideas for alternative to swimsuits. I’m going to look for rash guard tops.

  4. “They grow up fast enough”. I am so so happy to read Moms guiding their daughters against culture and media on this. I have enough trouble keeping my 12 year old son’s eyes from seeing too much flesh on 16 year old bodies; I really hate seeing it (and seeing him see it) on 10 year old bodies.

    What is with the sexualisation of our kids?????

  5. Well, at a wedding this past weekend, I had to tell my nine year old daughter to stop doing cartwheels on the dance floor, because everyone was getting a look up her dress!

  6. Momo: It sounds like your daughter would rather be in shorts and a t-shirt at the wedding.

    Pete: I pray for my son all the time, to keep pure and to find a nice girl.

  7. I agree, some of the clothes aimed at young pre teen girls is far too revealing. I hate belly tops, I just don’t understand why so many wish their children to dress older than their age. Teaching children to dress modestly and wear age appropriate clothes whilst they are still young is definitely the way to go.

  8. Thank you for your post! The time is now to start talking about modesty! I also wanted to bring something to your attention that may interest you. Time Magazine, “…in 2003, tweens-that highly coveted marketing segment ranging from 7-12- spent $1.6 million on thong underwear.” Thong underwear for little girls! I work for an organization that is speaking out against this and we are getting a petition signed and sent to fashion indsutry leaders to make them aware that sexaulization of these little girls are unacceptable! Would you consider taking a minute to sign the petition…you can find it at Lets send a message that we value modesty!

  9. Kelly: Thanks for letting us know about the petition. I totally support the mission of


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