Tag Archives: teens

Dear Daughter, here is the truth about modesty

I’m the mom of three teenagers, two of whom are daughters. Sadly, we’ve been having the same discussion about modesty and what clothing is, or is not, appropriate since they were about eight. But I finally realized that we’ve been having the wrong conversation.

There’s been much debate over school dress codes, and how clothes are made differently for boys and girls over the last few years. There’s been outcry over girls feeling body shamed, called out in front of peers for a peeping bra strap or wearing leggings, receiving detention, being sent home, or even suspended. There’ve also been parents rising up to call out the clothing manufacturers for the grown-up silhouettes being produced for young girls, and explain to school administrators how difficult it can be to find shorts and skirts that meet dress code lengths.

I’ll admit I’ve been relieved that my kids attend a conservative Christian school with a very clear-cut dress code, making clothing debates in the morning a bit easier by being able to say “that’s against the school dress code”. Sadly, though, I realized the message my girls have gotten from teachers, peers, and even me about the “why” behind the dress code has been inconsistent, at best. A recent conversation with my teen daughter and a friend brought to light their growing frustration over feeling like the sole purpose of the dress code was to make sure their male peers were not tempted by their bodies.

As a mom, I felt sad and a bit convicted that I had not done a better job of explaining the purpose behind modesty. It’s a topic that is not always easy to explain, but hearing these girls honestly share their understanding (or lack thereof) based on things they had heard or read, I finally understood what had been lacking in my explanations, and what, in general, is lacking from the conversation as a whole. Modesty is not about hiding our bodies or our femininity, it is about protecting and cherishing what is sacred.

What I mean by this is our innate sexual nature. Too often I think as parents, as Christians — as humans — we’re afraid to talk frankly about sex and sexuality. But the reality is we live in a world where women and girls are highly sexualized by the media and consumer landscape. This mass sexualization has not only desensitized us, but it has created an incredible misunderstanding about the God-given gifts of sex and sexuality. And, unfortunately, as long as we are afraid to speak the truth, our sons and daughters will continue to get all of their information from society, their peers, and the media, instead of us.

Society tells them expressing sexuality is a sign of strength and confidence.

Society tells them likability and desirability is directly related to appearance.

Society tells them anyone who promotes modesty is wanting them to hide their true selves or is prudish and puritanical.

Society tells them modesty is an attempt to devalue and oppress women, and puts all of the blame on them for male lust.

We are hard pressed to dispute these things as long as our best argument is “too much skin is a distraction”.

But here is what I am now telling my daughters:

It is not your job to worry about another person’s sin. Your body was created in God’s image and is not something to be embarrassed by or thought of as a temptation to others.

Sex is a beautiful gift created by God, and with it comes sexuality and sensuality. These are not things to be afraid of or ashamed of. But that gift and the things that come with it, are intended to be shared with only one person—your spouse.

You are so much more than your appearance. You are strength and love. You are smart and talented. You are designed to do great things and your body is a vehicle for accomplishing many of them. But, the moment you start to worry more about how you look than how you act is the moment you begin to devalue yourself and all of your gifts.

Magazines are fake. Television is fake. They are trying to sell you something, and mostly that something is the message that you are not good enough as you are. That’s a load of bull. You do not need to look like, dress like, sound like, or act like those images you see. Stop trying for the perfect selfie, finding the right pose, the right angle, the right lighting. You are wasting so much time trying to achieve something that is not only fake, but unimportant.

you are so much more than your appearance

I choose modesty not because I am trying to hide my sexuality, but because it is saved for my marriage and shared in love with my husband. I choose modesty not because it is my job to worry about my cleavage or collar bone tempting another man into sin, but because I worry about preventing my own sin and I know that vanity is one I struggle with. I choose modesty not because I want to look frumpy, hidden, or weak, but because I want to feel strong and capable so I can get to work on the important things God is calling me for, and taking the perfect selfie isn’t one of them.

Dear daughters, for all of these reasons I choose modesty, and I hope you will, too.

Modesty is about strength, not shame

Originally appeared on Her View From Home.

 

photo credit: Send me adrift  via photopin (license)

The surprising truth about parenting a teenager

You don’t have to be a parent to know that the general consensus around raising teenagers is “oh boy, hold on to your hat, it’s going to get bumpy” or perhaps something a little more blunt than that. There is this universal understanding that the teen years are the hardest to navigate as a parent, with perhaps the exception of the toddler years. I see it every time someone learns that I have a 14 year old daughter and they respond with a loud whistle or raised brows and big grin and say, “oh boy, you’re in the teen years!” or “phew! I remember those years, hang in there!” or even, “God bless you, teen girls are so hard!”

I’ve heard it all, and I’ve even said these things. I’ve joked with other parents about needing prayers to get through the teen years, or about the extra grey hairs growing on my head, and they’ve laughed or nodded knowingly. Because everyone seems to agree, parenting a teenager is challenging, trying, and even painful.

But here’s the thing I’ve learned  since we entered this phase of life nearly 2 years ago, the surprising truth about raising a teenager: It’s actually the most extraordinary stage of parenting I’ve experienced.

Here’s why.

The relationship is starting to shift. Her needs have changed. My daughter doesn’t call me mommy anymore and she certainly doesn’t need me to hold her hand when crossing the street, pick out her clothes, or even pack her lunches. She is becoming increasingly more independent each year, and while that may sound sad at first, the reality is it has created space and allowed for a new dynamic that I don’t have yet with my younger two.

Beautiful Hannah

She doesn’t need me in the same ways, but she still needs me. Often for something really important like someone to listen to her (just listen) when she’s struggling with a particular friendship or obstacle.

She needs me to set boundaries and then step back and give her the freedom to try new things, even fail, within those boundaries, while remaining close enough to help her up when she falls.

She needs me to know that sometimes a good cry, for no particular reason, is cathartic and part of life. But a hug and chocolate can make it all seem better.

She needs me to speak truth into her life, about how I need and rely on God every day so she may learn to do the same.

She needs my advice about decisions that will shape the rest of her life — big decisions and character defining moments — but only when she asks for it.

She needs me to recognize that she is not a little girl anymore, but also that sometimes she still needs her mom and be ready and available for those moments, without hovering or complaining when they pass.

Mom and daughter

I’m not saying this is always easy, this shift in how she needs me and the ways we relate to each other. And I most definitely get it wrong! I criticize, nag, and yell. I have a tendency to be sarcastic when I should be gentle. I ask too many questions when she doesn’t want to talk, and sometimes offer advice before it’s solicited. I’m still learning.

And for her part, sometimes I am the best mom ever and she will thank me 100 times for something little, and other times I am the enemy or invisible woman who she takes for granted. She’s still learning.

But even with the parts we get wrong; even on the days it’s really hard and one or both of us feels angry, scared, or disappointed in the other, this new relationship is nothing short of phenomenal.

Parenting a teenager is like getting an exclusive preview of the adult this child is going to be. It’s like reading a book about your favorite character and actually getting to play a role in influencing some of their story.

Because you know them more intimately than anyone else. You know where they’ve come from. You know what they’re afraid of, and what they hope for. You get to see all the good in them and the potential that is yet to be realized, but also know there are real struggles and mistakes to be made, which make the victories all the more sweet.

I’m still fairly new to this parenting a teen stage. And maybe it will get more challenging in the coming years, or with my other children. But what I want to say to every other parent who is approaching this stage: Take heart! Because while it might come with some really difficult moments, it’s also so much better than anyone ever tells you!

mom and teenage daughter