The topic of “personal appearance” may seem more relevant for parents of girls, but I’m certain that those of you with boys deal with this issue in similar ways. Today I’m going to write to you based on my experience raising two daughters, and trust that the Lord will help those of you with boys find some common ground.
My wife, Laura, introduced me to an excellent parenting book called 5 Conversations you must have with your Daughter, by Vicki Courtney. Regarding this issue of clothing, Vicki writes, “As parents we must help our daughters realize that their clothing is like a label.” In other words, clothing is a statement about character. What kind of message should the clothing our kids wear send about their faith in Christ?
Fashionable doesn’t equal immodest – In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul encourages women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety. As Laura says, “You can look cute. Just be cute and covered up!” But biblical parenting extends beyond the rules about skin exposure. It is our responsibility to discuss the “sexualization” that happens when someone dresses with the intent of attracting attention. Vicki cites a study done on boys reactions to the way girls dress. She writes, “The study found that when girls dress in such a way as to call attention to their bodies, 85% of guys said that they would have a temptation to picture her naked.” As for the girls, less than 4% of them dress in a way to get guys to fantasize about them.
Clothing implies character – Galatians 1:10 asks, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? “ Both genders desire to dress in a way that fits in with their peer culture. However, even secular parenting articles encourage parents to have this discussion before heading out to Target. An article titled, Tips on Buying Preteen Clothing, states, “Discuss your family policies on clothing before you go shopping, and be prepared to stand your ground.” When looking at clothing, our kids will think about the reaction of their peers. We can help them consider the larger message about godly character.
Control comes with maturity – Maybe the hardest part of parenting is giving up control. However, it is our mandate to raise children who are wise, discerning, and responsible followers of Christ. This means that eventually we must trust that the voice of God’s Spirit in our son or daughter’s mind must become more clearly heard than just the voice of Mom or Dad. Picture a day in the future when your adult “child” will stand in front of his or her closet, trying to decide what to wear. That is the moment when biblical parenting comes to fruition. When you are not in charge, the Lord is able to guide them – all on His own. Allow this control to shift as your son or daughter moves toward graduation.
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