Last semester, a high school principal in Minnesota addressed a growing concern for school staff, and it should be a concern for dads as well. The principal, David Adney, sent an email to high school parents, asking them to remind their daughters to “keep covered up.” “We’re seeing too much,” he said.
Several of the school’s staff had raised concerns about girls “wearing spandex-like yoga pants or other tight-fitting leggings with T-shirts that expose ‘more leg and backside’ and can ‘be highly distracting for other students.’” He received numerous calls and emails of support from parents and others. You can read that news story here.
I, too, support his efforts. And for parents as well as teachers, it’s a constant battle to monitor what our children are wearing and what new styles they want to wear, and stay within the bounds of what’s appropriate.
Where do you draw the line with modesty? What is appropriate for your sons and daughters? Like many issues, different parents will draw the line in different places.
And some might consider this an issue for moms to handle with daughters—which it is—but we have to remember that we dads play an important role in modeling the kind of behavior our daughters should expect from young men. Dads, we have to get involved in teaching our children about the importance of modesty.
I have two adult daughters, so I’ve been through these battles, and though it wasn’t easy, our relationships survived! And I don’t know if there are any secrets other than simply being involved, watching what they’re doing, and building the kind of relationship where they respect your opinions and decisions, even when they disagree.
Challenge your kids to consider what they are advertising by their clothing choices. What does their appearance say about their character and what they stand for?
Make no mistake: it’s right for us to be sensitive in this area and be intentional about influencing our daughters toward modesty. We play a leading role in establishing and affirming our family’s values and standards—no matter what our culture may say is right or in style.
A dad we heard from named Chris is plugged into this challenge with his daughters. In his household, they’re also careful about buying their daughters clothes that have slogans or logos printed on them, because that can draw attention to places other than their faces. To some, that may sound extreme, but he’s clearly one committed dad who’s taking this issue seriously.
We dads also play an important role in modeling the kind of behavior our daughters should expect from young men, through the way we interact with them every day and on daddy-daughter dates.
Even though these aren’t always easy discussions, they can be done if we dads keep our cool and keep expressing concern instead of fear or anger. If we bring the right attitude, then our girls could actually enjoy spending that time and talking about this with us.
ACTION POINTS for Dads on the Journey
- Take your daughter shopping—really! Learn about what she likes. And don’t be afraid to—calmly—give your input about what’s appropriate for a girl to wear. (Do the same thing with your son.)
- With an older daughter, tell her exactly what a young man is thinking when he sees a woman in a revealing or suggestive outfit.
- Talk to your daughters and sons about what a woman is saying when she flaunts her body. What kind of person is she trying to attract? What will that relationship likely be about? What outcomes are probable a few years down the road?
- Another great topic for discussion: What’s the difference between inner beauty and outer beauty? How do you go about developing inner beauty?
- Schedule that next daddy-daughter date or fun father-son activity.
- With the common conflicts with teenagers—about dress, music, or whatever—ask yourself, “Is this a moral issue, or a matter of taste and preference?” Sometimes we need to flex on the minor concerns that are not moral issues.
We want to hear from you. How have you addressed standards of dress and fashion? What rules have you set with your kids? Please join the discussion below or on our Facebook page.
During the month of January, we’re offering a special price on our most recent book, The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge. It would be a great “challenge” to take in your fathering this year, and it’s perfect for men’s groups—especially in churches—with specific action points and follow-up activities for you and the other guys in your group. (There’s also find a free discussion guide you can download.) Now only $9.99 for orders in quantities of 3 or more. Click here to find out more and place your order.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.