Teaching Little Girl's To Be Modest

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You might think I’m not qualified to write about this subject, seeing as my own daughter is only three years old. Surprisingly, though, I have already had quite a few conversations come up with my daughter. But what I really feel that qualifies me to write about this is the fact that I was raised by a Mother who instilled in me the desire and the knowledge concerning dressing modestly. All of the priceless lessons she passed on to me remain with me to this day, and I rely on them as I raise my own two daughter’s now.
Some might be very intimidated when they discover they have a daughter to raise. The world gives us horrifying examples of what can happen to young ladies as they get older, and it puts fear into our hearts. I am actually ecstatic that I have daughters to raise, and I want to pass along some of our vision for raising them for God.
From the time Carrianna was a baby, I have been reciting to her Proverbs 31 – as I change her diaper, get her dressed, do the dishes with her, hold her on the couch, driving her in the car. Basically anytime I think of it, I recite it to her. Proverbs 31 is so powerful in creating a vision for our daughters, which is ultimately what they need – vision. I have also read her the book “God’s Wisdom For Little Girl’s: Virtue and Fun From Proverbs 31” by Elizabeth George. That is a very sweet book.
I talk to Carrianna about modesty, though I haven’t gone into an explanation about what modesty is {after all, she is only three!}. Rather, as we are out shopping, or trying on clothes in the dressing room, I will tell her that “this dress looks modest” or “that shirt is very immodest” I do not do this in a judgmental way, that is, my emphasis is not towards the women who put the dress on display, but the mode of dress itself. That being said, I am trying to assist my daughter in making definite judgments when it comes to modesty. It amazes me how much she has picked up on already, and many times she shows me things that are not modest now. If I try on a long dress that she likes, she is quick to say excitedly “That looks modest Mama!”
As she gets older, I will be talking to her about how modesty has to start in the heart. If girls do not acquire a modest spirit or a heart that longs to please God, than you will have a hard time keeping their focus on dressing modestly as they enters their teen years. Don’t think it impossible for an older girl to make the switch from wearing jeans to dresses though. It can be done through lots of prayer and heart to heart talks. Read my sister’s testimony here on how she went to all dresses at the age of 16!
I’m trying to instill a feminine spirit in my daughter, not just a modest attitude. I’m trying to raise her to recognize the differences between boys and girls. I want her to delight in being a girl just as I was taught to do growing up. I was very girly, {and still am!} and loved dolls, Anne of Green Gables, waltzing through the house {dare I admit I still like doing that?} and reading books on being a young lady. More importantly though, I’m want to instill in her a desire to be a godly handmaiden of the Lord, to want to be a wife and mother in this career driven world.
We dressed extremely conservative when I was going through my young adolescent years. Mom only knew how to sew one simple jumper pattern, and that is what we all wore! Whether I was jumping on the trampoline, hiking in the woods, gardening, or cleaning house, I wore a dress. The only time I would wear jeans is the rare times I rode a horse at a friends house (I’m scared of horses, so I didn’t often get on one!).
I did get my ears pierced at 13 and wore some simple gold posts. I also wore a necklace every once in a while. I never wore make-up until a few years ago. We’ll be getting into all this in much more detail in the “She Wore Skirts” Series…
So what does a modest little girl look like?

You might be surprised at my answer.
I don’t always dress my daughter in dresses.
There, I said it. :-)
I know some people dress their daughters from the day they are born in dresses, but my husband and I have not felt the need to do so. When our baby girls are little, they live in sleepers. Olivia is 16 months, and has spent most of the winter in sleepers, and wears dresses to church. It’s just easier. And honestly, at this age there is nothing you are trying to cover up to be modest about! Carrianna was given a lot of hand me downs last year, and played in pants and shirts, and we ran errands with her dressed that way. This spring and summer I have only been buying her dresses, and I told my husband I wanted to slowly start trying to switch to her only wearing dresses. I don’t want her getting used to wearing pants, so my goal is to just make it through the first few years of learning to crawl, walk, etc. and then start wearing primarily dresses.

On a practical note…

Little girl’s actually become very immodest in a dress. Most girls I know like to pull up on their dresses, showing their undergarments to the world. :) Their activity and play is also a lot more clumsy than it will be in later years. They roll and somersault and jump and twirl all with no consideration as to whether or not their dress is doing an adequate job of covering themselves. For this reason, I have one pair of white pantaloons that Carrianna wears under her dresses, and during the winter she wore a lot of cotton tights. Leggings also work very well and accommodate wearing dresses nicely.

An easy pattern to make is McCalls 4505, which includes short and long bloomers. It is out of print, but you might be able to find it used on Ebay. Candle On The Hill sells a Bloomer Pattern also. There is also an easy tutorial here for making them.

Soft cotton shorts also work well, and many times you can find these at garage sales for .25-50 cents! I would just get solid colored ones that somewhat coordinate with your daughter’s clothes. We will be doing this a lot this summer as well.
Most skirts are not long enough for my standards so I make them for Carrianna’s. Here are a few tutorials online that look sweet.
I like the Gracie Ruffled Skirt Pattern from Marie Madeline as well.
Dress Patterns

Here are a few of my favorite dress patterns:

McCalls 5966 -I would make it longer than this.


Godly Resources

Here are some of the best resources I have found for teaching daughters biblical truths about modesty, femininity, and their roles as women.
God’s Wisdom For Little Girls-A sweet book for toddlers up to probably age eight.


Beautiful Girlhood by Karen Andreola. I read this book over and over again, starting probably at the age of 10. It helped me so much!

The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood-Perfect to use if you want to do a Mother/Daughter study together.

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Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy MacDonald-This is a must have book, it is so excellent! You can also purchase it at Vision Forum here.

Polished Cornerstones published by Doorpost, is an wonderful aid for middle school through high school. I did this during my high school years, and it greatly blessed me.

Mother, by Kathleen Norris is a novel that will teach your daughters how important mothers really are, and make them long to be one!

Joyfully At Home by Jasmine Baucham is a newly published book that is excellent for older daughters. I read through some of it recently, and found it very encouraging.

Be sure to check out our sponsor, Joyfully Sewn Designs for modest little girl clothes!

Homemaker blog hop

Comments

  1. Sarah : ) www.crumbsundermytable.blogspot.com says:

    I love this post! I have a 3 yr. old daughter, too, and she is by nature so girly, much more than her mom ;)
    I, like you, am resting more on the examples of my mother and grandmothers in raising her to be modest. I know she will see immodesty, but my goal is to be the modest example to her. I've found that since she already loves wearing dresses, that my wearing and being the example of what is modest has been the best way to influence her.
    I also love to sew and have found it's a great way for me to dress more modestly as well as to dress her that way. One of the things we've learned is almost always bloomers or pants are required, lol, and I don't mind if she wears pants as long as they fit her without being too tight or too short (for shorts).
    Another thing I am trying to do is have her start wearing slips, and have found a great way to make her slips is to use my old ones cut down, especially to make half slips for her, and she loves it when I make a gathered one, because it makes her skirt "poufy". I think part of modesty includes the right undergarments as well.
    Really enjoy your blog. Love in Christ!

  2. Jaymie*Nachole says:

    what a great post! Thank you so much! I'll be having my first little girl in August and I'm so excited for her to arrive! I have 2 boys now and I can't wait to have a little girl around!

  3. This is a great post. My daughter is 8 years old and we have discussed modesty with her for as long as I can remember. Those are some great resources and I have a few of those. The ones I don't have, I have on my wish list on paperbackswap!
    Blessings,
    Rashel

  4. Thank you so much for posting this! First you little girl is just beautiful! Those eyes just melt the heart! And second I really appreciate the practical advice in this post…basically just start teaching simply from an early age? I agree that many people view raising Godly daughters (sons, children in general I suppose.:) in this world we live in is a daunting task…I definitely fall prey to that sort of thinking. Any ideas on how to raise little boys to be young men who value modesty in women and treat them with respect? I'm sorry to bombard you with questions but these are areas in which I'll gladly take all the help I can get.:)

  5. Caroline says:

    @Colleen, I'll do a post soon on that topic!

  6. Great post. Looking forward to the series.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for answering some of my questions in this post. I have 2 five year old girls and a 6 month old little girl. The 5 year olds are not too hard to dress modestly right now, but I never know how to handle the baby. When I do dress her in dresses she pulls them up over her head. Right now I just put a onesie on underneath, but summer in Texas gets really hot, and I can't do that I summer. Thanks for the advice.

    • I am on my 7th great grandchild and I see how, over the years the attitude toward modesty has drastically changed. What really brought the issue of modesty to the fore to me was a remark a young male teacher in the early 70′s made to the parents. He reminded us that the young girls (about 10 and 11) really were very immodest and when wearing dresses still did not know how to keep their skirts down, and further their legs were all over the place. He also added that as a male, when he was teaching or adressing the children in assembly he didnt know where to look. I think that this was an eye opener for the mothers. However, at that time the girls were not allowed to wear pants (and it was a public school) so it became a problem. I sew so I decided in summer especially that skorts to the knee would be most appropriate. You cannot dress children in heavy clothes in the summertime when there is no air conditioning. These were really, long shorts, but made like skirts and they were easy to keep down. Being 80 now and seeing so much over the years with my four daughters growing up, I never thought I would see the day where young girls appear in public dressed as they do. Now I have 8 grand daughters and I am after them all of the time about modesty. It seems to have disappeared from being practiced. Good luck to all the young mothers. You certainly have a job in front of you, but if you raise them with modesty some of it will surely
      stick.

  8. Joyfully @ home says:

    Great post! I have 2 daughters 5 1/2 and almost 10. My 5yo, you can't get her in pants. My older one, it's hard to get her out of them! Problem is, she only likes dresses that are princess like. I can't seem to find them affordably. Unfortunately, I don't sew. I also have trouble simply finding dresses that are long enough. Most dresses for her age are about mid thigh and we don't allow dresses to be above the knee, preferably a couple inches below. She's quite thin, so when I size up, it ends up hanging on her. Praying they'll be a turn in society and it will be easy to get long dresses for girls right at the store.

  9. Miss Sarah says:

    Thanks so much for this post. That picture of your daughter is precious! I love seeing little girls dressed like little girls! You're right when little girls wear dresses (or skirts or jumpers), bloomers or something similar is necessary! :) Without that, dresses aren't very modest on them.

    If you sew, making matching bloomers to go with whatever dress you're making works great. By using matching fabric, the bloomers aren't as obvious even when they show. I've made dozens and dozens of matching bloomers for my local customers. :)

  10. Caroline says:

    Sarah, I don't know why I never thought of making matching bloomers, what a great idea!!

  11. Far Above Rubies says:

    Great resources.

  12. Thank-you!!! I am so impressed with your blog and share it with everyone I can, especially my daughter and sons. The post your husband wrote yesterday about modesty was incredible, putting into words what I needed to hear as a teenager forty years ago! May God bless you each day as you fulfill this mission of teaching women, girls, and families about modesty, respect and honor. (That's how I describe your blog, hope that's okay!)

  13. Caroline says:

    @ Deanne, Thank you SO much for those sweet words! I am blessed beyond words that my little blog ministers to you. Honestly, everything I am today I owe to my Heavenly Father and to the fact that I had a precious godly Mother raise me. I was so blessed to have her teach me all these things, and I miss her so much!

  14. I just wrote the longest comment, which Blogger ate. Well, the short version:

    This post (and whole blog) are a ministry to me. Please write more on this topic of little girls! Mine is 2.5, so I am in your same place. But I was not raised with such a strong background so I struggle a lot. I have felt convicted lately: she wears all hand-me downs from a cousin one year older. Thank you God for free clothes! But they are almost all sleeveless, short shorts, even tops with no backs! I am bothered. But to go another route means buying or sewing an ENTIRE new wardrobe. Also, possibly offending the cousin. Thank you for insights and resources. I need to buy some of those patterns and make a new start. Oh Father, help me!

  15. Caroline says:

    @ Jes, It can be so hard to think about offending family! Here are a few thoughts for you…

    If a dress is sleeveless, can you put a shirt on under it? If the shorts are cotton instead of jean, can you use them under dresses like I mentioned? Also, you might look to see if you have any children's consignment sales where you live. I just went to one,and you can find good deals! Thrift stores, Children Orchards or Once Upon A Child (they do get pricey though) are all good options. Also, keep in mind that your two year old does not need tons of clothes. That's something I always remind myself. I'll try to blog soon on what my daughter exactly has, and show pictures. I hope the Lord blesses you, and that you can find the time and energy to make a new start. :)

  16. Mommy Of Two Little Blessings says:

    I grew up a jeans and t-shirts kind of gal going to public school for most of my schooling. Though two years were at a christian school where dresses were required, I wore pants under my dresses. *smile* I am now a dresses and skirts momma and am starting our daughter in dresses. When given a pants outfit she wears it until it fits inapropriately in my humble oppinion. *smile* I have had both family and friends ask why I do this and I tell them it is to show her that it's a blessing to be able to dress like a lady. I am, also, not against jeans though there is an aprpriate fit of those that is sledom seen in public these days. *smile/sigh* There is nothing unbiblical about wearing jeans we are to be modest and jeans can fit in that catagory. *smile* Thanks for talking about this so publicly. Have a blessed day and enjoy your little blessings! *big smile* Sincerely, Mommy of two little blessings & so much more!

  17. I have no daughters so this is not a problem for me – not a big issue for boys.

    But I totally agree with you about little girls and dresses – I sat in a meeting where a mother had brought her little girl (she was around 3), she was very good and sat quietly throughout the meeting colouring in and eating!! However she did one other other thing, she spent most of the 1 hour lifting up her dress so everyone in the room (mostly male) could see her underwear. At no stage did the mother stop her and it was very distracting I must say. I just wanted to call across the room to the mother and remind her about modesty!. It would have been nicer if she was wearing leggings underneath or bloomers as you suggested. Even shorts would have done the job.

    Love those patterns.

    Blessings.

  18. Mother is available as a free ebook, so I'll be reading it soon. :-) Thanks for the suggestion. Stepping Heavenward might be another one in the same category.

  19. I've been reading here for quite some time, though I don't think I've commented yet.

    I really enjoyed this post, I have such a heart for modesty (which my mother also instilled in me) and I am delighting in training my daughter this way.

    But I also thought I'd pull to the table another note. I have four sons and Since they were tiny I've also been talking to them about modesty. How do they identify a modest woman, what to do when they see an immodest woman, how to handle standing in the checkout lanes in the store (magazine racks are RIGHT at children's levels) ect…

    Also, how to be modest themselves, like wearing a shirt while swimming, or playing outside, NOT wearing boxers when wearing shorts and the like. It's important to train our young men up understanding these principles well because they will be choosing wives and raising daughters one day themselves!

    anyhow, beautifully written… A book that we LOVE that I didn't see on your list is "The Princess and the Kiss"

    • Yes! Thank you for touching on the subject of men and modesty. I’m really tired of hearing everyone talk about it like it’s a girl’s/woman’s issue. I don’t see how it doesn’t equally apply. Women are also visual creatures!! The style and fit of a man’s jeans are just as much a stumbling block to girls as the style and fit of girls’ jeans are too guys! There are also right and wrong ways to wear everything from t-shirts to button downs for guys. Modesty is also a man’s issue.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I'm glad I bought two copies of that Mccall's when I did! In two sizes. And I'm in the idst of making the ruffly slip for my 4-year-old, to be a nightgown.
    Katie

  21. Your daughter is absolutly beautiful :) Thank you for sharing this post you honestly can not hear about modesty enough! Thank you for the book reccomendations as well I will be ordering some of those soon :)

    God Bless,
    Amber

  22. Anonymous says:

    I am trying to teach my 4 daughters to be modest. Unfortunately, I can't find any Biblical instruction as to what body parts must remain covered. The early church's teachings has very little as well. Where can I find explicit instruction as to what body parts should remain hidden and what parts are acceptable in open view?

  23. I have an almost 2 year old and we will not be doing skirts/dresses only for her. She has 3 older boys to keep upo with and we live out in the country. I cannot imagine trying to climb trees and tumble around outside in skirts and dresses. I read some woman’s thoughts a while back that our girls shouldn’t be doing stuff like that and we should be teaching them to act lady like at a very young age. To a degree, I agree but here is my thing: I want my daughter to have a heart for modesty. I won’t allow her to wear anything as a child that will draw attention to her body in an inappropriate way (it’s out there, even in 24 months sizes, sickeningly) but I will not hinder childhood because I believe she should only be in dresses or skirts and those are immodest to play in or expect little girls to do things modestly in. There is an age where we start teaching them about their bodies, the responsibility they have to dress it in a certain fashion,,etc. But in my honest opinion that age comes as around the same time we are covering the heart of the issue: Jesus Christ and the gospel message. I want my girl(s) to dress modestly to honor their Savior, not just because mom doesn’t it or its the rule. It’s a rule they won’t understand separated from the Gospel and a true love for Christ. Our girl(s) will wear jeans and t-shirts to play in, run around, flip cartwheels and be a child. Then, when the time comes to “put away childish things”, the conversations will open up. Children shouldn’t have to worry about “defrauding” anyone for goodness sake!!

    • Thank you! I think you really summed it up for me, there will come a day when they choose to “put away childish things” out of love for their Lord. :)

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