Dressing modestly feels very natural to me. I was raised from a young child to think about the clothes I wore, but it was with a balanced approach. I will forever be grateful to my mother for the incredible job she did in teaching me what modesty really means.
Here is what stands out to me years later, over how I was raised.
1. She started with the basics when I was young.
While I don’t consider the clothes we wore previously as being really immodest, it wasn’t until I was 9 that we started exclusively wearing dresses and skirts. My mom came to my sister and I and we had a serious talk about switching to all skirts/dresses. As a girly girl who already wore play dresses constantly, I was thrilled. My tomboy older sister? Not so much.
When we made the switch, she didn’t make it complicated. Every single clothing piece was not pulled out of our closet and analyzed.
We just did it.
The thrift stores were visited, the jeans given away, and we made it work with what we had. Slowly, over time, we added more items that we needed.
2. When I questioned why we had to dress modestly, she gave me solid answers.
As I reached the teenage years, she would answer my questions of why our necklines had to be so high, and our skirts so long with actual personal stories. Now not everyone has these stories (I won’t have them for my girls), but my mom had spent some of her early adult years not walking with the Lord. She had real life experience of why she cared so much, and when I was old enough to handle the stories, she told me.
I can’t stress enough how helpful this was for me. Especially as your daughters reach teenage years, they don’t need to constantly hear “we dress modestly because I say so”. They desperately need solid answers to help them through the days when they feel different, or are made fun of for not wearing that bikini at the swim party.
3. She didn’t panic or get angry when I didn’t always follow the “rules”.
I’ll never forget going to my grandparents to visit for 2 weeks when I was 15. They lived states away and didn’t really appreciate our stance for modesty. When I walked off the airplane my parents were pretty surprised. I had on a modest, but extremely bright dress (just different from what I normally wore), my Grandma had put nails on me, and I had quite a bit of jewelry on (only simple jewelry was allowed), and I was very, very tan from having been at the beach for the weekend.
Not everything was wrong in what I wore, but everything combined really surprised my parents. My mom let me know she wasn’t happy that I gave into the pressure to be something different than who I really was, but also gave me lots of grace. I wasn’t in trouble, and deep down I knew that I wasn’t representing my true self.
I continued to struggle during that year, but my mom helped me through it, and looking back I don’t have regrets from doing anything drastic. It was just part of the growing up process.
4. She never made me feel like I alone was responsible for how a man thought.
Do you know the pressure a woman must feel if she thinks that the sexual thoughts a man has centers only around how she is dressed? What about a young lady who was raped, and told she just wasn’t dressed modestly enough? I’ve read all of this and more as arguments for needing to dress modestly.
My mom definitely talked to me about being respectful and considerate towards the young men I was around, but I never was made to carry this heavy burden around. It’s a two way street. We ladies need to be thoughtful and considerate for the men we come in contact with, because sexual thoughts are a struggle for a lot of men. Plunging necklines with bosoms hanging out are not helpful for a man’s thought life! But think about all the Islamic women who are raped, and covered head to toe?
Ultimately, a man needs to be constantly on guard with his thought life, and a woman needs to watch what she wears. Take responsibility for your own actions.
5. She showed me her commitment through her struggles.
It wasn’t always easy for my mom to dress modestly. She was a plus size woman and struggled finding clothes. But the struggle I will never forget are her attempts to sew us jumpers.
I grew up in the homeschooling movement when jumpers were the style for homeschoolers. Looking back I cringe at the loose, so unflattering, matching jumpers, but I also have a tenderness in my heart at the memory of those clothes.
I’ll never forget coming out of my bedroom when I was 11, and seeing my mom in tears. She had spent hours working on putting a zipper in a jumper for one of us girls, but she just couldn’t get it. I remember thinking she must really love us, and desire for us to wear these jumpers if she is trying so hard.
When money was tight, she stuck with it. When we all were tired of wearing the same jumpers over and over again, she stuck with it. When friends or family laughed at us, she stuck with it.
Dressing modestly isn’t always easy. Like anything else in life, it’s a commitment that you have to be willing to stick with. Choose your standards, and help your daughters truly understand the reasoning behind them. The closer I was connected with my mom, the more I respected and listened to her opinion in all areas of life, including dressing modestly. Be the type of mom that your teenage daughter can share her struggles with, and lovingly help her through them!