Two weekends ago I met with a handful of youth workers, and one of them was a mom of two teenage daughters. I, a dad of two teenage daughters, was immediately engaged when she mentioned how difficult it was monitoring her daughter’s wardrobe.
She divulged, “We finally decided, no Yoga pants out of the house.”
I laughed. “I just had the yoga pants battle last week with my daughters. We established, only if they were wearing a sweater that completely covered the butt. But then when they were trying on sweaters, the argument was whether the butt was truly covered or not.”
She rolled her eyes. “We went through the same thing last Tuesday.”
The other youth workers at the table were just staring at us like we were monkeys at the zoo. They had no idea what it’s like being a parent of teenage girls today. (Yoga pants are the rage!)
Today it’s yoga pants; tomorrow it will be v-necks. The battles might look a little different, but it’s the same war. The difficult part is discovering the balance between being over-protective and overly permissive. The goal would be to create some realistic guardrails that equip our daughters to begin making these decisions for themselves.
So what are fair and “realistic” wardrobe guardrails for our daughters? After all, any parent of a teenage girl will attest, it can be very difficult to shop for our daughters today.
We have some good friends at our church who raised three amazing daughters, all gorgeous. Their mom wasn’t overprotective with them in any way, but at the same time, taught them modesty. In the mornings, her girls would often find themselves trying on an outfit and asking, “How’s this look?” or, “Is this too revealing?”
One of the phrases this mom would always use was, “Reach to the sky, then touch your toes. If anything shows… it goes.”
In short, if too much skin was exposed when they reached up or bent over… the outfit wasn’t appropriate.
Her girls always dress fashionable, but modest. I asked their mom her trick. She simply replied, “We’ve mastered the art of layering.”
If a sweater’s v-neck is too low, then they add a cami or a tanktop. Skirt too revealing? Add tights. Layering usually does the trick.
Lori and I have definitely gleaned some wisdom from this family. But reaching for the sky and touching your toes doesn’t cover everything. What about bathing suits in the summer time? What about the trend of leggings and yoga pants?
The appropriateness of bathing suits will always create an interesting discussion in Christian circles, and these discussions can often vary by geography. People who grow up on a California or Florida beach have seen bikinis since the day they were born. People walk around the piers and local beach shops in bathing suits. Try walking around like that in Nebraska and you’ll get a few stares.
I’ve made it simple with my girls. They can wear bikinis with family and their girl friends. But when their teenaged guy friends are around, they wear one-pieces or tankinis.
None of these rules are rules “just because I said so.” I regularly talk with my girls about how visually stimulated guys are. I point out “sexualization” in the mall and in the media, using every opportunity to talk with them about true beauty. Furthermore, I let them know that “sexy” is not bad. God made sexy, and someday their husband is going to love their sexiness as well as many other qualities. But they don’t need to advertise that to everyone right now, regardless of what the world is teaching.
The key to all of this is frequent conversations where parents have the opportunity to instill Biblical values. After all… what good are guardrails if our kids don’t know where the road is leading?
What about you?
What are some of the tough battles in your house?
What are some “wardrobe” guidelines that you enforce?