How to help kids understand why modesty matters

Alane Zlotnicki

I recently attended a concert where a young woman was sitting on the stage in a very short skirt. When I mentioned to my teenage daughter that the dress wasn’t appropriate to wear while sitting three feet higher than the audience, my daughter indignantly said people shouldn’t be looking there. 

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who has had an awkward interaction with their child about what’s appropriate, what’s too much or too little. Teaching kids about modesty affects parents of boys and girls. 

There’s a big difference between dressing to attract and dressing attractively.

Everyone wants to be noticed, but not everyone sees the difference between dressing to attract and dressing attractively. The offensive T-shirt and the shorts that fit like a second skin can be just as much of a cry for attention as the girl with pockets hanging out her denim cutoffs. 

In a society that encourages self-expression and self-glorification, how do we impress on our children the need to honor God with their clothing choices? It starts by helping kids understand the reasons for modesty. God encourages humility and modesty in men and women, and both are matters of the heart, not of the body.

Two Attractive Qualities to Put on Every Day

1. Humility

Humility isn’t thinking little of ourselves, but rather it is evaluating ourselves properly, in perspective to what God thinks of us and in comparison to His holiness (Romans 12:3). Instead of trying to be the center of attention, a humble person directs the praise to Jesus. 

When we dress in provocative ways, we’re likely to draw attention to ourselves. 
In doing so, we can make it more difficult for people to see Jesus in our lives, even if our actions are exemplary. We are called to make much of Jesus, to make Him our identity (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

2. Modesty

Modesty is the offspring of humility; it reveals where we’ve placed our identity (Philippians 2:3-4). Biblical modesty is all about drawing attention to Jesus, not to ourselves.

When we have a healthy view of our self-worth, we tend to be more modest, which is not merely about the amount or style of clothing on our bodies. Modesty is about our inward attitude and outward actions. 

Modesty is all about drawing attention to Jesus, not to ourselves.

Many young girls want to dress in whatever makes them feel stylish, but society sends the message that only revealing clothes are stylish. My 20-something daughter wears low cut shirts and short skirts. When I comment on them, she insists she’s comfortable and boys just need to control themselves. 

While that is certainly true, we all have a responsibility to consider the feelings of our brothers and sisters in Christ and not make the struggle for pure thoughts any more difficult than it already is. It isn’t a matter of rights, it’s a matter of consideration, of “looking not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

God tells us He wants us to “be adorned with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4). As believers, our goal should always be to point people to Jesus, and the way we dress can be a powerful tool to do just that.

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