Houston, summer has landed, and as temps rise, clothes shrink. That means moms and teen daughters everywhere are facing off over short-shorts, sundresses, and bathing suits. I was just at Academy commiserating with another mom as we picked through swimwear, hoping to find something that complemented our girls’ changing shapes but didn’t get them dress-coded at summer camp.
It’s not always easy.Talk to any group of moms raising teen daughters, and you’ll find us all over the map when it comes to our girls and their clothes. Some of us wish our girls would find Laura Ingalls to be the height of fashion. Others of us are ok with a little leg, a little shoulder, and a two-piece for pool side.
I’m also a dance mom (believe me, it’s really not like the TV show) so every year I work through my thoughts on what’s acceptable for costumes, makeup, and dance moves. Not going there, today, by the way, but sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t.
I will go here, though: whatever I say about clothes and teen girls, at some point others may well see my kid in public in a poor clothing choice, and they will have an OPINION. They are welcome to pick up the phone and tell me about it — especially if they know I wouldn’t have let her leave the house in a dress that looks like the bottom half is missing. I’d truly like to know so I can show up with some pants for her.
But I hope they will also kindly remember she is a girl learning to embrace womanhood, and like all of us, she won’t always get it right. If they shame her or her friends online, they are dead to me.
Women and girls do not need words like bimbo and hooker thrown at them on social media, especially by those of us who profess faith in Christ. Even if what teens are wearing raises eyebrows and evokes images of strip club entertainers, we older women parading around in our self-righteous superiority and judgementalism look downright tawdry. Let’s do better.
So here’s what I have to say to every mom going ten rounds in a dressing room with her daughter over a bathing suit:
I’m proud of you.
The fact you are in this store listening to your teen’s angst over a stack of swimwear craziness is huge. In a few years she’ll be driving herself to wherever it is that young women go to shop, and you’ll have no more say-so in what she buys.
I also want to say this:
I’m not going to judge you if you decide to pick your battles.
Pretty sure a bikini or two isn’t what turns a girl into a soul-damaged woman, drifting from one dead-end relationship to another.
Yep, she probably won’t be able to wear it to certain functions, and as important as the “what to wear” part of the dress code discussion is, the “when to wear” discussion may be more useful. You will probably still need to spring for a one-piece for some occasions, and the athletic, swimteam styles can offer some good options—but relaxing poolside with her girl friends in their cute two-pieces may be a different story. Do caution her about teeny-weeny-bikini pics on social media where she can be objectified by others.
And buy her a coverup for when she’s walking to the snack bar so creepy old dude isn’t ogling her.
Hear this, too, fellow-mom: Your daughter’s two-piece is not what will cause “that nice Christian boy in youth group” to suddenly abandon all his morals. We can blame internet porn addiction for that. We’ve GOT to go after the hearts and minds of our sons. They are using porn in record numbers, and it’s fueling a culture that puts girls and women at risk no matter what they are wearing. We’ve also got to support efforts that lead women and children out of the sex trafficking industry and restore them to dignity as children of God.
So do I care about modesty? Yes, and moms and dads have a responsibility to daughters and sons to teach the how-to’s of honoring God in all things, including their bodies.
But I also care about encouraging you in the parenting journey.
Don’t give up. Stand your ground on things that truly dishonor God and others or that smack of open defiance and rebellion. Don’t forget, too, that a dose of humor and love goes a long way in keeping the communication lines open so your influence on your kids’ lives continues for summers, and years, to come. I’m rooting for you. You can do this.
Now, go throw on your own suit and jump in the pool. I’ll see you out there!
Photo by Frederico Giampieri at Unsplash