Many people find this post first on my blog (I wonder why! haha!) - Here’s a short clip to start you off! Only 3 minutes, please watch it before reading on!
To follow on our them of sexuality and young girls, here is a wonderful piece by a contributing author! Grace Marie Rose lives in New Orleans with her husband and 5 children. As a youth director, she has a particularly unique view! I know you’ll enjoy this one! So without further ado, I introduce to you, my sister, Grace Marie:
“So, when did you decide to give up the battle for modesty with your daughters and let them wear bikinis?”
This was the question I recently asked some beautiful Catholic women whose teenage daughters were at a co-ed arena with fairly skimpy bikinis. Some were string bikinis and others were strapless tube tops. The answers varied. However, the gist of what I heard was that at some point the relationship between the mother and daughter consisted of only fighting about clothes. In order to preserve their relationships, the mothers chose to drop that fight and work on their relationship instead. Other moms expressed the limits that they set for the teens at different ages. As a mother of young girls, this intrigued me.
In my line of work, I have had a chance to witness a wide variety of teenage girls in summer attire. I have noticed several trends in our faith-filled Catholic girls of today and it really comes down to their parents!
First, there are the girls whose parents probably bought them cute bikinis when they were toddlers, thinking how cute and innocent they were. These parents are the ones who thought that boyfriends and girlfriends in kindergarten were cute and may have even encouraged it. As teenagers these girls are simply told to save sex for marriage. Many of these girls will be able to do this, but it is a struggle as they find themselves in awkward situations time and again.
The second group of teenage girls have parents who are more active in their faith. These parents draw lines – yes, you can see this movie, but not that one; you can wear this suit, but not that one. These parents understand what is right and good, but often have a hard time sharing their faith with their children. These teens may have only been coming to mass or youth group because their parents made them. Their parents are stricter about what bathing suits they can wear, but it creates fights because, to the teen, it is all about rules and lines. These are the girls who may wear leggings under a short skirt just to get out of the house, but then take them off when they get in the car. These girls know their family is different, but don’t fully understand or want to embrace it. I probably fit into this category myself as a teenager. These teens even have lines that they draw for themselves (because they can see the good in what their parents are telling them), but also get into sticky situations because it is still all about how far you can go and where to draw the line.
The third group of girls I have met are aghast at what their friends wear. These are girls who purposefully choose to wear bathing suits with cute skirts and tops that cover their midriff. I overheard one of these girls recently remark, “I couldn’t have just come from mass, I’m wearing jeans!” I am not saying that wearing jeans to church is always wrong, but she was able to strongly defend her stance as others teenagers questioned her. Her view on clothing had a lot to do with her view of herself in the eyes of God. She was very confident in who she was as a Catholic young woman alive in her faith. It is harder to figure out what these parents are doing right with their teens because I hardly see these parents! These are the girls who are coming to church and adoration and youth group by their own volition. They are alive and on fire in the Faith, and are beautiful in every way! These girls still struggle, but their struggle is heard when they are not feeling as strong and they simply blame their parents (“yeah, my mom makes me wear a one-piece”) even though everyone around them knows that it was their own desire to choose it. It is these mothers who I have to figure out, for those are the teenage girls I want my daughters to be like!
In looking at these mothers, they are just as active in their faith as the mothers in group two.
What is the difference? I think (and I could be wrong – I am still trying to figure this one out myself!) that these women focus more on teaching their daughters what a child of God IS, not what a child of God IS NOT. Someone once shared with me that in order to teach FBI investigators how to spot counterfeit bills, they are made to study real bills over and over and over. In this way, they are so familiar with the real bills that they can spot the counterfeit ones quickly and easily. It is the same with the Truth. These women do not focus on telling their children what is wrong over and over and over. Instead, these ladies teach and model for their daughters what is right and good on a daily basis. One of these moms recently had all of her children cancel all of their activities for a week because the children were not getting along. Instead of punishing them and telling them to stop fighting, she simply told them that they needed to work on their relationships with each other first and foremost. So, they spent a week at home, having family time, growing in love of one another. These mothers are the ones who remind their daughters that they are daughters of the King!
When I was in college, I read Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye and one of the biggest things that I still share with teens is that modesty and chastity are not a line, it is a direction. What I realized was that my modesty was not about what I could not do. Instead, it was about what I could become! It was an arrow, a direction toward God. “In whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything for the glory of God!” Everything I do, even what clothes I wear needs to be for the glory of God! My kids tease me about this quote and ask, “Even just 1% for myself? What about .5%?” However, they already know my answer, “EVERYTHING for the glory of God!” It is only when our sights are set on Christ and His glory that then we’ll realize what we have the potential to be and what we are striving toward. We will stop looking behind us trying to figure out this line and, instead, run in the direction of purity and chastity!
I think that the only way we can avoid the choice to fight about clothes or have a relationship with our daughters is to pass this idea on to them. It certainly helps if we can start when they are young as they form their identity. However, it is never too late to come to this realization and understanding of who we are. It is about the positive, not about the negative. I have witnessed girls changing as they studied John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (through the TOB for Teens series). Just look at the Facebook pictures of girls you know and love. You will see very clearly who each girl is through their pictures. I messaged one such model of modesty, letting her know that I noticed and encouraging her in her modesty and purity (this was not a girl with whom I had more than an acquaintance relationship so I really did not know how she would take it). Her response was beautiful: “ Thank you so much Mrs. Grace Marie! Dressing modestly is something I try really hard to do.... Its nice to know my efforts don't go unnoticed!”
Yes, that’s the strength that I pray for in my own daughters now and always! May all of us remember that we are daughters of the King and that everything we do should be for the glory of our Father!” – Grace Marie Rose.
What wonderful insight! Thank you, Grace Marie, for the thoughtful reflection. You have given us so much to think about!
Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours! (Please comment below!)
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