Children

Children
"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Monday, July 06, 2015

Modesty Needs to Come from the Heart

JMJ

Recently, I have had a number of people ask me about modesty and wearing skirts and dresses. The most recent question came via a blog comment. Jennifer wrote:
Hi Christine,
I have a question for you and your lovely daughters inspired by your slideshow. We have 5 girls, all still very young, the oldest is 7. It seems like your girls generally wear skirts/dresses and we'd like ours to do the same. Has it ever been a problem for your family? Have your daughters ever wanted to wear shorts/jeans when their friends are doing so?
Thanks and God bless!
Below is my rambling response. I apologize that I don't have time to respond more fully. Hopefully, the resources mentioned will fill in many of the gaps.

We have come to wearing skirts and dresses slowly. From the time I was little, I have liked to wear dresses. I always thought that my mom, my paternal grandmother, my aunts, and great aunt looked so pretty in their dresses. Modest dresses and skirts are so feminine. When our first daughter was a toddler, I purchased dresses for her (as a baby, she wore one piece outfits - they are better for crawling). Family and friends gave us dresses, shorts, and pants outfits for which I am very thankful. My older girls wore all of these outfits. I can probably count on one hand the number of pants and shorts that I have purchased for my girls over the years. This wasn't conscious on my part. It was simply that I preferred, and still prefer, dresses and skirts.

picture from Catholic Tradition
When my oldest daughter was eight or nine, one of her friends asked her why she always wore dresses. My daughter came to me and told me about the conversation, letting me know that she felt uncomfortable and out of place. I told her that she could wear pants if she wanted. She did, but has found that she prefers wearing skirts and dresses.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of speaking with Fr. Dennis Gordon, FSSP on the phone. During our conversation, we spoke about modesty and skirt wearing. Fr. Gordon shared (and I have since read in Fr. Trochu's book on St. Bernadette) that before Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, St. Bernadette told her companions, who were lifting their skirts to go through the water, "Lower your skirts." Something about that conversation made me consciously decide that I wanted to only wear skirts and dresses. 

That summer, the day that the girls left for camp, one of my daughters was wearing a pair of shorts. I asked her, "Why are you wearing shorts?" She replied, "Because I do not have enough skirts for camp, and I didn't want to wear one and possibly get it dirty before I arrived." I made a mental note to myself, "I need to buy or make more skirts for her."

Since then, I have learned in a biography about St. Padre Pio that he would only hear the confessions of women who had entered the church wearing a skirt/dress that was at least eight inches below the knee. If a woman changed her clothing after entering the church, he would not listen to her confession. Pants were not an option. God gave Padre Pio the ability to know the length of a woman's skirt without seeing the woman.

picture from Catholic Tradition
I am different from some of my friends in that I have not told my daughters that they can only wear skirts or dresses. I simply don't buy shorts or pants anymore. My girls knew that some of their friends would be wearing shorts at the camp that they just attended, but they didn't mind. They've been to another camp where the girls only wore skirts, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. They are girls, and they are happy to be girls.

I think that it is important in today's world that girls dress like girls. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have seen a woman and thought that she was a man. A week or so ago, I commented to my oldest daughter, as she was driving, "Let that man get to the sidewalk before you turn." After my daughter turned, I looked back and said, "Oops, that was a lady." Our daughters need to look like girls, and our sons need to look like boys. Our world so needs feminine women and truly masculine men.

We all come to holiness in different ways. Just because a girl is wearing a skirt doesn't mean that she is holy. I realize that most mothers know this, but I think that it is important for us to share this with our daughters.

All that being said, modesty needs to come from the heart. As mothers, we need to encourage modesty in our daughters, but most especially we need to pray for them. As Fr. Wolfe, FSSP says, "Pray three Hail Marys, each morning and evening, for purity and holiness." Pray those three Hail Marys for your daughters (and sons) and teach your children to pray them too.

10 comments:

  1. Well said, Christine. While I stopped wearing pants/shorts many years ago out of a sense of modesty, I agree that nowadays wearing skirts/dresses is a very important testimony to the world that 'male and female He created them.' God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God bless you, Kimberlee!

      Delete
  2. PS I really like your post title. Modesty should be a natural expression of what is within a girl's or a woman's heart, not an attempt to impose some set of rules from without. If we raise truly modest daughters then we don't ever need to discuss 'modesty' with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If we raise truly modest daughters then we don't ever need to discuss 'modesty' with them." This is what I have found. Thank you for sharing.

      Delete
  3. Very well presented. I think God does work on our hearts to change our views. I always liked wearing dressed and skirts but I finally decided to only wear them a few years ago and it has been a blessing. I just took it one day at a time and before I knew it, it was normal life. I don't think forcing young girls in an aggressive manner works, gentle instruction and positive role models is definitely better. Thank you for the book list, haven't heard of some of these. I will have to check them out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Jennifer. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. God bless you!

      Delete
  4. Thank you for your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Jennifer. God bless you!

      Delete
  5. I love the stories you have to go along with this post! I thought of them today while we were at an outdoor waterpark. First time we have ever gone. Oh my. But it was sooo hot and humid. My penance for exposing my children to skin and tattoos? I broke my toe with a rough landing at the bottom of a waterslide so I had something to offer up in reparation.

    I often reflect on how modest dress is ideally a an outward manifestation of inward virtue. But I also find that this works from the outside in. When I put on pants or capris for comfort or the tasks at hand, I find I am less committed to prayer, I sometimes forgo wearing my scapular, I feel more worldly and less feminine, and just don't feel "set apart". I wish I could feel and act just as feminine in pants as I do in a skirt, but with my public school upbringing and worldly 20's life it just does not come natural to me.

    Like a school dress code, it seems (in my experience) that dress sets on apart and helps a person to act according to their role. And more and more, being out in public feels more like "us & them", the Christians among the pagans.

    Maybe I am all wrong, and this is all due to my own weaknesses and lack of formation!

    Our kids go to camp this week - first the boys, then the girls! It was a challenge to find skirts suitable for camp, but the Lord provided!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Tracy, I am so sorry to hear that you broke your toe. I hope that it heals quickly.

      Thank you for taking the time to add your thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

      We find that looking for skirts can be hit and miss. A year or two ago, my girls decided that it was easier to make them. This year, it has been a little bit easier for us to find them locally. I hope that your children have a wonderful time at camp. God bless you and your family!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope that you have a wonderful day! God bless you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...