Awhile back I was asked to join a blog hop. We were asked to answer the following email. It’s a biggie, so stay tuned! I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share on this, one of my favorite subjects. Modesty. Femininity. Living life as a Christian. How do we walk the talk and live a life for God’s glory and not our own? And how do we teach our children to walk hand in hand with God? Big Questions!
Here’s the email that started this discussion.
“My question is regarding protecting our children from seeing too much skin in the summer months. A few years ago, my husband and I realized that we cannot go to public beaches and waterslide anymore because of the amount of skin exposure. We want to protect our boys’ minds. It has been TOUGH. We do not have free access to any pools, and we have to get out to the lake early enough to find a private spot. It is not always a good spot for teaching our youngest children to swim. Recently, we have been going to a semi-private spot near a major beach. It is turning out to not be *private enough*, since we are still exposed to some inappoapriate swimwear. Today we dropped a few of our older sons off with extended family for a boating trip. There was a bikini involved, which was something we had not anticipated. My husband had an uncomfortable conversation, she got dressed, but I am unsure of what happened after we left. I am starting to feel like such a compromiser!
Most of our conservative friends do not bother themselves much with this issue, and still go to public beaches…I was hoping that someone at Visionary Womanhood might have some insights on all of this. I would love to hear from an older teen boy/young adult who was raised by parents who guarded his eyes. Do all of you avoid all boating trips and boat docks in addition to the public beaches? How do you deal with extended family who are showing too much skin?
Water, Sun, Sand….and Bikinis?
This email poses a huge question that most of us have tried to answer for each of our families. Our family has dealt with this dilemma over the last twenty plus years where we lived near a California beach. And I find we are dealing with it again as we live in a tourist area near a well-known river. These same questions have flooded my mind this summer as nearly naked gals sunbathe or play in the water just at the edge of our property. My sons (ages 11 & 15) will ask to go down to fish, I glance out to see there are only a few families enjoying the water, only to find that by the time they gather their gear, a scantily clad woman (or several!) saunters down to the water. Awkward!
It only happens every so often, but when it does it’s so disheartening. Here we are enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and this beautiful place He gave us to enjoy, and suddenly our quiet world is invaded. We’re trying to enjoy the river and the sun and fish, and then “pink bikini girl” enters the picture. Suddenly the simple pleasures of life are taken over by new thoughts and questions.
So what’s a mother to do?!
We know God gives parents many scriptures for instructing our children and teaching them discretion. But as much as we’d like it, there are no pat answers to these specific questions. There is no perfect plan for keeping our children unstained from the corruption of this world. But – there is God. And His holy Word. And so we begin at the beginning. Study the Bible! There you will find the heart of God.
Most of us are familiar with Proverbs 5, 6, and 7 which warn of the seductive woman who seduces and entices a young man lacking sense.
My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4: 20-23
But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith… keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Timothy 6:11-16
My Adult Children Speak
Next we ask for advice and input. That’s why you’re reading this post, right?! So I asked my adult children and sons-in-law how they feel about this issue. Their ages range from 25 to 32. They were raised in conservative, modest homes, are married, and are raising their own children.
- My daughter offered an important perspective that is often overlooked in my mother-cow nature. She reminded me that it’s not just about rules, and should’s and shouldn’t’s, but about heart. It’s about teaching our sons and daughters to consider the source, to ponder where that person may be coming from who chooses to flaunt her body for the world to see. Sometimes she just doesn’t know better. Often she is hurting and sick inside. Her identity comes not from the God of Heaven, but from the god of men’s appetites. (Phillipians 3:19, Romans 16:18) She is empty and in need of love and the only way she can find it is through human attention. She hasn’t met the God of the Universe. The God Who fills our every need. The God who saves.
- My son-in-law said that when we focus too much on not looking, it can create a curiosity to see what they’re missing. So getting to the heart of the matter is what’s most important. This way, rather than our sons being tempted, they might choose to pray for that girl. Seeing deeper than the externals can offer them protection from considering this type of woman for a future mate, as they look to the inside rather than the outside. And yes, the outside does give hints of what’s on the inside! I truly believe I’ve often missed this over the years. I got too caught up in the do’s and don’t’s, in the “look aways” and the “I can’t believe it’s” that I forget to teach my children to look at the hurting heart. (Thanks Bambi, for also reminding me of that! – see her More Than Rules ebook)
And my son added this: “There is no way you can avoid the people in the world. Or how they dress. You can’t go anywhere without seeing girls inappropriately dressed. For me it was the fact the we always were talking about how girls need to dress like a real woman, and what is acceptable and what is not. That the way you dress shows what’s in your heart. Keep the topic open between dad and son about looking away and saving as much as you can for your wife someday…. also in your thought life. Makes it easier to know what to think. And what to guard against.If you plan everything around trying not to see anyone and being so worried about it that you can’t be normal and have fun in the water, it makes it almost more interesting for a young guy. And maybe his life is so manicured that he doesn’t know how to use self control on his own. He thinks his parents will take care of it.”
My other son-in-law referenced the verse from 2 Timothy 2:22: Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. He reminded me how easy it is to focus on the things we want our children to avoid rather than impressing the importance of pursuing the things of God. (I’ll add more on this topic in my next post!)
In a Nutshell
Where, when, how do we put feet to this question of guiding our sons in an immodest world?
- Each man I asked was quick to say that avoiding areas completely can lead to more curiosity of the hidden threat. Yes, we should not frequent areas with scantily clad women, and yet to avoid fun in the sun or water completely can cause a temptation to peek at the forbidden when given a chance. What exactly is mom telling me to avoid? What is it that I am not supposed to see? What is so horrible to cause mom to panic and take quick, loud sighs?
- It’s the heart that matters. Teaching our sons (and daughters) the heart of God and living a life for Him and not ourselves is the surest way to prevent lust and the sin thereof. As our children learn to serve God rather than themselves, they will stay the course rather than be tempted by the world. As they see the sad heart of a woman looking for love and attention in all the wrong places, they will come to understand how the world corrupts and God fulfills.
- In our family, we did stop frequenting the busy beaches. We found more private ones where only those who were jogging, taking pictures or walks were found. This helped tremendously. But when it comes to lakes, we find that more difficult. There are limited secluded areas along with the fact that our culture adds more and more immodest behavior to the immodest attire. We take kayak rides to get away from the people. We try to go when the lake is less busy. Basic but effective for the most part.
- Be aware of hypocrisy in our homes. Are we teaching our sons to “flee youthful lusts” and yet we spend every weekend at the beach, because we love water? I’m pretty sure God would want us to put some limits on our activities and enjoyment if is means infringing on things we consider inappropriate. And that is to be determined by the parents in each family. Oh, it does keep us on our knees, doesn’t it?
More Wemmicks Speak!
To discover what other Wemmicks are doing about this quest to raise children in an immodest world, you’ll find great insights here. I won’t guarantee you’ll agree with us all, but isn’t that the blessing of being a Wemmick after all?!
Bambi @ In The Nursery of the Nation
(Please note: if you are reading this in an email and a link fails to work, just click over to the blog. I’ll update any the links once the posts go “live.” This blog hop is new to us and we’re still working out the kinks. Thanks for your patience!)
May we challenge one another to be transformed by the renewing of our minds!
The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:11
Thank you for this. Our oldest is only almost 7 but I have been thinking about this as we just got back from holidays. This post is definitely helpful. Something we also noticed is the amount of tattoos people had. I feel it is a bit the same in the sense they are calling for attention from somewhere, anywhere, to ‘fill the void’ (idolatry). We need GOD!
So true. Again, it’s about perspective. Our world is lost and in need of Christ. I, too, was once lost. Will we be His ambassadors to dying people? Thanks for sharing!
This is such an excellent post. I like the balance in teaching our children that what they see on the outside does reflect the inside, and they need to pray for these women who don’t dress right. We’ve read a LOT of Proverbs over the years and talked a lot about the wayward woman. After reading this post, I will put more emphasis on how the wayward woman needs Jesus.
I do have a question, though… I am expecting my 6th son, and while I don’t always point out ( to my older ones) when they need to look away, I do have younger ones coming up the ranks. In our family, specifically, our older ones may understand more while the younger ones are still learning… So how do I keep from making it into a big deal if I always have a younger one in training?
Thanks for your input. I, too, will focus more on being like Jesus to others, rather than judging. It is hard and I do get frustrated when women don’t consider how they affect children by their clothing, yet I remind myself constantly, “Why do I expect them to know? They are not saved!”. New perspective helps me in this area.
I like your question and because it requires a little thought, I’ll be answering it in my next post, so stay tuned! Thanks for taking the time to share.
My computer absolutely refuses to open your site! I finally resorted to my phone and was able to read your response, and I am so glad I did. I love all the insight you gathered from your adult children, especially because the person asking the question specifically wanted to hear from men like your sons! Great stuff, Terry, thank you!
Tyanne, So sorry about the site issue. Someone else had the same problem, but not everyone, so I’m just not sure what it is. But thanks for your encouraging words. I did throw this on my adult children without warning, and they all responded graciously. It was a great form of sharpening iron together! Blessings.
Natalie Klejwa says
This was a fabulous post, Terry! I loved the pictures (hilarious) and I loved the input from your older kids. Wise words. Thank you for participating.
Thanks Natalie. I did giggle when I posted the pics! It was great to open up communication with my olders like this. Great fun. I hope we can do this again!
I really appreciated what you shared,especially the input from older kids. I have grown sons and teen sons and it Is so difficult to deal with this as we live in Florida! On the other hand, we can go to Walmart and see someone completely under dressed or to dinner and the list goes on…It really is a heart issue.
Thanks Keri, Living in a ‘beach’ area does make for more thought on our part. We can’t just crawl into a hole! And with the current trend in fashion (if you can call it that!) makes it hard no matter where we live. It’s just something we must impress on their hearts, that modesty originates in the heart and proceeds to the outside.