Can you remember the days when you daughter was dressed in a precious infant dress adorned with little bows and sweet pink polka-dots? Or how about the little seersucker sundresses and matching white underpants?
Once upon a time, we were mommies who got to play dress up with our little girl.
But then she grew up.
Or at least grew older.
And clothing is no longer a matter of cuteness.
It’s a matter of personal style and independence.
It’s also potentially an issue of stress-filled, explosive drama for those of us who would like to have some say in how their daughters look when they walk out of the house. Ahem. I’ve been one of them, reacting in a less than gentle manner when my beautiful, teen daughter came down the stairs to ask my opinion on a hand-me down shirt that she was convinced should be a sweater-dress. Let’s just say my tongue transformed into a whip lashing of words.
“How could you even ask me that?”
“What are you thinking?”
“Did you even look in the mirror?”
“Have you heard nothing that I’ve taught you about modesty over all these years?”
I totally blew it. Instead of responding with grace to her inquiry, with a thankfulness that she wanted my perspective, I came down on her as though her choice reflected some short-coming in my own mothering.
Most of us fall into the trap of believing that our reputation is pinned on our daughter’s behavior and appearance.
But is that because we’re guilty of judging other women based on the behavior, decisions, and appearances? I think this stems from a heart of insecurity and curiosity. We’re trying to figure out our own sense of worth through a wicked comparison game instead of seeking the Lord for His wisdom and perspective. We’re measuring ourselves against the success or failure of others.
Clothing is one area in which we’ve set a standard of eternal value, all the while missing the opportunities to make an eternal investment.
Instead of focusing on the outer appearance, we need to consider the state of “the” heart — and in our hearts and our girl’s heart too. As our daughters mature, their clothing is a means for which they will want to define their independence as they become their own person. We have the opportunity to influence that identity-development-journey with a Biblical perspective, but first we’ve got to get a grip on our emotions and respond to the practical with an eternal perspective:
We have to seize these teaching moments to emphasize how important it is for their personality, intelligence, gifts, and talents to stand out and not be hindered by what they are wearing (or not wearing). And yet we also need to educate our daughter(s) on matters of modesty and perception, giving them a broader understanding of how certain styles will communicate a message.
We also need to respond to more than their appearance, looking beyond what they put on to discover what is going in their hearts. Are they feeling insecure and seeking attention? Are they trying to fit into a crowd, or get out of one? Are they exercising independence from us or are they rebelling against us? And if they are rebelling, have we done something to exasperate them or are they struggling with a crisis or deep emotional wound?
Imagine if all the fights mothers and daughters had about clothing came to a screeching halt, and instead the topic of clothing (or fashion in general) became a vehicle for discussing matters of eternal consequence?
Will you begin this new trend today?
How have you handled the topic of clothing and fashion with your daughters?