Q: How can fathers help their girls learn about modesty? I want my daughter to get a handle on this concept before she becomes a teen, but I feel awkward addressing this subject with her. What’s my role here?
A: For a girl, Dad is usually the first man in her life. How he treats her will affect her relationship with other men throughout the teenage years and adulthood. He also has a huge influence both in terms of the way he shows his appreciation for his daughter’s femininity and in how he encourages her to express it.
When it comes to teaching girls the basics of appropriate attire, it’s Mum who should, whenever possible, exercise the heavy hand on occasions when boundaries need to be enforced. By way of contrast, Dad needs to affirm his daughter, show her that he’s there for her, and help her understand the rationale behind the rules.
In short, a girl needs to know that her father cares about her. She needs to be convinced that he’s acting out of a desire to protect her and isn’t just cramping her style. This means that Dad should watch for those occasions when his daughter does it right. If she comes downstairs in a becoming, appropriate outfit, he needs to make a big deal of it. Equally important is to affirm her beauty in natural and everyday settings.
On the other hand, when your daughter gets it wrong, you have the opportunity to come alongside her and ask, “Why did you choose to wear that? What do you think it says about you and how you view your own femininity?” Use the occasion to talk about respect between the sexes and the kind of clothes and behaviour that can nurture or destroy it. You can turn the world into a classroom to teach your daughter what it means to respect herself and to communicate that respect to others through the way she dresses.
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