Last week I saw an online story that was getting a lot of attention and praise. It was about a father who took an unorthodox approach in an effort to teach his daughter a lesson on modesty.
For those who didn't see it, let me share some quotes from the father himself (with some minor editing) as he recounted what happened and why:
- "I know the world has varying degrees of what is modest and what is not when it comes to clothing. In our family we have pretty definite modesty guidelines: No midriff or low-cut shirts, no short-shorts or short-skirts, and we even go as far as saying no sleeveless shirts unless playing sports or on the beach. Having raised four daughters and three sons, I'm a bit protective. Some may call me old-fashioned, but I call it: 'A Dad who loves his daughters' (and sons too)."
- "I'm a firm believer that the way we dress sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act."
- "My teenage daughter--day after day--continues to wear clothing that I, as her father, feel is inappropriate and immodest. Her mother and I feel the same about the importance of dressing modestly."
- "In an effort to try to spend time with just the family, we reserve our Monday evenings for just that."
- "I heard my wife ask our daughter if she would please change into some longer shorts before leaving. She said, 'No!' Instead of turning her response and disrespectful attitude into a major battle, I decided to make a 'small' statement on how her short-shorts maybe aren't as 'cute' as she thinks!"
- "I ran into my bedroom as the family was loading into the car. I grabbed some scissors and cut some old worn out pants into a set of short-shorts with the ends of the pockets hanging out the bottom. There was only about an inch of material below the crotch of the shorts."
- "I was a bit worried about going through with this, but felt that it was 'okay' to make this statement in the privacy of our own home. I was certain that when my daughter saw me, that would be as far as it would have to go to make the point."
- "As I walked out to the car I could see my daughter and my son in the back seat with their heads down focused on their phones...needless to say they didn't even notice. I stood by the open driver's side door for a minute and even spoke to them, but their faces stayed focused on their phones; they didn't even glance up. They had no clue of how I was dressed."
The father goes on to detail how the rest of the night unfolded. The kids eventually noticed his short-shorts, and he received a lot of attention everywhere they went (out to eat, miniature golfing, and finally for milk shakes). His daughter tried to keep her distance from him, due to embarrassment, at the amusement park. After they left to go get a treat, the daughter refused to get out of the car. She sat in the car alone while the rest of the family got milk shakes.
The father admitted later that he didn't think the object lesson made the statement he intended, though he believes that at least his daughter "will always know that her dad loves her and cares about her enough to make a fool out of himself."
So Stephen, why bring this up here? Good question, and here's the answer: There are a number of thoughts (mostly good but a few not-so-good) that I'd like to share regarding this story pertaining to short-shorts, parenting, and teenage rebellion.
Let's start with the positives:
- Although the world doesn't have a fixed-standard for modesty, this family does (and that's a good thing). Having clear rules in place with a rationale behind them is important.
- The father is taking an active role to protect his children. This is an important function of a father.
- The father understands that how we dress influences others around us and sends messages about us. He also knows how men and young men think when they see immodesty.
- The father and mother are united on the importance of modest attire. It's very important to be on the "same team," so to speak, as parents.
- They understand the need to spend time together as a family and actively reserve time each week for that express purpose. Families that want to be strong will find a way to do this, even if it means saying "no" to certain activities or opportunities for the sake of the family unit and time spent together.
- The father is willing to go to drastic measures in order to teach an important lesson to his children. He cares more about his children than what other people think of him.
- Clearly, the father loves his daughter greatly and would sacrifice for her. This young lady is blessed to have a father who genuinely cares for her.
That's a strong list of positives! I commend the father for these things. That being said, there a few things I'd like to comment on that are not quite as favorable, but we'll save those for our next lesson.