Wednesday, June 28, 2006
A lesson in modesty
The other day, Joel was cleaning out the car in preparation for our upcoming road trip. He came in and showed me this little slip of paper he found under Bria's booster seat. Once I read it, I had to laugh: "I don't want to be modist. I want to be unmodist." Too funny...but of some concern. I remembered a few days ago in the car she was telling me she wished she could have an immodest dress like Princess Mia of the Princess Diaries. When I told her we needed to be modest because that's what Heavenly Father has taught us, she just sighed. And then, I suppose, she wrote down how she really felt.
Well, back to finding the paper. Joel and I thought we should talk to her about it, and so we sat her down and asked her why she wrote it. She was clearly a little embarrassed, but basically told us she really, really wanted a dress like Princess Mia's (it's strapless) and that it wasn't fair that she had to be modest because so many people she sees aren't. This is all very true. And she's very influenced by the people she sees around us...I've noticed her watching older girls when we're out and about. She really wants to be beautiful, and unfortunately, the world often associates beauty with immodest dress.
While I was listening to her, my mind was racing. How can I teach her the importance of modesty, but at the same time assure her that she can still wear beautiful (yet modest) clothing? Our Relief Society lesson just the day before had had some discussion of modesty and teaching our daughters. I think I've done a pretty good job of teaching Bria we need to be modest (after all, if I hadn't, it's doubtful she would have even been worried about the issue in the first place, right?), but I was beginning to think the whys were somewhat lost on her. She's only five years old, so many of the reasons would be too much for her to understand.
I finally had the bright idea to get my scrapbooks out from high school and college and show her all the dresses I wore to dances, recitals and in operas. They are beautiful and modest. I think it helped her and she asked me if I still had any of them so that she could wear them when she gets big enough. I have a few performance dresses in my closet, so we went and got them out so she could look at them in real life. Then Joel got my temple dress out and showed that to her (my wedding dress is unfortunately at my parents' house), and explained a little about going to the temple and how modesty fits in that way.
Ever since, Bria has had a new understanding of the entire issue, I think. On our roadtrip she got a new Bratz coloring book. She was drawing in more modest clothing for them when they were not so modest, and she would get very excited when she found one that was dressed modestly.
I still think it's hilarious to find such a note written by my five year old. But I am so glad that we were able to turn it into a learning situation for her. And maybe by the time she's sixteen she'll be okay with wearing a modest dress to the prom.