When you are the mother of teen girls a whole new parenting challenge faces you – fashion fads, make up, hair colour, heels, nails, jewellery – the list goes on! There’s lots written on girls growing up too fast, on modesty, on heart issues and it is easy to end up thinking that these external things should be avoided in a godly girl’s life. Teenage girls want to be pretty and accepted and though they want to be in a group they also want to be an individual. I believe we can find our way through all the advertising hype, and enjoy fashion. I believe our girls can glow with inner beauty and still enjoy the colour and pizzaz of fashion.
As with any issue we want to shape in our kids life we need to know what we believe about that topic. As our kids get older they will not accept a ‘just because’, especially in the things that pull at their heart. We need to know what God’s word has to say about dressing and presenting yourself. There is so much conflicting information in the Christian community – you have to come to a belief for yourself. Read and research, pray and talk to others. Today, I am sharing the things that we’ve talked about in our home as we address the issues of how to dress fashionably.
1 Peter 3:3-4 is often used in this topic: Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
The message of this verse is at the heart of any direction we take regarding fashion and personal presentation. It is addressing what to do – keep your heart beautiful. It is not saying don’t dress nicely. This has led to the one rule I do have about fashion – the heart has to be in a good place before I let my girls grow into any new external expression. Their heart has to be for God, and for others, not for themselves (fashion can be very self-absorbing).
My girls have always been different from each other and I need to be sensitive to their differences to myself as well. How you dress is a reflection of yourself – and I consider it my job to help my girls know themselves, and be comfortable with who they are. I have a conservative girl and an arty girl. One creates style, one makes statements! This is reflected in the designs they choose, the accessories and shoes they add, the way they wear make up, do their hair. How you dress is just one aspect of knowing yourself, but it is an aspect we should not ignore.
Though I have tried to not have specific ages for being allowed to do certain things, there is a vague understanding that as you get older you are allowed to explore more aspects of fashion. This gives us as parents, the freedom to make decisions on the context not predetermined rules. For example, when one of my daughters wanted her ears pierced, I knew she was more concerned with her looks than her heart so the answer was no. Therefore she was older than her sister was when she finally got her ears pierced.
Talking about reputation and image has been a helpful conversation to have with my girls. How do they want people to think of them? This is fraught with conflicts – I don’t want my girls to dress to please other people (either towards fashion trends or conservative no-fashion sense) but at the same time I want them to choose clothing that is considerate of the environment or situation. This is considering other people. I heard a story once of a girl trying out new hairstyles and she put together a punk-look. Her mother simply asked her, “Do you want people to think you are a punk?” She didn’t, that was not her intention, so her mother encouraged her to go and change her hairstyle. I think this was a wise way of addressing what often can be confrontational between mothers and teen daughters. Yes, I know that the externals shouldn’t matter, but in the world we live in they do. Thankfully, they don’t to God.
Time and money are issues as well. I don’t want my girls to decide on a certain look that is committing time and money in order to maintain their look. But at the same time, we do have a budget for some things. Different families will prioritise their money differently. I want my girls to know the cost of things – and cost isn’t always just money. I used to have a hairstyle that crashed once it got wet – it was a hassle – I want my girls to understand the cost on their time, their lifestyle as well as their purse.
One of the things that I did as a teenager was to have a colour/style consultation and I would love my girls, as they reach young adulthood, to have this opportunity. But for now, since we live in the bush, we have educated ourselves by reading and making observations. Both my girls know the colours that look the best on them, and are experimenting with styles. Both use Pinterest and it has been interesting to see personal styles develop in the things that they pin.
If you don’t know where to start as your teen girl looks longingly at fashionable things, ask around, I’m sure there will be another woman who can work with your family perspective and yet help your girl explore and find her own style and flair. There have been times that I’ve phoned a friend to talk over girl-stuff, just to help me update my own knowledge, so I can then talk to my girls. Today we have a friend coming over with her makeup toolbox (literally) to play around with the girls trying different makeup. I am grateful for my friend’s willingness to help my girls use products I have never tried myself.
I guess I do have one more rule that I live by and expect my girls to live by as well and that is: If you are fidgeting in it go and change! I want to get dressed in the morning, walk out the door, and not think about it again. I want to be dressed, to be prepared for whatever my day brings – and then I want to be whole heartedly focused on those things, not on my hemline, not wondering if my top gapes, or if my makeup is wearing off or my hair getting messed up. Dressing in a certain style is only one aspect of who I am – only one aspect of who my girls are. Though I want them to be comfortable in this area I don’t want it to rule their life.
If you are working with this topic in your family, and have found this article helpful, I’d love you to leave a comment and share thee thoughts with your friends. (Tweet now)