Saturday, June 13, 2015

Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Little Child in a Bikini

This was a question from a friend: "With summer here and friend coming over to swim and play in water. How to go about immodest swim suits. They come down and shift when slipping and sliding and make my boys and myself and husband uncomfortable. I feel like when I state our house rules of no belly showing. And offering tank tops I still make them sad. They are little so are not offended but more maybe ashamed."

My response:

These girls ARE little (knowing the age of my friend's children - probably anywhere from 2-8 years). They are not necessarily choosing their swimsuits. They may pick a bikini or inappropriate swimsuit because these are the choices they are given. They like the fabric or color or style. But, that is because this is what they have seen. They don't know any different. They are not trying to make you uncomfortable.  They are so little that they are not trying to sexually stimulate anyone. You may have house rules for your own children and there are certain things that are absolutely not allowed in the house (like alcohol or something), but these girls are being introduced to the gospel and modesty through your example. If they ever come over in modest clothing (not just a swimsuit), point out what you like about it. Children are much more responsive to positive comments than negative ones. Find what you like about the child as a person. People are WAY more IMPORTANT than clothes, especially at this age. They are more than their clothing and swimsuits. Focus and help your children focus on the good parts of the child's personality. You can still reinforce what you believe about modesty with your own children (because your house rules definitely apply to them and modesty is important), but also realize that they are going to live in a world with half naked pictures of women and men. Humanize people by helping them focus on the character and personality of people, rather than their clothes. Your children are going to be learning how to sift through everything they see. If you only focus on clothing and immodesty and not people, you teach your child to never see past the clothing. This is part of why pornography is so impersonal - the focus is on the body (lack of clothing) and not the person. You never know, these children might be influenced by your example and remember it at a later time in their life. You will want this to be a positive example and feeling for them. So, when the swimsuit slips down, you can politely help them adjust and say, "That's better. Are you having fun?" Children don't need shamed into wearing modest clothing when they don't understand or have the same rules at their house. It's a tough balance to find the right measure of "house rules" and allowing others who don't understand our beliefs to interact with us. I suggest a lot of prayer and gentle kindness. You can even add to your prayers that the children might know what to say to their friends. "I" statements are great. For example, "I like my swimsuit because it covers my chest and belly and private parts." Then, other children don't feel attacked or ashamed when they don't understand what we believe about modesty. They may pick up on the I statements and one day choose to have a more modest swimsuit when give the choice.