Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we're being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?Jennifer Moses proffers this question in an article entitled, "Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?" in the March 19, 2011, Wall Street Journal. Moses suggests her own theories for this phenomenon but what interests me is the exceptions to the rule she offers. Mormons are one of them. Well, some Mormons.
We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn't), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don't know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily.Moses suggests that modern mothers don't want to be hypocrites with their daughters but are still uncomfortable with how they conducted their own lives. This results in their floundering for ways to teach their daughters old fashioned morality when they were not particularly moral themselves. But, they now wish they were.
I have a different theory. It has to do with how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret. A woman I know, with two mature daughters, said, "If I could do it again, I wouldn't even have slept with my own husband before marriage. Sex is the most powerful thing there is, and our generation, what did we know?"
Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don't know one of them who doesn't have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I've ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she'd "experimented" more.
But it's easy for parents to slip into denial. We wouldn't dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: "Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven's sake, get laid!" But that's essentially what we're saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they're still living under our own roofs.I have seen plenty of young women at Church, on Sunday, whose apparel is clearly immodest in some way, be it Mormon or worldly fashion standards being applied.
The Church does what it can. It recently announced a new Youth web site that has been redesigned and revamped. Youth have always been a particular focus of the Church and this web site underscores that focus. For the Strength of Youth, especially the Dress and Appearance component, reinforces Church guidance.
If parents somehow "drop the ball" or don't "tow the line" the Church's message is not going to sink in.
Having no children myself, it is easy for me to take the high road here. I did inform one mother at church that I thought her daughter's clothing was immodest, specifically too tight. She appeared rather startled as she absorbed this information.
I recently discussed this subject with another young woman at Church. She volunteered, "I was that way." My response, "Yes, you were." She certainly isn't that way now. She is older, and much, much wiser.
Why don't we take a good hard look at ourselves, and then at our important others. Then, let's take any remedial action that is necessary.