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Adult Daughter is Dressing Down at Home

Jonnie from Pasadena writes:

Dear sisters:

I have one daughter in college. She is great and responsible and I love her. She’s home for the summer and my problem is that she doesn’t dress modestly anymore. It’s something she pushed me on growing up all the time. Now I feel it’s a real negative influence on her younger sisters and brothers. Is this something I should just let go or should I keep the standard?

Thanks for all you do.

Kathy says:

Dear Jonnie,

Guiding a grown child is a very different job from parenting younger kids.

As if that weren’t tricky enough, the topic of “appropriate” attire is almost guaranteed to trigger explosive emotions.

It’s very difficult not to feel personally attacked, insulted and furious when we are confronted with concerns about our appearance.

Back in my former life as a practice consultant, this issue reared its head more than once, and was never resolved without tears and tantrums; and we were discussing the matter with adults!

We improved with practice. We learned that the concern has to be addressed as briefly and calmly as possible. No long preambles. No tap dancing around the topic. No embarrassment or discomfort. “Jamie, would you mind changing into a skirt that comes down to your knees? We’ll pay you for your travel time, of course. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Enough said.

When it’s your own daughter, it won’t be that easy, of course, but I hope you can find a way to pull all the negative implications out of the discussion. She’s not “immodest.” She’s just wearing a sleeveless shirt. “We’d like you to wear shirts with sleeves while you’re home, because that’s the standard for the younger girls. Do you need a few more? Let’s run out and find a couple of cute ones.”

(Substitute the specifics. Shorts that come to her knees, shirts that cover her torso, clothing that is maybe just a little less tight, while she’s home with the younger kids.)

I hope the discussion can be friendly and constructive on both sides; but even if it escalates into a conflict, conflict can be productive if you follow the rules of engagement. Don’t tell her she looks seductive or ill-bred or that she is flaunting her sexuality or flouting the standards. Stick to the facts. Shirts with sleeves are the standard in your home. “Nobody is judging anybody; we just like the feeling of following the prophet. We’d like you to join us so we will not feel divided.”

It might be wise to acknowledge that your daughter is an adult now, and you are not trying to exercise parental authority on this issue. You will, however, enforce the standard with the younger ones, because that’s part of your responsibility. It would be appreciated if, as a courtesy, your older daughter would also follow the guidelines.

My guess is that you’ll have a rough time finding clothing that you approve of that she likes well enough to wear; but I hope the search can become a fun, bonding experience for the two of you. I hope, when she returns to school in the fall, she will have grown accustomed to wearing more comfortable, conservative styles, and will enjoy wearing the things you and she picked out together, if only for sentimental reasons.

I suspect she might privately come to accept the fact that she is likely to be taken more seriously if she dresses according to a more classic standard, as long as you keep the discussion positive.

At this stage in your daughter’s life, the only real influence you have is the strength of your relationship with her, and her judgment of how well your values have served you. If she loves and admires you, she is likely to accept your values over those of her peers. This is a pivotal time to emphasize the importance of the relationship.

One last thought: Think this through very carefully before you speak. Why, exactly, does it matter whether an unendowed woman wears scanty clothing? It might take some pondering to formulate an answer that is completely innocent of judgment or negative messages about her body or her motives. Please let us know what you decide to say, and how it works!

I’m very sure there are hundreds of moms out there trying to manage exactly the same issue.

Alison says:

Kathy has so much wisdom in her respond. I really have nothing to add. I would like to pose a question that occurred to me as I read her response, though. How far should mom go to enforce the standard if the daughter isn’t willing to comply with the request?

Tracy says:

Hi Jonnie,

We’re all so grateful for our agency, but every now and then it would be nice to take someone else’s away, wouldn’t it?

Since we’re talking about a girl in college, you can’t really take her clothes away or tell her what to wear. On the other hand, if she’s living at home for the summer I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to remind her of what is and is not allowed in your home. Just like you probably wouldn’t allow her to come home and use foul language, light up a cigarette, or have a live-in boyfriend spend the night with her in your home, you also don’t need to allow her dress inappropriately in front of her younger brothers and sisters.

I think this would be a good time for a one on one, adult to “adult” conversation. My advice would be to affirm her status as an adult, that you recognize that when she’s out on her own at college she may choose to live differently than she did at home, but while she’s at home, you expect her to live by family standards, especially since she has younger siblings at home who may be influenced by her example.

Explain that this is a matter of mutual respect. You respect her right as an “adult” to dress as she’d like when she’s away from home and on her own. But she needs to respect the family standards and the rules of your home when she’s there.

If she has the nerve to argue with you and throw a little tantrum about being an adult and grown-up enough to make her own decisions about what to wear even when she is at your home, I’d gently remind her that evidently, she isn’t as “grown-up” as she thinks she is, since she’s having to live with “mommy and daddy” during the summer.

{ 54 comments… add one }
  • daisy June 18, 2007, 9:46 am

    Kathy your answer was so perfect. Alas I wish I had heard it years ago.

  • partone June 18, 2007, 9:51 am

    What a good topic. Can anyone ask questions for the articles?

    Tracy, I’m just guessing, but I would bet you don’t have any teenagers yet or at least not any almost adult ones. Am I right? I liked your answer but I think it went too far to the –not going to work– side.

  • Oregonian June 18, 2007, 9:58 am

    I ?d gently remind her that evidently, she isn ?t as grown-up ? as she thinks she is, since she ?s having to live with mommy and daddy ? during the summer.

    What if she doesn’t have to live with them but is doing it because she likes being with her family and her family likes having her there? Throwing an adult child’s dependencies in their faces is going to alienate them, not help them change. Truth is if we want our adult kids to come around us we have to let up. If you want to see your grandchildren, your kids have to like you.

  • Sharilee10 June 18, 2007, 10:08 am

    Excellent, excellent advice has already been given, and I am with both of you. Let me just add a quick story as to why maintaining the standard in your home is so important.

    I am the 3rd child of 10 children. In my perception, I was raised in a very strong LDS home, we attended church every week and all church activities, I was Laurel President, I graduated from seminary, I never so much as had a desire to smoke, drink, dress inappropriately or make out. The church standard in my home was everything I wanted for my future family and it over-rode literally any temptations that were around me.

    The brother just younger than me was the starting quarterback on our state championship football team. The summer between his junior and senior year he was in an accident and lost his leg from the knee down. It was very hard on him, and I don’t know if it was that challenge that pushed him over the edge, but while I was on my mission he started making choices counter to what he had been taught. When I arrived home and met my parents at the airport the first thing my mother said to me was, “Now don’t be trying to push religion down your brothers throat or being judgmental. We don’t want to lose him.” (Just as a note, I was never allowed to talk about my mission in my home. Every time I started to say anything even semi-religious my mother gave me ‘the look’ of ‘be careful not to offend.’ I believe they ALL missed out on a wonderful opportunity!)

    I won’t go into a lot of detail, but suffice it to say that that is the attitude that has been prevalent in the home I grew up in ever since and the argument that my mother has used throughout the years is, “We certainly don’t want them to just not come home because they aren’t comfortable here.” Unfortunately, one by one every one of my younger brothers have followed in their brothers footsteps. I was the last missionary to serve in our family. My older brother served, but all 6 of my younger brothers have pledged to Mom that they knew what the older boys was doing was wrong and they were NOT going to make the same mistakes– but then one by one have followed right along and gone down a different path starting with foul language and dirty jokes and leading to drinking, smoking, immorality. A couple of them have found their way back to differing degrees– one brother is fully active, another brother married a wife who has more commitment to the Church than the others’ wives and at times they work toward being married in the temple.

    In the end, the very thing my Mother feared happened, but with a different group of children. Those of us who have chosen to remain active in the Church no longer feel comfortable in the family home because of the language, conversation, habits, etc. Especially as a single mother, that is NOT the male role model I want for my growing boys, and it is not the kind of environment I choose to spend my time in. It makes my parents furious with me that I don’t spend more time up there, but the last time I went home for Thanksgiving dinner (about 3 years ago), instead of the usual ‘Let’s name something we are grateful for’ before the meal started somehow the conversation ended up in an argument about which of the boys had spent more time in jail and which one had committed the more serious crime (public intoxication, etc.). We had to interupt the conversation just to say the prayer. As we left that day I was literally in shock. As I sat in the car shaking my head I said, “Did that really happen? Did I really hear what I thought I heard?” My 16 year old, who was driving because I seriously WAS in shock, smiled and said, “Oh yeah, you heard it right, but it’s okay, Mom. We know that isn’t you. We know your expectations and we love you for them.” I remember saying to the kids that day, “You are my children and I will ALWAYS love you no matter what! I hope that you will always choose to live the standards you have been taught in our home and that you will hold to the joy and the peace that comes from living the gospel and reap the blessings promised. However, I want you to know right now that the standard in my home will always remain the same. If at any time during your lives you decide you do not want to live that standard while in my home I want you to know that I will be happy to visit you at your home, in a public place or somewhere else that you choose and I will continue to love you and pray for you and adore you as I do now. You are my children and I will ALWAYS LOVE YOU!! However, I will NEVER allow inappropriate language, dirty jokes, or any behavior not in keeping with the gospel teachings in my home. It is my home and I have that right and I choose to have it be a haven for all of us, which it cannot be if any one of us is violating the family standard.”

    I am very sad to say that I have hardly been home since that visit (and maybe haven’t been at all). My older sister, who is also active, is in the same situation. My younger sister was very critical of us for awhile. She has been Mom’s favorite daughter since the day she was born and has been EVERYTHING to my mother. They talk daily, hourly it seems. Anyway– more could be said, but the point is that just last week I found out that all of that has changed. Mom has even lost Nancy because as Nancy’s children have gotten older she has found it more and more difficult to explain to her children why the uncles do this and that and the other. The final straw was when her children finally began to realize that our youngest brothers fiance is actually living there with him. Nancy told my older sister that she is finally seeing why we have stayed away for so many years and that she just can’t go back over there and expose her impressionable little children to that. Interestingly, she also reports that her conversations with Mom, which are few and far between, remain surface talk at Mom’s doings. My mother doesn’t want to tell any of us what is going on in her home, she doesn’t want to hear about what is going on in our homes (because it would inevitably involve church stuff), and so she really doesn’t have anything to talk to her own daughters about. All communication is hollow and forced.

    Perhaps the greatest tragedy of it all is what I have seen it do to my parents over the years. While they would still tell you they are active in the church, I have seen their priorities change little by little, step by step, until I honestly don’t know how strong their testimonies are. They spend their Sundays at the race track with my brothers (who train and race horses), they dote on the grandchildren doing things counter to gospel teaching and ignore the missionaries in the family, they claim they can’t serve a mission because their grandchildren would miss them too much, etc. In our conversations I know that the minute I bring up something about the Church or something exciting about my children and their spiritual growth and activities (which happens all the time, since that IS my life!) the conversation with my mother becomes very strained and I realize it’s over. How sad! My greatest joys I cannot share with my own mother.

    The moral of the story remains: My recommendation on this is to follow the excellent advice given to acknowledge that your daughter is an adult, re-inforce your unconditional love for her, but also be true to yourself and the minor children still living in your home for whom you have a responsibility to as well and do not compromise the standard in your home. The way you handle this situation with your oldest daughter will carry a very strong message to your younger children (and your oldest) about how committed you really are to gospel standards and how you really feel about this issue.

    Best of luck. My prayers will be with you. Please keep us posted.

  • agardner June 18, 2007, 10:27 am

    I appreciated your post Sharilee and agree with you. You need to enforce the standards in your home regardless of what your children (even adult children) choose to do.

    When I lived at home during the summers during college (I think I actually went back only over the first summer), I was expected to still keep the household rules as far as curfew, car use, standards, etc. As the oldest, I know my parents felt that was important as an example to the younger children. As a result, we always knew where our parents stood and what they would tolerate and we respected it. Myself and all 4 brothers served missions. The only sibling who didn’t serve a mission was my sister who married in the temple before she was 21. I think my parents did a good job and hope to be the same.

    Sharilee, your situation reminded me of my husband’s sister. Last year, her 16-year-old daughter had a miscarriage. Instead of reinforcing the family and gospel standards, she allowed this girl’s boyfriend to move in with them and sleep together in a bedroom downstairs. Shocker of all shockers, she was soon pregnant again and recently gave birth (at age 17) to a baby who is now being raised by unmarried parents. Saddest thing is there are 4 younger sisters still at home watching all of this go on. I don’t think my sil could have really prevented her daughter’s sexual activity (there’s a looong story there), but she could have at least not allowed the boyfriend to live in the same house. Not a good precedent.

    Of course this all just sickens my husband who is an adoption worker and sees this child being raised in a *crazy* situation.

    I’m not trying to equate sexual immorality with wearing a sleeveless shirt or anything, just to reinforce that parents need to have standards in the home that all are expected to follow if they are going to live there.

  • Sharilee10 June 18, 2007, 10:31 am

    Just one more note– It was very sad to me last Friday at my youngest brothers wedding that one of my brothers couldn’t even say a sentence without swearing. I had heard him in the background for a long time and not one sentence came out of his mouth clean. When he finally spoke to me and said, “So how the @#$ are the @#$ kids?” I responded, “They are fine, and I would really appreciate it if you would leave the swear words out of the conversation with me.”

    Now. If that brother was offended and chooses to not communicate with me because of it, I believe it is his issue, not mine. I choose not to be exposed to that kind of language and I hope the same for my children. In all honesty– I was glad that 3 of my 4 children were gone and had good excuses for not attending the wedding, and I wish my other son had also been gone. The language, the skin showing, the breasts hanging out, the environment, was something I could have gone to my grave having not experienced and been the better for it.

    I hope the blessing I will receive for having supported my brother and family will be that the experience for my son will become a blessing and strength for him (all these things shall give thee strength and shall be for thy good) rather than an example and an excuse.

  • east-of-eden June 18, 2007, 11:52 am

    Sharilee, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s sad that your parents see discussing the Church as a bad thing.

    We have a similar situation in our family. My husband is 8 of 8 children. His oldest brother chose to leave the church a long time ago and now is very active on the anti-mormom talk circut and even has an anti-mormon book for sale on Amazon (we’re espically proud of that one!) Anyway, he constantly accuses the rest of the family, who are very active in the church, or alienating him and excluding him. That is just not the case–we love him, but we’re not going to argue about Church, doctrine, religon vs science etc. One of the other older brothers finally put it to him gently and told him that the rest of us are members of the Church and that’s it’s a very important part of our lives and that he would have to learn how to deal with it, because we were not going to tip-toe around him and his choices, we respect his choices but we don’t have to agree with them. Have you ever considered telling your parents–nicely of course–how this situation has made you feel? The Church is an important part of your life. You should not have to dance around the subject. Perhaps with some gentle persuasion you might find out what the underlying concern or issue really is and help your parents work on that. Do they see their desire to keep the standars of the chruch early on as a failure because of the choices of your brothers? Do they see themselves as failures as parents because their children have made bad choices?

    In the end we all have agency, and that is a good thing and a sad thing when we see the ones we love using their agency unwisely. But each person will be responsible for his/her own choices, whatever they may be.

    As for Jonnie in Cali….it is not too much to expect that when your adult children are living undre your roof they resepect and abide by house rules. I lived at home during grad school, having spent my undergrad away. My parents, realized that I was not a kid and didn’t have the “kid rules” like my brothers had (the brothers were still at home in high school), but they did ask that I abide by some rules. For example, I needed to call when I was going to be out past mid-night, and they appreciated if I had friends over late at night we spend our time in the other end of the house, as not to disturb sleeping family members. They also asked that I choose a ward and stick to it, either the home ward or a singles ward and that I attend regularly. I still had household responsibilites given to me as well. It’s was not hard, but I did need to respect their home, and their set up. Good luck with your daughter, I hope she is willing to meet you half way on this issue. πŸ™‚

  • Sharilee10 June 18, 2007, 1:20 pm

    Perhaps with some gentle persuasion you might find out what the underlying concern or issue really is and help your parents work on that.

    My mother and I have had some long talks about this. She doesn’t agree with my point of view. In the end, we have to agree to disagree.

    Do they see themselves as failures as parents because their children have made bad choices?

    My sister and I believe that this is at the root of my mother’s behavior. It is only our perception, but it does appear that she feels like a failure because the majority of her own children chose not to remain active in the Church. Therefore, it appears to drive her crazy to see our children making wise choices. She acts as if they aren’t her grandchildren. She rarely attends their activities, she doesn’t acknowledge their successes or the things happening in their lives. Unfortunately, I actually believe she would be thrilled if our children chose not to serve missions or made some of the same mistakes along the way that her children have.

    I know that sounds awful– and of course brings up the whole “Honor thy father and mother” commandment, which I study and ponder and pray about all the time to make sure I’m square with the Lord on that issue and that the choices I am making in my responsibility as a ‘parent’ are not at odds with my responsibility as a ‘daughter.’ It’s been a tough balance for me. That is an area I have to be constantly aware of and keep my communication with my Heavenly Father wide open and upfront on!

    Anyway– I am all for giving children free agency and am the first to acknowledge to my children that the ultimate choice is theirs. However, I also lay out what the standard in our home is and they know that they will have to live with the consequence of their choices– whether those are things they like or not. My college age son lived here at home this passed year (he was still 17 until February and we live closer to the university than some of the student housing!) Like east-of-eden, some of the rules were different for him– curfew, etc. However, he still had to follow the rules. I don’t believe it is unreasonable for parents to set the standard and stick to it.

  • east-of-eden June 18, 2007, 5:05 pm

    …and of course brings up the whole “Honor thy father and mother” commandment, which I study and ponder and pray about all the time to make sure I’m square with the Lord on that issue…

    I can understand this. Over the years I have had some MAJOR issues with my parents–to the point I was ready to disown myself from them. At times I’ve felt like I was the parent having to dole out consequences for choices and basically police my parents. Very frustrating! There was a time not too long ago that I had no respect for my father. He was not doing the things he should have been in regards to my mother etc. I’ve spent many times in prayer and pondering the question of how do I honor my Father when he is not doing things that deserve honor–things like letting church callings run his life to the neglect of everything else. I still don’t know if I’ve found a happy medium, but I’ve come to realize my dad is who he is, and he is a good person, but sometimes he gets lost in his life and what he thinks he should be doing. I try and give him respect when it is appropriate, but I’ve stopped trying to change him. In the end, even though the absence of your parents is hurful to you and your kids, they will be the ones who miss the most by choosing not to participate in your kids’ lives. They will miss those experiences.

  • daisy June 19, 2007, 9:17 am

    This has been an interesting thread. As I sit in my new ward surrounded by people whom for what ever reason I assume where all rasised LDS, have all of thier children sealed in happy marraiges and come from families that are all still active.

    — I have to remind myself that actually the opposite is true. Everyone has a brother or sister who is gay, a daughter in to witchcraft,or who at the ripe old age of 27 is on her third live-in boy friend and has given us two grandchildren of unknown parentage, or has a husband who is inactive and drinks or whatever. WE as members are always dealling with people (read family members) that aren’t living gospel principles and do not share our love of the gospel, which is the FIRST love in our life, and therefore dealing with people with whom we can not share our most intimate thoughts and feelings.

    HOw to deal with this is sooo tough. I think basically becuase the gospel is about HOW we treat others. AS I have loved you, love one another. It’s very easy to feel that love and very difficult to decide how to translate that into particulars of action in our lives. How do you keep a sense of family when extended family is less than your ideal?
    I remember going to a particular family reunion with all of my inactive siblings and their children and feel like it was the turning point for my then 14 year old daughter. At first she was shocked( even though I had prewarned her) but by the end of the family vacation she was touting that her cousins were “cool” and with in a year she had started to adopt their ways. ANd here I had gone to the family reunion with hopes that my childrens belief system might rub off on them!
    Maybe and probably she would have done as she did regardless. One wonders. WE do our best and move on.
    The underlying principle is FREE AGENCY.
    God gave it
    Man cannot take it away.
    However, we CAN govern that little bit of territory we call our own. HOME.

  • partone June 21, 2007, 12:52 pm

    I like that daisy. we can govern our homes. You are right.

    What if our kids won’t be governed. Did anyone answer how far we go to do this?

  • Sharilee10 June 21, 2007, 4:11 pm

    I always like to look to my Father in Heaven and Christ as an example. How far does the Lord go in setting the standard in his home, the temple? My perspective is that He set the standard and those who are willing to live by the standard are welcome to enter while those who are not willing to enter are not allowed to enter. That doesn’t mean He loves them any less, or that they are cut off from other privileges, etc. We just are not allowed to enter His House if we are not willing to live by the standard.

    I think we each need to determine for ourselves, through prayer and intense collaboration with God, who also loves our children (after all, they were His first!), where we are going to stand on this. For me, in large part due to my own experiences and observations, I will be setting the standard for my home and enforcing it. If my children choose not to ‘come home’ I will continue to love them and accept them and visit with them somewhere that we both feel comfortable.

  • mlinford June 21, 2007, 5:53 pm

    Sharilee, I really appreciate these thoughts. Since I’m still in younger-children mode, I don’t have direct experience with these kinds of challenges, but I think these principles are worth pondering and teaching even now. Thank you.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 21, 2007, 11:25 pm

    I’m glad to get your input on this Sharilee.

    Honestly, I don’t know where I stand on this issue. I’ve written plenty about modesty on this site already, but I’m not sure how far one should go. Yes, God has a standard, but he isn’t necessarily a hard-liner about enforcement. I was just thinking of one of the other threads where it was mentioned that someone with an ONGOING porn problem was still deemed worthy (and encouraged) to attend the temple. If God let’s people with porn problems in his house, then should we refuse to allow our sleeveless children to visit ours?

    The sincere truth is, I see both sides of this and do not have a clear idea of how strict one should be on modesty, particularly with an adult child. Where’s Kathy the Wise when you need her? (I’ll see if I can goad her into logging in.) πŸ™‚

  • mlinford June 21, 2007, 11:46 pm

    I don’t know if this matters, but I was taking Sharilee’s comment a bit more broadly than just the modesty issue.

    However, if you think about it, the modesty issue IS a big one for the temple!

    And Alison, re: the porn thing, someone can be temple worthy if they are totally repentant and striving hard to overcome. If someone is casually approaching the problem and not really caring, I think that is a different scenario altogether. Temple worthiness is not about perfection, it’s about direction.

    I think when there are younger children in a home, it becomes even more tricky about what you let adult children get away with. Do you just teach teh principle of agency? Where to draw the line? I really suspect that there is no set answer on this, and that the Lord would have to guide in each specific situation because of the complexities that of necessity come with such a situation (different people, different personalities, different family makeups and cultures, etc. etc. etc.)

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2007, 12:16 am

    Well, let’s look at it more broadly. You don’t have to be perfect to attend the temple. You don’t even have to be working on all your faults and failings. (In other words, you don’t have to be repentant about all of them.) You have to wear your garments, but you don’t even have to dress modestly to go. You can wear super, skin tight, revealing clothes and still go. You can swim in a bikini and still go. You can be nasty to your neighbors and still go. You can refuse to serve in Primary and still go. So, how does our standard align with God’s? (FWIW, it’s not a rhetorical question, I really don’t know.)

    If you read my stuff, you’ll know I’m a stinking stickler about modesty. But I do wonder if WE overemphasize it, while minimizing more serious matters. My instinct would be to simply say, “You will not come to my home in a sleeveless shirt, etc.” But do I set the same standard on other, crucial behaviors? Or is it only those that are so patently visible? And is that correct?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2007, 1:39 am

    Posted By: mlinfordWe are supposed to be repenting and repentant all of the time.

    Ah, Michelle, that’s not what I said. I AM repenting and repentant all of the time. But that doesn’t mean I’ve even attempted to repent of everything I need to. Some of us just have too many problems for this to possibly occur in human time. Just be glad you don’t have experience with that. πŸ™‚

    I have always hated the recommend interview–and all my leaders know it. I was probably the most grateful on the planet for some of the changes in wording a few years ago. (Did you know they changed it JUST for ME???) But I still don’t like some of the questions.

    The one about familial relationships. Sheesh. I know they’re talking about abuse, but they don’t SAY it. I have to answer the questions as stated, so I’m always saying, “NO! EVERY MOMENT IN MY HOME IS NOT IN ALIGNMENT WITH THE GOSPEL! SOMETIMES I’M A HORRID PERSON. I yell (unlike Sister Hinckley…). I get cranky. I get impatient. I take offense too easily. I give offense too easily. I expect too much. I’m too lazy. I’m too picky. I get up too late to do my personal scripture study so I count family scriptures for both. I don’t prepare very well for FHE.” yada yada yada

    My bishop/later stake president in Florida was a good friend. I drove him nutty because I know what the questions are getting at, but I’m not going to lie about the direct wording. President Lake would always say, “Sister Smith, Sister Smith. God doesn’t want you to be perfect. He just wants you to be worthy.”

    I guess that’s my point, in his mind worthiness is a huge chasm away from perfect. So, do our children have to be DRESSED perfectly to step foot in our homes? Or can we have a less-than-perfect worthiness meter?

    The other thing we haven’t addressed is the possible negatives of alienating a child FOR a dress standard **to the younger children.*** Are there any? Probably.

    As an aside, I also hate the last interview question–although not as much as before. I once discussed this with my dear friend, who is now my bishop’s wife. She hates it, too, and gave me the best advice. She said that when they ask if she is worthy to enter the temple, she just says, “I’m minimally qualified.” I have used that since and have been able to avoid the lecture. πŸ™‚

  • SilverRain June 22, 2007, 4:45 am

    I think it’s the desire to repent. If someone is indulging in pornography without any true desire to repent, he or she is not worthy to enter the temple, though, as was already said, there isn’t a doorman waiting to kick them out. Repentance is not as line-item as we often think it is. Repentance is a state of being. In German, the word is “Umkehr” which directly translates to “turn around.” Am I working towards God or am I working towards Satan? Repentance is turning from Satan and to God. If we’re enthusiastically sneaking peeks back at Satan, we’re not really working towards God and we are not in a state of repentance.

    I also think it’s important for your adult children to see you take a stance. If you reprove with sharpness, but show an increase of love, they may resent you for a while, but they will come to appreciate you. I think we are often all too ready to practice tolerance for things that should not be tolerated. People are God’s children. As such, they are infinitely loved and lovable, but they have the choice to sin. If they choose to reject God’s commandments, they are separating themselves from your home, with rules clearly defined and supported. Let them know they are free to enter the home any time they wish, but you’d appreciate that they show respect for you and your rules while they are there. They are loved, their behavior is not. It’s a hard distinction to make.

  • SilverRain June 22, 2007, 4:49 am

    You’re up early!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2007, 9:05 am

    Actually, I was up late…unfortunately. πŸ™ Not doing too well at that go to be early goal.

  • mlinford June 22, 2007, 11:18 am

    I think it’s the desire to repent.

    Yup, that’s what I was getting at. Alison, you CARE about the fact that you aren’t perfect. (Incidentally, I have those conversations every time I go in for interviews, so I know exactly what you are talking about!) Being repentant means you care. Some of the examples you gave could be either of people who don’t give a hoot and go to the temple anyway, or people like you and me and most members who do care but aren’t there yet. There’s a world of difference, IMO.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2007, 1:57 pm

    I don’t know how much difference there is. There are many things I know should be corrected, but I really don’t care much because I am focusing on the more pressing issues. In other words, they aren’t even in the noise yet. Someday, maybe…

  • mlinford June 22, 2007, 4:00 pm

    There are many things I know should be corrected, but I really don’t care much because I am focusing on the more pressing issues.

    yabut, you still care. πŸ™‚ It’s clearly not that you go to temple recommend interviews hiding things so you can go to the temple because you don’t feel like confessing and you want to get away with going even when you know you shouldn’t. There’s the difference in my mind. πŸ™‚

  • facethemusic June 22, 2007, 4:39 pm

    I’ve been gone at Girls Camp all week— so I’m trying to catch up!

    I would bet you don’t have any teenagers yet or at least not any almost adult ones. Am I right? I liked your answer but I think it went too far to the –not going to work– side.

    Yup– you’re totally right. My teens are “younger” teens. But I’ve had older ones live with me so I’m thoroughly aware of how such conversations go with older teens.
    That said, I did say that I would say it ‘gently’. I wouldn’t word it the way I did in the article. As adults, we don’t necessarily discuss things with each other, the way we say them to our kids, right?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2007, 7:48 pm

    I am never one to keep my opinions to myself, but I do recognize that often my answers change with time and experience. Sometimes drastically. I recently attended a baby shower for my nephew and his wife. They had a book they passed around asking attendees to give parenting advice. It was hysterical, because by far the most verbose, strongly-worded, sure-of-myself advice was from the girls with no children. Second most was those with babies. The advice given had a direct reverse correlation to how old the attendees’ children were. Most of us with adult children just said something like, “Good luck! Enjoy the ride!” :swingin:

    OK, so in light of that question, how many of us do have adult children?

    I have one adult child, five younger (one will be 17 in a few weeks).

    I’m expecting a vote from Kathy!

  • mlinford June 22, 2007, 10:58 pm

    LOL. L.O.L. Too true, too true. I’m gonna watch for that next time around…. My next answer will be, “I have no idea, but pray hard and good luck!”

  • mlinford June 22, 2007, 11:00 pm

    I have to say it’s so weird to have those who are essentially my peers having adult children. Amazing what getting married a few years later can do. πŸ™‚ (I realized I was getting old when I realized I could be the mother of a graduating Laurel. Seeing as I am still feeling starting-gateish with motherhood in lots of ways, that was a shocker to me.)

  • Sharilee10 June 22, 2007, 11:35 pm

    I have an 18-year-old and an almost 16-year-old and 2 younger, almost 13 and 10 next week.

    Yes– I have had to pick my battles and I try to stay close to the Spirit in doing so. When my son came home and wanted to bleach his hair, I chose not to fight that battle and let him bleach it. After bleaching it twice he laughed at himself and said, “That was a dumb idea, huh!?!” I smiled and was glad I hadn’t made a big deal about it. Recently I got home and he had gone in to get a haircut and let them leave a big swath down the middle of his head. He was proud to show me and I just laughed and said, “I think it looks ridiculous, but if you’re happy with it– go for it.” I honestly believe he was just testing to make sure I would still honor his free agency. As soon as he had my reaction he went back in and cut the rest off. Now– when it comes to inappropriate language, immodest clothing, immoral behavior– I choose to fight these battles and my kids know where I stand on them. I will NOT accept that kind of behavior and my kids know it. That does not mean that our home is perfect or completely free of unacceptable behavior, but when it happens I do NOT accept it. I set the standard and let them know what is expected. One time when my oldest was about 13 and thinking that I had no other options even if he continued to speak in a manner that violated the standard of our home I sent him to juvenile detention while I looked into other options. After one hour he begged for forgiveness, which I freely gave him, and he was welcomed back home. We have never had that struggle again in the past 5-6 years– he knows the expectation and so do the other kids and they know that i do have options and while they have their free agency to choose for themselves, they are also choosing the consequence of not honoring the standard in the home. Rrankly– I belive they are grateful to know exactly where the line is. Some may call that harsh– I belive it is one of the main reasons that I have not had to deal with many of the built in issues single parents face. I believe my children would agree that they have lots of choices and I encourage them to make the choices the majority of the time. However, when I set a boundary they know I mean it.

    My instinct would be to simply say, “You will not come to my home in a sleeveless shirt, etc.” But do I set the same standard on other, crucial behaviors? Or is it only those that are so patently visible? And is that correct?

    I am not focusing on just modesty. I would include all areas. I guess I will say that the standard in my parents’ home did not go from a strong LDS standard to one that not only welcomes swearing, drinking, smoking, dirty jokes and living together, but literally endorses and embraces it, overnight. It started 20 years ago with a tolerance of swearing, then a wrinkled grimace but tolerance of the dirty jokes, then the turning blind eyes to the smell of smoke and alcohol— you get the picture.

    I absolutely believe, and stated before but will state it again, that each parent MUST stay in tune with the Spirit and actively seek guidance from the Lord on how to handle each situation. The Lord knows each child and only He can direct us with full knowledge and understanding of what will have the greatest impact.

    I also think it’s important for your adult children to see you take a stance. If you reprove with sharpness, but show an increase of love, they may resent you for a while, but they will come to appreciate you. I think we are often all too ready to practice tolerance for things that should not be tolerated. People are God’s children. As such, they are infinitely loved and lovable, but they have the choice to sin. If they choose to reject God’s commandments, they are separating themselves from your home, with rules clearly defined and supported. Let them know they are free to enter the home any time they wish, but you’d appreciate that they show respect for you and your rules while they are there. They are loved, their behavior is not. It’s a hard distinction to make.

    Amen and well said. I also believe it is important for our children to see us take a stance. When I realized last night that tonight at the reception the horribly immodest clothing that was worn at the wedding last weekend, the language and general sleazefest that I witnessed would be paraded through the Churchhouse I grew up in I was horrified. I decided I would not be going and putting my stamp of approval on it. I didn’t think my 9-year-old would even remember, but when he started commenting on needing to get his suit ready for the reception I sat him down and explained to him that I had seen the clothing the weekend before, heard the conversation and the overall tone of the environment and how I felt that it was a defilement of the Lord’s house and that I did not want to be there and be a participant. He was completely supportive, and he suggested that perhaps we go on a date instead since it was just the two of us. We went to dinner and a movie and had a fabulous time! He was a perfect little gentleman, opening my doors, etc. It was wonderful!

    On the way home he told me for the umpteenth time how much he loved me and added, “Mom, I know Heavenly Father is happy when we choose to do what is right and I think that He is really happy tonight about the choice we made. Thank you for helping me to be like Jesus and for protecting me.” Wise beyond his years, perhaps– I think that little boy will remember this night for many years to come and he will always know where his mother stands on modesty, language,
    and showing honor and respect to the Lord’s Church buildings. I honestly believe that my children, while they make mistakes and are imperfect in their quest to learn and grow, will never stray very far from the gospel plan because at the slightest deviation from the standard they know and they remind each other of the standard and expectation. If they do they already know that I will always love them– and they also know that they will either need to make different choices while at my home or else they will need meet me on different turf.

    Again– each parent MUST decide in tandem with the Lord and through staying in tune with the Spirit.

  • facethemusic June 23, 2007, 1:04 am

    I also think it’s helpful when kids have a ‘heads up’, already knowing ahead of teenagehood, what the expectations will be.
    My son for example, who is 12 now, has known since he was 4 that dating is for those 16 and over. He’d been asked several times by well-meaning adults trying to be cute, if he had “a little girlfriend”. So one day he asked me what a girlfriend was, I gave a very short, very basic answer and explained that the prophet said we shouldn’t date until 16. Sometime later, we were at a birthday party for his cousin, turning 6 or so. The boy’s grandparents were talking about his “little girlfriend” and asked James if he had one. James was only 4 but gave a very grown-up answer, evidently mimicking what he’d heard me say. He said, “I don’t think that would be appropriate, I’m only 4.” I burst out laughing, but his cousin’s parents didn’t think it was too funny. I wrote that one down in a little book I made for all the cute, funny and profound things he sometimes said when he was little.
    The thing is- he STILL gets asked that question– he did just the other day by the clerk at a gas station. She said something about how handsome he is, that he’s going to be a heartbreaker and said “I’ll bet you have lots of girlfriends”- he put on his charm and said, No ma’am, not yet. They’ll all have to wait until I’m 16.” She laughed and said “Good looking and funny. You’re gonna have to keep him under lock and key, mom.”
    My girls are 8 and 10, and they’ve known for as long as I can remember, that they don’t wear clothes that show bellies, are sleeveless, no short-shorts,etc. The tricky thing was teaching them tact and not announcing “that’s not modest, is it mom” outloud to me as someone was walking by wearing a tank top or bikini. Just last week, they were in a Disney shop and Grandma was buying them pajamas. My 10 year old found a pair with Sleeping Beauty on the front, got excited, then suddenly blurted “Oh great, her dress is immodest.” Even I hadn’t noticed it, but Beauty’s sleeves were off the shoulder. So she walked off to find something else.
    Of course, just because the kids understand NOW, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t challenge things later. I fully expect that in some things, they will.
    My standards for picking battles pretty much lie right in For the Strength of Youth–
    clothing/appearance, music, language, movies, dating… the rules for our family are in line with the FSOY pamphlet. And naturally, smoking, alcohol etc will not be tolerated either.
    They’ll still have their agency to choose to follow the standard or not, and I’ll have my agency and authority to dish out the consequences.
    *evil power hungry laugh* Ya ha ha ha…

  • Alison Moore Smith June 23, 2007, 2:35 am

    Posted By: facethemusicMy standards for picking battles pretty much lie right in For the Strength of Youth–
    clothing/appearance, music, language, movies, dating… the rules for our family are in line with the FSOY pamphlet. And naturally, smoking, alcohol etc will not be tolerated either.

    What imperfections WOULD be tolerated? (Not just to Tracy, to all of you.)

  • mlinford June 23, 2007, 4:38 pm

    The tricky thing was teaching them tact and not announcing “that’s not modest, is it mom”

    LOL. Last nite at dance performance, my two kids were leaning over, critquing each dance’s costume. My daughter would only like the ones that were modest. My son would say, “Nice music, not the shirts” or things like that. I leaned over to him and said, “I’ve raised the modesty police.”

  • Alison Moore Smith June 23, 2007, 8:27 pm

    But Tracy, the things you said you’d tolerate were all just preferences. You like a missionary cut more than a buzz, but there isn’t a moral issue there. You don’t like rap music, etc. My question was, what IMPERFECTIONS would you tolerate. In other words, do your kids have to be PERFECTLY moral–in dress and everything else–to be allowed in your home.

    If so, are all of YOU perfectly moral?

    As I look at this, I guess, I find it odd that we would take an exacting, specific, hard-line on clothing–to the point of refusing to allow our own child to visit our home–and, as far as I can tell, an hard-line on EVERY standard, when we all know that WE aren’t perfectly moral, either.

    Again, I don’t have an answer, but I do think modesty is an easy (visible) target when there are many things that are more important. I would rather, for example, have a child who was truly kind and thoughtful toward others and wore tank tops, than a nasty, mean, self-centered child in sleeves. And I’d ban the latter from my home about 200 years before the former.

  • facethemusic June 23, 2007, 8:34 pm

    In other words, do your kids have to be PERFECTLY moral–in dress and everything else–to be allowed in your home.

    Of course not. But I wasn’t speaking of the KID being allowed in the home, it’s a matter of what kind of music is allowed in my home, what kind of clothing will be allowed to be worn, etc. If, for example, my kid came home with a Chamillionaire CD, it would be summarily thrown away.

  • Sharilee10 June 23, 2007, 9:59 pm

    The tricky thing was teaching them tact and not announcing “that’s not modest, is it mom”

    I remember well one little brother who would repeatedly tell the UPS man who came to the door smoking that it would kill him and he should stop immediately! We were half embarrased and half amused! Like I said— the home I grew up in was very much a strong LDS home with LDS standards! That was 20 years ago!

    Behavior I would allow:
    My children do fight and argue. The consequence is that they lose privileges and they are asked to go to their rooms until they are ready to interact appropriately with each other. If they refuse to end the arguing or go to their rooms they are asked to leave the house and go sit in the garage or back yard until they are ready.

    My children have been known to use inappropriate language from time to time, for which they lose privileges and are asked to go to their rooms until they are ready to speak appropriately. I will not tolerate them using inappropriate language on an ongoing or casual basis and they know it.

    I would not tolerate immodest clothing and my son’s know it. That said– my sons’ have been known to have underwear poking out of their jeans. I tell them it is unattractive and not appropriate, but I suppose I have tolerated it. My daughter had a couple of shirts that bothered her brothers (they were intended to be worn under stomething). She was warned that if I ever saw them without a shirt over them again they would disappear and not be available for use as camisoles. One son bought a t-shirt from his High School that was a renegade school spirit shirt. It said, “Give ’em L.” (The school is Logan.) Granted, at first I didn’t like it but I tolerated it until after a few discussions and realizing it was a take off of USU’s shirt “Kick A” (for Aggies). I decided I didn’t approve of it, talked to my son about it, and the shirt never re-surfaced from it’s next trip through the wash. My son has never asked about it.

    Basically— I guess I don’t tolerate much. Luckily– my kids have all been pretty willing to go for it. I think they know that they have life pretty good with dear old Mom. Yes— I have everything setup so that it can be locked down– every tv in the house is on a time-scout or can have a lock through the power, the computer is password protected, even the pantry has a lock on it, I own the car my son drives and am more than happy to provide it when he follows the family rules. I have had many conversations with my children and explained to them that they are free to choose for themselves, and that I am free to choose my reaction. They know I owe them 3 things– a roof over their heads, clothing to wear (but it doesn’t have to be designer!), food to eat (but bread and butter works! It doesn’t have to be shrimp or even burritos). I choose to provide them with far more– we are all very, very blessed– but they know that the many extras I shower them with can easily go away. Again– some may view this as cruel and controlling— and I DON’T require perfection. I DO require that when they feel unable to abide by the standard that they remove themselves from the situation for a time so that others are not punished.

    Anyway— some may misread what I’ve said here. I’m exhausted after a long day, and I’m sure it’s coming across as more strict than what we actually experience in our home, but technically– I don’t require perfection, but I also don’t condone imperfection. I have been blessed with 4 children who have responded well to this and don’t rebel. Whether that is because they know what they alternative would be (their Dad is heck of a lot more controlling and has FAR higher expectations than I do!! Sunday would consist of sitting on the couch in church clothes reading the encyclopedia, and the rest of the week wouldn’t be much different!), or if it’s something else I don’t know. So far it seems to have worked. I guess if any of them ever rebelled I would have to go to the Lord and find out if He wanted me to alter my methods.

  • Sharilee10 June 23, 2007, 10:08 pm

    Oh . . . as far as music goes. I purchased an ipod for my son with an agreement that he would put only appropriate music on it. When I listened to one song that had very inappropriate words on it he lost the ipod for a time until he was ready to try again (it came in very handy on a few of my trips this past year). Cellphones have been taken away if the guidelines established are not followed, the xbox is locked, etc. Maybe I am strict— but my children really are spoiled rotten and they know it– and they know under what terms all of their little extras are provided. If they violate the terms, they lose the privilege. Not a big deal, not a big argument– just enforcement of what we agreed to.

  • mlinford June 23, 2007, 10:24 pm

    I see FTSOY as a guide of what standards to have in my home (sorta saw that as what Tracy was getting at). I imagine there might be a child who wants to push limits on something somewhere. I don’t imagine kicking them out of the house when they do. πŸ™‚ I just pray that I will have the wisdom to deal with it appropriately. I’m working hard to set the groundwork now while they are still small so they know what the standards are at least. Modest from birth, appropriate movies and music, kind words, etc. are the expectation. I also let them know, though, that even Mom isn’t perfect and has things to work on. And they know that. I want them to know that I need standards and repentance and reminders, too. πŸ™‚

  • Sharilee10 June 23, 2007, 10:36 pm

    I agree– and I have certainly spent time in my room as well until I was calmed down and ready to interact with the kids again. (Funny thing how so often the day after I’ve been in my room my ‘middle of the month carnival’ as they say it in Korean, arrives!) πŸ™‚

    My guess is that if you set the standard and expectation while they are young, and enforce it, you won’t have issues with them pushing beyond the limits when they are older. If you have been blessed with one of those children who DO push the limits in spite of your best efforts (which there certainly are some children like that!), then the Lord will guide you in how to handle it.

  • SilverRain June 24, 2007, 7:39 pm

    to the point of refusing to allow our own child to visit our home

    This is the difference, I think. I know it’s been said, but I’m saying it again. I wouldn’t be forbidding the child, I’d be forbidding the clothing. In essence “when you visit, be courteous and follow the customs of the place you are visiting as much as you are able. In my home, the custom is modest clothing. When you visit, I need you to follow this custom.”

  • mollymormon June 24, 2007, 10:56 pm

    This is hard, but I do think I agree with SilverRain – you’re still welcoming the child, just not the clothing. Like loving the sinner but not the sin. And you do have to watch out for the younger kids too.

    My oldest is 13 and is a great kid so far! I don’t think he’ll want to bleach his hair since it can’t get too much whiter, lol! All of my kids are modesty police except my four year old who tries to push the limits. She’s got some shirt sets (like a tank with a shirt that goes over it) and she’ll always try to go around wearing the tank. Luckily I’m not the only one who has to police it, but I can really see the wisdom of starting young with the modesty.

    Is there a conference talk or other official reference that asks us to dress our children modestly, even when they are young? Our stake presidency sent out a letter asking that, but I wonder if that was church-wide. I see so many little girls in tank tops all the time at church. My nieces dress their kids in cute trendy clothing, including sleeveless sundresses, etc.

  • jennycherie June 25, 2007, 9:12 am

    I don’t comment here as often as I read but this is an issue that has been on my mind this weekend. First of all, asking that standards/rules be observed in one’s home is not asking for perfection. Wearing a tight/short/revealing item of clothing is a choice, not a condition. It can be fixed pretty easily. We do not allow people to smoke in our home–ever. It doesn’t matter if we have authority over them or not—we just don’t allow it. It’s my house, I get to make the rules. So, even if you are talking about an adult child, it’s still your house and your rules. As a reformed skanky-dresser, I look back now and am AMAZED at what my parents DIDn’t say about what I wore. My parents fell into the “we don’t want to say anything and lose our children” category. But as a parent now, I can’t believe that my parents:

    1: allowed me to wear horribly immodest clothing–tight, short, revealing, suggestive
    2: never insisted that I follow their rules in their home
    3: continued to support me even when I ignored their very wise counsel and advice

    Refusing to accept a certain behavior is not a removal of love or affection or the end of a relationship. I know that as a young woman, I DID dress to show off my figure to its best advantage. I would NEVER have admitted to anyone out loud, but I knew what my best features were and dressed to accentuate them. I might have feigned otherwise, but I WANTED men to notice my legs. I really just wanted to be LIKED and figured I would take the attention however I could get it. It seriously did not enter my mind that if a guy saw my legs first and responded to my legs or my body that we probably wouldn’t have much in common intellectually. It also never occurred to me that if I dressed suggestively, I was sending the message that I was interested (or at least open to) hooking up. I made many stupid, stupid decisions in college. My parents had every right to cut off the flow of money but they never did. I fully accept that my stupid choices were my stupid choices BUT I also believe that I would have backed away from many of them if it meant that my parents would no longer pay my living expenses while I was in college. They had a lot of power that they did not use. If my parents had put down their foot, I would have done what they asked. At times, I think I really WANTED them to put down their foot. I was very weak and easily swayed by peer pressure. I would have had no problem doing something if my parents had insisted (because I would not have lost face with my peers–I could have blamed my parents) but otherwise, I just kind of went with the flow.

    As far as modesty goes, this has been on my mind all weekend. I work as a cashier at wal-mart during the overnight hours. On Friday and Saturday nights, while I am at the cash register next to the cigarettes, my line is one long stream of people who are on their way to or in the middle of their night “out”. I sell a lot of liquor and a lot of cigarettes to a lot of women whose clothing makes me blush. I am not easily embarrassed but I have to say the cleavage alone is distracting—and I’m a woman! I had a customer on Friday night (a very nice, polite, pretty young woman) who was showing me 80% of her breasts. I have to say they were magnificent. I know because I saw so much of them! Again, I am a woman, happily married and heterosexual and I had a very hard time maintaining eye contact. I feel badly for the men who saw her that night and were trying to be decent enough to ignore her breasts. That would be a very hard task! And I wonder, why is she dressed like that? Does she think that is her best feature? Is she afraid to let her personality be her most attractive feature? And more, how many of the men she met that night will remember who she is beyond a magnificent pair of breasts?

    On a similar note, there were a group of young people (late teens) in the store Saturday night. The young men were wearing standard young men’s clothing–long shorts, t-shirts or collared shirts, nothing out of the ordinary. The young women were another matter. One of the young women was wearing a “naughty school girl outfit” complete with a teeny plaid, pleated skirt and knee socks and the other was wearing a bandana as a shirt. I can make light of this to my friends (HELLO –a bandana is a hair accessory, NOT a shirt!) but I was worried about them. Really. What is a young man (especially one who has not been reared with the knowledge of the gospel) to think when faced with a young woman who looks like she belongs in an X-rated film? What does he expect from her? What will he do if she doesn’t perform as expected? What if she does perform as expected? What will happen to both of them? In a strong family, in a home with the gospel, it may seem like wearing a tight shirt or a short skirt should not be a major issue, but in my opinion, it should be. If my parents had insisted that I cover up a bit more, I would have fussed and griped and moaned and insisted that I wasn’t trying to be provocative (and if men are lusty, that’s their problem) and I was just wearing clothes I liked and that were comfortable but I know in my heart of hearts that that was never true.

  • facethemusic June 25, 2007, 10:41 am

    As a reformed skanky-dresser,

    HAAA! You crack me up, Jenn! You’re such a prude now, in your modest clothing!! πŸ™‚

    As far as the parent factor goes, I had very similar circumstances. My parents were a little too far removed in discipline and their expectations of me once I got into high school and the dating scene. And as I read Jenny’s remarks, I often felt like I was reading from my own journal. Remarkably similar feelings.
    I never dressed what I would call ‘immodestly’. I DO think there’s a difference between being “immodest” and just “not up to church standards” — know what I mean?
    Audrey Hepburn never appeared to be “immodest” in her long beautiful gowns. Her “ball gown” in My Fair Lady could never be worn with garments- it didn’t cover the shoulders appropriately. But it was FAR from immodest. It was downright feminine and elegant.
    It just wasn’t up to church standards.
    So I don’t feel like I dressed ‘immodestly’, but I did own a few sweater tops that stopped at the shoulders, and didn’t cover them. So even though I don’t think that’s ‘immodest’ I DO think it wasn’t up to church standard,either. And I didn’t wear them to church.
    It was at a Youth conference committee meeting, when we were discussing the dress standard for youth conference that I realized that to them, “modest” would cover garments, even though the youth didn’t wear them. After that I stopped wearing those sweater tops.
    Either way, my parents never said anything. And I don’t know if mother just didn’t think my tops were immodest or if she was just afraid to say anything.
    On the other hand, I also was allowed to date at 15, rather than 16. And I did NOT have a curfew. They never said I had to be home at a certain time, never questioned my activities.
    I remember once, I was at a boy’s house (we’d been dating, but had been broken up for months but remained friends) until 6 o clock in the morning. His parents were out of town, (they hated me because I was Mormon) and that had a lot to do with why we broke up. But since they were out of town, he called me over. We had a totally innocent visit, made ice cream sundaes, talked, I watched as he worked on a model helicopter he’d been building then blew it up in the tub with some firecrackers… he put on a movie and we both fell asleep. Everything was totally innocent, but still, I should NOT have been there that late, nor should I have ever been there without his parents there. And things COULD have been different. He was a really GOOD person– but what if he wasn’t? What if I’d been tempted to do things I shoudn’t?
    When I woke up and saw what time it was, I was absolutely mortified and thought I’d be jailed to my room for a century. I got home and my parents were both asleep, and they never even questioned where I was once they woke up. I don’t think they even knew I’d been gone all night. And I remember actually being disappointed… I didn’t want to get into trouble of course. But I was disappointed and couldn’t believe that they hadn’t been out looking for me. Knowing them, they probably fell asleep watching Johnny Carson as they usually did, and just didn’t even realize that I’d never come home that night. And by the time they woke up, I was in bed.
    I was also allowed to date people I NEVER should have dated. They were WAY too old for me, and I dated too exlusively– always having to have a “boyfriend” and a “relationship”.
    The truth is, I was a parent-pleaser. When my parents asked me to do something, I did it.
    I might not have liked it, but I did it. And if they would have told me, “sorry, you can’t date until you’re 16”, I wouldn’t have dated. If they would have told me I had to be home by 11, I would have been home by 11. And if they would have told me I couldn’t date someone who was
    21 when I was only 16, I wouldn’t have. And that’s the truth. But they never said anything.
    Once I was married, my brothers and my mother and I were all chit-chatting, talking about when we were teens. And this came up. My mother said that she “just didn’t want to get into arguments and “lose” us, and that since we were “good kids”, that she felt like she could trust us. The truth is though, it just made us feel like we didn’t really have any boundaries.

  • Sharilee10 June 25, 2007, 12:27 pm

    Thank you both for sharing. I confess— I’m a bit teary-eyed. It is so hard to know the right balance and sometimes I wonder if I’m being too harsh, but I find as long as I follow the Spirit it usually turns out right. Just last weekend my son came home to go on the pioneer trek announcing that he felt like throwing up. I knew there were some other issues (he had spent 3 days with his grandmother telling him he shouldn’t go), but it was a hard call. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The next time our ward goes he will be too old. So— if he hadn’t gone this weekend he would never get a re-do opportunity, and for evermore when all of the kids talk about their trek experience he would have ‘missed out.’

    Anyway– a lot of thought and prayer went into deciding what to do, but I finally told him that he was going on the trek and that he could either choose to change the thought patterns that were making him feel ill or he could experience what the pioneers experienced when they woke up and felt sick. I reminded him that they didn’t get to just ‘not go.’ I packed his bags the best I could and took them over to the stake center and woke him up the next morning at 4:30 a.m. and took him over– he was still complaining and saying that I must not love him to make him go under the circumstances.

    He came home Saturday with a huge smile on his face and full of wonderful stories and experiences. The Bishop told me on Sunday that he was a dream– helping out and never giving a moment of complaint. I KNEW it was the right thing to do, but it was so hard to send him off when his words said anything but, “I know you are doing this because you love me.”

    Anyway– I have to run, but I certainly appreciate you for sharing. I think that kids do want boundaries more often than not.

  • SilverRain June 25, 2007, 1:03 pm

    Kids, nothing – sometimes adults would like a clearer boundaries.

  • ChanJo June 25, 2007, 4:13 pm

    I think this is a mountain out of a molehill. You won’t let her come to your house unless she follows the mutual book? I want to see what yu say in ten years when you really have it.

  • jennycherie June 25, 2007, 9:33 pm

    Posted By: facethemusic
    And as I read Jenny’s remarks, I often felt like I was reading from my own journal. Remarkably similar feelings. . .
    The truth is, I was a parent-pleaser. When my parents asked me to do something, I did it.
    I might not have liked it, but I did it.

    I am with you there — I would have done what they asked BUT I would have thrown a fit and done everything I could first to make sure they knew they were cruel and were ruining my life forever. But the only time it really came down to that, I won (it was about dating when I was 14 and they had previously told me not until I was 16). I used the ” but Mom, you started dating Dad when you were 14″ line. . .

  • jennycherie June 25, 2007, 9:34 pm

    Posted By: ChanJoI think this is a mountain out of a molehill. You won’t let her come to your house unless she follows the mutual book? I want to see what yu say in ten years when you really have it.

    ChanJo – I’m not sure who this is directed at so I don’t really understand what you mean. can you clarify? what are you referring to when you say ” in ten years when you really have it.” ??

  • facethemusic June 25, 2007, 10:10 pm

    And in addition to clarifying, ChanJo, I don’t recall anyone saying anything about not letting anyone come home. In fact I myself, and a couple other specifically said that it’s not a matter of saying ‘you can’t come’. –Simply that once she’s THERE, (and the particular girl the question is about is already at home) and she starts breaking family rules/standards, you let her know that even though she’s in college, you still expect her to dress/behave/speak, or whatever the problem is, the way she already knows is the standard for the home.

  • jennycherie June 26, 2007, 10:20 am

    Posted By: SilverRain

    to the point of refusing to allow our own child to visit our home

    In essence “when you visit, be courteous and follow the customs of the place you are visiting as much as you are able. In my home, the custom is modest clothing. When you visit, I need you to follow this custom.”

    This reminded me of something. There are a couple of stores I like to go to when I visit my mom and dad. They are both run by Amish people. One of the stores has a sign at the door asking the customers to please respect their beliefs and to not wear shorts or short skirts in their store. They post this at the risk of offending and/or turning away potential customers. I make a point of wearing long pants or a dress when I shop there, just as a matter of courtesy and to be respectful of their beliefs. They are not asking me to change my beliefs or who I am, just to keep reasonable modesty in their store. That sign really bugs my mom (though she does follow their request), but I think it is a reasonable request. They choose a lifestyle that protects them from worldly influences. This particular family (three single sisters who live together) supports themself with a store that often attracts people from outside their culture so they try to minimize that as much as possible. It seems reasonable to me that anyone could ask this of visitors in their home. As I think about it, it always offended my mother-in-law that we wouldn’t allow her to smoke in our home but. . . nonetheless, it was important to us.

  • Lewis_Family June 26, 2007, 10:40 am

    I have to comment on that, because I am big anti-smoke, how can people be offended that youwouldn’t let them smoke in your home? Hello contaminates ( can’t spell ), hello stench that is hard to get out. I hate when one of my hubby’s friends would come over, and yes he was being good a fellowshiping a guy that has fallen away and for the most part is an amzing friend, but he smokes and the first time he came over, he didn’t, but the second time he went outside for something and came back a few minutes later recking. I told my hubby to tell him that he is more than welcome in our home, but if he needs to smoke then it is time for the visit to be over because I could smell it for a long time after he left. I can’t fathom that smokers don’t realize they stink and that they would be offended you didn’t want the stench in your home.

  • jennycherie June 26, 2007, 1:01 pm

    Posted By: Lewis_FamilyI have to comment on that, because I am big anti-smoke, how can people be offended that youwouldn’t let them smoke in your home? Hello contaminates ( can’t spell ), hello stench that is hard to get out.

    For my mother-in-law, this was just an issue that she allowed herself to be easily offended over—she thought we were kind of prude-ish to care about it and refused to ever believe that there was anything truly harmful about smoking. She smoked even when she was married to a man with asthma and had a child with severe allergies (who also needed breathing treatments). She eventually died from lung cancer, smoking up to her last day of life. It was an issue that divided our family many times–she would get upset that we stayed with her ex-husband and not with her because we didn’t want our children (particularly when they were babies and our son was in the midst of several surgeries) staying in a smoke filled environment. Even visiting for a few hours, we would leave with our clothes smelling of smoke. . . and that smell does have a way of sticking around!

  • daisy June 27, 2007, 10:19 am

    I can not abide smoke.
    My mother always says when she is in a social environment where people want to light up (and she says this in the most delicate polite manner possible). “I apoligize but I’m very allergic to smoke so if you insist on lighting up, I’m afraid I will have to leave.”

    I’ve decided that I too am allergic to smoke. And let’s see, it makes me nauseaus, my eyes burn, my throat aches, and it stinks– yeah, i’m allergic to it.

  • mlinford June 22, 2007, 12:45 am

    You don’t even have to be working on all your faults and failings.

    Actually, technically, I think that isn’t wholly true. We are supposed to be repenting and repentant all of the time. I realize that in practice either we can’t keep up wtih all our failings and faults (although I would argue that if we care, that matters), or there are people who go and don’t care. But God also isn’t at the door telling someone to go home. Once we “pass” a temple recommend interview, we are the ones at the door. I have no idea how that relates to this discussion, just so you know. I am thinking out loud, sorting as I go.

    I’m a stickler, too, about modesty. And I think your questions about modesty vs. other standards of behavior are really good ones. And there’s that tough question of where parental counsel, decisions, etc. ends and agency must begin, particularly for an adult child. My reactive self wants to say, ‘If you don’t like the rules, live somewhere else.” But again, I think that each situation would have to be addressed prayerfully, because that kind of reaction could send a child off into rebellion. Picking battles isn’t easy.

    Here’s an example that I wonder about for those of us not yet to adult children stage. What about hairstyles or other fashion isses? What if your boy wants to grow his locks out long and ride skateboards all day? What if your daughter comes home with blue hair and a second earring? I’ve watched really staunch, stalwart parents leave some long leashes on things like this. I cringe at the thought of having to face these kinds of things, because we are sticklers in our house. I worry that I will someday miss the mark and not fight the right battles, or be so strict that my kids will rebel. I hope and pray that I will be sensitive enough to the Spirit to discern where that line is, but it worries me to death.

    I don’t have answers, just lots of questions.

    There’s an interesting discussion here that might relate.

  • facethemusic June 23, 2007, 9:39 am

    Well, I think the hair thing that Sharilee brought up is a good example. I personally can’t stand it when boys get their hair streaked and highlighted. But what I’ve told my kids is that when it comes to their hair, they can choose their style as long as it isn’t anything extreme. I like my son’s hair to look missionary-ish. Not just because of the missionary standard, but because I actually think that’s how he looks the best. But every summer he wants to get his whole head buzzed. So he does. I don’t like it that way, but it’s his hair, and there isn’t anything “wrong” with it, nothing against church standards or our family standards so we let him do it. If he gets to teenagehood and really wants to bleach his hair, I’d probably beg him not to, warn him that he’d look a little ridiculous with blond hair (he looks like me, and I’d look pretty stupid as a blond), but I’d probably let him do it.
    (Only as an older teen though, I have a real problem with young kids being allowed to dye or streak their hair)
    But if he wanted to go purple, get a tattoo or a piercing, that would be a different story. I also can’t stand gotees (sp?) or the longer 60’s and 70’s hair styles that so many of the boys are wearing these days, but if he wanted to grow it out like that I wouldn’t throw a fit over it.
    I don’t like rap or hip-hop, can’t stand 99% of it actually, but as long as it isn’t filled with cuss words, racial slurs, sex or violence, if my kids wanted to listen to it, I’d let them. Of course, that would wipe out 95% of that entire genre, but I actually OWN a couple CD’s of clean hip-hop that I sometimes use during my music seminars.
    I think with somethings, you can draw a line with WHERE they occur.
    I remember when one of my brothers had gotten really rebellious and started smoking. My mother couldn’t force him to stop smoking, she couldn’t be in control of what was happening when he was out with his friends, but she darn could stop him from lighting up at the house. And that’s when she had one of those adult to “adult” conversations with him.
    She basically said “Look– you know our rules, you know what we believe. But I can’t MAKE you believe it too, and I can’t babysit you all day and follow you and your friends around an pull cigarettes out of your mouth. But you will NOT do it in our home.” And he didn’t.
    I think the same thing goes with church, with dress standards, wacky hair, etc. If parents choose to allow their kids to go with some extremes that’s one thing, but I would never allow my kids to go to church that way. I honestly would rather have them not go, then go with some wild purple mohawk thing on their heads. I know some people would disagree with that and say that it’s better for them to be there with a purple mohawk than not at all. But to me, church meetings and the ordinances there aren’t just for THEIR salvation they’re for everyone else’s too, and I wouldn’t want my kid to be badly influencing other kids at church. Nor would I tolerate such open rebellion in God’s house.
    I’ve known a sister who been battling an alcohol addiction for years. And in the past, she’s actually come to church with alcohol on her breath. What she does at home is her business, and for her to deal with, with the Bishop and the Lord. And I was glad she was there, even with the alcohol on her breath. My own father never gave up cigarettes or alcohol after he joined the church. He attempted a few times, but never really quit. He’d smoke in the car on the way to church.
    But he never lit up AT church, and the sister I mentioned drank before she got to church, but she didn’t bring the bottle INTO the church with her and chug it down during Sacrament. Do you see what I mean? That would be open rebellion and wouldn’t be tolerated by the Bishopric. And I think that allowing kids to walk into church with a purple mohawk or an exposed pierced navel is the same thing.
    (And having reread my comments, let me say for clarification purposes that when my brother started smoking, my father had already left the family. Obviously though, there were some “But Dad did” issues… an entirely different story)

  • Coralie January 23, 2012, 3:29 am

    Now I\’m like, well duh! Truly tnhafkul for your help.

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