She's standing nearly as tall as I am and she's holding a tiny green dress on a hanger in front of her.
A bubbly twenty-something store clerk strolls past and flatters, "That's so cute! It would look great on you!"
I manage a small smile but I really don't want to encourage her comments right now. I check the price tag. Nope, not too expensive; can't use that as my excuse. I actually have to get "into it" with my daughter again and have that conversation. She's gazing at me with those big doe eyes and my thoughts are racing as to how I'm going to approach this one, again, without it becoming a difficult banter.
You see, my lovely teenager has always had different taste in clothing than I, not to mention room décor, and ideas about... well, just about everything. The Lord has taught me over the years, that He has created this girl to be exactly, wonderfully, perfectly, different than He made me. Being my first and a female child, that was a difficult learning curve. How silly, right? Well, I'm a slow learner sometimes. I have come a long way and now honour, encourage and even like some of her choices. I love her for who she is. However, we're treading upon new territory now--conformity.
Homeschooling is not a barrier that blocks out the world (unless you never leave home). My children are still exposed to all that the culture blares at them, whether my husband and I like it or not. Images, ideals, and temptation for consumerism are targeted even at pre-teens. We are a family that rarely watches television and owns only family rated movies, or Christian ones, and we don't buy fashion magazines. It's evident there's enough to view outside our home to keep our kids abreast of the trends of our culture. And so I stand in the middle of Forever 21, deciding on what is appropriate for a fourteen year-old.
A wise woman once counseled me to allow my daughters to dress in a way that declares their unique personality but to set a standard of modesty that they are very clear on. I took her advice seriously and my husband and I agreed upon certain guidelines and shared them with our children. Although my normally prudent teenager has no desire to flaunt herself, still the limits are pushed when it comes to conformity. The trends of today are not modest and we struggle to find stylish clothing that is suitable for her age and does not attract obvious attention to her body shape.
She's campaigning now, "The neckline is high, and just look at how loose it is."
I've been quietly considering my words as it's the length of the dress that concerns me. I conclude that the best option is to have her try it on and do the fingertip test. She is happy but hesitant as she notices my lack of enthusiasm. I remind myself the girl certainly gets her affinity for clothing from her mother. Even though the mall is not my favourite place to be, I do like to keep up with the styles to a degree so I sympathize with my teen. But it is also important that I maintain the same standards myself as an example to her and her siblings. She emerges from the dressing room two minutes later, tugging insidiously at the hem. I simply shake my head and ask her to bend over. She knows at this point that's going to end this whole operation. We settle on a pair of jeans she had tried on earlier and the Sunday dress is left for another day.
Thankfully, my daughter is confident and knows we think she's beautiful. She also knows she doesn't need to reveal her body to receive attention that will ultimately dishonor her. She knows she's created in God's image. For now, my prayer is that my girl would adhere to our standards but that she would ultimately listen to God's voice. We may find that as she does, her choices look a little different than the ones we had set. I will have to learn to trust as she grows that she truly is hearing Him and let her decisions be her own. At the moment, I am learning how to minimize conflict and find loving ways to administer reasonable guidelines for our daughter.
It's been a very long time since I wrote part one of this topic. Each time I check what readers are searching for on my blog, the number one post is that one. If you haven't read it, you can view it here.