I teach a simple statement to both my son and my daughter, “Your clothing is an outward expression of who you are.” This statement hinges on a very important factor – knowing who you are.
I recently taught my son’s youth class about how in everything we do, we are communicating something. Knowing what we communicate and how we communicate it is very important. I made the simple demonstration of putting on and taking off an oversized, black cardigan. The class was amazed at the transformation one garment could make in my appearance. I then proceeded to have the tallest, coolest boy in the class stand next to me. I asked him to read a passage and then I read the same passage. Then I asked the class what were differences about the two of us. This time the class was intrigued. Youth vs. age, male vs. female, pitch of voice, and the list went on; each of these things can affect the way people see and hear us.
How we dress, how we move, how we interact – great tools of communicating who we are and what we believe – BUT first we must learn to know ourselves. This is what I wish more parents and leaders would focus on rather than simply listing what today is considered modest or popular. Teach the endless possibility of Dos rather than always the specific Don’ts. Certainly providing boundaries and guidance is important, but more important is providing guidance on how to become the wonderful individual that each of us is. This guidance must include teaching our youth how to dress in a way that is an outward expression of who they are because then we are helping them develop of the courage they will need to be that person in the world.
In my experience, it takes much more effort to provide a creative, personal wardrobe than it does to provide either a modest or popular wardrobe. It does not necessarily take more money, but it certainly takes more time and sometimes more skill. It also takes a really strong parent/child relationship because it must be a team effort or it will not work. I have had a wonderful time working with both my children and will miss this part of parenting and homeschooling. In reflection, I believe I have learned as much as my children have, and that is truly a great blessing.
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