An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Modesty for Boys? You Bet!

How beautiful then is modesty and what a gem among virtues it is.
-St. Bernard

Up until recently, whenever the topic of modesty came up -- whether in conversation or out in the blogging world -- I always breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't have girls; in fact, I pretty much ignored the topic.

I was even a little smug about it: I am so lucky to have boys ... at least this is one thing I won't have to worry about.

But I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

The same societal influences which send mixed messages to girls, also affect boys. Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, and even the outfits on Dancing with the Stars not only influence how girls view themselves, but also how boys view girls.

Yikes. Did my three boys value modesty in girls? Did they see it as a quality to look for when they begin dating?

Now, I appreciate fashion trends; I understand the current style of short skirts, for example, but there is short ... and there is short, and I would venture to guess that most of you know very well what the difference is between the two.

But did my boys?

I began with our sixteen year old. At this age they can be moody (shocking, I know) so I waited until we were leaving his National Honor Society Induction Ceremony (when he was feeling really, really good) to bring up the subject. I even handed him the keys of the car to let him drive us home (sidebar: whenever you want to get your teenage son to talk, let him drive ... it works wonders).

"So, what are your thoughts on modesty?" I asked, just jumping into the subject without any subtlety whatsoever.

"Modesty ... as in how you dress?" he replied.

Well, it wasn't an elegant start, but it was a starting point and during the drive home we talked about body image, respect, and what qalities to look for in a friend and, yes, even in a girlfriend. We used words like virtue, honor, value; we discussed the messages we send with our dress, our posture, our demeanor, and even our manners.

The conversation even segued into modesty of athletic ability, modesty of academic accomplishments, modesty of speech. It was a good discussion, and I am grateful we had it.

And yes, we even spoke about the difference between short and short.

Modesty for boys. Who knew?

One son down, now two to go ...


Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

I thought maybe you were a very tiny mom...(from the photo).


Deacon Ken said...

Great story. The paragraph about athletic & academics would have been a great transition to humility, which appears to be where you were heading.. Enjoyed reading this one.

Lisa said...

Amen. A hard topic for many people to get their brains around in this world is modesty for women and "custody of the eyes" for men. It's practically a heroic virtue for men in a world where purity is used to refer to the quality of milk, where revelations have nothing to do with the Bible -- and where our media dictates our expectations. Heaven help us moms with many sons and daughters to lift above it all! And God bless you for your awesome example! Your sons are so blessed to have you.

Cheryl Lage said... so many of your posts and insights are. :)

tiziana said...

Maria, sei proprio una brava mamma.
Interessante sapere che i ragazzi parlano molto quando guidano la macchia, probabilmente in quel momento si sentono più responsabili e più adulti, peccato che io dovrò aspettare altri due anni (sigh!).

Kate said...

Great post! I really enjoyed reading - a topic I don't like to have to think about. It's harder and harder to admit what topics we will face with girls in today's society, but I give myself a mental pass when thinking about my son. "At least #3 is a boy" I often think... and yet, you remind me that we will face a different, but no less of a challenge.
Great perspective, and congrats for facing it with courage and dignity!