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Kid Fashion: Too Much, Too Soon

By Dr. Linda Mintle
Family Therapist

CBN.comI've got a car full of first and second grade girls singing the lyrics to the latest Britney Spears song and the radio isn't even on! I can handle the singing, but when they want to dress like her and Paris Hilton, the battle begins.

What's the concern? It's too much too soon for these young girls. It's as if clothing manufacturers want to eliminate the time between childhood and adulthood.

If you are like me, you are disgusted with the clothing choices at most stores. The teenage and adult clothing styles are repackaged for young girls. Media and advertising encourage girls to look a certain way to be accepted.

I don't want my seven-year-old daughter wearing platform heels, mid-drifts shirts and half-cut dresses. I don't want her emulating teen idols that don't stand for modesty and wholesome living. At seven, I know she's imitating behavior she really doesn't understand. However, it's never too soon to teach modesty and appropriate dress.

Teaching Modesty

Parents must set limits no matter how much whining and complaining they get in return. At a young age, you are setting the stage for later discussion of this topic in puberty. Use good taste and modesty as a guideline. First graders don't comprehend the sexual implications of provocative dress, so you don't have to go into details. Simply say something like, "These shoes are too high and could make you fall at recess" or "this longer top is a better choice right now."

You don't have to get in power struggles over clothing (that will come soon enough in the teen years). Be firm about guidelines, but don't make a big deal about the overt sexuality involved. Young kids don't understand it.

As you teach your youngsters respect for their bodies, incorporate dressing as an outward expression of that respect. This doesn't mean they can't be fashion conscious. It means they have to stay within certain guidelines. Be clear on what those guidelines are in your opinion.

Fashion is only one front in which your child will be culturally challenged. Look at any magazine at the checkout counter and you will quickly see the overt sexual messages to which kids are exposed. Your job as a parent is to be the cultural guardian of your family. This means you have to guard your child's mind and heart starting at an early age, help them process what they see and hear through a Christian filter, and discuss why certain cultural influences are not congruent with Christian values. Prepare them to make good choices as they grow by starting early.

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Dr. Linda MintleDr. Linda Mintle is a author, professor, Approved Supervisor and Clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, as well as a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years in psychotherapy practice.

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