Interview with “Attentive Dad”

*** “Attentive Dad” submitted this week’s Ask Angela article. Read it here.***

The question: 

Dear Angela,

There is a single sister in my ward who has recently returned to church after being less-active for a few years. My wife and I are always happy to see new people in our ward, but I’m concerned about the immodesty of her clothing. I have teenage sons who are already bombarded with inappropriate images of women every day, and I’d like church to remain a safe haven for their eyes and their minds. How could I approach this sister about her manner of dress?

Thanks,

Attentive Dad

 

Angela: Thanks for your submission! Modesty seems like it’s always a hot topic, so I’m glad we get to chat about it.

Attentive Dad: You’re welcome. My wife and I love these “Ask Angela” discussions and I wanted to know what you and others would think of my topic.

A: So you’re wondering if you should approach an immodestly dress woman at church – for the sake of your kids?

A DAD: Not if, but how. I feel like it’s my duty as a father to protect my children (both physically and spiritually) and I want to do that, but not at the expense of someone else. I would never want to hurt this woman’s feelings. But, I do want to voice my concerns. It’s difficult to be tactful.

A: How is this woman a threat to your sons?

A DAD: Her way of dressing is inappropriate. I want my sons to be able to go to church and not see the same things they see plastered on every magazine at the grocery store, every billboard ad, I want them to have a break from women dressing suggestively.

A: Okay, I should have asked this first – what are the outfits that you feel are endangering your sons?

A DAD: Ha Ha! I’m not very good at speaking “fashion” but they’re tight, low cut dresses, sometimes with see through patches. Not typical church attire.

A: Interesting. Let me ask you this, would you rather this woman come to church dressed immodestly or not come at all?

A DAD: I would like her to come to church when she is prepared to dress modestly. We have a responsibility to the young and impressionable youth. Let’s all work together to create a safe space for them. 

A: Okay, well I am looking forward to responding to your question. Check the Deseret News for an answer! 

 

******

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19 thoughts on “Interview with “Attentive Dad”

  1. I loved your advice to this well meaning, if not out of line, brother. It would never be appropriate for a “brother” to approach a woman about her style of dressing, especially a sister returning after years away. Even a bishop if wise would leave that in the hands of the RS Pres, and your idea about an activity on modesty and fashion would be great. Sorry to say, but I wonder if her clothing is bothering him more than his sons!

    1. I used to be one of those women who returned to church activity after four years of being away. I think back at not only the clothes I wore to church, but the everyday clothes I wore in front of my own children, and am very embarrassed and ashamed. I’m sure many people were offended and felt the same as this father. I myself have felt this about other women as well, both before and after my return to the gospel.
      Was it in bad taste to dress in revealing clothes? Absolutely. I can say this now, but not at that time. I wasn’t in a place spiritually, to understand it.
      It took every ounce of courage I had to return to activity, and was very humiliated to put myself back where I knew I needed to be. I felt I wore a sign that listed each of my sins and misdeeds for all to see, so the return was grueling and difficult.
      Fortunately people, including my own children, were kind and forgiving of my attire and helped me feel welcomed despite it.
      If anyone had approached me to tell me that my clothing was inappropriate, given the fragile spiritual state I was in, it would have pushed me back into inactivity, validating my feelings of not being good enough, and being judged by self-righteous members.
      Today I am as modest as they come, and a very, very strong member.
      When I seen women or girls dressed inappropriately in the Lord’s house, I won’t lie, it bothers me, but I quickly take myself back to my own difficult time, and realize that regardless of their clothing, they are where they need to be, and will learn lessons of modesty as they continue to attend, listen, and be touched by the Holy Ghost.
      Members should not take it upon themselves to intervene in behalf of the Holy Ghost. They simply cannot, and will not be able to mimic His influence, no matter how kindly it’s put.
      This man should NOT become the reason this fragile spirit falls away again.
      Instead, he needs to teach his sons about the atonement, perhaps reviewing general conference talks, the story of the prodigal son, and the Savior’s love towards the woman caught in cheating, etc. He can hold FHE’s on these topics, and learn how to effectively guide the Lord’s lost sheep back to the fold.
      He should learn, and teach his sons how to love people back into the gospel, not how to push them before they’re spiritually ready.

    2. Ok sisters, a little harsh reply, the father has a concern lets

      Lets not assumed or add on, to the father, speak to the bishop, the bishop than will assigned someone to speak to this sister in a loving manner, it could be her friend who
      bring herback to church, sister
      missionaries, or the relief
      society president. Give her time, she will make the changes herself, and your son will learn from this… Let us be good examples, our actions should speak louder than our words

  2. Good job on the answer, Angela. A friend once told me “the sweetest smelling person in the chapel is the one who smells like tobacco”. We need to rejoice in the return, and attempts to return, of every sheep.
    If I could, I’d like to address the concerned dad directly, man to man, with a brother’s love. I happen to be a former bishop, but I don’t know if that is relevant or not.
    Church services, and Sacrament Meeting in particular, will always be a place of safety and refuge for your children. There they gather with “Saints and Sinners”–all are striving to be Saints and striving to leave sin behind.
    When I was a bishop my daughter’s Sunday School class needed a teacher. The Lord wanted that teacher to be a sister who had recently come back into activity, was heavily tattooed, and was learning to again dress modestly. It was a different experience for everyone in that class, but the Spirit was there often and for that period of time she was the best teacher those kids could have. Her love and humility helped the youth, and they helped her. Our family loves that teacher.
    As you said, your sons are barraged with immodesty and hyper sexually-based images constantly. The best thing we as fathers can do is to help our sons understand that first and foremost each woman and man is a child of God with limitless potential. Teach them to have real conversations with people who are different from them. Teach your children to lift and inspire those around them by holding fast to that which is true, expressing to their friends at school that they (your sons) choose to act and dress modestly because they love God and the temple bodies he’s given them. Teach them to compliment the girls when they are dressed modestly–just a simple “you look nice today”.

    As for the sister at church, I would encourage you, with your wife at your side and her doing most of the talking, introduce yourself, invite her to sit with your family, invite her into your home for a family home evening, pray for her by name in your personal and family prayers, and see what blessings the Lord brings into your life through this precious daughter of God. Your sons will be better prepared to serve the Lord in the mission field when they see you strive to save a lamb at home.

  3. Your Relief Society suggestion as good. In addition, as part of that meeting, sisters could be asked to bring clothing to be hung on a rack that ANY sister might be interested in or need. That way no one is singled out and maybe others would benefit from something new for their wardrobe.

  4. I honestly believe our obsession with modesty is misguided, but I thought you gave a great answer. I think we should not worry at all about what the answer is. Her clothing choice is her clothing choice. If she had a burqa or a bikini on at church, it shouldn’t affect my experience going there. And when men obsess over what women wear to church, honestly it sounds pretty creepy. Just stop worrying about it. His boys will see all manner of dress at school, at the store, and in their neighborhood. What is he worried about if they see a bare shoulder at church? Will they all be walking about trying to stifle erections? It’s just silly.

  5. I agree with Josh. Take care of YOUR problem instead of offending someone else under the pretense of “helping” her. You can’t “pass the buck” and control them. An extreme example would be in answer to women being punished for not wearing their burqas in order to “help men not be enticed”. How about blinding the men who have trouble controlling their thoughts and letting the women wear what they want?!

  6. There is a rampant problem with pornography and other bad images all around the world even in the church. Some people (teens and adults alike) are trying hard to overcome their addictions. They should be able to come to church and not be subjected to additional triggers when they are trying to correct their mistakes. You wouldn’t purposely put a bottle of whiskey in front of an alcoholic! Children as young as 8yrs old have been subjected to this immoral/immodest ugliness. They are scarred for life. I would recommend talking the Bishop or Relief Society President about your concerns and ask for their help. They may have more insight to this person or a way that this could be handled discreetly. There may be a million reasons for the way they dress. Are we happy they are coming back to church? Yes, that isn’t something to take lightly. But they may not even be aware they are making others uncomfortable.

    1. Everybody is responsible for themselves. It’s hardly someone else’s fault what goes through your body, mind, computer or TV. You are in charge of your own thoughts and actions whether it’s in church, on the street or on your own couch. You cannot rely on the world around you to accommodate for your personal sins so that you’re not tempted.

  7. The answer to this is so simple. What would Christ do if He were in the room with the 90 and 9 and number 100 BRAVED returning to the peace of the Gospel? We all know for 100% surety he would open his arms and love and welcome her. Would He say anything about her appearance? NO! He would be wise enough to know that this intelligent, sweet, previously lost lamb would very quickly see the other sisters in the meeting and as budget and time allowed, she will make her own adjustment. What should the father say …. IF it appears to be a concern or his son asks him? He should testify as to how grateful he is that this wonderful daughter of Heavenly Father is opening a new part of her life and that she, JUST LIKE HIS OWN MOTHER DID, will LEARN what is appropriate and the wisest father would say (depending on the age of the son), “This is good practice for your mission some day when you will often see those who don’t understand modesty and how he should learn to look away as needed. ELder Max Pugmire, Mission Montevideo, Uruguay, South America

    1. What troubles me most is the statement, ” I would like her to return to church when she is prepared to dress more modestly”. By who’s definition of modesty is she to be judged, yours or her own? Where do you draw the line? Frankly the fact that this sister has been absent from church for a while and has chosen to return of her own free will indicated a better understanding of the gospel and the principal of free agency than most of us.

      There is a fine line between “them” and “us” when it comes to casting judgment.

  8. WELL IT SEEMS TO ME WOMEN WANT TO BE SEXUALLY ATTRACTIVE AND GO A LITTLE TOO FAR AT TIMES..I DONT THINK IT IS RIGHT TO HAVE THE MEN AROUSED AND ALWAYS HAVE TO CONTROL THEMSELVES…IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHOW IT ..IT LOOKS LIKE YOU WANT TO USE IT..GREAT AT BARS..I GUESS..NOT AT CHURCH

  9. We are ordinance workers at the temple and I am always shocked at some of the immodest clothes I see at the temple. It makes me wonder where the sisters are putting the garment. short dresses & skirts, low cut tops and short sleeves. Skin tight leggings and tight form fitting clothes are not modest– even if they are trendy they are not modest!

  10. I have a friend who came back to church in her early 20’s, someone approached her about her immodest clothing and she didn’t come back again for 15 years because she was so embarrassed. Please don’t say anything. She’ll begin to notice the way the women around her are dressed and make some gradual changes. In the meantime, it would be a great idea to have a frank discussion with your sons about the responsibility they have to keep their thoughts and actions clean, regardless of what surrounds them.

  11. I’m actually a little angry over this.
    It’s hardly fair to put all the responsibility of being modest on the woman (the side effects of this can be very damaging to the way a young girl/woman sees herself, men in general and eventually her husband). This kind of attitude from this man breeds a notion that boys/young men are uncontrollable and can’t help what pops into their minds should they see an immodestly dressed woman. Really! The focus should be on teaching his boys modesty of the mind, to respect a woman and treat her as a child of God rather than a threat to their virtue no matter how she’s dressed. They’re likely to encounter all sorts on their missions and in the rest of the world. Respectful, non-judgmental ways would then naturally help women feel valued for who they are as daughters of God and might over time change how they present themselves as they come to learn their own value.

  12. AuntSue
    It was probably the only dress she owned! She wanted to come to church. Maybe she was invited by a friend or missionary. So she wore her only dress. GIVE HER A BREAK! In time, she will wear modest clothing, as money and time permits. Take the BEAM out of your eye. Smile at her, introduce your wife and family. If your sons make a comment, gently explain that she hasn’t been to church in a while, and isn’t it wonderful that she is returning. We once had three young men come to church, sit front and center, in their very long hair, and ankle length tunics. They were welcomed, they joined the church – in shirts, pants and short hair. In another ward, a non-member husband began to come to church. An older male member commented on his plaid shirt, it deeply embarrassed and humiliated him. He had worn his white shirt the week before, but he only had one, and his wife felt terrible beause she didn’t get the laudry done. As the Lord once told me, “Not your stewardship!”

  13. I love what each church says on the outside “WELCOME”. This applies to everyone, no matter who they are or how they dress. In my mission we had a leader who said that if women wanted to enter the church, they had to have a dress on. Our Area leader made it known that everyone was welcome in the building no matter how they dressed. If you feel that they are immodest, talk to your boys about it. Teach them to respect and woman no matter how she dresses. If you need to talk to anyone it is not to the bishop or RS president, it is to your sons about how to treat and respect women

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