I didn't need to see that

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As the parents of a very precocious six-year-old, my wife and I are naturally worried that eventually she will become precocious in other ways. So far, she hasn't shown any signs of a premature interest in romantic matters. Like all the other kids, she watches harmless PBS shows and G-rated movies, and has no trouble putting boys in their place, thanks to the presence of her two brothers. She's is full of spunky, good-natured, innocent exuberance, and we would like to keep it that way.

It's tough to do that when many older girls dress like trollops at Mass. We can shield our kids from "inappropriate" entertainment, and gently guide them toward good behavior, but we do have to go to church every Sunday. Now that the weather is warm, clothing standards completely fall apart.

This is true for both sexes, and all ages, since the ultra-casual Baby Boomers have begun their less-than-graceful slide into senility. In the future, I anticipate arguments with my sons that involve the line, "But plenty of people wear shorts and no socks to Mass!" Deliberately dressing badly is an affront to God, but dressing badly in a lascivious way is especially bad.

The most recent painful incident of this kind was a few weeks ago, when our parish had its spring carnival. At the Mass right before it started, there were plenty of people dressed down for the event. A couple of teenage girls were sitting two rows in front of me and my older three kids. One of the girls had on very short shorts, and at one point during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I glanced up and saw that they didn't entirely cover her rear end.

Now, I know this girl and her family: she lives around the corner and babysits our kids. Her sister also babysits sometimes, her brother comes over occasionally and plays with my boys, and her mom is a family friend. But I didn't really need to see her butt crack (or anyone else's).

The bizarre thing is that she's a nice kid. During the Mass, she and her friend were completely reverent and prayerful. We were all sitting in the balcony, which has no kneelers, and they knelt the whole time on the hard floor. There weren't any adults making them behave, either -- they genuinely wanted to act correctly.

You may say that I have a weird Catholic aversion to anything sexual, but I don't think that's true. I am not a prude, at least not by the classic definition. It does not bother me to see the female form dressed in a way that flatters it, nor do I have any aversion to healthy sexuality. I simply do not wish to see young girls dressed in a way that invites men to look at them as flowers to be plucked, because I have daughters who will inevitably start to take their cues from what older girls are wearing and doing.

Once again, this shows the fallacy of our age's individualistic ethos, which is the idea that "I can do what I want, and it won't affect you." The way we dress and act has a profound affect on other people, especially impressionable young ones. What we do with our bodies speaks much louder than any words we say, and I wish more parents were mindful of that.

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This young father, Eric Johnson, who has a six year old daughter, has encountered a problem in the least likely place, the parish pews around him on Sunday:It's tough to do that when many older girls dress like trollops at Mass. We can shield our kids ... Read More


In the same vein: a family with two girls sat in front of me at Mass the other week, and one of the girls (about 12 or 13 y.o., I'd say), kept pulling her shirt down, trying to cover the enormous word on her pants bottom.

It wasn't a rude word, just "PINK", and it certainly was that, on a neon green background. But apparently she'd decided she didn't really want attention for her butt while in Church. Too late.

Yeah, there's a lot of that same maneuver at Mass, usually to cover up underwear because the girls' low-riding pants or skirts don't quite go high enough.

Here's a good rule: unless it's a monogram, anything with visible lettering on it is not appropriate for a formal situation.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric Johnson published on June 14, 2006 8:45 PM.

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