One family doesn’t encourage their children to dress up for church, even though most of the kids who attend dress up a bit more. If you ask them why, they’d tell you: We don’t have to dress up and look good to present ourselves to God. Come as you are.
The point is not about proper attire for church, temple, or mosque
Each culture has different clothing that may be considered appropriate, and for different reasons. A mosque may require modesty in dress. An African American church may encourage people to wear their best as a celebratory gesture in worship.
The point I make with that story is that we need to find a way to help the children in our lives present themselves with honesty to God and others. Some parents have a primary concern about what others will think of them if their child does something wrong. What will the neighbors think? That preoccupation can be subtle but damaging. It tells children they must look good above all else, with very little room for the mistakes that teach them so much.
Instead of worrying about what others think, what if we flip the focus back onto the child?
What will help develop their human spirit?
- Letting them make mistakes.
- Not covering those mistakes up.
- Helping them process wrongdoing so they can learn from it.
- Serving as a sounding board as they think, reflect, and make the kind of internal changes that will allow them to grow.
There’s a big difference between asking, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” and asking, “How would that look to so-and-so if they saw you doing that?” One results in personal growth, the other in external conformity. The difference is between looking good and being good.