Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bikini Blues

There's been a major dilemma at our house this summer.

Our teenage daughter wanted a bikini.

To be honest, it took me completely by surprise. She's never been a clothes hound and has always been pretty modest. She buys her shirts a size or two bigger so they aren't so tight. She's always turned her nose at skimpy clothes, giving them a "gross."

And she's always followed the rules...to the letter. She's the one I can trust to be completely honest and trustworthy and has never given me reason to doubt her.

Until she happened to borrow a bikini at a friend's house so she could get in a hot tub.

"Mom, don't worry, it was only girls in the hot tub and when the boys came out we stayed under water. When we got out, we wrapped our towels around us so they couldn't see anything."

"Mmm hmm, well you know what I think about that."

"Yeah...but...I finally looked okay in one."

And then the following week, she came home from the lake with a bad sunburn on her lower back.

"How'd you get sunburned there? Doesn't your suit cover that?"

"Well, I borrowed one of my friend's suits."

"A bikini?"

"Yeah...but...well my suit doesn't fit so well anymore."

Then she was leaving to go on another swimming outing with friends when I noticed she didn't have ANY suit with her.

"Where's your suit?"

"I can just borrow one from somebody."

Uh huh. You see what was happening here? I was losing my trust in her over a swim suit.

We set a date to go shopping the next morning. I tried to be open-minded and give it a chance, but the first three suits she put on produced an immediate, "No" out of me. Many suits later she was still hearing "Absolutely not" or "No way". Then came the tears, lots of them, uncharacteristic for this girl. We had words and friction and utter frustration. We left that store and tried another, only to experience the same problem.

We were at a complete standstill everywhere we went. She tried some suits I picked out, but didn't like any of them and I hated everything she liked. We tried to see each other's point of view. We tried to compromise--me saying she could try the bikinis that had more than a string holding them on, her saying she'd wear shorts over the bottoms to cover more. I understood how she felt and she knew where I was coming from, yet there was no agreement in sight.

As I looked at her teary eyes pleading with mine I wondered if a bikini was such a big deal. I worried that letting her a get one was going to cross some sort of line I could never go back to, but then I remembered who she is. She has always been a really good kid. She wants to do what's right. She works hard to keep her mama happy. She makes good choices in friends and handles herself responsibly. I imagined her at the lake and hated the thought of her feeling self-conscious or dorky in a suit she hated. She had already passed on a swimming event that week because she didn't have anything she felt comfortable wearing.

But what really plagued me was how other people would react to it. I dreaded what others might think of me allowing her to wear something I was not at all crazy about. Would they think I was a sell out?

I had to ask myself some tough questions. Which is more important, your daughter or what other people might think? Do you want to push it and make her buy a suit she hates, giving her an opportunity to "borrow" behind your back and destroy the trust you've built? Is this an issue of modesty or of your own pride? Should you be worried about the reflection on your parenting or your relationship with your daughter?
“When we are set free from the bondage of pleasing others, when we are free from currying others approval-then no one will be able to make us miserable or dissatisfied. And then, if we know we have pleased God, contentment will be our consolation.

~Kay Arthur-
I still don't like it, but I let her get a bikini. I know others will think I caved. That's okay. Though man may only see the outward reflection of who I am (via my bikini-clad daughter), though they may think me worldly, God will see my heart. He will know my intent, giving up this battle to win the war and maintain a good relationship with an amazing teenager.

Lord, help me release myself of the expectations of others. It is a lifelong battle that plagues me and can dishonor You. Give me wisdom to do what is right and pleasing to You alone.

To read more impressions of this quote, visit Denise at Shorty Bear's Place.


MiPa said...

My oldest is only 5, but I already see the wisdom in choosing the battles. I hope that I can be as wise as you show here when she is a teen. *shudder* As always, your posts bless me. Thank you!

Nancy said...

You know what you are doing with your child and you know what is best. Some areas may seem gray but each child is different. Perhaps with other girls a bikini IS a big issue and should not be allowed. With others girls it is not. You are wise to choose your battles wisely.

Denise said...

You are a very wise mom, blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

Well, having four girls 19-25, bikinis are only for laying in the sun....if we are out in the boat, and there are guys around, they have to wear shorts...that's just the deal....what was really interesting is my son's fiancee..the first time out on the boat with us wore a tiny bikini, and when no other female wore one, she promptly bought another suit which she wore on the family vacation she went on with us..... I don't prohibit buying bikinis, just where I allow them to be worn. If they sneak around, it's on their conscience, and between them and God. Cathy

Laurie Ann said...

I don't see you as a sell-out. I see you as a wise mother, trusting her daughter, who has proved trustworthy in the past, and not giving her a reason to become untrustworthy by having to sneak around. I love the points you made, picking your battles and all that. Raising teenagers is tough stuff, and it seems like you're doing a great job!

Dianne said...

Sounds like a tough decision but it makes sense to me.

e-Mom said...

OOOO0000, this is one big step on the road to letting go. I applaud your thoughtfulness Tami, and all your inner wrestlings. Only parents that really care, bother to be concerned about when, where, and whether to let their daughters "bikini."

Our daughter is an althetic swimmer (swim team, kayaker, accomplished sailor) and her swim suit choices have always been quite modest. Never really a worry.

...Until she met her husband. I did notice how that changed, and how keen she's been to appear attractive to her new husband... almost too much so.
Hopefully, as she settles into married life, her confidence in her sexuality will grow.

TMI? If so, sorry. It's a challenge to accept our daughters as sexual beings, isn't it? Post-honeymoon, I'm still gulping... :~D

Hugs, e-Mom

Karen said...

That's a tough one. We direct too much attention towards what "others might think." There's definitely a balance that needs to be found. Glad you worked things out.

Rachelle said...

You did good.

Tami Boesiger said...

For crying out loud, e-mom, way to scare the bejeebers out of me talking about my daughter's sexuality!! She's only 15. STOP!! lalala I can't hear you lalalala

Susan said...

Oh Tami,

I can really see how difficult this would be for you as a mom of a teenage daughter. Yikes...

I think you were wise in your final decision. You choose your battle well.

Your friendship/relationship with your daughter is just too special to allow this to come between you.

I adored my mom, and considered her to be my very best friend. She trusted me and that fact alone caused me to want to please her and make her proud.

Your daughter sounds like a very special young lady, enjoy these special days together♥

PS There's some great books out there on modesty, maybe you can slip one to her sometime in the near future. A prophet is usually without honor in his own home-town!

Brenda said...

I went through this with my girls too. I kept them at tankinis for awhile. Then we were able to get them to wear the competitive speedo bikinis which are more modest. Then they went out on their own and buy their own. Part of growing up.

lori said...

Ahhhh....the battles...I have two moving into that...one 13 and one 11...and you know it is in the discussion of the issues, honest communication and coming to a place where we can all be "okay" with it....Don't be concerned with "what others think..." You were guided by your heart and God does know your heart...

We moms of teen girls are in this battle together....if we can support each other and not "judge" each other...we will be soooo much better off:)

Beautiful prayer....really speaks to MY heart!

e-Mom said...

Lol, you can relax Tami. I was talking about my daughter's sexuality. (She has a 10-year jump on your daughter. :~D)

We're so delighted that both our daughter and SIL maintained their purity during their courtship. It CAN be done... The pastor who married them even publically drew attention to that fact during their ceremony, as a witness to their peers.

We've let our kids know what was expected of them--even using ourselves as an example. Not to brag or anything, but past sexual relationships were NOT baggage we brought in to our marriage. And we told our kids that. When we were dating, we both understood that before God marriage is a serious "blood covenant" if you get my drift...

OK, you got me going... on both our daughter and son's 16th birthdays, we gave them purity "rings." Our daughter wore a beautiful silver Celtic knot on her wedding ring finger right up to the day of her wedding... as a symbol of her pledge to remain pure.

We gave our son a silver key ring (ordered through a Christian jeweller) that's designed for the same purpose. Single at 22, he still uses it.

Suffice to say, as parents we DO need to be actively involved in our kids' healthy interest in the opposite sex. You're doing the absolute right thing by keeping your eyes wide open and thinking carefully about your daughter's clothing choices.

You may already know that statistically, when kids "shack up" there's usually alcohol involved. Also, when Moms work, late afternoon is often the time it happens because kids are "home alone."

'Nough said. Can you tell how strongly I feel about this issue?

God bless you!

Emiley said...

Hi Tami! :-) This has made for some good, thoughtful conversation at my house. We aren't "there" yet to deal with these things....thankfully!! I'm curious what your hubby says about the whole thing...are you in agreement? ~Emiley

Tami Boesiger said...


I told her when we bought it that her dad had the last say and if he said no, that was it. He was feeling just like me, stuck, not wanting to give in, but not wanting to make it more of an issue than it was. She put it on for him (along with the shorts we bought to wear with it) and his exact words were, "Those shorts better NEVER come off!"

This has been a hard thing for us as parents and believe me, we've had MANY discussions about modesty and respectfulness of boys. Keygan even chimed in which was great because his opinion matters more to her than ours right now. This was not an easy decision AT ALL.

Kelly said...

It's so sad that modesty has become such a lost virtue in our day and age, and that your daughter even has to struggle with that question of owning a bikini in order to feel accepted by her peers. :( Though the battle may have been lost, how I encourage you to continue to put God's Word before her in this area, challenging her to, likewise, ask those tough questions -- of does wearing a bikini demonstate an obedience to God's Word about adorning ourselves with modesty (def: neither bold or assertive, denoting a sense of shame) in I Timoty 2:9,10. How I pray that the hearts of my own boys would grow up to fear the Lord and thirst after obedience to His Word above all else because it is the conviction in their own hearts and not the desire or conviction of their parents -- that they would be willing to die to their own desires in order to be pleasing to Him! Isn't this the battle we all fight for and pray for? Praying for you as you fight on, Friend. :)

Rena Gunther said...

I am teary-eyed over this post of to binkin or not!

Thank you for sharing this! My two oldest daughters are 18 and 15.
I, too, have found myself in circumstances with them where I have sincerely felt prompted to surrender my wishes. Following His lead is what brings me peace. In spite of the obvious opinions of others, we must follow HIS voice.

Great post, Sister! So glad I stopped by via your link at Lysa's blog.

Many blessings,
Rena Gunther

Luanne said...

Oh, I can relate. Sometimes, we just have to pick our battles--and concentrate on the heart! Glad I popped in via Lysa's link list. God bless.