We affect others by our choices
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 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.
What he finds odd is that these aren't necessarily irreverent girls:
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.
An enormous part of this is the simple fact that fashions today are what we reserved for red light districts before the 1970's. Kids have no idea that we associate "baby doll" tops, lace in certain areas, and pelvic bones with solicitation -- it's just "what everyone wears!"
What I find appalling is that youngsters have a fetish for underwear. Colours, labels, styles, and name brands are all broadcast visibly by both boys and girls. It's so de rigeur -- and yet virtually boring, even to them. The proverbial envelope has been pushed, and nothing shocks -- so to go around in pyjamas or with underwear advertised is the last vestige of ho-hum trendiness. As the slippery slope nears its logical end, there's little left to push. And yet, as Eric notes, their bored choices are sowing toxic seeds to eager young wannabes:
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.
Saint Maria Goretti, Saint Dominic Savio, intercede for our youth!