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Dressing for the Glory of God
Should adults and children dress the same way? If we are speaking of principles, then the answer is yes. Whether a child or an adult, the clothing should be comfortable, neat, simple, modest, and attractive. But when it comes to choosing actual clothing styles, there should be a difference. Children are not miniature adults. What is appropriate for an adult can look ridiculous on a child, and vice versa.
As children move into their teens, they begin wanting to look more like adults. Unfortunately, that line is being pushed back today. More and more children are wearing high heels, applying makeup, and choosing decidedly adult fashions. As they do, they begin copying adult behaviors in other areas.
This is not God’s plan! “The little ones should be educated in childlike simplicity. . . . The children should not be forced into a precocious maturity, but should retain as long as possible the freshness and grace of their early years.”1 The child who remains a child throughout childhood is truly blessed!
In his book, The Hurried Child, David Elkind explains how dress affects the maturing process: “Three or four decades ago, prepubescent boys wore short pants and knickers until they began to shave; getting a pair of long pants was a true rite of passage. Girls were not permitted to wear makeup or sheer stockings until they were in their teens. For both sexes, clothing set children apart. It signaled adults that these people were to be treated differently, perhaps indulgently; it made it easier for children to act as children.”2 Today the fashion industry has targeted children—even preschoolers. “From overalls to Lacoste shirts to scaled-down designer fashions, a whole range of adult costumes is available to children.”3
Most of society thinks this is just “cute.” However, precocious clothing invites adult ideas and actions. When children are burdened with the overtones of adult culture, they are likely to grow up too soon and begin acting in ways that are beyond their years.
“When children dress like adults, they are more likely to behave as adults do, to imitate adult actions. It is hard to walk like an adult male wearing corduroy knickers that make an awful noise. But boys in long pants can walk like men, and little girls in tight jeans can walk like women. It is more difficult today to recognize that children are children and not miniature adults, because children dress and move like adults.”4
Today many children refuse to wear clothing without the most popular designer labels. They become so caught up in themselves and their wants that they do not realize how much strain it puts on the family budget.
Instead of bowing to fads, children can learn “to distinguish between that which is sensible and that which is foolish in the matter of dress. . . . As a people who are preparing for the soon return of Christ,” they can “give to the world an example of modest dress in contrast with the prevailing fashion of the day.”5 How much better to learn to appreciate simple, sensible clothing! Then we become real individuals, instead of victims of peer pressure!
1. Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, page 142. 2. David Elkind, The Hurried Child, page 8. 3. Ibid. (Note: Lacoste is a designer label.) 4. Ibid., pages 8, 9. 5. White, Child Guidance, pages 424, 425.
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