I posted the following you-know-where:
I don’t have girl children, but I don’t let my boys wear tank tops or shorts above the knee. Here’s why:
(1) Generally, most LDS parents think that modesty rules should ‘kick in’ when their girls hit puberty or thereabouts. I think this can send a confusing message to (some) girls: all of a sudden, it isn’t OK to show your body at a time when what’s happening to your body is complicated enough. If I had a girl, she would wear garment-covering clothes from the beginning.
(2) Modesty rules should apply equally to boys and girls. No double standard.
Hence, my little boys, pretty much from birth on, wear clothes than would cover garments. Of course, it’s different if we are going swimming, etc.
To which Greg Call responded:
ead has become too unwieldy to have the discussion here, Julie, but I would like to hear more about your views on this. I have the (perhaps naive) view that little children are different than post-pubescent ones. Nudity is not all that rare in my house, and if my kids (1 and 3) don’t want to wear pants (in the house), I don’t make a big deal of it. I would think that an 11 year old would understand a speech along the lines of, “You’re getting older now. You need to wear pants all the time” (if they hadn’t already picked up the social cues). Of course, as a teenage boy I rarely wore a shirt during the summertime, indoors or out, so maybe I am simply cursing my kids with my own tendency toward immodesty.
Also, I’ve never understood the garment to be a marker as to which part of our bodies are permissible to show, and which aren’t. Of course, if you are wearing garments, their sacredness requires them to be out of view, but I never took this as an issue of modesty. Am I misunderstanding you? Do you have sources on this?
That thread is getting unwieldy, so I’m bringing the discussion over here. (At which point, Steve Evans says, “POACHER!” And he might have a case if that other blog would let you link directly to a comment instead of wading through the entire thread.)
First, Greg, my children rarely wear more than underwear in the house. My sense is that, with young children, there is no need to follow the rules of modesty among family. (I’m sure others would disagree, and that’s fine.) But, out of the house or if friends are over, everyone in our home wears clothes that they could wear if they were endowed. I’m not claiming that this is a rule that need apply to everyone in the Church, but it seems right for our family for the reasons that I gave above. I’m not sure that it is essential to define ‘modest’ as ‘clothes that one endowed could wear,’ but it seems like a simple enough shorthand that could save some arguments. But when this topic came up before, someone with teens cautioned me that I might be setting my kids up to hate the idea of going through the Temple if they hear this line too many times in their teens. This person may have a point. But I could see it playing the other way, too: my kids won’t have to change their habits to go through the Temple, which might make it a more appealing idea than it is for their friends who need to, in their own eyes, start wearing burkas.
I don’t have any sources on this. I don’t claim this to be the official position of the Church. But I do think that regardless of the specific modesty standards a family adopts, they should think about the gender implications of it and they should think about what effect it would have on their child(ren) if, one warm day, Mom and Dad announce that they can no longer wear what they are used to wearing.