QUAERITUR: Dress code for teens for dances, etc?

From a reader:

We belong to a Catholic homeschooling group and now that our children have reached their teen years, we are beginning to organize dances and formal social events for them. The question of modest dress came up after a recent dance and caused a bit of controversy since some parents believe there should be no specific standards while others would like to implement a basic dress code to avoid the more egregious and inappropriate fashions at these events.

Do you think a specific dress code at formal Catholic teen social events is necessary?  If so, what bare mininum (no pun intended!) standards would you suggest?

As an example, some parents formulated the following list as a possibility. Do you think this is adequate?

No strapless dresses
No spaghetti straps
No backless dresses
No mini-skirts
No skin-tight garments

Shirt, tie, dress pants.
Optional jacket/blazer

Thank you so very much for any advice you could offer on this matter.

Vote for Fr. Z!I am reminded of the great Italian film Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, wherein the parish in Sicily has a movie theatre, a focus of the town.  The priest censors the films and cut out every scene that he thinks isn’t decent, especially every kiss.  I recall a scene – I think I have the right movie – in which there is a dance, during which Father works pretty hard to prevent anyone from getting close.

In the list, above, that the girls are defined by “No” and the boys… well… pretty simple.  I guess we know what fact of life is being addressed.

I think a dress code is reasonable at that age and parents have the right to impose one.

However, I want to bring parents into this.  Perhaps they have been through this issue and will have insights earned through experience.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Phil_NL says:

    I might not be a parent (deo volente one day, I hope), but I was a kid, obviously, and from that perspective a few observations:

    – If you need a dress-code to keep the kid on the straight and narrow, you’re too late. If they can’t decide themselves (within a reasonable margin of error) what’s appropriate, what’s pushing it, and what’s too much/little, a dresscode is certainly not going to do more than fighting symptoms, and superficially at that.
    – The only real reason for a dresscode is to support the parents against the argument ‘but John/Leatitia/Cecil will be there and plans to wear this-and-that, so surely I can too’. Peer pressure is something to be resisted as well, so in isolation I’m not too impressed with that argument either. But I can see it go to extremes that one half of the attending parents will walk out [or at least pull the plug on subsequent events]. If such a thing may happen, then a dresscode might be a good idea.

    Otherwise, too little, too late.

  2. Dress codes are admirable. However, as a professional tailor (and Catholic homeschooler of 3 children ages 13, 11 and 10) I can assure you that I have seen many formal dresses that, while adhering to all the guidelines listed, would still make a chaperone wince and think “ah, I didn’t think of THAT”.

  3. LarryPGH says:

    The girls’ dress code seems to be saying “dress modestly”, while the boys’ screams “dress formally”.

    I know the original question says “formal social events”, but it also says “dances”; perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but I assumed that this meant formal as “the opposite of casual” — as in, this isn’t like running into someone at the mall — rather than formal as “prom or ball or semi-formal dance”.

    With that in mind, then, what struck me as a little excessive is the tie (let alone the “optional jacket”). Appropriate if the context is “formal ball”; a bit over-the-top if the context is “Saturday dance”.

  4. kab63 says:

    I would want to know more about the homeschooling group and why they have decided a social event is necessary. Parents have different methods of homeschooling, obviously, and this group seems to have made particular choices.

    My homeschooling teen boys would have no interest in such a gathering. They are too busy with their various projects, and with the friendship they have with each other. A social event would only take away time from what they love to do at home. Also, because they are not around girls in an artificial social construct, they have not yet reached a maturation level where they’re interested in girls as potential mates. They see themselves as married one day, but are too busy deciding who and what they are to become in the near future to add girls to the mix.

    However, if such an occurrence as a dance were our intention, I agree with Phil_NL. We would not need to tell our boys (or our daughter) what appropriate attire was. Every Sunday they practice choosing modest outfits.

  5. Allan S. says:

    I am a parent of a teenage boy.

    Yes, dress codes are a good idea but there is a “but”. You need to prevent any instigation of unecessary rebellion. The best way to do this in 2011 is to recognize that teens have phases that parents are simply going to have to suffer through, and that you can’t regulate a near-adult like a child. For example, it will be possible to have a dress code that promotes modesty while still allowing individuality in colour schemes, hair styles, jewellery, etc. If your child is, for example, goth and you have not been able to reason him/her out of it, you are faced with either allowing the phase to run its course or being cut out of their life entirely.

    Bottom line: enforce modesty, set minimum standards, but if your teen is going through a phase that makes them want to dress up like an idiot, just smile and wish them a good time. And take lots of pictures – for when they’re married with kids ;)

  6. mitch_wa says:

    just a thought to help balance out the list
    I think a dress code that is very prohibitive for girls while being suggestive for boys is problematic. a mix of prohibitions and suggestions for both sexes might be the most appropriate and fair.

  7. doodler says:

    Only someone who has not been the parent of a teenage son or daughter would think it possible to win this sort of battle. It would be easier to herd cats!

  8. TomG says:

    Phil_NL: Remarkably perspicacious, particularly for someone who is not a parent. As a father of two daughters (both fine young women now, thank God), I can tell you indeed that the formation process in building modesty starts in the primary years – and absolutely must be modeled by mother and father alike!

  9. Philangelus says:

    My oldest is 13 and male, so I have no direct experience with trying to enforce a dress code, but I also know I can’t even get the kid to wear a coat when it’s 30 degrees F / 0 C outside.

    My suggestion would be to get the kids to come up with the dress code for any specific event, that way it’s coming from them rather than the parents. And the female dress code should be phrased as something like “Loose dresses, knee length, cap sleeve or longer” rather than “no spaghetti straps, no showing more than 85% of the skin on the body, no visible belly-buttons, no visible underwear…”

    It might also be possible to get the kids to dress for a theme, and if you choose a theme that doesn’t readily lend itself toward provocative clothing, you might have a winner there.

  10. EXCHIEF says:

    Having raised three sons (now adults) and having a daughter who is a senior in high school here is my 2 cents worth. I agree fully with those who have said that if a dress code is necessary the proper foundation in terms of both moral and practical education has not been established. A “child” who has an understanding of and appreciation for the moral issues will be “self policing” in this regard. Those who lack that foundation and understanding will be argumentative of just about any dress code as they fail to see the basic issue.

  11. Re: why with homeschoolers — Schools supposedly have dances (and I know everybody has forgotten this) as educational events. It’s supposed to be about practice and mastery of social skills, not really about dance and romance.

    Given the morbid fear among non-homeschoolers that homeschoolers are somehow deprived of socialization, and given that dances are supposed to be educational, holding homeschooler dances is a shrewd move. A lot of the kids and parents will enjoy it.

    I sympathize with those kids who think dances are a waste of time and an expense of spirit, because so did I at that age; but there are a lot of study subjects that are actively unpleasant for most kids, and intellectual kids shouldn’t be allowed to ignore developing social skills just because they’re a pain in the butt and (seem) useless. I don’t remember “I’ll probably never use this again and it’s totally irrelevant to my life” being taken as an excuse by my parents in any other subject, either.

  12. flyfree432 says:

    Depending on the type of dance, they can be fun and I do not see anything “artificial” about them. Rather than a teen only dance though it could be a community dance for the home school association where everyone is invited to participate. Dances can truly build up solidarity and friendship among the community in ways other outings can. You could have a caller and teach the teens various forms of dance. We do that at our parish every summer in our local park under the pavilion and our teens have a blast with everyone else – child to senior citizen. The type of dance should be better suited to fun though, instead of courtship. I am assuming there will not be any inappropriate music.

    As far as rules, I agree with others here that getting too specific is asking for trouble. Hopefully parents of Catholic home school teens have been teaching them modesty and chastity, and beyond that, giving the teens freedom to express themselves.

  13. Caroline says:

    As a former home school mom of sons ( 14 years) ..I agree there needs to be a standard of modesty, but it’s oh so fine a line with that young adult age. Our group never wrote out a standard, it was kind of an unwritten code we all encouraged in our group….but that was in the pioneer days of home schooling ! Things have, well progressed, since then. It’s interesting though, elegant restaurants have dress codes that ask for ties and jackets on men, but no real standard for a woman.

  14. moon1234 says:

    I am a Father of six. My oldest is 10 (female) going on 11. Still young. She wants to wear some things that SHE KNOWS is not decent, because she sees SOME of her peers getting away with it.

    I tend to be of the no artifical clothes sort of dad. I initially tolder her that she is only allowed to pick clothes made of 100% natural fibers unless there is nothing else available. This means Cotton, Wool, Silk, Hemp, etc. No Polyester, Rayon, Acetate, etc.

    She hemmed and hawaed for about two weeks, then just fell into line. She still pushes back, but it is getting to the point where it is less and less. Her clothes guideslines come directly from the Baltimore Catechism. She KNOWS what is decent and what is not.

    I think the clothes issue tends to be less of an issue for boys as they tend to always wear MORE. Pants and polo or button down shirt. Pretty much has always been what they wear. If they dress UP they wear a tie, most times not.

    I think requiring a tie for a dance is REALLY old fashioned. Unless the dance is a formal ball at the state capital or similar, a tie is over the top.

    My observation of SOME, but not all, home schooling parents is that their children a behind in their social interaction maturity levels by at least 3-4 years. Meaning a 14-15 year old is interacting with his peers and the opposite sex on an 11-12 year old level. This, in my opinion, is not healthy. When it comes time to enter “the world” when they are 18, they seem very unprepared socially.

    I am not talking about requiring a “sexualization” of youth, but rather that children interact with others not from their family on a more frequent basis. Sometimes “protecting” our children from the world will make them ill equipped to challange the world when they need to enter it.

  15. smcollinsus says:

    1. I do think that the social event needs to be more clearly defined, i.e. “dance” or “prom”, as well as the level of expected (commonly used throughout society) dress, i.e. casual, dress/semi-formal, or formal.

    2. Boys should be guided from an early age as to the appropriate men’s dress, including the occasional tie and coat. Along with this, PLEASE, bite the bullet and buy your young gentleman a pair of dress shoes! Long before he is invited to be in a friend’s wedding party, much less his own! Something that you would want to see at the bottom of a cassock serving at the Altar! There is then room for stylistec preferences within the common social structure of appropriate attire.

    3. I have 3 sons, not daughters. And I know there is a big difference. Still, I think a more positive list of suggestions are needed. Again, there is nothing stated about the level of social attire at this event. I don’t see a super-heated need for a prohibition on seeing shoulders. But let’s consider the “gravity” of the situation. Is there a physique that would support “strapless”? If so, then gravity would insist on a tight fit! Otherwise, some sort of straps would certainly be appropriate, allowing the rest of the dress to be not so tight. But that’s talking only about “formal”, one-piece dresses. Maybe this was an event that called for skirt/blouse instead. Or even semi-formal evening wear which would be knee length dresses.

    4. I firmly believe that boys SHOULD be involved. Maybe this needs to be a “stag” event, for both sexes, i.e. not for “dating”. How can there ever be appropriate “dating”, leading to marriage, if boys don’t know how to communicate with girls. Larger families with both boys and girls might help both when they start being social away from other family members – but there are always exceptions to that rule. Smaller families of only boys (like mine) need more social interaction.

  16. tobiasmurphy says:

    Dress codes are good, but notice that the rules for girls are all negative. No positive suggestions are given. This will more likely result in rebellion. Also, a girl could follow the rules and still show up in jeans and a t-shirt, but her date has to wear slacks, a dress shirt, and a tie? I’m not saying dances shouldn’t be formal (although I think it depends on the type of dance – country line dancing, for instance, is done in boots and jeans), but these rules are entirely fair. Maybe some positives would help (“girls will wear knee-length or longer skirts/dresses,” “if spaghetti straps or similar are worn, girls will wear a jacket”).

  17. ShihanRob says:

    I teach at a public high school. We have a dress code for our dances at our school. So, if a public school has one, then it wouldn’t be unreasonable for a private school or a home schooling group to have a dress code as well.

  18. Patikins says:

    I am not a parent so I won’t comment on the need for a dress code. (I do have an opinion on that though. ) I have many friends and family members who home schooled their kids. The teen age boys and girls are interested each other at that age and it is perfectly normal for them to be so. The difference I think between them and more secular teens is that they (hopefully) have a chaste attitude toward their peers and want to have good clean fun while getting to know each other.

    My parish just had a swing dance this past weekend with a live band. It was stated several years ago by teens of the parish who wanted an alternative to the dirty dancing that goes on at most high school dances. Everyone had fun, the teenagers as well as the adults.

  19. Patikins says:

    that should read: home school (present tense)

  20. shin says:

    A dress code along these lines.

    But what are they doing at a mixed gender dance anyway? How can there not be grave problems?

    ‘Where there are balls, the angels are sad and the devils are jubilant.’

    St. Ephrem, Father and Doctor of the Church

    ‘Speaking of dances, St. Francis of Sales used to say that “they were like mushrooms, the best were good for nothing.” Mothers are apt to say indeed, “Oh, I watch over my daughters.” They watch over their attire, but they cannot watch over their hearts. . . Ah, if they well understood this responsibility they would never have any dances. Just like those who make bad pictures and statues, or write bad books, they will have to answer for all the harm that these things will do during all the time they last.’

    St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars

  21. irishgirl says:

    I’m not married, so I won’t comment on the dress code, either (though I would like to).
    When I was in my teens in public school, I didn’t go to dances-not even the junior prom or the senior ball. I was a social klutz and not attractive (blemishes and all). I never even had a date-I was pretty lonely in high school. Never fit in with the ‘popular kids’, so I was pretty much on my own-I guess that’s why I took to reading books.
    shin, I agree with you-and the saintly quotes fit to a ‘T’!

  22. Phil_NL says:

    @TomG: thanks for the compliment. I am blessed with two very sensible parents, that surely helped.

    @Shin: I wonder what those saints had to say about the internet. Or cars for that matter. If you think you can keep your children free of any temptation (unless you live in an otherwise uninhabited island with no outside connections), think again. It’s utterly impossible, and in the process of trying you deprive them of good fun as well as social skills. Far better to arm them with a good consience, so they can function in the world, rather than removing them from it – awaiting the big crash which will surely come to them one day.

  23. Jerry says:

    Here are some resources that may be of interest.

    An article on teens planning their prom, from Colleen Hammond’s web site.

    Dressing With Dignity Outfit Check

    A homily on modesty in dress which contains some guidelines from Pope Pius XII.

    Another homily on modest dress

    Mary-like standards for modesty in dress.

    Modesty and Beauty – the lost connection by Regina Schmiedicke

    Some thoughts on modesty/immodest dress (contains a link to a detailed flier on modest dress.)


    Moral Problems in Fashion Design by Pope Pius XII

    Notification concerning men’s dress worn by women by Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, Archbishop of Genoa.

  24. JulieC says:

    Thanks, Father, and to everyone for their helpful suggestions! The reason I asked this question is because at a recent dance/prom there was some fairly immodest attire, in my opinion, and it is not easy to know what to do in a large group of Catholic families where everyone’s standards of modesty are so different. As we have discovered, just because we homeschool does not mean we share the same convictions.

    I don’t believe we should give up on our attempts to offer formal social opportunities for our children as I think many of us are convinced that learning social graces is an important part of Catholic culture and we ought to expose our children as much as possible to gracious, proper Christian behavior since God knows they’ll never easily find it anywhere else.

    I’m also convinced that if we want our teens to learn how to dress and behave in an acceptable fashion, there has to be some reasonable standards set. I do appreciate the suggestions that those standards should be expressed in a more positive fashion and thank you all for the helpful advice.

    Now it’s just a matter of presenting this to the rest of the group and reaching some kind of consensus. Thanks for the valuable input!

  25. APX says:

    Trying to find a modest dress in a store is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I’ve never been able to find a nice modest dress that wasn’t matronly looking in a store, so I’ve had to get creative. I would suspect most girls and young women have this issue too. Rather than give a list of “no’s” you might want to give suggestions for how to make strapless and spaghetti strap dresses modest.

  26. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    In the traditional form of the Mass, the priest has instructions about what he must wear. If our young people go to work for a company with a uniform, here too there will be standards of dress. Merely having standards is not the issue, at least in my book. Standards should exist — a dress code, plain and simple.

    I don’t see a problem with more specific kinds of rules for girls than for boys — if only because it is important that we help both the boys and the girls see the value of protecting girls from unwanted attention. I’ve just been glancing at an article by Alice Von Hildebrand about the fair sex, so the idea that liberation only comes when we raze the barricades doesn’t make sense.

    Here’s a simple idea: clothing is not principally about “expressing your individuality”, at least not until it has met the standard of “conceal, not reveal”.

    Is it worth asking (and here I will probably call down fire upon my head) if there is something odd about having a dress code and then not caring what sorts of music the young men and women have as accompaniment to their dances? It’s like having a brand-spanking-new accurate translation of Mass and singing all the old sacropop favorites, including “Sing a New Church into being.”


  27. Jerry says:


    I agree fully with those who have said that if a dress code is necessary the proper foundation in terms of both moral and practical education has not been established. A “child” who has an understanding of and appreciation for the moral issues will be “self policing” in this regard. Those who lack that foundation and understanding will be argumentative of just about any dress code as they fail to see the basic issue.

    Parents who may find themselves in this situation have to do their best with the situation as it is today, ideal or not. Better to start the formation late than never.

  28. We are fortunate to have a “cotilion” dancing organization for homeschoolers in Richmond. This group is run by evangelical Prots, but I admire the reasoned stance they have, which is a specific modesty “code” and a list of expectations with regard to conduct, language, respect, etc. The dancing is formal, ballroom or “square” dancing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for teens to learn how to begin relating with members of the opposite sex in a virtuous environment, rather than heading down to the movie theater to be in the dark with your friend for two hours.

    Of course, a well-raised child will generally desire to be modest, but dress codes are useful to reinforce this general desire. They also help in “instructing” parents and teens who may not be as attuned to modesty issues as they ought.

  29. the_ox says:

    I was born Catholic and have recently become more fervent. I wonder if we are thinking about this issue in its entirety? Is a dress code really the issue? Is it modesty that we need to watch for? or is there something in the nature of dancing, dances themselves that we should be on guard against regardless of attire?

    St. John Vianney did say: “There is not a Commandment of God which dancing does not cause to be transgressed, nor a Sacrament which it does not cause to be profaned. ”

    Are these words yet true?

  30. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    What a great discussion. Some very thoughtful, interesting observations here. I agree wholeheartedly with phil that it would be a very good idea to have the homeschoolers come up with the dress code on their own.

    I kindly disagree with the notion that it is unhealthy that some homeschoolers are “behind” on their social interactions with the opposite sex, or if this is even so. Though biologically we begin having romantic interests in the teen years, I think parents should do everything they can (without giving the impression of overlording their will) to encourage their teens to postpone any serious interests in the opposite sex. I think it’s perfectly healthy that the one poster’s sons would have no interest in a dance. Our homeschooling neighbors have a 20 year old son who has no interest in girls yet and builds legos in his spare time. This is what is healthy. It may seem odd bc we are not used to it. If only there were more of such an attitude among young people. Boys especially are generally not mature enough to be in a serious relationship, even in their young twenties (sorry guys). Girls should be regarded as friends. Education and developing one’s skills is the primary focus for a healthy teenager. Leave the romance for college or beyond. There’s no reason why we can’t expect our teenagers to understand the value of duty over feelings.

    Personally I wouldn’t stress dressing up at the dance. As long as one is modest let some come casual if they prefer. Don’t homeschooling families want to get away from a materialistic attitude that is so often witnessed among the pomp and lavishness of public school events of a similar nature?

  31. JohnE says:

    If nothing else, I think a dress code is a good convenient excuse that a teen can use to not succumb to peer pressure.

  32. They are true of much modern dancing, but you will not find the Church condemning dancing out of hand. Not every saying of a saint necessarily reflects an absolute moral standard.

    The question for a Catholic as always, is what is the right use of the thing? Ballroom or even swing dancing, which is not about sustained, close-body contact, is perfectly permissible. The type of bumping and grinding that occurs in government high school dances is abominable and a near occasion of sin.

    As Catholics, we ought to blaze a path that neither negates the social good of dancing, nor caves into immodesty with the lame excuse that “well, the kids have to be part of society.”

  33. Banjo pickin girl says:

    St. John Vianney had a “thing” about dancing, some say because Ars was a particular sinful town when he got there. But he did have a “thing” about dancing like some people have irrational “things” about other subject. Reading some of his sermons on the subject is painful.

    Our culture has no tradition of sacred dance (which is why liturgical dance is forbidden at Mass) so we are starting from a bad point anyway. A friend of mine distinguishes between ballroom dancing and what he calls “tribal dancing.” I would think ballroom dancing, involving formal steps and rules would be better for our crowd than “tribal dancing” where anything goes.

    But then, I am not a parent, and only had one very chaste boyfriend in high school. We both road brontosauri to school. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways…

  34. shin says:


    The number of Church Councils that have spoken on the subject is lengthy too. Reparation should be done for what normally occurs.

    There’s also St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney’s Sermon on the matter.

    ‘There is always the person who says to me: “What harm can there be in enjoying oneself for awhile? I do no wrong to anyone; I do not want to be religious or to become a religious! If I do not go to dances, I will be living in the world like someone dead!”‘

  35. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Ox I think it would too radical to forego the dancing altogether. You bring up a great point though that certain music does encourage immodest dancing. Maybe the dance could be a swing music event or something such like? I’m so tired of youth groups bowing to the bad taste of some teenage music. Believe me, I’ve enjoyed rock and rap music plenty, perhaps everyone needs to go through a phase like that, who knows , but it becomes tiresome when we don’t think our teenagers are intelligent enough to enjoy “good” more cultured music. I think encouraging good taste among teenagers is very important in contributing to our Catholic identity. Many good educated Catholics strong in their faith have an eye for beauty in the arts. Sorry if I’m straying.

  36. shin says:

    ‘The Devil invented balls for girls to be lost, and extended them throughout the world like an immense net in order to catch the young people and submit them to his tyrannical domination.’

    St. Anthony Mary Claret

  37. The Old Catholic Encyclopedia (1916!) has this food for thought:

    As to social dancing, now so much in vogue, whilst in itself it is an indifferent act, moralists are inclined to place it under the ban, on account of the various dancers associated with it. Undoubtedly old national dances in which the performers stand apart, hardly, if at all, holding the partner’s hand, fall under ethical censure scarcely more than any other kind of social intercourse. But, aside from the concomitants — place, late hours, décolleté, escorting, etc. — common to all such entertainments, round dances, although they may possibly be carried on with decorum and modesty, are regarded by moralists as fraught, by their very nature, with the greatest danger to morals. To them perhaps, but unquestionably still more obviously to masked balls, should be applied the warning of the Second Council of Baltimore, against “those fashionable dances, which, as at present carried on, are revolting to every feeling of delicacy and propriety”. [NOTE THE FOLLOWING FR Z! ;-)]Needless to add that decency as well as the oft-repeated decrees of particular and general councils forbid clerics to appear, in any capacity whatever, on public dancing floors.

  38. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Also, who said that people w/o children can’t have an opinion on the subject?

  39. Elizabeth D says:

    Skirts at least knee length and preferably below the knee.

    Female fashions today tend toward immodesty, boys’ clothing is usually not a problem (a notable exception is where pants-falling-off are a fashion, this ranges from vulgar to extremely offensive). Christian girls (and boys) should have a Christian understanding that modesty is protective of chastity, one’s own and others’, and that the general culture cannot always be their behavioral point of reference. Not going along with the fashion herd requires strength and character, and internalization of good values. Modest dress is a witness to chastity, and consequently to Christ.

    One time a devoutly Catholic college student told me that although she is devoted to Mary and to the Carmelite Saints she doesn’t wear a brown scapular “because I wear a lot of low cut tops” and it would show. Think about it.

  40. shortside40 says:

    I am not a parent, but as a 25 year old girl who was homeschooled throughout high school, I think I may have a modest opinion. My homeschooled friends and I used to have what we jokingly referred to as “living room proms”. The girls enjoyed wearing fancy dresses and hanging out and the boys enjoyed free food and hanging out. (We made them dress up too.)

    I think having a dress code is something that speaks more about parents than the children. At 14, 15, or even 16, I was working odd jobs and babysitting for dollars, not earning enough money to buy myself a ‘fancy’ dress. My parents (well, my mom) would have bought it for me and therefore it would be reasonably pretty and modest. I think that people think only about the kids and what they want to wear, in terms of needing a dress code, but it’s usually more on the parents’ shoulders. I don’t know of any girls at the age of 14 or 15 who have enough of their own money to buy a prom dress. In fact, it’s kind of like a ‘thing’ to go shopping with your mom for your school dance dresses. So teens will be teens but parents are the ones with the responsibility. (I may add that finding modest clothes for girls is ABSURDLY difficult even in the age of internet shopping. I do not envy parents right now.)

    And I would like to say that our dances were always awesome! We ate, laughed, played games, danced like goofs, and just generally had a blast. There was nothing unchaste about what we did, it was good, clean fun. It CAN happen, you know. :)

  41. shin says:

    RE: ‘or is there something in the nature of dancing, dances themselves that we should be on guard against regardless of attire?’

    A number of good questions there..

  42. Having a homeschool dance be “all ages” sounds very practical and more fun for everyone. You can still have a few parents giving kids the chaperone-eye, yet the situation would be naturally less awkward for the kids (and would keep things from getting too het up for their age). Also, it could be simultaneously a regular dance and a father/daughter dance. :)

    Re: de Sales, we’re not talking about Victorian balls here. His time was pretty notorious for people getting up to stuff at formal dances. We’re not talking about going clogging with your grandma here.

    Re: Vianney — Well, some of those French dances out in the country were probably pretty fraught. You see a lot of people worried at that time about their dances turning into something too loose, like dances by unrespectable yokels in the country or unrespectable rich people in the city often did. Since Ars by all accounts was all about the drunken fussin’ feudin’ fightin’ moonshinin’ and not workin’ side of country life, I’m pretty sure you can’t think of it as an innocent center of le folk dance, either. More like the honky tonk roadhouse, loose folks sleepin’ around, kind of dances.

    Of course, it’s also possible that he was being a little too strict. But it’s hard to tell from here.

  43. Nerinab says:

    I have five kids aged 15(boy), 14(girl), 11(boy), 9(girl) and 4(boy). We have a semi-formal dance coming up in a few weeks that my 14 year old is very excited about as are all her friends. The boys? Not so much. Our public school has a dress code and they also have rules about conduct at the dance. I have chaperoned dances in the past and there are many adult supervisors and basically the kids get together to listen to loud music, eat food and gather in groups and stare at each other. I was surprised by how little the dances have changed from when I was a kid.

    Dress codes are fine, but finding clothes that meet them is a challenge. My daughter finally settled on a dress, but it would not meet the proposed guidelines of the e-mail writer. Since the dance is in early March (in Upstate NY) we’ll add a shoulder wrap and that will help. It is much easier to dress a boy appropriately for these events than it is for girls. Just look around at the average store that caters to young girls. It is very depressing. I have a similar problem in finding clothes that are appropriate for Mass. The boys simply wear khakis and button down shirts with dress shoes. My daughters have a much harder time finding pants that aren’t skin tight and shirts that aren’t skin tight (even sweaters are now skin tight). I would love for someone to come up with a clothing line that meets modesty standards!

    Finally, I’m surprised to see how many parents accept “phases” and feel they don’t have any say in certain things with their kids. My kids know that if they can’t adhere to my standards there are consequences. Parents have the right to impose standards. I know some people argue that it is a “little battle” and that they can’t win everything, but children not respecting your authority by dressing “goth” or against your guidelines is not a little battle.

    I’m not saying we have to be totalitarian about it, but sometimes they simply don’t get the choice. When I see girls at Mass with short-shorts (and I mean barely covering their rearends) and camisoles on, I have to wonder “what in the world is that parent thinking?” Some would say, “well, at least they are at Mass.” Okay. Fine. But if they have shown up for Mass dressed like they are going to the beach, are they really getting it? Isn’t their manner of dress just a way of sticking it to their parents who have made them go to Mass? Sometimes that dynamic is certainly at play.

  44. GeekLady says:

    My son is only 2, but my husband is a high school teacher, so I’ve chaperoned my share of formals. Restricting my comments to the dress code: The boys get a bunch of “thou shalt”s and the girls get a bunch of “thou shalt not”s. That is going to rankle. It also ignores the very popular teenage boy formal fashion of “gangster”. (I include in this style both the clothing that is several sizes too large for the boy, and the clothing that fits, but has gangster elements like ridiculously long coats, etc.)

    Frankly, as you’re home schoolers, I would set the dress code simply as ‘black tie’, ‘white tie’, or ‘semi-formal’. Furthermore, girls dresses should be modest, boys suits should be respectful, and everyone’s clothing should be clean and fit properly. Fitting properly means it doesn’t look like it’s going to fall off at a moment’s notice.

    For girls, Black and White Tie skirt the issue of dress length entirely – the only appropriate dress is a long one! Short skirts at formal events look ridiculous. Hemline is only an issue for semi-formal. That leaves the top half as the focus of any explicit dress code, and speaking from a dress maker’s perspective, individual women’s bodies are so different that what is modest on one can show an astonishing amount of cleavage on another.

    You might use under garments as the dress code modesty limits. “Under garments must be worn and be fully covered. No exposed bra bands or under shirts, no panty lines, and no boxers showing above the trousers.” That should cover the most egregious forms of teenage dress for both boys and girls, and has the advantage of not singling out either boys or girls.

    The bit about bra straps can be tweaked depending on the amount of strap/sleeve you want to insist on in a formal dress. There are plenty of dresses with straps or sleeves where a bra without shoulder straps is prudent, the important thing here is to completely rule out the ‘stick on’ bra as a weasel option. The area of a normal bra band ought to be completely covered, which is roughly below the shoulder blades at the back. (This rule is insufficient for the front, I know.) And any gown that exposes that much of the back and shoulders is always improved by a shawl or stole.

  45. Katherine says:

    My daughter attends a Catholic college with a strict dress code. It is hard to find anything modest (as well as inexpensive) in women’s formal wear, but that’s not a problem for us since we always shop second-hand shops. My daughter found a formal dress of beautiful color and fabric, but it was strapless. We bought wide ribbon, added straps (which pulled it up and made it secure) and she wore a bolero jacket/shrug with it. It became modest and she looked elegant and beautiful. The standards she’d been raised with and the college’s dress code gave her an ideal to aim for when making over the dress. Homeschooling has become mainstream, so at homeschooling dances there are often families who do not have the same sense of Catholic modesty. It’s good to have guidelines to make it clear to the clueless.

    Phil, have you read any literature with descriptions of those dances? A lot of couples crowded in so there was barely room to move, plenty of alcohol, plenty of cleavage, often gambling in side rooms. They were usually held in the homes of the wealthy where there was plenty of rooms for couples to slip into. The dancing usually lasted well unto the morning. I would say the alcohol was the biggest problem at dances, whether among the rich or peasants, since it weakens one’s inhibitions. A dance with modest music, modest attire, no alcohol, chaperones and a curfew is not going to be an occasion of sin. I’ve seen plenty. Our whole family enjoys an occasional contra dance held at a church hall. Live fiddle music, the middle aged, young adults, teenagers, kids all learning intricate dance patterns, changing partners frequently, snacking. It’s great clean, fun and you should try it.

  46. Katherine says:

    Btw, Phil, the French were heavily infected by Jansenism.

  47. MikeM says:

    I’m a 21 yo male… Obviously I’ve outgrown these issues, but I went to an all-boys school, and I remember our dances (and all the related issues) quite well. I think it’s definitely worth having some sort of dress code, but, when push-comes-to-shove, it’s nearly impossible to prevent girls who want to from dressing immodestly (with boys, the nature of the clothing is a little different.) I know some of the Catholic girls’ schools in my area had strict dress codes, and they weren’t shy about taking out a tape-measure to demonstrate how much leg was showing… and it was all a fool’s errand… the possibilities are endless when it comes to making a dress look more promiscuous.

    Parents might have to accept that they won’t like everything that people wear… I would recommend only intervening in exceptionally egregious cases. Otherwise, if you’re dealing with an overall modest group of kids, they’ll be able to spot the people who have crossed the line, and they’ll probably be able to subtly telegraph disapproval. If modesty isn’t particularly valued in the group, I’m willing to bet that it’s possible to make a niqab immodest with a few small pinches and cuts.

    It also might be worth finding a place where girls can actually find appropriate dresses and putting that memo out to the parents. I knew a few girls in high school who were uncomfortable with the dresses they wound up wearing, but dealt with them because that was all they could find, especially for girls who had more unusual measurements.

  48. Ben Yanke says:

    Re: shortside40

    I’m also a sophomore home schooled guy in highschool, and that describes very well our home school prom. Dress up, hang out, free food, and fun dancing, much of which is line dancing! Basically a big party to hang out with friends at! None of the immoral trash that often happens at dances.

  49. lucy says:

    What I found the most interesting about this post was the list for girls and the list for boys. It’s very telling about our society that the boys list is 2 items long and the girls list is monumentally long. Isn’t it interesting that boys/men instinctively are covered from neck to ankle, but girls are all out there. I find that interesting that that fact never changes. Sure, there are boys/men who show off, but for the most part, boys and men simply cover up.

    I have five children – two girls ages 13 and 11, and three boys ages 9, 7, and 5. My girls are more covered up than I usually am, which I find interesting. If we do our job well and teach them how important it is not to give it all away for free, then they will cover up without too much protest. Most of the girls in our homeschooling group are always very decently dressed so the boys are not tempted.

    As for the dance – why do you need one ? Perhaps a better suggestion would be, why not do an English country dance, where the dancing is also more controlled. Not too much closeness happening at these. Our kids regularly attend the English country dances held in our area. Many of the kids even go so far as to dress in the period dress. My girls both own dresses that are to the floor and very tastefully done in the arms and around the neck. They wear long gloves as well. Many of the boys also dress the part or at least wear long sleeved shirts and nice pants.

  50. Stu says:

    Given boys often have an issue with hygiene and simply getting dressed properly, I would add to their list:

    Shirts tucked in.
    Ties cinched up.
    Shoes shined.
    Hair combed.
    Teeth brushed.
    Nails, clipped and cleaned.
    Face cleanly shaven.

    Seems to me that if the boys acted more like gentlemen, the girls would endeavour to dress like ladies and vice versa. Sometimes, as adults, we just need to prime the pump and monitor it.

  51. shin says:

    Good list Jerry.

    I don’t think people today generally have the moral and cultural understanding to to comprehend just why so many saints and Councils have condemned dancing. Instead there are explanations that ascribe different meanings to it.

    People need to pray and think. The way society and culture today is organized is not Catholic. A large number of things that are freely done, are very harmful, and would be unthinkable in a truly religious culture.

  52. Nora says:

    As a former homeschooler and mother (my youngest is a 14 yo girl), I was turned off by the dress code proposed. I think it undermines the need kids have to find what works for them and what does not. Further, I think the girls are going to find it almost impossible to fully comply without looking like they are going to a square dance. That said, my daughter knows what the standards of modesty are in this household. Spaghetti straps require a shrug; mini skirts get leggings; cleavage requires a cami … and so forth.

    OTOH, I did let her get a strapless dress for a quinceanera last year. We talked about it and she understood that I did not approve, but was allowing her the freedom – as an earned privilege BTW – to try something that she desperately wanted to experience. The dress was not inherently indecent and the venue was an all ages, well supervised party. She was miserable in it and felt like she couldn’t dance in it for fear of a wardrobe malfunction. It was my parenting decision to let her discover why we don’t do strapless, even though there are lots of pretty dresses out there calling to a teen girl’s heart.

    The dress code proposed reads to me like an attempt to parent other people’s children. It is not clear to me what the enforcement method or consequences would be.

    A simple statement should suffice “This is a Catholic event. We expect clothing and behavior to comply with the virtues taught by the Church and to show respect for the effort your parents made to create this event.” Then turn the A/C to 62 and let the dance begin.

  53. the_ox says:

    Re: shin: “I don’t think people today generally have the moral and cultural understanding to to comprehend just why so many saints and Councils have condemned dancing. Instead there are explanations that ascribe different meanings to it.”

    Well said. My concern exactly. What truly am I teaching my children if I say we don’t need to listen to guidance given by saints and other Catholic authorities on the issue of dancing because we have all these reasons to dismiss instruction on this particular issue?

  54. The_Orbiter says:

    I am a homeschooled teen and I do believe in the traditional values of modesty and in developing crucial social skills. I chuckled a little when I read the list, because of the numerous restrictions for the girls, but the very simple guidelines for the boys. I do believe that these dress codes are a very good idea and are important to enforce, though it would probably be advisable to give the girls a more positive set of rules because, as mentioned before, a full list of negative ones would most likely lead to a rebellion of “well if I can’t wear this, this, or this, then what can I get away with?” For the guys, the only thing that I would suggest would be to list a tie/bow tie as optional, substituting it for button-up shirts, dress pants, and dress shoes. Other than this, I can only say that I’m glad that finally someone is standing up for the purity and chastity that comes with modesty!

  55. The_Orbiter says:

    Also, it may help girls to dress modestly if you explain to them that it is not only to protect themselves from being used by guys that they dress modestly, but to prevent others from falling into sins of impurity when they see you wearing a very low-cut or generally immodest dress. As someone who is currently growing up alongside teenage brothers, I can understand at least on some level how hard it is for guys to stay pure if all of the females around them are dressed provocatively, especially in this important stage of growth.

  56. AnAmericanMother says:

    As a mama of both a boy and a girl who fairly recently went through all this, here’s my two cents:

    Proms or dances serve an educational purpose in teaching the kids how to behave in a semi-formal/ formal setting. Knowing how to escort a lady (or be escorted), how to stand in a room as if you belong there, how to make polite conversation, and how to dance a few basic formal dances, are all things they’re going to have to learn sooner or later. My daughter’s high school organized a cotillion with exactly that purpose in mind, with “etiquette class” one night a week for a couple of months leading up to the dance. It was a parent/student dance and the kids seemed to enjoy showing off their newly acquired social skills.

    Dress code . . . you’re inevitably going to have some descriptive inequity between the boys and the girls, simply because the boys’ clothing is so much simpler. They really don’t have many options within casual/semi-formal/formal/white tie . . . although my husband does make a bit of a stir when he wears his full formal Highland dress. He is too cheap to rent a tux when he has a perfectly good dress tartan kilt and Prince Charlie coatee. And a white seal sporan. The kids loved it. But I digress.

    You might bring the girls a bit more in line by prescribing: covered shoulders and sabrina neckline or higher, knee length or below (but at a ball in the evening this should not be a problem!), and whatever sleeve length suits the group. I sewed for my daughter, so finding appropriately modest attire was not a problem, but a multitude of neckline sins can be covered by a spencer, bolero or fichu.

    I agree that the country dances whether English or Scottish are a good idea. Always fun and the most you ever do re contact is lock elbows if you’re planning to launch your partner into orbit in the “Reel of the 51st Division”. Plus if you’re minding your steps (there is no “caller” in Scottish Country Dance) you’re much too busy to have any brain cells left over for impure thoughts.

    Re St. John Vianney – agree that the problem was not so much the dancing itself as what was going on at the dances. A school or homeschool prom is not a roadhouse or a juke joint.

  57. PaterAugustinus says:

    As to the list of “shalt nots” for girls, vs. the simple instruction for boys, I think this comes less from a sexist or “woman-fearing” attitude, and more from a practical recognition of the vast difference between men and women’s clothing at “dressy” events. If a man is dressed the same as every other man in the room, there is nothing odd about that; if a woman is wearing the same dress as another, mortal embarrassment ensues. This is because women’s attire can be so variable, whereas men’s attire tends to remain within a limited range; so, it is simply easier to tell the girls what their dress *can’t* be, rather than try to specify exactly what dress they need to go buy. Boys, however, can be told: “wear the usual.”

    On that topic, I think dances amongst good Christian folk *must* tend towards the “old, national dances” mentioned by the aforementioned Council of Baltimore. Far more important than the mere dress code, is the type of music and dance to be enjoyed. Though I was not homeschooled, nor otherwise anti-social or homely or shy, I had no interest in my high school dances, because I had learned good taste in music and dance, and had no desire to watch my coevals grind up against each other to the “artistic stylings” of P-Diddy or Brittany Spears. If you’ve raised your kids right, they will be viscerally repulsed by the insult to our human dignity, which such music and dance poses. I literally pitied my classmates, who were so profoundly alienated from any appreciation of the “kalos k’agathos” (“the beautiful and the good”)… aesthetic training is part of moral training, if you ask me, since God is the fount of all beauty and goodness. Even if you haven’t raised your kids right, so long as you ensure that good, clean music and good, clean dancing are to be enjoyed, then dress becomes a very secondary concern.

    But, another plus about the traditional dances is that traditional costume can be employed. In our Greek Orthodox parishes, for example, many of the young people (even the converts!) will participate in the Greek dancing. The traditional garb can be worn, and the dance involves a bare minimum of inter-gender contact – almost none, in fact. Furthermore, the dancing is not frenetic or frivolous or passionate, but is a clean and symmetrical expression of order and good taste. It is infinitely more fun to dance like this, too. Returning to clothing, though: I learned all too well in High School that the freedom to choose one’s clothing, far from “expressing individuality,” in fact hampered such expression. Peer pressure, insecurities and the numerous other pressures that tend to overwhelm a youth’s authentic personhood, all conspire to produce clothing choices that reflect the teens’ faltering sense of self (hence, “goth,” etc… God didn’t make any “goth” souls…).

    No, when all the men are wearing the same costume, and all the women are wearing the same costume (or all students are wearing the same uniform), attention is distracted from the superficial so that real personalities can begin to shine through. I’ve often thought that one reason men tend to develop more self-confidence, apart from the many innate psychological traits they share, is that the (heretofore) similarity of their clothing has forced them to deal with each other as real, indicidual men, and not as social constructs or ideological expressions. Indeed, “expressing one’s individuality” through superficial means like clothes, tends to replace the sense of self with social and ideological constructs, and hence our problem with effeminate liberal types, whose personalities have been entirely occluded by politics and ideoloogy. If there be any perfect icon of today’s “yoofanasia” culture, it’s a red t-shirt with the mug of Mao Zedong or Che Guevara peering from the front.

    So: give them good music, good dance and (more or less) the same clothing; far from “crushing” individuality, this will help to force them to become individuals and to treat each other accordingly. That is half the battle… the other half, is raising them to appreciate the Good and Beautiful, which will necessarily produce a moral perspicacity.

  58. dominic1955 says:

    “I don’t think people today generally have the moral and cultural understanding to to comprehend just why so many saints and Councils have condemned dancing. Instead there are explanations that ascribe different meanings to it.”

    Well said. My concern exactly. What truly am I teaching my children if I say we don’t need to listen to guidance given by saints and other Catholic authorities on the issue of dancing because we have all these reasons to dismiss instruction on this particular issue?

    No, actually there are historical issues that must be taken into account. What one saint says about any issue must be put into a proper perspective, otherwise we read them like fundies read the bible. We all know what happens when we base our moral choices on snippets from saints and councils-we end up sedevacantists.

    As to clothing, I know how kids are. Guys don’t want to “dress up” in any real or imagined way and girls want to look cute and like everyone else but not quite…Of course, in the proper sense of clothing, what is actually properly “formal” is white tie and black tie (and the options that derived from them, i.e. smoking jackets). Just wearing a tie doesn’t make anything formal, neither does putting on a jacket (let alone a blazer!). Even a proper suit is business attire, it is not “formal” either.

    Now, granted, in common parlance “formal” just means “dressing up” and amongst common people “dressing up” means something like putting a suit on so obviously the above wouldn’t apply to a high school dance. However, the point of bringing that up is that men’s attire traditionally has a lot more “rules” that govern it. There are (were) strict do’s and don’ts about the clothes themselves the corresponded with whatever event one was partaking in. The modesty is built in-practically all mens clothing from white tie down to t-shirt and jeans is pretty modest, often leaving little more than hands and head exposed.

    With women’s clothing, there was never really the same kind of stratified designations for exactly what to wear when. Modesty would be the only guideline (in moral circles) or merely what was “in” at the time.

    It is simply “natural” to couch dress codes in a descriptive and even categorical way for men and in a proscriptive way for women.

  59. AnAmericanMother says:

    Pater Augustinus,

    We seem to be thinking along the same lines. There’s the same uniformity provided by a national dress – SCD prescribes a white gown with tartan sash for the ladies at a formal dance, kilt skirts at other times, though some people go all 18th century and wear an arisaid or a floor length tartan gown. And as you note there’s very little contact beyond hand holding, and the dances themselves – with the memorized floor figures and steps – are “a clean and symmetrical expression of order and good taste.” With the exception of the aforesaid “Reel of the 51st Division” . . . which is wild and wooly but traditionally danced only by an all-male longways set. It was created by the men of the old 51st Highland Division who went ‘into the bag’ after Dunkirk.

  60. Agellius says:

    My kids’ high school always has a dress code for dances, balls, etc., to which they sometimes invite the local homeschool community. It includes no bare-back dresses, spaghetti straps, plunging necklines, skin tight dresses, dresses above the knee. The kids seem perfectly fine with it. They go to the various functions and have a good time.

    This is easier when you have a group of parents who agree that modesty is important. The thing is, unless you want to be very dictatorial about it, you can’t always exclude families who don’t feel as strongly about it as the rest — indeed in the interest of charity, you may not want to. There are in fact some families at our school who sometimes do allow their daughters to dress in skin-tight jeans and blouses, etc. I think the dress code is for those families, who otherwise might not think twice about it, so as not to spoil the wholesome environment for everyone else.

  61. Charivari Rob says:

    My personal opinion is: Define the type of event (formal, semi-formal, dress casual, sock hop, whatever) and I applaud the idea of positive guidelines for each type (as opposed to thou-shalt-nots).

    As to the cost of dresses, I believe it’s an emerging trend to have dress-swapping co-ops or exchange events. Do a little internet searching – I wouldn’t be surprised if you find something in your area.

    I realize that it’s probably a somewhat-different dynamic when such an event is organized/hosted by a home-schooling group rather than a “regular” public or parochial school, but to hear my parent-of-teen and high-school-teacher friends talk about what goes on – the nominal dress code can end up a largely empty gesture without due consideration of standards of acceptable music & dance and chaperones that will follow-through.

  62. K_Suzanne says:

    I’m not a parent, but I am a graduate of an all-female Catholic high school, where we had to select our formal dance dresses three weeks in advance and try them on for an appointed faculty member at school to get approval, before we were even allowed to buy a dance ticket. A description of the dress would go on record with your dance registration, to prevent students wearing a different dress to the actual dance. The guidelines were unequivocal, with quantified measurements. I’m not sure if I would do that if I organized a dance, but that’s one way of enforcing a dress code.

    With regard to the “girls have restrictions, boys have suggestions” issue: In my early teens, it wasn’t always clear to me what could be seen as immodest, and so restrictions such as no open back, no strapless dresses, etc. helped me form a sense of modesty. It’s a double standard, yes, but that doesn’t make it necessarily bad. Also, I notice that the boys’ dress code is actually MORE RESTRICTIVE, i.e. “wear ONLY this”, while the girls’ dress code is “wear anything BUT this.” Women and girls still have more room for expression through fashion here.

  63. Supertradmum says:

    The entire point of a formal is to teach manners, including dress sense. As an ex-homeschooling mum (18 years), an ex-high school teacher and college teacher, I have seen that youth need to be taught how to dress for certain occasions. It is obvious that many parents do not teach dress for occasions, as I have been to both weddings and funerals where men and women are in jeans! Appropriateness in dress seems to have fallen by the wayside with other manners, such as table manners and writing of thank you notes, etc.

    Girls at a certain age look at the world, such like as Hannah Montana, and think that she is the arbiter of beauty. A mother must teach girls and boys how to be appropriately dressed. Part of the experience is actually taking the kids out to dinner to nice places and having them dress accordingly, or having them dress for Mass,etc.

    This is all part of the discipline of growing up, and when I see adults dressed inappropriately, I know their children will follow suit-no pun intended. Even when I was home schooling, I had a home school dress code. Good behavior and modesty start in the home. I even taught a manners class at a classical curriculum school many years ago. It was a great success, and the kids loved it, as we finished the semester with a formal meal.

    As to cost, I was invited to a formal meal and dance several years ago at the college where I worked and I found a fantastic formal and modest jacket, in black and white, for fifteen dollars. I got more compliments on that formal than anything else I had worn formally in the past. I got it at a second-hand store where the girls who had Quinceanera. I guess I was fortunate to find something modest.

  64. momoften says:

    If you know the families of the group, do you really need a dress code? If you know them and you do not like what they wear, you probably wouldn’t want to do too much socializing with them if they tend to be a bit liberal(seen that). What is the point again of the dances, is it more for the parents to think they need their kids to feel normal, or that they need to have a dance to socialize? I see no point. If you need a dress code, I think you are asking for trouble.

  65. Supertradmum says:

    missing phrase, as my Internet went out-“where the girls who had Quinceanera sold their clothes, worn only once.”

  66. PostCatholic says:

    I just sent my 12 year old, nearly thirteen year old going on twenty five year old, niece (who is living with us for a time), a seventh-grader, to a Valentine’s dance. She chose her own dress with her aunt with a modicum of gentle negotiation. Aside from modesty, there are other values to be balanced in the teaching moment, such as stewardship of money and expressing oneself authentically with clothes. It comes down to having trust in your kids to make wise choices and in yourself to be able to handle the unwise choices. No list of don’ts with us, and no list of do’s as some are suggesting is preferable, either. Just conversation about how to be comfortable in–if you’ll pardon the expression–one’s own skin.

    I dropped her off, gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her to have fun and to call me when she was ready to come home. Her party outfit would have passed inspection with your correspondent. She wore more eyeliner than I’d call judicious and we’re still finding glitter when we sweep the bathroom. Oh, the glitter! But she had a nice time, danced with all her friends, and told plenty of details to me on the drive home.

    I don’t know if there was groping or kissing or bad language or music I wouldn’t approve of or whatnot that evening. But if there was I am pretty comfortable saying it didn’t preoccupy our princess and she comported herself with her values intact. What more can one ask of a teen?
    Rules are made to be broken, and if they’re too onerous they will be with brio. We worry less about strictures and more about inculcating the values they are born from.

  67. Supertradmum says:

    Uh, rules are not made to be broken. We have this false idea that teens must be rebellious. The expectation is new, and was not present until the 2oth century. Yes, youth always takes chances, but to actually be disobedient should not be seen as the norm. Rules should have reasons behind them, which youth may or may not understand. We do not need to lower our expectations to meet those of the worldly-minded who expect teens to disobey.

    I did not have that expectation, either at home, or in the classroom.

  68. PostCatholic says:

    I want to add–I’d bet if there had been a bit of rebellion in our niece we’d have won the argument and she’d have ended up going to the dance in something she “hated” complaining about how it’s “so ugly” and how her friends were wearing things she’d prefer. And the nice ride home would have happened in more or less the same way when she’d had fun at her dance and forgotten her hateful raiment. It just didn’t come to that in part because we opted for a less confrontational process.

    The thing is–she’d be right. Other parents at the public school she attends do let their kids wear attire better suited to a brothel. We can’t control that unless we want to haggle over rules such as those proposed above, and we’d probably be met with not much success. What we can influence is how the child we love dresses and what we she ought to consider the boundaries of appropriate behavior, and how we think she ought to react generously when others defy those boundaries. Eventually we won’t be able to tell her what her boundaries are, so no time like the present to have her start drawing them with us herself. I think asking for her integrity between what she believes and how she chooses to show that is leading to growing confidence.

  69. Supertradmum says:


    The balls of Anthony Claret’s time were not like high school proms. These dances usually went on all night, until five or six in the morning. Most girls were chaperoned. However, as only the upper classes went, and as many were attached to the Court and the Gentry, the standards were not those of Catholic moms and dads for our times. As he was the Confessor to Isabella II of Spain, St. Anthony Claret witnessed a life-style we only see in movies or novels, unless we are in the English hunt-ball set, or among royalty.We do not have “balls” , except in a few cases. When I was young, we had “coming out” balls, but all that fell away in the Midwest in the seventies. Those were balls which were meant for young ladies to meet young gentlemen of marriageable ages in the “right set”, as it were. In our area, the girls were 18. We did not stay up until five or six, however, and many of the parents attended as well.

  70. MikeM says:

    Another thought… it might be helpful to make it clear that those going to the dance will have to greet all the chaperones at the beginning of the dance. I know that worked wonders when I was in high school.

    When I brought girls to my (all-boys) school’s dances, they understood that their dress and behavior had to be such that I was perfectly happy with my teachers, the priests, and a few friends’ parents seeing me with her. Similarly, when I was invited to a dance at a girls school, the nuns were there to greet me, and the girls made pretty clear that we boys were to be presentable, friendly, and well behaved (and sober), because they were going to have to face those nuns at school on monday morning.

  71. AnnM says:

    As someone who was a teenager in the 60s and 70s I am always amazed at how things have changed. Our outfits would have horrified some of your correspondents. We convent school girls wore mini skirts – even our mothers did! We hitched up our school uniform pleated skirts and the elderly nun who told us that “Our Lady never wore skirts above the knee” was, I regret to say, dismissed as sweet but dotty. We wore bikinis, short shorts, spaghetti straps (though never for Church), went topless (well, OK, up to the age of 8 or so) and danced the night away,yet we still managed, most of us, to know how to behave. We grew up, studied hard and had successful careers. We made good marriages, had families and lived respectable lives. So did those women in the nineteenth century who bared their shoulders at dances (but only in the evening :)! ) but drew the line at showing a bit of ankle. In our case, perhaps it was a more innocent age. Our minis were pretty, not trashy. I sometimes puzzle over the current obsession among young Catholic parents with “modest dressing” as the cure for all evils – sometimes it seems to me that this goes to unnncecessary extremes – but it may be because society has moved on in a worrying direction and there’s far more to fear out there.

  72. Supertradmum says:


    We did not have a clue about sex. We had rather innocent and naive ideas of romance. And, at several of the dances over my four years of high school, my parents were actually chaperons. Can you imagine? It was fun.

  73. Robert_H says:

    Simply put it is difficult to find modest formal dresses these days, without looking like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have been in the market for modestly stylish dresses to fit my age (30) and have had great luck with Mod Cloth: http://www.modcloth.com/store/ModCloth/Womens/Dresses/Longer+Lengths. Many of these are short run productions, but if there is enough demand they do resupply. Prices range from $30-$200+. I’ve linked to the “Longer Lengths,” and many are indeed longer, but I would pair some of these dresses with leggings or dark tights. Good luck parents!

  74. Robert_H says:

    Sorry, I just realized I commented under my husband’s login! “Robert_H” knows diddly about dresses :). Signed, Kristin

  75. templariidvm says:

    Parent of a teenage boy, teenage girl and an eleven year old boy, here. Dress code is a great idea, and would be natural for such an environment, in my book. No matter where my children go, I reserve the right to veto my children’s wardrobes. My daughter pushes the edges the most, but will change when I require it. Given the attire most kids see on television, a parent is required to guide their children towards appropriate clothing.

  76. Larry R. says:

    For those stating that “well, a child properly formed in faith and morals shouldn’t have to have rules like this applied” is completely missing the point. Certainly, your child may be extraordinarily well versed in why immodest dress is inappropriate, counterproductive to good relationships, and even dangerous, but other kids may not be so well formed. My sister-in-law and her family live next to a certain parish in San Antonio, one well known for its links to Anglicanism. The priest there is great. The Mass is very reverent. The school is very reverent and really teaches the Faith, unlike so many Catholic schools. And while my sister in law and her husband DO raise their children with faith and morals so that they would not dress inappropriately, even at this well-known-for-its-traditionalism parish, there are serious problems with a lack of dress code at school dances, to the point that my brother-in-law has determined it is necessary to keep his kids away (for, even at this really very good parish, the pastor was not supportive of a dress code for these kinds of events). It’s not necessarily about your kids, save for the fact that your 15 y/o son may come home dazzled and frazzled after seeing a whole lot of leg and cleavage and other various and sundry. In a homeschool group, similar issues would arise, because not everyone may have raised their son or daughter to have the same morals you have instilled in your children, and it would seriously lessen the ‘fun’ of the event if your boy (or girl) is constantly having to avert his eyes to avoid near (or actual) occasions of sin.

  77. Sarah L says:

    As someone who went to a Catholic high school with a strict dress code, music policy, and dance supervision at events, I feel like I can weigh in. Prom was the only time we could wear sleeveless dresses, and those had to be approved by teachers ahead of time. We were all well versed in use of cardigans and adding wide ribbon straps.

    I very strongly agree with Father that all “don’ts” for the girls and suggestions for the boys is lopsided and unfair. It’s implying that “skank” is the default female behavior and that male transgressions are unlikely. What about boys in baggy jeans and sneakers?

    Also, you could spend all day listing possible bad things and some kid would still find a way to push the envelope. (I saw it many times.) Instead, make sure you include positive suggestions of how to dress in an appropriate manner. This is a teachable moment for boys about making an effort to show respect for those around you, and an opportunity for girls to be creative. There are many, many blogs out there written by young women (often Mormons) who shop at regular stores and find ways to be stylishly modest. (eg. clothedmuch.com)

    Lastly, St. John Vianney seems pretty damning, but I think he is more concerned with lacivious balls or rowdy parties. Just substitute the phrase “in tha club” into his sermon and you have pretty much every episode of Jersey Shore. I’m sure we can all agree that kind of “dancing” has no place in a Christian lifestyle. Wholesome, fun dances are indeed possible. Swing and ballroom dances require clear boundaries and communication between a man and woman- something all teens would do well to practice.

  78. AnAmericanMother says:

    This took some looking, but here is the all-male set of the “Reel of the 51st Division” danced exactly as it should be done! Complete with a real, live piper playing the correct tunes (“Drunken Piper”, “White Cockade”), plenty of Highland high-cutting and 1 and 1/2 times turns by the men, and lots of enthusiastic (vocal) audience participation.

    Reel of the 51st Division

    Scottish Country Dancing at its rowdy apex of perfection! You can see that it is nevertheless quite modest and falls well within the “old national dances” envelope.

  79. homeschoolofthree says:

    I have kids that are in their early 20’s now that were homeschooled. Funny thing is, the same parents that complained the loudest aboutthe need for a dress code, were so busy being busybodies and talking about other people’s children, that they neglected to discipline their own and those kids danced like they had taken pole dance lessons! I think that common sense should be the order of the day for dances, those that don’t follow modest guidelines aren’t likely to stay around.

  80. kolbe1019 says:

    Modesty is the virtue that guards purity. I recently made a documentary on this very topic. http://www.youtube.com/thechurchmilitant

  81. kolbe1019 says:

    Modesty is the virtue that guards purity. I recently made a documentary on this very topic. http://www.youtube.com/thechurchmilitant

  82. Ringmistress says:

    My kids aren’t yet at an age where dress codes mean more than “yes, you have to wear your church clothes to church”. However, in our very traditional parish (yes, its EF), we’re hosting a dance. It is traditional dancing of the English country dance/square dance style. The dress code listed was informal but in conformity with the parish dress code. If such a thing is already in place, this simplifies the problem immensely. You state the standard (no neckline lower than two fingers breadth below the throat, etc.) and also the level of formality.

    As an aside, most women don’t have a problem with dressing to the appropriate level of formality. Their reminders tend to be on the proscriptive rather than prescriptive because fashion frequently offends modesty. It’s been decades since male fashion has gone through a phase that offended modesty (and it rarely does so for long) in a revelatory sense. Most males tend to need encouragement to dress well, however. So the imbalance in the code seems to make sense. I do agree though that a statement of the dress code for the girls in a more positive way may help to encourage everyone to approach it from a positive angle. Oh, and at least when I was in high school, which wasn’t all that long ago, boys still wore ties to most dances. If the point of the dance is social graces, ties are appropriate.

  83. kolbe1019 says:

    Also I want to add… I was a teacher in Catholic school and still have pupils in Catholic High School…

    St John Vianney was right.

    And if St John Vianney were alive today and saw the dances and heard the carnal beats of the music today… He would say things that would have him removed from public ministry.

  84. kolbe1019 says:

    Trust your kids!?!? Heck no they are kids!!!


    Lord have mercy!

  85. TravelerWithChrist says:

    At our parish Mass, guidelines are ‘above the shoulders and below the knees’ for ladies and for men no jeans or T-shirts. I don’t see why these guidelines wouldn’t still apply. Morals shouldn’t go out the window for a teenage dance where emotions are high and the atmosphere is right for sin and temptation.

    Yes, as parents, we must teach our children morals beginning at an early age. These young people are still under our parental care, and as such, should have guidelines for such events. This is an especially trying time for these youngsters.

    If all parents had the same dress code, a dance like this would work without written codes. However, one child with immodest dress can certainly ruin the innocent mood for the remainder. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it.

  86. @Supertradmum: “Uh, rules are not made to be broken. We have this false idea that teens must be rebellious. The expectation is new, and was not present until the 2oth century.”

    While this is true for younger teens, it’s a bit messier than that … before the 20th century, in many if not most places, people were functionally adults (making their own living and often married) at 16-18 …. in the US anyway it’s only been about a century since most people only had an 8th grade education, whereas you generally need a college degree these days, thus extending functional ‘childhood’, in the sense of dependence, to 22-23 or so. So part of the problem is that people are still under their parents at a time when they naturally ‘should’ be on their own … which changes things a LOT.

  87. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Having one of each, and they are only in their early 20s… “herding cats” is correct.
    As are generalities for the girls and strict “formal” for the boys.

    Girls: Wear underwear, Dress or top that covers the shoulders and upper arms as well as both the front and the back of the torso. Girls’ waists remain covered as well from the mid-drift to below the hips, and either a dress or skirt of not higher than the top of the knee cap, and able to take a stride. no pencil thin or cut-a ways. Then provide a couple examples of “acceptable” styles.

    wear underwear
    No going topless
    No tank shirts
    No baggy pants worn below the natural waistline
    No kilts
    No skin-tight garment
    Again, provide a couple examples of “acceptable” styles.

    Chaperons need to be present, willing and able to step in, as the situation allows.

    One way to foster social skills and an approved situation is to offer something like social dancing classes. Can use a “Dancing with the Stars” type of theme, and can also make it into a family affair, getting parents to come with their teens.

  88. Re: “but boys don’t need anything but suggestions!”

    Heh. You don’t see a lot of the newer “emo” and “hipster” boys’ fashions, then, because boys are wearing girls’ jeans, mascara, eyeshadow, and sometimes ruffle-y girls’ dresses and big hair hairstyles. (Acting like girly girls, insisting they’re not being gay or transvestites, and attracting a lot of girls to date them, too.) They’re totally covered, but it ain’t what I’d call modest. The girls’ version is to dress and appear really like boys, as much as possible, while again running around dating boys and such. Again, totally covered but still pretty offensive.

    I hope this trend will die a merciful and quick death, but I fear not. It’s got a lot of traction overseas.

  89. Stephen Matthew says:

    My suggestion would be to require that all adopt a form of dress in keeping with their fundamental diginity that is presentable, reasonably stylish, modest, and appropriate for the event. Give each family a bit of room in determining what exactly fits this description.

    I like your suggested form of dress for the young men. I would suggest that something like that for the girls would be a good idea, too.

    Don’t get bogged down in a list of “no this” and “none of that” or else you will lose the fight from the outset. Teens are great at finding out how to use a legalistic system to their own advantage, and will often even view it as something of a challenge to rise to when made in what they feel is a restrictive and negative mode. Rather I would suggest going with a positive approach that encourages, supports, and guides the tees and their families into making positive choices.

  90. frjim4321 says:

    The 800-pound gorilla here is, what are teenagers doing in homeschool? Isn’t junior high a bit old to be insulating kids from the peers that they are going to have to interact with for the rest of their lives? If a home-schooled junior high kid hasn’t attained the maturity to function in the main stream it doesn’t say much for the success of home schooling in the primary and intermediate grades.

  91. Stephen Matthew says:

    As to the question of holding dances at all, I think a dance, social, or party can be a fine idea… but only if it is well thought out… and only if it is led by the right sort of person with the right sort of attitude.

    If at all possible get the teens themselves involved in the process of planning and organizing the event. The preparation for the event can be as much or more of a social and educational experience as the event itself. If you are trying to form these teens into adults, give them a chance to start acting the part, with adult advice and consent. I would particularly suggest that an event that is strictly just a dance is not the best idea, add in some other elements of some sort to give the event some variety and to make those who aren’t natural dancers feel welcome. As one saying goes let them drive the car… but not off a cliff.

    You may want to consider including something like a father/daughter dance and a mother/son dance in the program, and really there isn’t any reason the parents can’t participate to a reanonable degree, too, but don’t steal the show from the kids. If the teens see that adults also have a good time doing something, and in a way that seems normal, this may encourage a healthy view of this in those teens.
    Also, on a personal note, I am more comfortable selecting clothing for a formal/semi-formal event than for a fully causual one. Everyone looks reasonably good when well dressed, only a few people do in what passes for common kids fashions.

  92. r7blue1pink says:

    Perhaps Im stringent.. But my kids dont do dances at all in the teen years.. They dont have girlfriends and other than going to a movie or hanging out in groups- its not happening.

    I’m a believer of dating for purpose- dating for marriage crowd… It works for us, it may not work for everyone – we all have different parenting styles and family dynamics..

    But if my kids were to socialize at dances, absolutely I would have a dress code… =)

  93. Acolythus says:

    I have to disagree with Sandra_in_Severn on one point: kilts are good, traditional men’s dress. I see no good reason to disallow their use, so long as they are worn in a traditional manner and not as some kind of an attention-grabbing stunt. Also, it helps if the lads are Scotsmen…

  94. q7swallows says:

    We have 7 children, ages 19-6, boys and girls, all homeschooled Catholics. And we ALL enjoy IMMENSELY our local Civil War Balls put on by our local Protestant group. These are family-friendly affairs. Mostly adolescents attend but many parents and young children and even grandparents do also. Our kids enjoy very much dressing creatively for these affairs–unto sewing their own gowns! All dancers are referred to as “ladies” and “gentlemen” and they are expected to dress and act accordingly. There is a strict modest dress code that is detailed and enforced and participants get plenty of instruction beforehand via the Internet.

    from http://heritagedanceevents.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html:

    “In Romans 14:21, Paul says that it is good not to do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. These balls are social events with the purpose of dancing and talking with a variety of people. It is not comfortable for a gentleman to dance or speak with a lady if he feels he must constantly avert his eyes. We are at the balls to build community. Because there are people, particularly men but also children, who would be affected by loose modesty standards, we will always adhere to the rule of – No cleavage, no plunging necklines, and no bare shoulders.” [All dresses are floor/tea (ankle) length.]

    Even gloves of some kind are REQUIRED for anyone who dances. (I thought that was a little much until I realized that the sweaty palm phenomenon disappeared). And charming rules of etiquette are promoted (like the gents ask the ladies for dances).

    All the dances are “called” group dances and usually they’re “mixers”; none are single couple dances. The dancers “gracefully follow the directions of the dance caller, giving diligent and kind attention to their partners, and they gain brisk exercise and fine amusement in an orderly and regulated fashion.”

    The Civil War Balls give children, youths and adults a chance to be the Prince or Princess for the evening. One of the most touching things is to watch the fathers dance with their daughters. These young girls look to their daddy to know if they are pretty and worthwhile. When a father turns and spins his well-dressed daughter, he says that she is.

    Our own family’s general rule of thumb for girls in dressing and behaving – for ANY occasion (including dancing) is this: If Our Lady wouldn’t wear it, say it, think it, or do it, neither should you. The same goes for the boys modeling themselves on Our Lord. It’s very easy to remember and both are unarguable standards.

    We have had no trouble with modesty issues with these types of dances. I do recommend an enforceable standard of dress and even one for behavior. Parents not only have the right; they have the obligation to form the young folk in their care. Once an adolescent myself, let me say this clearly: proper parental concern is NEVER too late.

  95. DominiSumus says:

    Yes, it is Nuovo Cinema Paradisio. Great movie.

    As for the dress code, let’s not forget how immodestly boys can dress. Think: pants on the ground. The list seems very condemnatory of the girls while it gives no prohibitions for the boys. A list of directives and prohibitions for both boys and girls will be much better.

  96. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    swallows Those civil war bars sound marvelous!

    frjim you must be kidding I think. Perhaps there are not many homeschoolers in your parish? In our area it is quite the norm. Why would we want to send our innocent lambs to the wolves? I went to public school. You better believe I’m not sending my beautiful little daughters as teenagers, as young women, to an unsavory environment where they are the targets of sexual banter and propositions.

    Homeschoolers know how to get along with people of all ages. Tell me, is it frequent in the workplace that one finds all their coworkers the same exact age? One finds individuals of all ages. In this respect, homeschooling prepares children for the workplace better than public and private schools do. frjim your writing style is a delight to me. You’re a smart man. Find out more about homeschooling. I’ve found that anyone who has doubts about it hasn’t yet taken the time to investigate it.

  97. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    sorry frjim! Not meaning to single you out. At the very least, you can use me as an example of the kind of intelligence (or rather lack of tee hee) that a public school can produce.

  98. frjim4321 says:

    For Jenny:
    Dunno about that, but a study released in Ohio today showed that voucher students (mostly in Catholic schools) fared no better in grade level proficiency testing than public school students, so maybe public schools aren't doing all bad.
    Whoa, what's with the new text editor?  Cool!

  99. Supertradmum says:

    I home schooled through high school and the upshot was 99% on the IBST, offers from the top five private colleges in the US, scholarships galore, and very popular interaction with other students…The idea that home schooled kids are not socialized is a very old myth.
    As to dances, I did not think we were discussing modern music. I was thinking that dances should be ballroom dancing, learned skills with true manners and not contemporary stuff, which is hardly music. At one of my son's Christmas "balls" at his college, some of  the students had attended college-based dancing classes all semester and showed their talents at traditional  ballroom dancing. In any comments, I sincerely do not mean any music past the Era of the Big Bands, such as Guy Lombardo. Dancing such as the waltz can be taught quite easily in home schooling groups and is great fun, as is folk dancing or square dancing, all of which I did with modest clothes. Some of the new colleges offer such lessons for the students to learn acceptable, and not grossly indecent, dancing.

    For the record, I do believe that dating is pre-marriage activity. In my generation,we did things in groups and had a great time. If we dated, it was because we were serious about settling down and getting married, and dating was part of the selection of mate process. I do think many home schooling moms see dating as such. Once a young person leaves home, one hopes the lessons taught "stick", but then, a well-formed conscience is what we strive to teach as well as academics, and maybe, even, dancing. This was the rule in our house. If you were ready for marriage, you could date. It is not for frivolous entertainment. Entertainment can be done in groups, or "with the gals" and "with the guys". However, social skills involving the opposite sex must be taught as well, such as manners, table manners, etc. and that is part of the role of the parents as well.  Manners are a sign of a civilized society and dances can be a way in which these manners are honed.

  100. MikeM says:

    Fr. Jim,
    I wouldn’t believe the headlines about the voucher program in Cleveland. If you look at the data they’re using, they’re trying to show that the students in the voucher program perform similarly on standardized tests. If you look at the breakdown by grade-level, though, in third grade, the students in the voucher program significantly underperform those in the public schools, while by eighth grade, they have moved to significantly outperform the public school students in reading, while they continue to test below the public school students in math, but with a smaller gap than in third grade.

    Since the performance advantages of public school students shrinks with grade-level, I think it’s a pretty unforgivable error in the study that they don’t take into account the incoming performance of the students in order to measure the actual effect that the schools had.

    At the very least, the voucher students are educated similarly well, at lower cost, while they and their parents are more satisfied with their school. And, when you avoid the public school system, hopefully you get the added benefit that your child’s first book won’t be Heather has Two Mommies.

  101. PiaPoi says:

    I just wonder, if you just requested that the girls dress modestly and left it to them, what would happen? Would it be worth trying, before wheeling out the list of ‘NOs’?

    Maybe a little explanation would help…?

  102. everett says:

    I work for one of the major Catholic homeschooling curriculum providers, and state with some pride that our high schoolers are as a rule both exceptional students (SAT scores for math average in the 70th percentile, and critical reading in the 85th percentile) and more importantly, incredibly mature, articulate, and faithful young men and women. I am sure that the other major providers would tell you the same thing about their students. If any of them lack social skills, that is more likely a parenting issue than a home school issue.

    There have been numerous studies regarding the overall performance of homeschooled students on standardized tests with pretty much universal results showing at least one standard deviation above the mean. If you have interest in this research, look into Dr. Brian Ray at NHERI.

  103. Mrs McG says:

    As a very new parent, I only want to comment that I find the comments more telling about the way people parent when they send their children to a school — public or private (with some notable exceptions) vs. those parents who homeschool their children (also with some exceptions). I am a little in shock that some Catholic parents sound absolutely no different when it comes to parenting and their children from their worldly/secular counterparts.

    In general, it seems as though the homeschooling parents have more of a grasp on the importance of modesty for young women and why they have the right to expect modest dress, and appropriate behavior, from the young men and women they are raising. Those sending their children to schools generally seem to have a “hands up in the air” attitude of “well, you can’t tell a teenager what to do” and “it’s impossible to find modest formal fashions that fit this list for girls, so why bother with such a strict list?” I wonder if this has much to do with the recourse homeschooling parents have to environmental and peer-influence control.

    While I am an absolute novice at this whole parenting business, I know my sister’s eight home schooled children — four boys, four girls (half now adults)– would. not. dream. of wearing anything their parents regard inappropriate or immodest. I don’t know exactly how she achieved this with her children, but I certainly intend to learn all I can from her methods. I know there is no tried and true formula for raising holy children, but I’m going to be naive enough to hope that I can raise children who are holy and modest and respectful because it is expected of them.

  104. Supertradmum says:

    Mrs. McG,

    Thanks for your comment. You wrote that you do not know to achieve what your sister did. May I suggest that you pray for enlightenment, as God gives parents directly much insight into their own children and His plan for them. God bless your efforts to come.

  105. Nora says:

    frjim4321, your comment on the 800 pound gorilla made me smile. When my husband died young and unexpectedly, we had to quit homeschooling. The most wrenching aspect of that particular change was the loss of real socialization. Homeschool kids are not subject to a birthday apartheid. Every day they interact with younger and older kids. If you think about your “peers”, they are not all born in the the same year. Further, even thinking about your fellow priests – I assume you are in a diocese – you can interact with one more or less according to your preferences, largely. Institutionalized kids don’t have that freedom. Maladaptive behavior results.

  106. Supertradmum says:


    I am so sorry about your situation. I lost a husband as well, for different reasons. I had to chose as well. God be with you.

  107. ckdexterhaven says:

    Here’s why I homeschool. My local high school has a transgendered boy on the girls dance team. The school doesn’t keep church and state separate, b/c they strongly advocate for the global warming religion. The history teacher shows movies at least once a week in class. The kids from this high school who go to confirmation class don’t attend Sunday Mass. Out of 150 kids getting confirmed about 10 attend Mass regularly with their family.

    Have you been to a high school lately? The kids there don’t socialize either. They all have iphone or cell phones, sit next to each other and are texting someone else.

    How is my son supposed to be chaste or have any respect for women when the girls at his high school dress like skanks? The hook up culture is alive and well at high schools at Anytown, USA.

    Sorry you don’t get it.

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