Our nine-year-old is seeking boys’ attention by letting her underwear show


We are a dresses-only family. My daughter is (deliberately?) not careful when running and playing and her underwear is showing. She has lost some of her treasured outfits. We raise her to dress very modestly. Last time she was on the swings during a church picnic seeking the boys' attention. Other parents noticed. I'm not sure what to do. She is nine years old.


"We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister In the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; and if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar" (Song of Solomon 8:8-9).

Your daughter, for whatever reason, is showing herself to be a "door." Thus, the appropriate response by her family is to "enclose her with boards of cedar." In other words, you have a daughter who is interested in the attention of boys and discovered an unhealthy way to gain their attention. It is your job as her parents to protect her from herself and preserve her reputation.

Children who are in their pre-teens and especially in their teenage years are not known for their sound judgments. I suspect that your daughter has reached puberty, even though there may be little in the way of outward signs of it so far. The rising hormones have raised her interest in boys, but I'm certain that she doesn't understand the full extent of what that means.

So what do you do? First, it is time to revamp her wardrobe a bit. Parents of growing children tend to try to get the most out of each clothing purchase, often to the point of allowing a child to wear items that are too short simply because they can still fit into them. Remove from her closet anything that doesn't reach well below her knees. Next, as quickly as you can, switch her to the more modest culotte style skirts, especially for activewear. For the other skirts, the people in more modest days used bloomers and it would be a wise investment. Get several that are color-coordinated with her skirts so that they will not stand out if the skirt gets accidentally raised.

Second, it is time for Mom to begin talking with her about growing up, adolescence, and her responsibilities. Every single detail does not need to be covered yet, but she needs to be aware that her actions contain meaning whether she intends for them to do so or not. Dad needs to start playing his role as arbiter. If he says a certain outfit is inappropriate, then out it goes. Dad knows how males react and so she needs to abide by his opinion, whether she agrees or not. And believe me, for several years she will think Dad is an old stick in the mud -- tough. Just remind yourself that she is a developing young woman without a lick of sense in her brain -- a least for a few more years.

Third, you're the parent. Act like one. If you see your child acting inappropriately, put a halt to it immediately. If she can't swing without her skirt lifting, well, swinging is off bounds for the rest of the picnic and if she gives you grief she has the joy of keeping her parents' company for the remainder of the picnic. She'll get the message real soon.


Thank you, I appreciate, much food for thought. We will look into the wardrobe. In reference to putting a halt to it immediately. Would it be appropriate for an immediate spanking for something like this? This is what her grandmother suggests.


There is an unfortunate tendency among people to think that if a solution works for one problem, then it must work for all problems. While spanking is a deterrent, it does nothing to address the problem at hand. I recommend that spankings be reserved for acts of willful defiance (not to be confused with disobedience), violence, or situations where no other reasonable deterrent can be found. Since we have a very good deterrent -- staying with Mom and Dad interferes severely with her attempts at attention -- there is no reason to add additional punishment on top of punishment.

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