Theology of the Body for Pre-Schoolers

Help! I have a 3.5 yr. old daughter asking me questions with which I am not equipped to deal.

Basically it all centers around modesty, or her lack thereof. My struggle with raising my children is that I am trying to strike a balance between 1) teaching them to embrace the beauty and function of the human body as God designed it and 2) imbuing them with an understanding of the virtue of modesty. I started by teaching a two year old the anatomically correct nouns for the human genitalia. Now, I am not sure if that was a great idea or not, but it seemed better than silly words like “my bee boo hurts” or whatever. This decision is now rearing its ugly head when she would like to discuss her little brother’s penis loudly in public. OK, so what? – every mother who has had small children will understand this. But I confront this dichotomy in other areas with my daughter as well. She wants to wear a bikini. I know, it is cute on a little girl, but then it somehow seems inappropriate on a nine year old. The closer my daughter gets to becoming a sexualized being, the more important it will be that she understand the importance of comporting herself with modesty. So I guess I can’t allow her to wear a bikini now and then reverse my decision in the future… but how do I explain why?

My second issue with her arises when she questions certain things she has seen in movies. OK, now here is the part where I throw my “supermom” status into jeopardy, brace yourselves… In Aladdin Jafar makes Jasmine wear a bikini when he has her become some sort of hypnotized love slave at the end of the movie, and (now here is the real doozy, yes, I did/do let her watch THIS) in Return of the Jedi Jabba the Hut has Princess Leia in a bikini and chained to him once she is captured. Well, my innocent little three-yr.-old has asked me, poignantly, about both of these displays of sexual objectification: “Mommy, why does Jabba the Hut make Princess Leia wear a bikini?”

So there you have it, how do I help my daughter understand that while our bodies are gifts from God, they should not always be on display for everyone?

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