Miss Cardigan's Blog

Instilling Catholic Values, One Middle Schooler at a Time

The Beginning September 28, 2010

Filed under: Clothing,Middle School Dance,Modesty,Teaching — misscardigan @ 8:50 pm

There is one day, at the beginning of each year, which I have learned to love and dread all at the same time.  It is the Friday of the first dance at a nearby boy’s school.  See, I think that it is my duty as the girls’ religion teacher to give them a pep talk before the dance on how fabulous they are and how they should make good choices.  I saw some former students on Friday afternoon and explained how it was the first dance talk…they nodded their wise heads and gave me a knowing look…”ohhhh.”  I had to laugh as they either had it last year or the year before—it’s not like we are talking years and years ago here.  But anyway.

I cover basically the same topics in each speech, although I did tweak this year’s a bit to better fit the personality of the class.  Here’s a general cover of what I discuss:

I open by telling the girls that this is a day we have all been waiting for (I really try to build it up) and go on to say that they are now my students and as such represent me.  As I am fairly involved in the Catholic community in my area, I have connections at most of the local schools, so I remind them of this and encourage them to be aware that I WILL FIND OUT (although most often I find out from them…as they think I am deaf and won’t hear it if they talk right in front of my desk.  Yeah, right.  I’m 24, girls—I HEAR YOU!).

Then we go through the 3 Bs (this class also got 2 extras…no bellies and no backs).  We briefly discuss that they don’t need makeup, but if they and mom decide they can put it on, less is more (don’t want them looking like they belong on a street corner somewhere!).

We cover that they aren’t engaged to these boys, so if the boy dances with them, and then dances with someone else, there is no reason to take it personally.  He’s obviously not THE ONE and they should just talk to someone else, not get angry with the girl.  Of course, there is also a conversation on how even if I am not at the dance (I only chaperon our dances), God is everywhere and God sees everything and that God will see them.  That they should leave room for the Holy Spirit, as he guides us in making good decisions and if we leave him out, how will we be guided into making good decisions.  And that leaving room for the Holy Spirit is not just a mental thing—it is also a physical thing.  There should be actual SPACE in between the bodies.  My favorite is when I talk about inappropriate dancing…and how we just don’t do it.  I’m not sure if they don’t think I know the word grinding, or if they simply think I won’t use it, but I do and they are always shocked.  I figure that if I’m up front and direct, there will not be any room for questions or discussions.

I end by simply telling the girls how fabulous and beautiful they are, and that I firmly believe that they will change the world.  I remind them that they are perfect just the way they are and that they don’t need a boy, especially not one who will make them feel bad.  I try to stress how special and wonderful they are so they will go into the dance feeling great and confident (so they will feel strong in making good choices).

How do you talk to your kids about dances and making good choices?


The Mall March 22, 2010

Filed under: Clothing,Modesty — misscardigan @ 1:39 am

Today I went on a much needed shopping adventure with a friend.  It was a long week at work, and we had both decided that a trip to the mall was in order.  Let me just say-it was perfect and exactly what I needed.  But there is something about the mall these days, which always makes me realize how …inappropriate…so many clothes are.

It is hard to try and teach young teenage girls how to dress modestly (and beautifully) when it feels like all they are shown are skimpy outfits that barely cover anything.  On Friday, I had a conversation with one of my classes regarding clothing and how we present ourselves to the world.  Nothing Earth shattering here…pretty basic “Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit” so we should respect it and present it to the world as a place where God dwells along with “We all make snap judgments about a person” so let’s make sure we are sending the world the correct message about ourselves.  We discussed three girls: Girl A is modestly and attractively dressed, is clean and put together.  Girl B is grungy in baggy sweats, has stains, and obviously hasn’t showered in a while.  If Girl B is “overdressed” then Girl C is “underdressed.”  She is showing too much skin, her pants are skintight and her makeup is out of control.  We discussed how Girl A has a positive self-image and is a confident young woman.  Girl B has a low self-image and does not care much about herself.  Girl C also has a low self-image and doesn’t believe she can do better (she probably also has poor interactions with young men—but that is a conversation for a different day!).

And yet, none of this is the hardest part of the “clothing” talk.  No, the hardest part is addressing the fact that sometimes it is their MOMs who are bringing the inappropriate clothing into the dressing room for them to try on.  This year, I handled the Mom card like this: “Girls, Mom’s are great.  And usually, Mom’s have really great ideas/opinions on clothing and aren’t going to lead you to anything inappropriate.  But sometimes…sometimes Mom’s forget, too.  They are only human after all, and sometimes they get wrapped up in what is presented as stylish and fashionable.  And sometimes, girls—you are annoying, so mom feels like it’s easier to just give in to you, then to fight with you.  So a couple things.  If you see mom looking at a shirt that you KNOW would make Miss Cardigan cry, tell her you don’t think it would fit you properly.  And save yourself a battle, by not attempting to bring clothes you KNOW are inappropriate into the dressing room.  That way, you won’t be annoying and mom won’t have to fight you on a piece of clothing everyone KNOWS is not okay.”

Who knows—perhaps the moms will learn something out of the “clothing” talk, too!