What If We Teach Our Daughters to Be Ladylike?

I was sitting at a table next to a sweet friend who is 20-something, and we were working on a service project together. I was actually using a pair of scissors and felt almost crafty for a moment.

Talk turned to bridal showers, and when you’re 20-something you attend a lot of these. My friend was telling me about a new trend.

It’s alarming to me, so may we chat about it here?

She told me it’s all the rage now, at bridal showers, to create explicitly sexual jokes, in order to tease the bride. One example: Showing pictures of a guy’s private parts. And these things are happening in circles of supposedly nice, church-going girls.

It’s not surprising that this happens, considering the frequency of Victoria’s Secret commercials on TV and half-naked women on magazines at the grocery store check-out line.

We live in a sexually explicit society.

But is this what we want for our daughters? Do we want them to forget how to blush?

The word ladylike comes to mind. It means there are certain activities that are appropriate for a well-bred woman. Allow me to use my English degree and share with you words that are synonymous with ladylike:












Isn’t that an admirable list? These are words that I want to use to describe my daughter, and notice that modest is the last word on the list. Modesty is a hot topic these days, in relation to how a woman dresses, but it also applies to how a woman acts.

A ladylike, modest woman would not show pictures of a man’s genitalia at a bridal shower.

Don’t you want your daughter to be elegant and well-mannered? Aren’t those lovely words?

If your answer is, “Yes, please tell me how to make this happen!” then we have to back up.

Let’s back up and think about our little girls.

We tell a two-year-old who is swinging her skirt above her head, “Honey, please put your dress down. It’s not ladylike to lift up your dress.”

We tell a six-year-old, “Please don’t belch like that. It’s not ladylike.”

We tell a 12-year-old, “No, you’re not buying pants that have writing on the bum. It’s not ladylike.”

As moms, we teach toward the behavior we desire. If we picture our daughters becoming refined, proper women who would be distressed at sexually-overt bridal shower games, then we have to teach toward that objective every day from the time our girls are little.

Finally, [mothers], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, [teach] such things.  (Philippians 4:8  ESV)

We must introduce the word ladylike and the activity that is associated with it.

We also need to model ladylike behavior, and we may find we need to do some polishing of our own character before we can influence that of our daughters. If you were raised in a home where there was no boundary of appropriate talk and action for women, you may have some unladylike habits to purge.

But how glorious that we can steer the course of action within our own families. If we want ladylike daughters, we are in the powerful position to shape this beautiful behavior in the lives of our daughters. (And this teaching will infect the boys in our home, too!)

*Do you know a woman who is ladylike? What is your favorite quality in her?



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