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A modest proposal

A modest proposal

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 8:01 pm

I need to ask for a favor. My husband and I have been commissioned to raise two boys. Parents of boys like to joke about the stinky socks, muddy floors and dinner conversation that sounds like an animated military channel. But there’s a serious side to raising boys that some people are afraid to talk about. 

Our boys have started to notice girls. I’ll let you figure out what the word “notice” means. If you’re a man, you don’t have to figure it out. You already know. If you’re a woman, I’m guessing you know too. We’re not alarmed by their recognition of female beauty. It’s all a natural part of God’s plan. One day girls are yucky and the next day … well, they’re not yucky anymore. And no one can pinpoint how all that happens. It just does. My boys are blessed with a dad who has been open and honest with them regarding these natural feelings of awe. He’s acknowledged the strong and totally normal feelings of attraction along with the need for wisdom and purity. 

Here’s where you come in. If you’re a parent of girls, we need your help with something. Let’s say that one day in the future (a long time from now, if you ask me) one of our sons is coming to pick up your daughter for a date. You want our son to be respectful of your daughter. We want our son to be respectful of your daughter. Our son wants to be respectful of your daughter. Your daughter wants to be respected. OK. We’re all on the same page. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. So, what’s the problem? Some girls aren’t wearing enough clothes. There. I said it. Put more clothes on your teenage girls, please. Guys are visual by nature. You can oppose this concept all day if you want. But opposing it won’t change the truth of it. No, I’m not saying your scantily-clad daughter gives my son the right to do anything immoral. Not at all. But give the guy a little help, will ya? Throw him a life preserver. We know a 16-year-old girl doesn’t always understand the way guys think. Sometimes their immodest dress is the result of not knowing how difficult it is for boys to concentrate when faced with cleavage, tight clothes or short shorts. We get that. But what we don’t understand is the 40-year-old father who lets her walk out the door like that. A man knows. That’s why he’s called to be the modesty police of his home. Oh, and if you’re a mother who tends to say, “Oh Jim, it’s not that bad. All the girls are wearing it …” do me a favor. Listen to the man in your life. He knows what he’s talking about.

Our boys are blessed to have been taught by a loving father that some physical activities with women are designed for marriage only. We both hope they take his counsel. If you’re one of the scoffers who thinks that a lifestyle of personal purity is impossible and ridiculous in this modern age, nothing could be further from the truth. My husband and I both waited for our wedding day. To say that it was worth the wait is an understatement. A rare gift. We want our sons to experience that beautiful gift on the day they get married. We hope that’s what you want for your girls. So don’t be offended by my request for your help. Just think of it as a modest proposal.


Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View:  Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for  $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at

Published in The Messenger 4.8.09