I don’t think that anyone who reads my blog, or my posts over on the Love & Sex channel at The Stir, would ever call me a prude but I’m a little old-fashioned when it comes to raising my kids. No violent video games, few PG-13 movies and no explicit music. (Except for that one song that got through on iTunes.)

And now this new one: no short shorts.

My almost 13-year-old stepdaughter, who usually wears Bermuda shorts and baggy t-shirts, brought a pair of jean shorts to my house that are short (2″ inseam) and are low rise. The shorts aren’t tight on her but I think that they show a lot of leg. (She is tall for her age.) When I asked her about them, she said she had even shorter ones at her mom’s house but that she only wore those around the house, not out in public. (Okay, then why buy them? It’s not like they’re a comfortable pair of sweatpants.)

Maybe she is just testing the teenage waters. Maybe she’s made some new friends up by her mom’s house (two hours away) that dress more revealingly. Her mom obviously thinks it’s okay. But then again, her mom thought that it was fine for her daughter to read the entire Clique series with such wonderful titles as “Dial L For Loser” and “Bratfest At Tiffany’s”. And read nothing else for 6 months.

Ultimately, these upbringing decisions are not mine to make for her. That’s her father’s responsibility. And her mother’s. But he and I usually agree and present a united front. And what goes for his kid goes for both of mine. My daughter is 11 and I wouldn’t let her wear shorts that short.

A few weeks ago, I asked a friend for her short shorts opinion. She has a 13 year-old daughter and I respect the way she and her husband are raising their kids. Her response to “how short is too short?” was “ankle length”. But we’re not Orthodox Jews so she settled on nothing shorter than a 3″ inseam.

Mr. Fowler and I are right there with her and the 3” minimum. I did have to go measure a few pairs of my shorts to make sure I wouldn’t be guilty of the old double standard. But I’m okay. None of my shorts have an inseam shorter than a 3”.

I don’t want the kids to grow up too fast but we are entering a new teenage era with our kids. Two of them will be going into high school next year. And I know I’m going to have to be flexible with my parenting as different situations arise. I feel lucky because we have three really good kids. Not perfect but good. Not sheltered but also not wise beyond their years.

And certain things will continue to be non-negotiable. Respect, kindness, thoughtfulness and no thongs sticking out of super low rise, extra tight jeans. And when our kids don’t live under our roof anymore, they can wear whatever they want. Hopefully, we’ll have helped instill in them a high level of self-esteem and confidence. 

But in the meantime, I’ve got my ruler out and I’m ready to measure.