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willshower

When my kids were younger I heard lots of moms say that you’d know when it was no longer appropriate to be showering with your kids, especially your boys, or of letting your boys see you (meaning moms) nude. I grew up in what would be considered a rather nudist 70s household, typical of the era in certain parts of Southern California, so I’m afraid my perspective is completely skewed.  My parents clearly never got the memo–there was lots of nude (or at least topless) sunbathing and my parents considered clothing around the house in the summertime to be something of an imposition. And, while my husband and I are far more conventional than my parents were, I guess I share the same attitude as my parents did on the subject. My boys are 9 and 6 and we have never made an issue of our own nudity around them. In turn it is a non-issue in our household as far as I can tell. We all share a bathroom, which makes privacy impossible, and get in and of the shower without giving it much thought. Nudity in front of them is a matter of convenience in the morning when we are all getting dressed. I’ve always felt that if you sexualize nudity by drawing attention to it, then it becomes such. On a similar note, I’ve often questioned the way certain mothers won’t allow their toddler daughters to wear bikinis for fear that they are too revealing. I don’t have daughters so I don’t fully get it, but the question remains the same: doesn’t it become sexual the minute you give it that power? Come puberty, I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune. I’ve never felt that it was strange until I spoke to a mom who said that when her son was around 8, she could just tell it wasn’t okay anymore. I wonder where other mothers net out on the subject.

 

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Comments (30)

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  1. This a bone of contention between my husband and me. I’m very relaxed about nudity and agree with you that it becomes an issue when you make it an issue. My husband lunging for the door and yelling at my son to go away is a sure give away that something nasty is afoot. My son is 10 and very curious about my body so we have come to a crossroads – but I prefer to be realistically modest and turn my back and maybe ask casually for some privacy when it’s appropriate. If he catches a glimpse, I don’t consider that a travesty but instead a testament to the positive and natural way I view my body. A mothers body is not the same as an object of lust – but my husbands panic says otherwise.

  2. Posted by: Kristin

    A lot of interesting things to think about. My husband is very modest, so he’s never been naked in front of our daughter. But we’ll be having a son this summer, so we’ll see how the dynamic will change.

    As far as bikinis, I admit that I’ve had an automatic reaction to NOT buy one for my daughter. It’s funny because if she runs around the beach completely naked, it’s fine; but somehow, a bikini seems inappropriate. But I feel that way about a lot of little kid clothes that seem to imitate the adult. I don’t want my daughter wearing heels or makeup either.

  3. Posted by: Michelle

    The answer lies in when your child starts to feel uncomfortable with it. Our son is almost 6 and it has never been an issue, but I can see as he grows older it might be an embarrassing thing to see your mom or dad naked. I remember being in middle school and seeing my mom get in or out of the shower as if it were no big deal, but being mortified about my dad’s nakedness when I was probably 6 or 7.

  4. Posted by: linda

    my boys will open the shower and stand there and talk to me as if nothing is going on. they’re 10 and 8. i suspect that will not last that much longer. i yell at them more that i am trying to take a shower alone rather then hey i’m nude.

  5. Posted by: Lynn

    I totally agree with Kristin. I have no problem with my toddler daughters running around the beach or the yard naked, but a bikini? I’m so-so on that.

  6. Posted by: Lynn

    I’m with Kristin. I have no problem with my toddler daughters running around the beach or the yard naked. But bikinis? Not so much.

  7. Posted by: Katie

    My son’s only 4, so still very young, but he sees both my husband and I naked all the time. We’re very casual about it. It feels normal to me. When I was growing up my mom was also very casual about it. But I can recall wanting a little more privacy around the time that I hit puberty. And as I got older I obviously allowed my mom more privacy too. Kind of seems like a natural progression to me and I imagine things will be similar in our household as my son grows. I’m just riding the wave:)
    As for bikinis on little girls, I don’t have a daughter of my own, but my outsiders opinion is that triangle tops are often just a little trashy no matter what the age of the wearer. If I did have a daughter though, I don’t think I would be totally opposed to a cute, well fitting 2 piece.

  8. Posted by: judith

    On the bikini issue- a friend and I agreed pre-children that we wouldn’t let our daughters wear them, but couldn’t really articulate why it made us uncomfortable. Fast forward to years later and she was at a beach with her kids, and she caught a man ogling a little girl in a bikini. So its a definite no-go for us. Our daughters are to be protected til they can protect themselves.

  9. Posted by: stephanie

    (From Belgium – yes! we read you there also!)

    I just asked the question to my therapist TODAY :-)
    I’m not really comfortable with my own nudity except with my husband and it might comes from my parents who were rarely naked in front of me in my childhood. So of course, now that our 5 years old’ son is asking question, I’m asking myself if we still have to be naked in front of him.
    My therapist answer is the following: Of course parents should be naked in front of there children, but of course in a natural way so it gives to the kids the opportunity to feel comfortable with their nudity, and their body.
    However, if our children are asking for privacy as bashfulness, we have to respect it.
    I feel ok with this answer.

  10. Posted by: Heija

    I tend to agree with previous commenters. There will be a time signaled by a sudden moment or instance or a gradual and natural fade to coverage as your kids grow older. I am very nude with my daughter and not nude, but not desperately dressed in front of my older sons, mostly to spare them confirmation of my public discussions and columns about bikini waxing trends. In order to facilate naked forays down tomour laundry room I give them a heads up by yelling “naked mommy” and trust me, 14 and 16 year old boys are not interested in what their moms have going on.

    Regarding bikinis, I am all about the right to style freedom and fashion, and an sad that society influences what my child is allowed to comfortably wear. However, you will not see my daughter in a bikini for many more years for precisely the reasons noted by other moms on this thread. She can wear a bikini and display her body proudly when she has a full understanding of what her body might mean to others and is cognizant of her choice to expose it. I have seen more than a few instances of breathtakingly icky ogling and leering at the fashionable choices on parade at local pools and beaches.

    No thanks you! I support everyone’s right to choose their own path on this issue, but my daughter knows that even a tankini will have to be fairly modest to get the nod. Booty shorts, and assvertising are also banned. And if the recent “look I am wearing old mom jeans cut to expose ass cleavage” trend is still around when she hits the age of fashion independence, I will simply have the fashion police place her on house arrest, Because part of our job as parents is to help our kids limit the number of cringe-worthy photographs and memories of their youth to an excusable and perfectly normal handful.

  11. Posted by: Susan Perkins

    I think nudity becomes inappropriate when either party to the nudity (child or adult) is uncomfortable with it–or when a child of the opposite sex reaches puberty. Normally, I’ll bet puberty is when the child’s desire for privacy kicks in, but if not, I’d kick it into gear then as a parent. If only so their behavior isn’t inappropriate (or viewed as such) by their friends or friends’ parents. That’s a teachable moment about how American society views nudity among sexually mature people.

  12. Posted by: Anne

    Wow, i’m so surprised by all the negativity about bikinis. I let both of my girls, 5 and 8, wear bikinis. I think they are absolutely adorable. When I was 5, I remember being very uncomfortable about my body and not wanting to show my midsection. But my girls never felt uncomfortable about their bodies so I let them wear what they are comfortable in. If they are uncomfortable with something, they don’t wear it. I think this is due to the fact that I talk to them about their bodies very matter of fact-ly. When I look at my daughters in bikinis, I think they look adorable. Of course, I respect any friend who has an opposing opinion about what to dress their daughters in.

  13. Posted by: Chandra Donahoe

    As far as nudity in the house… I’m not sure. I still take showers with my daughter, who is two, and my husband still gets in and out of the shower when she is around (though he has not showered with her since she was an infant). Since we all share one bathroom, that is simply going to happen and we don’t really make a huge deal out of our nudity. It just… is. I’m guessing I’ll stop showering with her about the time she’s able to bathe or shower herself.

    In regard to the bikini. True, the bikini isn’t inherently sexual unless you put that emphasis on that, but the fact is it isn’t just me, my husband, and my child involved in this instance. If my daughter is wearing the bikini in public, then at some point, it’s perfectly possible that a perfect stranger is going to take away my power to define what is and isn’t sexual for her. Granted, that could happen in a more modest swimsuit as well, but it’s less likely if she’s showing less skin. That aside, I’m not particularly fond of bikinis or any kind of two-piece swimsuits anyway. They’re not exactly practical for swimming (if you’re doing it for exercise and not just goofing around), and especially not for swimming in the ocean.

  14. Posted by: Melissa Gray

    My situation (and opinion) is very much like Kristin N.’s. I have 2 boys, 5 and 3. My philosophy was always that it’s weird when you make it weird. Around the time that my older son was 4, maybe 4 1/2, he would giggle when he saw me naked and began to take notice to things. This sent my already uncomfortable husband into full blown panic. If the kids come in while I’m showering, just getting out, or changing, and he is around, he flips. Personally, I think it just makes it more interesting to the kids…I just ask them for privacy, and the 5 year old covers his eyes. There will come a time in the near future that seeing their mother nude will be a traumatizing experience, I’m sure! Until then, I stick with calm, cool, and collected. Just do what feels right for you and your family.

  15. Posted by: Tawnya

    I’ve often had this conversation about nudity with my mother. My two youngest, a daughter 7 and a son 2, do not like wearing clothes when at home. My oldest daughter has always been naturally modest, so it was never an issue. My youngest daughter strips the moment she comes home. She pretty much lives in her undies as well as my 2 year old and my mom hates it, however I was the same way when I was younger. I’m not an exhibitionist or nudist, as a matter of fact I’m very modest, but I have always been comfortable with my body and I do want that to translate to my girls especially. Some people find it weird that I take showers with my 7 year old and my son, but I want them to know that their body is nothing to be ashamed of and they should be proud of who they are and it saves me a ton of time. I think if you don’t make a big deal out of nudity when they’re younger then there won’t be that mysterious allure or rebellious skankieness when they get older. On the issue of bikinis I guess I’m the opposite of most people, because I think it’s just easier to put little girls in two pieces, however I don’t feel as comfortable letting my older daughter, who’s 12, show as much skin. My girls have always picked out their own swim attire, and they usually go for the two piece because they’re more practical and comfortable for them. My oldest however has hit puberty and has blossomed so this past year is the first year that she picked out a one piece. She didn’t wear it long before she found out how uncomfortable it is to go the bathroom at the beach wearing a one piece and has settled for a tankini instead. I think parents hold a lot of control over how kids see their bodies and how they feel in their own skin, and I don’t want to push whatever hangups I have about myself onto them like my mother did for me.

  16. Posted by: David

    I’m Japanese American and my wife is Japanese so family bathing is a cultural norm for us therefore nudity, not an issue. Daughter is now 4 and son is just over a year.

  17. Posted by: David

    I’m Japanese American and my wife is Japanese so family bathing together is a cultural norm so therefore nudity not an issue.

  18. Posted by: Lindsey

    I often wonder about this too. I have a 2 year old son and it is impossible to get ready for work in the morning without him seeing me naked or semi naked at some point. Also, in the afternoon after work all I want to do is change out of my work clothes. I can’t just go upstairs and leave him by himself for that long. There will be a new addition to the family this fall so it will be even harder to leave either of them alone as he could accidentally hurt the baby. I don’t stress about it and I don’t think it’s a big deal if he sees me getting dressed. I grew up seeing my mom naked all the time but not my dad and it wasn’t a big deal. I think I agree with others that I will know when it’s time. I teach 4th grade and I could see 3rd or 4th grade being a good time to enforce needing more privacy, not that you make it a big deal though. Toward the end of 4th grade the kids are always way more curious about the other gender than they were at the beginning of 4th grade.

  19. Posted by: Sarah

    I grew up with my dad walking around the house, walking outside to get the mail, and any other housely activity in his whitey-tighties. My husband will occasionally walk out of the bathroom in his boxers but we haven’t had any crazy questions from our 4 year old daughter yet. I never liked watching my dad and to this day cringe at the thought of them for the simple fact of what it reminds me of. I would never want that for my daughter either. So I don’t think that its a problem if it were same sex like momma-daughter or father-son. However… once kids get old enough to distinguish boy from girl parts that would be the line… for me. Go with your gut. but also make sure that your boys know that a woman’s body is to be RESPECTED. Eventually your boys will get older and they will realize “Nah… we don’t wanna see you dress Mom” or “I’ll just wait till the morning to take a shower”. You are doing fine. :) Good Luck!!

  20. Posted by: katherine

    I have asked myself this many times as this is something that has been perfectly natural in our house – as I’m sure it is in many. But many of my friends say that by the time they start school it is no longer OK. My son at 7-8 made it clear he felt embarrassed by nakedness around non-immediate family (eg grandparents) and would no longer share a bath with his sister, which I thought perfectly understandable and respected. At 9 he prefers to shower alone and get dressed in the bathroom, but has no hesitation walking into the bathroom and talking to me when I am having a shower. I respect his boundaries and expect he will respect mine – I have not yet started locking the door (largely for safety reasons in case I am needed urgently) and I think this is a gradual process where we start to make boundaries and state them as needed. In a loving, respectful family, surely that is part of growing maturity and awareness?

    Also, I try to be careful how I talk about the human body – not in terms of “rude” parts – but rather ‘private’ parts, that are kept for yourself and others close to you (as you permit) but not to be publicly displayed (particularly as my daughter has no sense of this yet at 6). I have also used their proper names rather than slang words.

  21. Posted by: Cynthia

    I think you are right that puberty is the point at which it would get awkward. I think that your friend’s son at 8 is beginning to cross that threshold. Although puberty is generally considered to start much later, especially for boys, in my experience the 8/9 year old age is when some boys begin to start thinking differently about women: I have noticed more than one of my friends sons beginning to behave differently around me at that age and my husband says he remembers at that age feeling ‘strange’ at that age when faced with movies or pictures of sexy looking women…

  22. Posted by: Connie Martens

    My husband and I have no problems being nude in front of our 7-year-old daughter. She’s a little nudist herself. If she ever becomes uncomfortable with it, we’ll cover up, but for now it’s a complete non-issue. It also provides opportunities to have perfectly normal conversations about the body that I never got to experience when I was a kid, growing up in a very uptight household.

  23. Posted by: Connie Martens

    My husband and I have no problems being nude in front of our 7-year-old daughter. She’s a little nudist herself. If she ever becomes uncomfortable with it, we’ll cover up, but for now it’s a complete non-issue. It also provides opportunities to have perfectly normal conversations about the body that I never got to experience when I was a kid, growing up in a very uptight household.

  24. Posted by: Connie Martens

    My husband and I have no problems being nude in front of our 7-year-old daughter. She’s a little nudist herself. If she ever becomes uncomfortable with it, we’ll cover up, but for now it’s a complete non-issue. It also provides opportunities to have perfectly normal conversations about the body that I never got to experience when I was a kid, growing up in a very uptight household.

  25. Posted by: Sheryl

    I have also wondered this. My son is 4. He sees me naked all the time since I prefer to sleep in just underwear all times of the year. He doesn’t give it a second thought and often snuggles into me. For me it is like he is a little baby again (without the nursing) and for him it seems to be a safe comfortable place and feeling. I asked my doctor when is too old and she said when he looks horrified and tells me to put clothes on. I am sure also by puberty if this hasn’t happened that I will become more careful, but until then I agree. If we don’t makeit sexual (which it shouldnt be) then it won’t be so. I grew up in a home where my dad walked about in tighty whities and my mom I would often talk to while she had a bath. It is how I learned to be ok with my own body.

  26. Posted by: Jill

    Well maybe we are more different than I thought, but we have 4 children ranging from a 17 year old boy, through 2 younger teenage daughters to a 9 year old daughter, and I am still happy to walk around on the landing naked in front of all of them. The 9 year old is equally happy to be naked in front of me and my husband, the others choose not to be. I don’t see it’s an issue. If my daughters are lying on our bed watching tv while my husband gets dressed, they say ‘yuck Dad, put some clothes on’, but it doesn’t actually bother them. We don’t go out of our way to be naked in front of them, but neither do we go out of our way to cover up either. None of us see it as a problem.

  27. Posted by: D

    Ha. I never thought of it as a 70s Southern California thing, but that’s exactly what my 1970s Southern California upbringing was like. I honestly think it’s healthy. Even as an adult, I’ve seen my parents naked and my children have seen me naked.

    In fact, I think the relaxed approach my parents had to nudity has translated, for me at least, to comfort with my own body. My mom, despite the nudity, has struggled with body image issues her whole life and wanted to avoid that with me. Even though I’m not as fit as I could be, I’m happy with my body, flaws and all. It’s never been an object of shame, embarrassment, or discomfort, and it remains that way. Was it a result of growing up in naked house USA? Who knows? But I suspect it’s related and, when I think about the awful things people do to themselves because of their discomfort in their own skin, I have to believe that giving all of my children some comfort with their bodies can only be a good thing.

  28. Posted by: susanp

    My boys are 8 and 10 and we enjoy using our private backyard pool nude as a family. There have never been any issues.

  29. Posted by: Jenji

    Once again, much ado about nothing. It’s not only okay to be naked “in front of your boys” – it’s okay to be naked anywhere any time and in front of anybody, it’s just societies and their backwards provincial ignorant prudery that keeps us in the dark ages!

  30. Posted by: Gerry

    I am a youth leader so have contact with many families with children of all ages. One day a mom of 3 came to a meeting for her oldest son (12) with her two younger ones in tow; a boy (6) and a girl (2 1/2 to 3?) who was still in diapers. The little girl saw me and proudly announced that she had poop-py pants.

    A few giggles and awe that’s cute from the adults who were standing around. So I thought it was a good opportunity to teach some boundaries. I leaned over, placed my index finger to my lips and whispered “That is a private matter. Anything that happens in the bathroom should be private and you should only discuss that with mom or dad.”

    The little girl screwed up her face to give that some thought. Then her face brightened and she said “Like my mommy has a hairy pee-pee?”

    The adults who heard all turned away stifling their giggles. Her mom turned beet red and began to sputter some sort of explanation, but I put my hand up and stopped her. There is no explanation needed. Busy moms take little kids into the bathroom with some toys to be able to keep an eye on them when they shower. And little kids have no filter so there are no family secrets when kids are that young.

    Been there. Done that. I already own the t-shirt. It is only a big deal if you make it a big deal.

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