17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How old is too old?

How old is too old to let your child see you naked? Have we covered this topic on this blog before? If so, point me in the right direction.

I realize this is a pretty personal subject. Some people may have absolutely no problem being naked in front of their children for numbers of years, while others may have been covering up from day one. There are probably many different points of view out there. T just turned two and I've never had an issue being naked in front of him. But lately I've been wondering if I should now that he's getting older. This morning was the first time he pointed to me and asked, "what's that". I answered him, and I think that's cool. He's just wondering what things are and I have no problem telling him the names of specific body parts. He's only two and curious. And I'm no pop star, but this topic has been covered in the media somewhat recently as well.

Just wondering what the different opinions are out there, and what you (and your DH) implement with your own kids. Do you have different "rules" for being naked in front of a same-sex child than you do with the opposite sex child? Do you have any "rules" at all? At what point do you introduce ideas of modesty and "private parts" without making the child feel ashamed, or as if they need to hide their bodies. Just curious.... thanks in advance for your expert advice.


  • Mother of five. Two girls, three boys.

    About one - two. This would be the time that they would start being observant and asking questions as you found out.

    However, I do breastfeed around my older kids. I try and be modest but it's a normal part of life and they can deal with it.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/19/2008 07:19:00 AM  

  • I think I asked this question on the myfamily site when my oldest was about 3 and I thought he was getting curious. But I just kind of let it go because we were in NYC living in small spaces and it was too much of a hassle to constantly be finding "privacy."

    I have 5 year old and 3 year old boys and still no rules. It doesn't bother them and it doesn't bother me. They are way more into their trains or whatever they're playing with at the moment. I'm sure in the next year or two we'll have to start setting some boundaries.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 3/19/2008 08:24:00 AM  

  • DD is only 15 months old...but I have already begun to think about this. My thought is, I will start to be more aware of it once I think she is starting to form a "long term memory". I think my first real memory was when I was around 3 or so. I will probably begin to cover up after the age of 2 sometime. I would be more conscious of it all if I had a boy though.

    I think there probably is no right or wrong answer...just what YOU and your DH are comfortable with. For me, it would be earlier rather than later - we are a more modest family.
    posted by Blogger Ellen at 3/19/2008 08:36:00 AM  


    Married and father of two: Daughter age nine and son age seven.

    Both kids have seen their parents naked on a near daily basis since they were born, and this continues today. We don't make a point out of being nude, but when it's apart of the daily flow of life, we don't hide or lock doors.

    I know this is controversial, but my wife and I have discussed this at length with each other and others, and we feel it's the best way to give our kids a normal, healthy view of the human body.

    Keep reading...

    My wife and I are at a loss when people preach that parents need to cover up in front of their kids. Why? One mother told us, "... So you don't corrupt your kids." Corrupt them, we wonder, with what? With one of God's most perfect creation -- the human body? We reject the notion that the human body is, by definition, somehow naughty, dirty, or defiled, or that it will cause damage to children simply by being seen.

    This line of thinking is, sadly, the result of the pornography industry. We have come to believe that ALL nudity is just as damaging as pornography. We reject this idea, and we embrace the idea that the human body is pure, wonderful, and a divine creation of God.

    For our kids, we would rather have them experience "real" nudity at home, as opposed to the sexualized, pornographic nudity with which all teenagers and adults are familiar. Kids are smart... give them the credit they deserve. When they become familiar with "real" nudity as they grow up, "fake" nudity shoved at them by the media is recognized, as, well.... fake. If they only nudity they ever see is media driven nudity, their understanding of the human body will reflect this limited, unnatural exposure.

    We see no reason to hide from our kids, a behavior which only reinforces the media's notion that there is something mysterious, enticing, naughty, or sexual about the nude human body. We prefer instead to bring nudity out of the mysterious closet, dust it off, and teach them the truth about our bodies: They are wonderful! They are beautiful! And they are God's creation!

    Let's be clear about one thing: My wife and I keep sex 100% private between the two of us. When we are nude in front of our kids, we are not lewd, we are not sexual, and we do not emphasize sexual body parts. We purposely behave in a way that is modest and proper in every way.

    We have already seen many positive effects of our teachings. We have noticed that when their friends laugh, giggle and snicker at things like underwear, naked bottoms, and the general suggestion of nudity, our kids are at a loss for what is so funny or embarrassing. I could give many other examples, but the point is this:

    Our kids know the truth about the human body. They are not familiar with the titillating, embarrassing naughty, silly, or even sexual version of the human body that the rest of the world seems to teach.

    And that is exactly what we want for them.
    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 08:53:00 AM  

  • I'm sorry, but I don't agree with that last comment at all. I think all you're doing is setting your kids up for a life of being comfortable with nudity, in all forms. Sure you can teach your kids there is a difference between the good and the bad, but if they grow up seeing nakedness all the time, why would you expect that they will shun the forms you choose to be wrong? Are you saying all that took place in the garden of Eden, regarding covering our bodies, was unnecessary? Why go through so much trouble to make sure it even got into the Bible if the Lord felt the human body was something to be glorified (which I do believe it is indeed God given, miraculous, and sacred) and thus showed off? As you mentioned, there is an awful world full of pornography and I think education is so extremely important. But is the best education for our kids constantly showing them our bodies?
    posted by Anonymous Natalie at 3/19/2008 09:10:00 AM  

  • Natalie,

    Your reaction is certainly understandable. I also think it's culture driven. In America we are still very Victorian. Many other societies in our world see nothing wrong at all with family nudity. Saunas in Finland. Bath houses in Japan. And those are just two examples.

    You asked: "if they grow up seeing nakedness all the time, why would you expect that they will shun the forms you choose to be wrong?"

    That's a great question. It's also a question that, I think, does not give our kids enough credit. Every day kids are faced with making choices between what is right and wrong. There are good movies and bad movies. We don't ban movies all together. There are good TV shows and bad TV shows, but we don't ban TV all together. There is good music and bad music.... so and and so on.

    While our kids are young, it is our job to teach them to discern between right and wrong. If we shove ALL nudity into a closet labeled "off limits" then we have done them no favors at all.

    Let's be clear: We do not wantonly parade around our home in the buff. But when being sans clothing is part of life (mostly at bath and shower time) we see no need to hide from our kids.

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 09:26:00 AM  

  • Ok, as if my precious comments were not long enough :-)

    Beth, anonymous, Jen and Ellen all commented about curiosity. I'd like to ask you each an honest question: If your kids were curious about, say... butterflies, fish, the sky, cars, airplanes, etc etc... would you try and arrange their lives so that they never saw these things again?

    I am at a loss why so many parents, as soon as their kids start to be curious about the human body, think the correct solution is to deny them all access to the human body.

    It makes much more sense to me to satisfy this perfectly normal curiosity while they still think Mom and Dad are the greatest people on the planet. If we deny them this the answers to their questions, we have not solved the issue, we have only delayed it. And when they again try to find answers, they will seek it in places like school and the Internet, where we (parents) are no longer in control.

    Teach modesty, Yes! But modesty does not mean hiding our bodies from our kids, it means teaching them proper respect for, and proper behavior towards our bodies.

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 09:42:00 AM  

  • Awk. "Previous posts", not "precious posts". How embarrassing.
    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 09:43:00 AM  

  • We've got three girls, 5yo, 3-1/2yo, and 5mo. I began to feel uncomfortable being naked around them when the oldest was 4-ish. DH still doesn't mind being naked around them (though, like Bryan said, it's only incidental -- at bath time or when changing clothes, not a constant peep show).

    I don't mind that DH, even as an opposite sex parent, feels comfortable with nudity around the kids. I wish I felt that comfortable. In theory, I agree 100% with what Bryan has written, but in practice.... I just can't get over feeling self conscious now that my oldest child is so aware (and so ready to comment on my big butt, etc., lol).
    posted by Blogger RCH at 3/19/2008 09:44:00 AM  

  • Bryan- AMEN!! You are dead on!

    That is just how I feel. I grew up in a home like that. My parents were conservative LDS. But I grew up feeling like part of living with people in the same house was being comfortable if you saw them getting dressed, in the shower, whatever. No big deal. Like you say, "real-life" nudity is not sexual in any way, and is just as normal and everyday as all the other routine things we do.

    I grew up feeling confident in myself and my body, and I feel comfortable with my children seeing us naked, it's not a big deal unless you choose to MAKE it a big deal.

    Why make children feel ashamed or embarrased? It's just silly.

    And those who feel that it is sexually stimulating or tempting seriously need to seek counselling.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 3/19/2008 09:45:00 AM  

  • Lovin the controversy... :) DH just asked me this question the other day. When should our DD not be able to see him anymore? Honestly, I didn't think much of it. I am definately more on Bryan's side. I think it may get a little tricky when talking about the opposite sex. But I think my DD should ABSOLUTELY see me naked til she decides okay mom, cover up... if for no other reason than for her to know what to expect in life and what a healthy body looks like.

    I will probably cover up or "hide more" around DS when he is about four or so. School age? Don't want him going to school talkin about moms bits.

    I think DH has begun the process of hiding. I hate that word by the way, but covering up in front of DD. Neither of my kids, 4 and 2really care and don't ask questions. So I don't think they will be traumatized.
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 3/19/2008 09:51:00 AM  

  • Zinone,

    I will probably cover up or "hide more" around DS when he is about four or so. School age? Don't want him going to school talkin about moms bits.

    I understand your reasoning here, but I can say from nine years of experience that our kids don't talk about mom's and dad's "bits" to anyone. If you don't make a big deal out it, they will not either.

    In fact, if you always hide your "bits" from them, they will become a bigger deal then if they see them when you are stepping out of the shower and getting dressed. When something is totally off limits, it becomes an object of strange curiosity. "Why does mom always hide 'those parts' of her body from me?"

    If you treat your naked body with the respect it deserves, so will your kids.

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 10:05:00 AM  

  • "mom's bits" - LOL
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/19/2008 10:06:00 AM  

  • Rachel H.

    I'm LDS too! Live in MN.

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 10:27:00 AM  

  • I used to shower with my son, just because if I didn't, he'd tear the place apart and hurt himself. I wondered if it would ever feel weird, and when I would know to stop. Well, I found there was a natural time to stop doing it. He was around 2 and a half, and started asking questions, pointing, and wanting to touch things. I answered his questions, but realized it was time to put up some boundaries. We did it gradually. He's now 6, and although he does see my nurse my daughter and walks in on me while I'm going potty, he respects the privacy of the shower.

    Bryan, I agree a lot with what you said, but I think a good balance can be struck between giving good information about bodies (and I'd much rather have my kid feel like he can get the info from me than from others) and teaching kids to respect mom and dad's (and other's)physical and personal boundaries.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 3/19/2008 11:58:00 AM  

  • Heather,

    ...I think a good balance can be struck between giving good information about bodies and teaching kids to respect physical and personal boundaries


    I think it's important to teach kids what kind of touch is okay, and what should be avoided. It's also important to respect privacy. If a bathroom or bedroom door is closed, knock!

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 12:56:00 PM  

  • Two questions for Bryan:

    1. At what age and why will you stop being casually nude in front of your children (if ever)?

    2. Why are/aren't you nude around others you know? i.e., family, close friends

    -Devil's Advocate
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/19/2008 01:40:00 PM  

  • Bryan - Well said.
    I remember as a child (probably between 8-10yrs old) I used to like to sleep sans clothes. But for some reason I felt it was a "naughty" thing to do. Not proper or well mannered, etc... why?! I know it was from the examples my mother set when talking (or ignoring talk) about the human body (visibly very uncomfortable when I asked questions). As a result, I was left feeling "icky" and wrong when I wanted to sleep without clothes. Now, whenever my 6 year old daughter suggests wearing no jammies - why not? Where should she feel more accepted and safe than in her home, in her bed snuggly in her blankets at nighttime.
    posted by Blogger Rachel at 3/19/2008 02:02:00 PM  

  • Wowza --- I'm loving all of these comments. Thank you!

    Bryan - In theory I'm with you. I especially do not want to raise my kids feeling "ashamed" of their bodies and that they need to hide. One of the things I love about my son is how much he teaches me about the things I may be a bit uncomfortable with. It makes me ask, "Why?" and "Should I be?". And absolutely when T is curious about anything I try to answer questions as best I can and wouldn't shield him from butterflies, airplanes, and have not from bodies so far.

    Jen - I live in a 2BD. apartment and I feel the same way. I do not want to feel like I need to run and hide while changing clothes in my own house. There just isn't enough space, and the idea of having to change clothes in the bathroom all the time is a little depressing to me. There is also not a lock on my bedroom door so T is always in there if I am.

    Ellen - I understand where you're coming from with the "long term memory" thing. I don't have any memories of either of my parents being naked and I'm a little thankful for that. But am I only thankful because they always covered up and inadvertently instilled in me being uncomfortable with certain forms of nudity?

    Zinone - I don't think I would even be thinking about this if T wasn't interested. But whenever myself or DH is naked he is very curious. He doesn't try to touch anything (I'm pretty sure if he did I would say that you don't touch certain body parts on other people), but he always stares and asks what things are. It has just made me a little more thoughtful as to what my ideas and beliefs are on this subject. I'm with you too on being an example of a healthy body (especially for the same-sex child).

    Heather O. - I am totally with you on striking a good balance.

    Devil's Advocate - Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like Bryan explained that he is only naked in front of kids in "normal" situations (changing clothes, showers, etc.), so I would think that would answer your question as to why he wouldn't be naked in front of other family or friends who do not live in his home. But I don't wanna speak for you Bryan.

    I'm especially interested if you have older children and your experience in instilling modesty while not promoting ideas of "shame" in being naked. Keep the comments coming. They're awesome!
    posted by Blogger beth at 3/19/2008 02:43:00 PM  

  • I grew up in a household that sounds quite a bit like Bryan describes. My parents walked from the shower to their room naked every day, so I was always aware how men and women were different physically. We kids dressed and undressed in front of parents, ran around the yard with very little clothing, and just weren't ashamed about our bodies. At the same time, we were given definite guidelines for what was considered modest (I never had a sleeveless shirt until I went to college, and I was never comfortable wearing it).

    Even with so liberal an upbringing, when I hit puberty I became very self-conscious about my body and strenuously avoided being naked around others. My parents recognized the change in me and respected it enough to go around fully clothed.

    For those who are worried about children feeling it's okay to be immodest, I think your kids will learn a lot more from the way you dress and from the way you dress them than they will from you walking around in the buff. The home is a space that is really fundamentally different, even in the mind of a child, than any other space, and I suspect most kids understand that there are things that are okay at home that aren't elsewhere.
    posted by Blogger Kristine N at 3/19/2008 02:45:00 PM  

  • Devil's Advocate,

    Two good questions. I'm glad for the first question because it brings this thread back to the original topic that Beth posted about.

    1. At what age and why will you stop being casually nude in front of your children (if ever)?

    To be honest, I have no idea. If they ever asked my wife and I to stop, I suppose we would. But it's such a normal part of life, I don't see that happening. They have no concept of being "different" because they see their parents naked. In fact, I recall very vividly my daughter reacting strangely to an older cousin who got overly adamant about not wanting to see her dad naked. It was a "Your weird - what is your problem?" kind of reaction (meaning, that's what my daughter thought about her cousin). I can share the whole story if you want - it's rather funny.

    Answer to the question: I guess I would lean towards saying: Why does it need to stop some day? That's like me asking you: When do you think you will stop brushing your teeth in front of your kids? Getting in and out of the shower, drying off, and getting dressed around each other is just such normal, unquestioned, every day behavior in our home. If, when they hit teen years and puberty and do not wish to be seen naked, then that is of course perfectly fine and their choice, which we would accept and support.

    2. Why are/aren't you nude around others you know? i.e., family, close friends

    Well first, how do you know I'm not ;-)

    Ok, seriously, you guessed right. I am not nude around others (family, close friends) because it would offend their sense of social norms. If someone does not wish to see me naked (and who could blame them?), they have that right, and I'm happy to honor it. I'm not into shocking people for kicks. My wife, for the record, feels the same way.

    Staying true to Beth's original post and question, "How old is too old?" I would say this: Why does there have to be an age limit? Where does this idea come from that kids who are "aware" seeing their parents bodies is going to somehow damage them?

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 02:48:00 PM  

  • Beth,

    ... whenever myself or DH is naked he is very curious. He doesn't try to touch anything, but he always stares and asks what things are.

    Based on what we saw with our kids when they were this age, this is totally normal, and it also won't last very long at all. Once his curiosity is satisfied, your bodies and all their parts will be as normal to hims as your nose, toes, and fingers.

    I think, however, that you are right to teach about touching. It's never too early to teach kids where hands should and should not go - this plays into modesty and teaching proper respect for certain body parts.

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 03:09:00 PM  

  • Bryan--

    I too agree with you in theory. I think it's great you and your wife feel so comfortable around your kids and they likewise feel comfortable around you.

    However, I don't like the idea that just because families don't operate this way they are "ashamed" of their bodies. I don't think a varied sense of comfort about showings one body should be linked to shame. What feels very normal and natural to you and your wife, may not translate to everyone--even if they would LIKE to adopt your practices when it comes down to it it just might not ring true for them.

    Also, I'm glad your children are well adjusted and seem to handle the whole thing as no big deal--but to assume that all children will respond like your children (ie, I'm sure some kids WOULD talk about their parents 'bits') also doesn't seem accurate.

    Just my two cents.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 3/19/2008 03:50:00 PM  

  • I'll get flack for this, but I was waiting for someone like miggy to articulate what I was thinking. Thank you miggy, for articulating so very, very well what I was thinking. I agree with your assessment.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 3/19/2008 05:08:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger Ellen at 3/19/2008 05:46:00 PM  

  • The simple fact is, there is no right way. Your "right" way may not be my "right" way. Just because it works for your family does not mean it would work for mine. Also, being modest around your kids does not translate to you being ashamed of your body or anything like that. I personally feel, that after a certain age, being naked around my kids is just inappropriate. I just dont think there is any reason MY 6 or 7 year old kid needs to see my bits and pieces....whether they are same-sex or not.

    Again, that is just MY personal view. What other people do in the privacy of their own home is their perogative...and who am I to judge?
    posted by Blogger Ellen at 3/19/2008 05:48:00 PM  

  • We stopped going to nude beaches once we had kids. So far that's the only concession we've made...
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 3/19/2008 05:54:00 PM  

  • Miggy and Cheryl,

    I don't like the idea that just because families don't operate this way they are "ashamed" of their bodies.

    You are right. And I think I was not very clear. Thank you for voicing this.

    I think there are many well intentioned parents who hold their bodies in very high respect who do not let their kids see them naked. And, of course, that's fine. I also think that some (key word: some) of these same parents lack the tools to pass on this same respect and esteem to their kids, and they deal with all body questions by *not* dealing with them. The result of this type of parenting is that some (key word again) children receive the unintended message that their is something taboo about bodies. Children are tremendously keen and observant, and if they observe mom and dad avoiding the subject of bodies, their parts, and their functions, then the result can be confusion, unsatisfied curiosity, embarrassment, and yes, even shame. Again, this is not always the case, but it can be.

    Also, I am a *very* devout Christian, and yet I fear that Christianity can be a big culprit in this regards. In the name of chastity, purity, and morality, we too often use scare tactics into keeping teens away from sex. And, the biblical notion of Adam and Eve covering up once they knew right from wrong, along with the idea that man is fallen and carnal, is a huge proponent of body shame.

    Combine this with a total lack of dialog at home, and the result is some very messed understandings on all of these subjects.

    But please understand, I am not saying that all parents who don't let their kids see them naked must obviously be ashamed of their bodies. Not by a long shot. The approach my wife and I take is ONE tactic for giving kids a healthy view of their bodies. It is certainly not the ONLY.

    ... to assume that all children will respond like your children (ie, I'm sure some kids WOULD talk about their parents 'bits') also doesn't seem accurate.

    Hmmm.. I guess I have to mildly disagree here. Of course, I have not done a study on 100% of families who raise kids the way we do, so I can't speak for certainty. But, I have conversed with may such families, and 100% of them report that this is never an issue. Ever. At all.

    If it is handled properly at home (ie: nudity is not a big deal) then a child would be just as prone to going to school and saying "I see my parents naked" as they would be to saying "I see my parents with their clothing on." In fact, it's more often the adults who let things slip then the kids.

    All that aside, what *if* they *do* say something? Is it really that bad? My wife is very, very open about our families openness to just about everyone when the subject comes up. The reaction ranges from "Oh yea, us too" to "That's really weird" and everything in between -- just like on this blog. But so far, the sky has not fallen.

    Bottom line: Fear of kids saying something is really a non-issue. First, they won't, and second, so what if they do? :-)


    The simple fact is, there is no right way. Your "right" way may not be my "right" way... What other people do in the privacy of their own home is their prerogative...and who am I to judge?

    Well said! I hope I have not ever come across as judging anyone... NOT my intent!! Just trying to answer Beth's question as I see it.

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 06:57:00 PM  

  • Bryan--

    Oh yeah???? Well what about this??? And did you ever think of that???

    Jokes and smiles.

    I always find it hard to represent a WHOLE idea in a few paragraphs while being sure to incorporate all the if, and's, and but's of the situation (pun intended). Of course things differ greatly from situation to situation. You've been a great sport in representing your thoughts on the issue and addressing each counterpoint. I'm glad to hear about your experience in this area and it's given me some things to think about. Thanks!
    posted by Blogger miggy at 3/19/2008 07:13:00 PM  

  • Fabulous discussion.

    I completely agree with Bryan. I have two small children and haven't stopped being nude in front of them.

    My DH had voiced when our DD was born that he would not be comfortable in front of her, but interestingly enough she is now two and he still showers with her, uses the bathroom in front of her, and changes in front of her. The reason is this...she just busts in on him, as she does on me.

    Our natural inclination is to allow it, instead of not allowing her in. Maybe someday we'll change, (certainly no one wants to be viewed while taking a duke, but who wants to see that anyway), but for now we are comfortable.

    Some people may be shocked by this, but really, when one of us needs to bathe/change clothes/or use the bathroom, it is really common for all of us to do the same because we all have the same schedule. It's pretty normal that much of this would be happening in the same room.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/19/2008 07:26:00 PM  

  • Miggy,

    You've been a great sport

    Thank you.

    it's given me some things to think about. Thanks!

    You are certainly welcome, and I'm glad to hear it.


    I hear you loud and clear on the bathroom schedule thing. In our home, we all leave the house every day at 7:30 am. I go to work, kids go to school, and wife goes to class. We have one main bathroom on the main floor where all the bedrooms are. From 6:50 to 7:10 am, that bathroom is Grand Central Station! People getting in and out of the shower with the water running non stop, hair being combed, blow dryers, teething being brushed, me shaving, people using the potty.... it's a mad house. And, nobody gives any thought to who's wearing (or not wearing) what.

    Compare that to the house in which I grew up. Like my house now, there was one main bathroom. We all stood outside in a line, waiting for the person ahead of us to get done. We pounded on the door and shouted "Hurry up! I need to Pee! You are making us all late!"

    For goodness sake! Why didn't we just open the silly door and share the bathroom???

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/19/2008 07:42:00 PM  

  • I guess I've never really thought about nudity. My children who are 4 and 1 are like glued clingons to my body, they still will get in the bath with me, follow me into the bathroom when I need to use the toilet, and basically I've never had a minute to think about them seeing me naked. I think it's an odd thing to sexualize the relationship between a child and parent. Many people sleep with their children, many people allow older children (over 2)to continue to breastfeed, many people allow their children to see them naked in normal daily life. Young children should not be ashamed for wanting to be close to their parents and made to feel it is unacceptable. I think children naturally grow and move beyond certain things. Interesting topic!
    posted by Blogger Amelia at 3/20/2008 05:06:00 AM  

  • CHLOE-- you're hilarious! i hope you don't miss all those wrinkly bodies too much! ;)
    posted by Blogger erin at 3/20/2008 06:29:00 AM  

  • This is an interesting discussion. Right now I still let my kids see me naked, and I don't know when I'll stop. They're 3 and 1.5, and they still come in when I go to the bathroom, or am changing. Sometimes they come in when I'm in the bath (but only when their father lets them in, because for me bathtime is all about relaxing and being away from them). On the other hand, I don't get in the bath with them anymore unless I'm wearing a swimsuit. I think that changed when the older one was 2-2.5. I might have waited longer if I had girls instead of boys, but I don't know. I think part of the reason for that is because I don't really want to be pinched, poked and prodded in some places, and my kids are always all over me, in the bath or elsewhere.
    posted by Anonymous Vada at 3/20/2008 12:08:00 PM  

  • It would be interesting to hear from someone who has teenagers.

    Two short stories. Okay, maybe three. My wife and I both grew up in homes where "Modesty" meant never be seen naked, and always cover up, even for immediate family.

    Story One:

    When I was in high school my family spent two years in Africa, and every six months we had to go to the American Embassy and get a whole series of shots. One of the shots was administered in the butt. I recall one time our entire family (mom, dad, five kids) were all in the nurse's room, and the nurse had seven needles on the tray, one for each of us. "Who's first?" asked the nurse. When nobody moved, she did eni-meni-mini-mo, and it landed on me. "Ok, big guy" she said. "Bend over the table and drop 'em."

    I was horrified! Right here in front of my family? I thought the rest of them would look away or leave the room, but nobody moved. It was like we were all in a state of "If I pretend I'm not here, maybe I won't be" shock. The nurse just stood there, needle in hand, waiting. So I went to the table, and with back to the family dropped my jeans and boxers. Out of the corner of my eyes I say my sisters all flinch and look away at the sight of my full moon, and let me tell you, I was none to happy about it either. When the nurse was done, I made a quick retreat to the waiting room as I did NOT want to be a part of humiliating my family as I had just been humiliated.

    Story Two:

    When I was in junior high, I was in my room one morning when a mighty strange thing happened. From down the hall, the bathroom door opened, I saw my mom's head poke out and look both ways. I guess she didn't see me, because a moment later she bolted down the hallway, away from me, into her room, and slammed the door shut behind her. The thing is, she had been buck naked!

    I was... hmmm.... looking for the right word... shell shocked. I sat there for a moment trying to recover, trying to undo what has just been done, tying to apply gallons of mental white out to erase what I had just seen. I remember loosing sleep that night as I attempted to rid my brain of the sick, awful thing I had witnessed earlier that day. "No boy" I thought at the time, "should ever have to endure the sight of his mother running down the hall naked."

    Story Three:

    When my wife was about thirteen years old she walked in on her dad who was standing at the toilet man-style, and she got an eyeful. Horrified, she bolted out of the room. Both of them were so embarrassed it was a couple of days before they could look each other in the eye again.

    End of stories.

    To all parents out there who think that it's not proper for kids to see parents and siblings naked after a certain age: Living in the same house means that sooner or later, it's *going* to happen. When it does, will it be shocking, embarrassing, gross, and traumatizing? Or, will it be forgotten about as soon as it happens, because it happens every day anyways?

    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/20/2008 02:08:00 PM  

  • The fact that this post made me giggle is evidence that I grew up in a very "modest" home. I have difficulty calling parts by their real names because we always had nicknames in my home. Also, I've never seen a grown man naked which makes me nervous about "the wedding night". I'm not quite sure what to expect besides what those awkwardly drawn pictures in my bio textbook show. Anyhow, I appreciate this post. It has given me a lot to think about for my future family.
    posted by Anonymous Mia at 3/20/2008 04:59:00 PM  

  • 1. Go with what is practical. You need to take a two year old into the bathroom stall with you. You need to leave the door unlocked when you shower when there is a two year old around. A 6 year old? Not so much, so by then they need to understand and respect people's privacy, otherwise they will be horribly embarrassed when they don't lock the doors of the bathroom at other people's houses and someone walks in and makes fun of them etc.
    2. Same sex - same thing. Don't differentiate until kids are old enough to be able to be on their own. As they get older, whatever works out to be practical but respect and privacy when possible. When my 10 year old girl asked if it was ok to for family members of the same sex to see each other naked, I explained that we try to give each other privacy whenever possible, but sometimes (like at the pool) we don't have complete privacy, but we don't stare at each other, and we try to give whatever privacy is available. She shares a room with little sister, so she can close the door, use the bathroom or ask her sister not to look if she wants.
    Its funny as they get older and care privacy. My son was horribly embarrassed if I saw him in his underwear at age 6 (because older sister taught him about this).....but I still had to go in and wash his hair in the bath and he wasn't embarrassed.

    I think it IS important to have a sense of privacy in your family. My roommate HATED seeing her parents in their see-thru garments. My MIL could have been a little more considerate of her son, so he wasn't scarred that pantyhose reminded him of his mom.
    It can be disturbing to "accidentally" walk in on a parent, but it can be worse to consistantly see them.
    Your younger kids will pick up on the privacy thing earlier, because the older kids will model the behavior. Not wanting people to see them bathing or underwear or using the bathroom, etc. So they kind of pick up on it.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/20/2008 11:24:00 PM  

  • Cont. from above
    Obviously, the one bathroom thing is another practical consideration. When we moved to a larger house (I have a master bath) it meant a little more privacy.
    I have also used this in discussing seeing family members naked with my daughter (the practical vs. respecting privacy).
    Our third child at age 4 still sees me in the shower/bathroom/getting dressed, but she sees my husband far less naked than my 1st two did at younger ages, because of the different logistics of our house.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/20/2008 11:33:00 PM  

  • Anon,

    You said: It can be disturbing to "accidentally" walk in on a parent, but it can be worse to consistently see them.

    Please explain why it can be "worse" to consistently see them. I don't understand what about a child seeing their parents naked is a bad thing, even opposite gender or children who are older.


    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/21/2008 06:47:00 AM  

  • I think we'll stop being naked in front of the kids(age 19mo and 3years) when they have an issue with it. We don't lounge around the house naked, but we use the bathroom with the door open, change and shower with them around. It's only embarrassing to walk in on someone when it's not the norm.

    YES, it would be horrifying if we ran around the house naked all day in front of their friends(or even not), but I don't see anything wrong with appropriate nudity. I was raided that way, and I'm certainly not scarred or anything from it lol.

    Who cares if they grow up being comfortable with nudity? Is there something wrong with it? It's not as if they'll think it's ok to run around town naked or something lol.
    posted by Blogger Rachel at 3/21/2008 08:59:00 AM  

  • raided? *raised..der
    posted by Blogger Rachel at 3/21/2008 09:01:00 AM  

  • This is certainly an interesting discussion and if you don't mind, I'd like to throw in my two cents worth. In my family we don't flaunt our nakedness, but, we don't hide it either. Each of the kids have their own bathroom, so it not about needing to use the same room for convenience sake. We've just found that being open about bodies just works better.

    It's a family ritual for us to soak in the hot tub at night before bed. It's a great way to warm in the winter and keep the colds and flu's at bay. The difference is that we all soak naked. Wearing a swimsuit in the hot tub makes absolutely no sense, so we just don't do it unless we've got company joining us that would be more comfortable wearing clothes in hot water. One of our kids (son)is 14 years old and soaks with us on a regular basis. He doesn't seem to be caught up in the body fascination, typical for kids of his age, we give him plenty of unsupervised time on the internet and he has yet to go looking for girlie photos to feed his curiosity. If being an open family stops another kid from filling his mind with porn, we'll continue our openness.

    So to answer the question of this topic, "How old is too old?", let the kids decide, they'll know.
    posted by Anonymous Monty at 3/21/2008 08:22:00 PM  

  • "You said: It can be disturbing to "accidentally" walk in on a parent, but it can be worse to consistently see them."

    I have friends who have been NOT comfortable with their parents' state of undress. Exposing your children to your nakedness once they are old enough to have a preference is disrespectful. Teenage girls never want to see their father naked. Teenage boys never want to see their mother naked. I'm not saying you should freak out if they do. I'm just saying that it would be normal for them to feel uncomfortable with the idea, especially in our society.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/21/2008 11:17:00 PM  

  • Anon,

    Teenage girls never want to see their father naked. Teenage boys never want to see their mother naked.

    While I can see where you are coming from here, I have never done well well with absolutes. To say that teenagers "NEVER" like to see their parents naked, you seem to be saying that you can somehow peak into the minds of every teenage on the planet and know what they like and don't like!! "Never" is a very strong word.

    I lived in France for two years. I've had a friend (female) in college who was from Sweden. I've conversed on this subject from people from Japan. I know people right here in America who would all shrug their shoulders at your comment and say, "Your version of normal is not what is normal in our home."

    Anywho... my point is, sometime we seem to think that the way we see the world is also the way everyone sees the world. Yup... It is an absolute truth that when I was a teenager, I did NOT want to see my mother OR father naked. Obvious conclusion: Every teenager on the planet must not want to see their parents naked. Right?

    Wrong. For millions of households all over the world, and some here in the good old US of A, teens seeing parents naked is such a normal part of life that they think nothing of it. I'm not talking about anything sexual or naughty, I'm just talking about matter-o-fact living. Families in Finland and Sweden quite often sit in the sauna together as a family, sometimes "family" spanning three generations. Families in much of Europe, especially France spend entire weeks at nude beaches with kids and adults of *all* ages. (I'm not advocating for or against nude beaches, I'm just making a point that what might seem shocking to us could be normal life for someone else.)

    I liked the post a couple up from this one by Monty: Mom, dad, and 14 year old son soaking sans clothing in the hot tub, and thinking nothing of it.

    For our North America, Judaeo Christian, Victorian culture, it's quit normal for teens to shudder and cringe at the thought of seeing a parent in the buff. *BUT* (I guess this is my real point...) just because it's normal for us, we should not assume that: 1) It's normal for everyone, or 2) It's somehow wrong or inappropriate for someone else to have "normal" be something different for them.

    I, personally, think it's a BLAST to dig through my personal beliefs, even the ones I feel strongly about, and question them. Sometimes I find they are anchored in solid truth. Other times I find the are anchored in mushy, not-so-solid cultural tradition, and really have no foundation.

    A while back I came to the conclusion that the defacto "kids should not see parents naked after a 'certain' age" idea is really nothing more then unfounded cultural tradition.

    Casting aside this this belief and making our own decision for how we raise our kids has had real, actual, measurable benefits.


    posted by Blogger Bryan at 3/22/2008 03:51:00 PM  

  • Our first is 3.5 and we've not started up the taboo yet.

    For one with toilet trailing it's good to have them watch you. (And we've been struggling with that)

    For an other they are probably going to be in locker rooms at the pool with either sex.
    posted by Blogger Clark Goble at 3/24/2008 05:31:00 PM  

  • A friend sent me a link to this discussion. When I read the first part I figured all the mommies and daddies would agree that when our DD's and DS's become curious, it's time to stay dressed. Was I in for a shock, or what? I asked my DH to read this, and his comment was, "Weird. I'm glad I was not Brian's son." As for myself, maybe I've always had the idea in my little brain that a family like Brian's might be a good idea, I just never new how to put this thought into words.

    Thanks for a great dialog.

    - Mom of One and a Half
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/24/2008 07:46:00 PM  

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