Nudity is such a controversial topic.
However, every parent must teach their children about nudity, even though it can be quite uncomfortable to talk about. My children, ages five and seven, are very comfortable with their bodies. They keep their clothes on in public, but love to run around naked at home. My daughter also has a habit of walking around her grandparents’ house naked after taking a bath. One of my relatives recently commented that she is getting too old to be running around naked like that. The conversation made me stop and think about my own views on nudity.
I’m perfectly fine with nudity at home.
As long as no one is uncomfortable with nudity, I don’t see it as a problem. Personally, I think it’s healthier to accept occasional nudity as a normal thing, instead of presenting it as something shameful. Forcing people to remain covered by clothing at all times projects the message that naked bodies are bad and should be hidden away. I admire the European view of nudity. Nudity is not a big deal to them. I don’t think it needs to be a big deal, either.
However, I realize that I need to teach my children about when nudity is appropriate and when it is not.
At this point, my children realize that running around naked at home with family is okay, but taking off their clothes in public is not. I have explained to my children that some parts of the body are private and that they are not for strangers to see. I really appreciate that my pediatrician always points out to the kids that his examinations are only okay because I am sitting in the room and say it’s okay. This is a good way to teach children about what is appropriate behavior from other people.
My biggest question is about bathtime.
I think most people would agree that it’s fine to give children baths together when they are babies. I also think most people would agree that teenage siblings should definitely not be bathing together. So where exactly is the age where communal baths become unacceptable? I haven’t figured out the answer to this question. My kids still occasionally shower together or with one of us parents. In my opinion, it is still fine because my children don’t display embarrassment yet. Once they start showing signs of embarrassment, I will know that it is time to give them some more privacy. My children have their own bathroom downstairs when they want their privacy, but they prefer using the big shower upstairs in my master bedroom.
Another struggle is teaching my children that nudity isn’t always sexualized.
I grew up loving art museums, so I saw a lot of nude portraits. At the time, I felt very mature when I looked at these paintings without giggling at them. When I took my daughter to an art museum, I deliberately did not make a big deal about the nudity. However, I had to laugh when I pointed out that I liked the fancy hairstyle on a nude bust. My daughter replied that it had nice boobs. The difficult part is that even though I may not view nudity as sexualized, there are other people who do. Sadly, there are pedophiles and sexual predators out there. That’s why I teach my children that their private parts are not for strangers to see or touch.
In the end, I try to teach my children to have a healthy view of nudity.
For my family, this means that I set a healthy example by setting limits. I don’t walk around my house naked and I certainly don’t run around naked in public. However, I leave my bathroom door open when I shower. Also, I refuse to hide in my closet when I dress in the morning or undress at night. For now, my children aren’t bothered by my nudity, so they often pop into the bathroom to ask me a question. When they are old enough to be embarrassed by their mother’s nudity, they can easily avoid my bathroom when I am getting ready in the morning. I am leaving the choice in their hands.
I also want my children to be in control of their own nudity, with the hopes that this will help them to always stay in control of what happens to their own bodies.
Understanding what is private and who is allowed to see or touch your body is a fundamental step in understanding sexual consent, which is something they will have to deal with in the future. In a public situation, my children have to wear clothing. However, at home, they can do whatever they want. If they are not embarrassed by their own nudity, then neither am I. When they want privacy, I respect that. My son now closes the bathroom door sometimes and the rest of the family respects this. I want my children to develop healthy boundaries that are neither too restrictive nor too permissive. Overall, I want them to respect and love their own bodies and those of their future partners.