Nudity in Front of Your Children

Every so often, the topic of parents' nudity in front of children comes on the PSP groups. Here is a culmination and summary of what parents share.

 

"The consensus on nudity seems to be:
A)  that it's inevitable given the "cozy" nature of NYC housing that people will see others naked;
B) that it's best treated matter-of-factually; and
C) that parents should be led by the children in determining when it should end.
People with older kids said that at some point the kids tend to become more modest about their own bodies, and that's when parents should consider covering up.  And parents who remembered seeing their own parents naked weren't bothered by it, then or now.  One person who seemed to favor a more modest approach pointed out that covering up isn't wrong or repressive either.

By the way, I think my reference in the original post to my husband as a frequent nudist led people to believe I was asking the question because I objected to that.  I just wanted to point out (especially for those who might know us personally) that that is not the case--we're all pretty comfortable with life in various states of undress here, and I only asked the question because I've been wondering if that's odd or if we should stop. And one advantage I thought of that nobody else mentioned is that kids should see some naked normal people, since it's pretty inevitable they'll be exposed to the bodies of the Brads and Angelinas and porn stars and Kardashians and such some day.  We wouldn't want to set up unreasonable expectation in them, for either their own or others' bodies." 

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"My parents didn't stop, until I laughed at my father's anatomy. I think I was in kindergarten. That pretty much killed it for him."

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"With my just turned 7 yr old, I am private (not my husband though) - probably began when he was around 4 or 5. I don't have any reason why, only that it began to feel wrong to let him see me without clothes.  With my 4 year old daughter, we are both very free.  My husband is Dutch, so nudity is pretty accepted, but since we live in America I'd love to know when he should be employing some modesty!"

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"At about 2 years old my daughter walked in to our bedroom and saw my husband naked.  There was some pointing, giggling and acknowledgement of Daddy's "tail".  It was at that point we decided he should be at least underpant covered in front of her."

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"If it is no big deal to you then it will be no big deal to your child.  I mean in Europe, toplessness is par for the course for women, and there are tons of nude beaches and lakes. That being said, my daughter is 9 and I am still naked around her b/c I believe it is completely normal for same gender to be like that; they should be used to it so they don't freak out in locker rooms when they get older. My son is 12 and I started covering up when he was around 7, but even now he has seen me in bra and underwear and it's not a big deal b/c we keep it casual. A good clue for when you should start to cover up is when your child wants privacy.  At a certain age, they will all of a sudden not want to change in front of others, and they will be conscious of being nude themselves and feeling embarrassed.  They are still not embarrassed to be naked in front of my husband or me, but they will not change in front of relatives or friends.  I believe that started to happen around second grade.  For some it is younger."

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"Of course everyone is different in their views & practices of nudity...like all beautiful human forms are different. Here is my experience an view: My parents, now in their 70s & my husband and i never cover up due to our kids. My 2 kids, one a toddler and the other 7 years old see me naked often. I don't  sit on the couch watching tv naked or anything like that but, I think its just one of those things for us. We did install and lock on our bedroom door so they would never walk in on sex.  I want them to think of the beautiful human body as natural, not shameful. If one was (hopefully temporarily) embarrassed we would cover up as not to embarrass them. But growing up in a big house my parents never hung out naked (or were naked in front of our friends!) but when walking to the bathroom at night, I might see my naked dad or mom) or sometimes my brothers or I would go into my parents room to chat while one of them was naked. I did grow up with paintings and sculptures of the human form in our home and now in our apt we have a few beautiful nude photos, so basically I think I depends how you and your partner view the human form and how you want your kids too."

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"I don't think there's a set time, but there's probably a fine line between letting it all hang out and being embarassed about nudity - I'm a bit more covered up but do NOT want to teach shame about nudity, so for me it's a little bit of a balancing act - we're a bit more covered-up, for me the issue comes up more when one parent is traveling or otherwise unavailable and it's unavoidable to sometimes change clothes or bathe in front of our 5 year old.  At those times I'm just natural about it, if I'm changing and my son wanders into the room, I just keep changing and don't linger, he might make a comment and I just go with it and keep getting changed, then we go on with our evening once I'm in at-home not work clothes.  But I don't walk around undressed nor does my husband - I'm a bit more laid-back than my husband is about nudity but we both know sometimes our son will see us undressed in the ordinary course - we have to change clothes and get ready for work etc. after all!"

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"For sure someone will automatically try to link modesty to body shame and a plethora of sexual hangups."

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"My father walked around naked and/or skinny-dipped in our swimming pool occasionally through all of my growing up years.  It didn't traumatize me in the least.  By the time I was a teen-ager I thought it was kind of gross but it never upset me.  I think I probably just rolled my eyes.  I have always been comfortable with my own nudity and hope that my daughter is too.  Interestingly, I have married an extremely modest man who never walks around naked, but I don't think it would bother me at all if he did. My thoughts/advice:  I would not worry about it.  It seems perfectly natural and normal to me.  I don't think there is an age cut-off, unless either you or your husband feels that there needs to be one."

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"I think in relatively "liberal" circles like Park Slope, people don't want to come across as "prudish" or be accused of perversely adding sexuality/shame to innocent, non-sexual "family" nudity. But I think there is some legitimate (if unspoken) anxiety about an inappropriate lack of boundaries. Anyway, I think we can all agree that it's good to have ongoing discussions with our kids, as the different contexts arise in which nudity may be okay or not okay, etc. It's all part of their learning about life!"

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"I don't think there is specific cut-off age, but I think instinctively you'll probably know when a bit more modesty feels right. In fact, if you're asking the question now, it's probably because you've started to become a little uncomfortable.... I'm fairly conservative on this issue (partly because I come from an extended family whose males did NOT know how to keep appropriate sexual boundaries), but I personally think the grown-ups should at least wear underwear around the house, and throw on a bathrobe when they get out of the shower or whatever. You don't have to make a big deal out of explaining it to your daughter but, if she asks, you can simply state that some parts of our bodies are considered more "private," etc."

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"Our oldest is 5. We haven't become any less free about running around naked. He doesn't care at all. I think maybe when he starts liking girls instead of thinking they're "mean and bossy" I'll buy a bathrobe.

We've always stressed that the body is normal and nothing to be embarrassed about. The bathroom door is open 99% of the time for everyone too (even though i wish my husband would close it sometimes!)."

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"One guide could be when the adults feel uncomfortable."

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"I wondered the same thing, until I realized that my son was letting us know by expressing his own modesty.  All of a sudden, when he was around 9, he became so modest that he won't even put his shoes and socks on anymore without his door closed!!!  My husband still is able to be a little less modest than I am, for obvious reasons (our son knows that eventually his body will look like his Dad's), but we no longer let it all hang out!"