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Nudity and your Children

Hi everyone. Parenting is hard. There’s no manual. No, the Internet is not a manual. You should proceed with extreme caution when consulting the Internet! I want to talk about something today that has been mulling around in my head for quite some time. When I grew up I would see my mother naked all the time. Probably every day. When she showered or got dressed and she went to the loo with the door open. It was never an issue. I was not allowed to see my stepfather naked though, which was fine by me, but that isn’t something I want to explore in this blog post.

I have children of both genders and up until now nudity has not been an issue in our house. We do not hide our bodies in shame and when we are moving between the bath/shower/getting dressed we do not close the doors or hide. My son is going on 6, my daughter going on 3. The kids still bath together and sometimes they will bath with their dad. Personally I prefer to shower and the children don’t like showering, but I will shower in the same bathroom while they are in the bath. I don’t feel like it should be an issue, but I do feel like some boundaries should be put in place at some point. Since I’ve never done this before, I’m not sure when or where these boundaries should be. This is where the manual would come in handy. So many questions. I want my children to feel comfortable with their bodies. Of course I have had the conversations with Elijah about not allowing anyone to touch his body if he is not comfortable with it and not to expose himself to anyone. At times if I had put my hand on his shoulder and he wasn’t feeling it he will say “Don’t touch my body!”. I hope this means he gets it. If he touches himself inappropriately, I ask him to do so when he is alone and never in front of people. I’ve told him it is normal and there is nothing wrong with doing so, but that nobody else needs to see it. Gabby is still a bit small to understand these things. She has shown curiosity towards the differences in their bodies in the bath and we have had to tell Gabby not to touch Elijah and for Elijah not to allow her to. This is not a frequent occurrence and I suppose in this way I have already started setting some boundaries.

I still have questions though. For instance:

At what point do we start bathing them separately?

At what point do we not allow them to see us naked, if ever?

Do we at some point start being more discreet in front of the child of the opposing gender?

Do we insist that they do not see each other naked at some point?

I just don’t know. I assume at some point they will start wanting their own privacy and will demand it, but is that already too late? Or is that the right time?

I also try to use the correct names for body parts and genitalia, but that is sometimes hampered by others. For instance the day mother doesn’t use the correct terms and refers to them as “pee pee” and “flower”. Elijah has asked questions about sex and I’ve done what I’ve read the right thing to do is and just answer the basic question honestly without going into further detail. There will have to be a sex talk sometime though. How do you know when the right time is for that? Do we discuss periods with boys? Surely they should know how these things work too so that they can be sensitive to it when they are older. I knew a boy in high school who had a sister and at the age of 17 still had no idea about periods and how they work. Obviously they don’t need to know the nitty gritty, but how much do you tell them?

Maybe if your children are older you can help me answer these questions. What worked for you?