Parents Gone Wild? When Do You Start Covering Up in Front of Your Kids?

9 years ago

My daughter will be five this spring.  She's no longer our baby.  My husband and I stumbled onto the topic of bodies and nudity and our daughter and nudity after a recent and random diaper rash incident, and he mentioned to me that maybe it's time I took over in the nekkid category.  It got me to thinking:  When do you stop with the family nudity?

As I've said before, the Arens household is full of nudity boundaries.  We don't leave the bathroom door open. We don't make dinner naked.  I even try to hide doing things like plucking my eyebrows from my husband.  I like the air of mystery.  However, when I was growing up, we weren't allowed to even wear a long t-shirt without shorts or something around the house if my father was present, and I hated it. My mother acted like the house would burst into flames if I accidentally walked in on my dad in his underwear. We weren't exactly earthy.

That said, I'm not sure where to set the permanent boundaries in my new little family.  My husband has made it clear that he doesn't want my daughter in the room when he's nude.  We don't have any boys, and I don't have any problems with my daughter seeing me other than wishing she wouldn't comment so loudly and honestly on my various body parts.  I get that physical privacy between opposite-sex family members is necessary as time goes on, but do we need it already?  

(Editor's Note: If you want to feel like a total pervert, try researching this post on Google.  There is no good way to look for "nudity" and "children" without getting traced by the FBI, which probably has a lock on my Mac right now.)

Dr. Cara Natterson writes at MomLogic:

If your child simply doesn't notice or doesn't care, then I recommend imposing a little more modesty once your child starts to develop. This occurs in the tween years. But nudity should not be demonized--rather modesty should be encouraged.

Jennifer Jordan at ParentDish says:

When the time comes--and who knows when that will be--I'm not about to dance around naked in front of my kids. I guess if they happen to see me that way I won't run screaming but I also am not going to go out of my way to let them see me that way.

Most bloggers writing on this subject seem to endorse this form of moderation. The best perspective I found on parental nudity actually came from a guy -- Victor Rodrigues at GreatDad.com:

  • Be genuine. Don't force yourself into being comfortable with parental nudity. If you are starting to feel awkward about exposure to your nudity, it is likely time to be more discreet.
  • Be consistent. Don't juggle between being bashful about your nudity at times and unmindful at other times.
  • Explain the difference in attitudes. If your child brings up the fact that his friends parents are never seen naked, be ready with a well thought out explanation.
  • Be attentive to cues. There will come a time (age 2 or even much older, like 7 or 8) when your kids will no longer feel comfortable with your nudity or their own in front of you. (Hint: watch for giggles or silly smiles). Respond to this and act accordingly.
  • Consider your own privacy. You may not wish your private parts to be part of a discussion between your son and his peers.

What do you think? When do you start covering up, if you haven't already?

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