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The great debate over skinny dipping children

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Parents debate the pros and cons of wild, naked, summer-lovin' children

Nudity is a weird and awesome joy of childhood.

Last summer, for instance, I appreciated the reckless abandon of my 3-year-old when it came to nudity. We would arrive home from a long day at work and daycare, and she would strip down to her birthday suit before launching herself into our pool. Every damn day. I didn't even have time to put my purse down.

I realize, however, that not every mother shares my views about the delightful abandon of a skinny-dipping child. And when my girl turns 4 this summer, I wonder if I should even share my views from last summer. She's getting older, and surely there's a max age on this whole skinny-dipping thing. I recently ran an informal poll with several moms to find out how they approach nudity and skinny-dipping in their families.

For some mothers, the decision to disallow skinny-dipping hinges on child safety. "Absolutely not," says mom and daycare provider Treena M. "There are too many perverts and pedophiles out there." She feels that even well-intentioned nudity can generate attention that no parent would want for his or her children.

Other moms just feel that skinny-dipping at a young age can set a bad precedent for later behavior. Gymanstics coach Dee H. explains, "It's just a bad idea to start something that you will not want later." Fair enough, although I mostly just try to survive today and put little thought into my own future parenting. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

Mom Danielle M. is pragmatic in her approach to childhood skinny-dipping. "I think it's OK until about the age of 3," she explains. "That's when children start to wonder and talk and point, so after that developmental age I would deem it inappropriate." Now that's a pragmatic answer I think I can get behind — to shut down the show when children look and behave less like toddlers and more like little boys and girls.

Finally, mom Joanna D. senses that bathing suits exist only to make other parents more comfortable. "I think it's weird to put a young child in a bathing suit to swim at a beach," she explains. "Public pools are another matter. Even if a swimsuit doesn't actually contain pee, it gives everyone peace of mind about a rogue poop." Childhood swimwear as poop containers? Yes, a thousand times yes.

So what is your perspective on skinny-dipping children?

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