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Nude in Front of Kids?

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Christina Aguilera says motherhood won't stop her from enjoying "naked Sundays" with her husband. But when is it not OK to be nude in front of your kids, or for them to be nude in front of you...or others? Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson gives us the naked truth.

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When it comes to nudity, my advice is to take cues from your child. As soon as your son or daughter becomes modest, respect that desire for privacy.

Generally, toddlers love to run around naked and they don't take notice whether an adult has clothes on or not. By the early school years -- kindergarten or certainly first grade -- you will often hear your child make comments about adult nudity. This is a reasonable time to think about covering up a little more in front of your child.

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. This shift in the tween years is especially important as you are starting to have discussions about personal privacy and the most basic conversations about sexual behavior.

Many parents are concerned about bath time. Siblings often bathe together for years. This is not a bad thing. Use similar guideposts as to when you should impose separate bath times--when your children start taking notice of each other's bodies and definitely if they are embarrassed or uncomfortable in the bath, end the routine. I find that by kindergarten or first grade, most kids want to shower by themselves instead of bathing with siblings.

It is important to note that conversations about private parts, inappropriate touching, strangers and the like should start well before any of this. I encourage parents to begin having regular conversations about these things around age 3.

Do you walk around naked in front of your kids?


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73 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jeanine July 8, 2008, 12:43 PM

No, I don’t. I have 3 boys and I think everyone should cover up because it’s just too weird.

Momof4_TX July 8, 2008, 1:00 PM

Is this a serious topic? Do average everyday people really do this?

Put it this way…think of how YOU would have felt if YOUR parents walked around naked in front of you at ANY age…

Now THERE’S a different perspective!

MEM July 8, 2008, 1:09 PM

My husband and I have 3 children ages 15 (boy), 10 (girl) and 5 (boy). Our 15 year old became some-what modest around the age of 12 or 13 and we have respected him and do give him his privacy. He still uses our master bathroom though. Our 10 and 5 year olds still run around naked and I do around them, my husband won’t get completely naked in front of them since our daughter was about 4-5 years old, he became uncomfortable. It doesn’t seem to bother our children and we don’t want them to think nudity is a bad thing so we don’t make it a huge deal or a big issue out of it. We do live in the country surrounded by lots of wooded acreage and no close neighbors but it may be different if we lived in a city with close neighbors (we wouldn’t hang clothes out on the line with just our underwear on like we do now). :o)

Marshall July 8, 2008, 1:54 PM

Most of all it depends on society and how one was brought up. I see nothing wrong with it. In Europe families attend nude beaches and pools all the time. It is only “strange” if you make it that way. It is only “sexual” if you connect nudity with sexuality. Unfortunately, US society has sexualized any form of nudity, not to mention our view on any form of underage nudity. There MUST be something wrong with your family if you have an 8 year old running around naked in your home. Or, god forbid, you are nude in front of your 8 year old. You may even get a visit from the police. This is sad (unless of course something IS going on). It is just the way things are in the US.

MrChicago July 8, 2008, 2:00 PM

Our country has a long way to go toward maturity about nudity. Many other countries allow public nudity at places where it makes sense, like beaches and swimming pools. There’s no reason why we can’t have such things as well (in specific, marked places, and I don’t advocate nudity where people will easily encounter it unexpectedly). I think it was Bill Maher who said something like “We’re a nation of four-year-olds who point and squeal when we see someone’s weenie.” We need to change our simple-mindedness about nudity and quit assuming a nude person is an exhibitionist, swinger, or sex-maniac. It would be so beautiful to be able to go to a beach and enjoy the summer weather in the nude.

Christina July 8, 2008, 2:57 PM

I say to each their own. Me personally, I would never do that in front of my children. When they are babies, I could see being naked if I am dressing, showering and in bed hot as hell from the humidity. But I would not allow my husband to become fully naked unless it was a baby boy. Baby girls should not see a grown man nude, in my opinion. It’s just inappropriate given the environment. It all depends on your environment but I know where I stand with my own nudity.

Amber July 8, 2008, 3:06 PM

My family doesn’t run around the house naked, we certainly would never do naked sundays, but if I didn’t put my clothes away and they were still on the living room coffee table I have no problem walking out of my bathroom in just a pair of underwear or towel. My 3 sons are 5 and 2 so of course they have no problem running around naked after bath time. I’ve recently started telling my older sons that they can’t be in my room anymore to talk to me while I’m getting dressed, that they have to wait until I’m done. I have no real problem with it, but I’m fearing the day they go to school and proudly announce “I saw mommy’s butt!!” So I think now is a nice age to cut back on the nudity.

Anonymous July 8, 2008, 4:35 PM

It’s unfortunate that nudity is so accepted in other countries but not in ours. If we had nude beaches we would have to worry that someone would snap our picture with a camera phone and have it wind up on the internet!

dixiegirl July 8, 2008, 5:04 PM

The only naked bodies I care to catch a glimpse of are those of say, supermodels, my hubby and my little 3 year old. Other than that, naked bods are pretty gross and just don’t see the appeal in flauting that all over the place. To each his own but seriously people, think about it. What’s the harm in throwing on a bra and panties. Why go TOTALLY naked? Why?

tonya July 8, 2008, 5:07 PM

I PERSONALLY DO NOT THINK THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT. I HAVE A 6 YR OLD GIRL AND A 3 YR OLD BOY. WE HAVE NEVER PUT ANY EMPHASIS ON MODESTY IN OUR OWN HOME, AND AS A RESULT, MY CHILDREN SEEM OBLIVIOUS THAT THIS IS EVEN A PROBLEM ELSEWHERE. MY HUSBAND DOES TRY NOT TO CHANGE CLOTHES AROUND OUR DAUGHTER, BUT I HAVE PICTURES OF HIM AND HER IN THE TUB WHEN SHE WAS SMALL. I THINK IT TAKES AWAY SOME OF THEIR INNOCENCE TO MAKE SUCH A BIG DEAL OUT OF IT. ALSO, WE HAVE HAD THE TALKS ABOUT INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING FROM ANYONE AMONG OTHER THINGS.

Rich July 9, 2008, 2:27 AM

It depends on the culture. We belong to a family-oriented nudist resort which my son attended with us until he was 15. At the resort there are dozens kids and adults of all ages playing in the pool and on the lawns, and nobody cares that nobody’s wearing anything. Nudity is only “dirty” or “gross” if the parents define it that way. To us there is nothing wrong with our natural bodies; if you don’t like them, complain to their maker.

veronica July 9, 2008, 9:30 AM

we have 4 kids, two girls ages 10 and 4, and 2 boys ages 10 and 7. my 7 and 4 year old are total nudies. they strip down to nothing as soon as we get home. MY 10 year old daughter was a nudie but has become more modest this past year. my 10 year old son has never liked being naked, even as an infant. My husband and i do not have naked sundays, but we do get dressed or undressed in front of our kids or if we are in a hurry, one of the kids will shower with us. I want my children to not be ashamed of their bodies. I have also taught my kids that there are times when it is OK to be naked and times when it is not. (Nothing like turning around to see that your 2 year old has totally taken off her dress while sitting in the grocery cart lol)

Shannon July 9, 2008, 10:47 AM

I have never been one to run around butt naked anyway, but I stopped dressing with my kids in the room when my son said at 4 “mama, I see your boobies”. Yup. That did it. We still take bubble baths together, girl 8 son 6, BUT Mama wears a bikini. :)

suri July 9, 2008, 1:00 PM

My daughter is only 15 months old and she is already aware of what areas should be kept private and covered up. She gladly shouts it out to her parents if we are dressing or going to the bathroom. I think this is great. Hopefully it means she will cover herself up too like her mum and dad in the future and save her modesty and save herself from the glances of not so innocent others.

mike July 10, 2008, 1:57 AM

I have had the opportunity to see both “open and closed” families In my pediatric practice. I see many more body image issues and eating disorders in familes that treat the body as a dirty sexual object.

These same “closed” families seem to take great pride in keeping their kids covered also parade them around in bikinis and wear pants with “cutie” emblazened over their 5 -9 year olds bottoms.

You can not raise a child with a sense of a healthy body and at the same time make it dirty gross creepy and shameful. You also have to allow and respect modesty as it is expressed (called mutual modesty)

Innappropriate behavior should be the emphasis in parental teaching.

Teach kids early concrete body safety ( if any one or anything touches in your eyes ears vulva bottom then tell mom dad teacher doctor. Make sure kids know anatomic names.

Please take the time face the challenge of healthy body development in your children. If you dont the media is more than happy to teach them they are exploited sexual objects.

If your children are comfortable wearing their skin then congratulations on providing a safe positive space for them to express them selves. Just make the rule if you want to have your clothes off other than tubby time or potty time then you have to ask mom or dad first. This allows socialization.

Thanks and good luck,
Mike

Amber July 10, 2008, 8:17 AM

Yes i walk around naked late at night or after a shower. My son is only 2 1/2 yrs old because he is still inocent to the naked factor. But i am starting to cover more b/c he is getting old and i want him to be comfortable. He needs to know the body can be a beautiful thing but we have to respect it too.

Anonymous July 10, 2008, 10:08 AM

I was raised in a home where my Mom & Dad totally covered up and I grew up thinking my naked body was something to hide and I never felt comfortable about my body or seeing anyone else naked.
I now have my own children (all under 10) and I have never covered up in front of them(ie for changing clothes or showering - however we don’t do nude Sundays or any days). If we walk around the home in underwear, or are getting changed or showering that is quite acceptable (and should be at home). I want my children to feel comfortable in their own skin, especially at home. And of course any modesty will be accepted and encouraged when they need or want it as they get older.
I think it’s a shame (and worrying) that people have a problem with their own nudity at home.

~TeeMoo~ July 10, 2008, 11:35 AM

oh, yeah!! i totally agree with the poster above me! My parents totally covered up everything, but then we also had NO tv, couldnt wear nail polish or make up , had to wear dresses, boys couldnt wear shorts , couldnt attend any sports events, etc

My older daughter is in early 20s and has a 3 year old and they are TOTAL nudists. hahaha. and my 22 year old is less modest , but her 4 yr old does NOT want to be naked at all, ever! too weird. My 11 yr old daughter and 9 yr old son..NUDISTS!! hahahaa. yeah…I also think its a shame that people have a problems with nudity in their own home.

Taz July 10, 2008, 11:51 AM

I totally agree with Marshall. American society labels nudity as something taboo! Having lived in Europe for over 17 years, I find Europeans as having the right attitude about nudity. Besides, it’s a person’s perception as to right or wrong.

Erin July 10, 2008, 11:56 AM

I tend to go with what this article says - if my child starts to become uncomfortable with nudity, I’d absolutely respect that. For now, while he’s 2.5 years old, I’m not concerned with him seeing my naked body, nor would I be concerned with a child of either sex seeing my husband’s. They’re just bodies and we all have one. I certainly don’t want to teach my children to be ashamed or to have an unhealthy body image.


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