Kids seeing their parents naked - until when is it okay?
Are you doing the right thing by letting your kids see you naked? We speak to an expert about this sometimes tricky subject.
The subject of kids seeing their parents naked could be one that some parents find rather uncomfortable. On the other hand, some would wonder what the big fuss is all about.
To be honest, there is no single right answer to the question “Is it okay for kids to see their parents naked?” This is a subject that is a bit more complex than we parents make it up to be.
Kids of different ages react to nudity quite differently, and their perceptions and feelings about their bodies could stem from how parents deal with their own nudity.
A two- or three-year-old looking at her mum changing would gleefully point and exclaim “boobies”, while a seven- or eight-year old might have questions like “Why aren’t my boobs big like yours?”
The same goes for boys who have plenty of questions about their dad’s private parts.
We asked several mums about heir thoughts on nudity around their kids.
One mum, Amelia*, doesn’t know why it isn’t okay for her five-year-old son to see her naked. She says, “He sees me and my husband naked all the time and it’s just so natural to us. After he turned three, he stopped asking me why my body is different from his.”
Another mum, Claudia*, partly agrees with Amelia’s thoughts, saying, “After our son turned 6, we noticed that he got uncomfortable and stared a little too much when he saw me naked. So we are a little more careful about our son seeing me naked and our daughter seeing her father naked.”
Patty*, a mum to a three-year-old, says that both she and her husband are not comfortable being naked around their daughter. “It could be partly because we live with my parents and we’re just a bit more careful about how we dress around them.”
She adds, however, that their daughter is very comfortable being in the nude, maybe “because we don’t make a big deal about it, and neither do my parents.”
But what is the right way to handle nudity and children’s numerous nudity-related questions? We spoke to early childhood education expert Fiona Walker, who is also the Principal of Schools and CEO of Julia Gabriel Education.
Here are Ms. Walker’s answers to our questions on this sometimes tricky subject.
Is it okay for toddlers and babies to see their parents naked?
There is really no definitive research done on this subject, and attitudes towards parental nudity within the family differ drastically across cultures, and even families within a culture.
I believe it is fine for very young children to see their parents naked. There is no sexuality associated with this.
How do you answer curious questions about body parts?
Honestly, as much as you are comfortable with.
Curious questions are very often just a general statement of the facts, “Mummy has boobies” or “Daddy has a penis and so do you”. This is true and to answer it honestly shows there is no shame in acknowledging our bodies.
Until what age is it okay for kids to see their parents naked and why shouldn’t they see their parents naked after this age?
At a certain age, children will become naturally more modest. This is a good indication that being naked around them may cause them to feel uncomfortable.
At the same time, you must respect their wish to have more privacy when bathing or changing. This can happen around the time the child is six or seven years old.
When respecting privacy and increased modesty, make sure you do not present a negative attitude towards nudity. Being overzealous about modesty and being anxious that your child covers up at all times, even in the home, can lead to your child developing a negative body image in later years.
Our bodies are nothing to be ashamed about.
The best person to answer any of these questions is really you and your partner. What do you feel is appropriate? Watch your children closely and respect them as individuals. Follow their lead.
How can parents of older kids answer their questions about nudity?
Again I would say “honestly”. Growing bodies and differences between girls and boys, adults and children can cause children to be naturally curious. There is nothing wrong with that. A child’s natural curiosity is not perverted or in any way sexual.
Are you comfortable being naked around your kids? Let us know by leaving a comment below.