When you’re a parent of young children, it’s not a matter of if they will see you naked, but how many times it will happen in a day. My four-year-old daughter has always skittered in and out of my bathroom as she pleases. If I’m on the toilet, she might decide it’s a good time to stand on her step stool and put on a one-girl-production of Annie. If I’m in the shower, she’ll beg please, please, please, mama, can you press your butt against the glass door again? And then she’ll giggle maniacally every single time.
I never really thought about when she should stop seeing me or my husband naked. For me, I’m thinking never? My mother will still change in front of me and my sister (we’re both in our thirties) and it’s no big thing.
But is it different depending on the gender of the parents and children? As in, should boys see their mums and girls see their dads in the buff? Writer Rita Templeton was called a pervert, child molester and the worst mother ever by online commenters when she wrote a piece for Scary Mummy about how she lets her young sons see her nude body in all its glory. I liked her philosophy about it: “I reasoned that my boys seeing me naked would — from a very early age — give them a genuine picture of a woman’s body: curves, dimples, wobbly bits, and all,” she wrote. “Not the airbrushed, stick-thin, silicone-enhanced variety they’d be exposed to by the media later on.”
According to Avital Norman Nathman, a former teacher and the editor of The Good Mother Myth, the key to the issue is comfort — and that goes for the parents and the child. “Nudity, when it’s within your home and 100% nonsexualized, isn’t going to traumatize a child, especially if you’re all on the same page, are all consenting and are all comfortable with it,” she told CNN.
In online parenting communities, many mums and dads write that they have taken cues from their kid — when the child begins to cover up, so do they. That age in which that happens varies, usually from around four to about nine or 10. At that point, doors start closing and everyone is careful to knock before entering a room.
How does it work in your home? Do you have guidelines for nudity around your children?