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Raising Great Kids – Naked Ideas

by Dr. John Townsend


August 14, 2014

Raising Great Kids – Naked Ideas

In the Summer edition of Hello, Darling magazine Dr. Townsend tackled the question of how long we should be nude in front of our children. He gave some great advice, but with each family it is a little bit different. We wanted to share more of your responses from Facebook along with Dr. Townsend’s thoughtful advice.


Question: At what age should I stop being nude in front of my kids?

What You Said


When my oldest was probably 3 she was taking a shower with Daddy. We frequently take a kid in with us to save time.....and she asked him why his front was so big. That was when daddy announced that there were no more kids in the shower with him.  They still see him in his boxers, but that's his comfort level with our girls.


It isn't an issue in our house, my son sees us when we change if he's around, and I've never said anything about it. He hasn't either. He's 4. If I start to feel differently as he gets older, we'll reevaluate the "issue." So far it just isn't one.


We include the term "private" parts in our potty talk and appropriate touch. By age 6 or so we expect them to be clothed decently, knock and wait for answer before entering bedroom/bathroom. I breastfeed in front of them uncovered, of course, but we certainly don't run around naked! We aren't "ashamed", we just think its important for kids to learn early on what is appropriate when it comes to their bodies for their protection.


It isn't a big deal here. We usually only see each other when we're changing. Questions get asked sometimes, and we answer appropriately.


Our room is a walk thru to theirs. They see me getting dressed, but I do my best to be discreet. We're working on if the door to the bathroom is shut to wait, but they're still young. Eldest is 7 and understands knocking. We try not to make a big deal about bodies but every once in a while it comes up.


We have 3 daughters. They stopped seeing daddy naked around the age of 2 because they were starting to stare. I don't run around naked in front of them, but I don't make a big deal about them seeing me naked if it happens. We are starting to push the privacy thing a little more now. Our oldest is in kindergarten, and I want them to understand that there are limits to what others should see. It's not about being ashamed. It's about teaching that their bodies are special and not to be shared.


We don't make it a big deal, but with three girls we teach modesty. Cover your parts. Dad locks the door when he's getting dressed and peeing. Mom covers up. If they ask we teach. They know that you cover your panties and boobies.


We have only one bathroom so this is a tough one. I can't bring myself to lock the door while taking a shower for fear that little ones who can't wait need to use the potty.


We don't make a big deal out of it, but on the same token my husband feels uncomfortable being in any state of undress around our kids. He will get completely dressed before leaving the bathroom after a shower. It's just the way he's most comfortable and that's fine.


Dr. Townsend’s Advice

Opinions vary on the topic of parental nudity and modesty.

I think that after children are weaned from breastfeeding, the wisest course for them is to not be exposed to nude parents. This is a conservative opinion, but in my view, the benefits of this stance far outweigh the possible dangers.

Some parents enjoy not wearing clothes in their home and feel natural and free without the physical constrictions. They enjoy the experience and see no harm coming to their children.

Others want their kids to be able to avoid the guilt and shame they feel could come from keeping themselves covered up. They don’t want their kids to have repressive hang-ups about nudity and sex.

And some parents have more functional reasons, such as when a mom with very young kids needs to take a shower and doesn’t want to leave her children where they could fall or hurt themselves.

Parental nudity can be a confusing and controversial issue. Here are some points to help you find clarity as a parent.

1. Affirm with your kids that their bodies are good. Kids should see their bodies as gifts from God, and good. They should not feel their body parts are shameful or dirty in any way. Everything God makes is positive. Tell your kids this, and encourage them to feel good about their bodies.

2. Don’t overwhelm kids with sexual data they aren’t ready for. The research is limited and mixed on the effects of parental nudity on young children. However, parents are to nurture their kids as they raise them. The word nurture has a protective element to it, as children are developmentally fragile and weak. Since young children are not anatomically, neurologically or emotionally ready for sexuality, it makes sense not to overwhelm or to overstimulate them in the sexual arena.

3. Make sure your kids know there’s an inside to their bodies that’s more important than the outside. In other words, spend most of your parental energy helping your children to make secure attachments, to be responsible, to find their voice, learn how to win and lose well and become confident. That’s where the real parenting takes place. Character always trumps the body in what makes a successful kid and a successful adult. 


Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, psychologists, leadership coaches and the authors of many books, selling over 5 million copies, including Raising Great Kids, Boundaries, Boundaries with Kids and Mom Factor — as well as the hosts of the syndicated national radio program “New Life Live.”

What are the boundaries around nudity in your house?

Related topics: dad, body image, family, kids, reality, mom, teach, wisdom

Share your thoughts


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We are a family of 5 (7yr old son, 4yr old daughter and nearly 2yr old daughter). Our kids still have baths together (the younger two girls with me sometimes, as well). We encourage mutual respect of private parts - no staring, touching etc. Generally, this works. In those inevitable moments of curiosity we teach and explain in an unshaming way. As for changing we don't worry about where we do it as long as it's just the family around (we never lock doors). That being said we're not (as parents) ones to walk around naked. Although we are all pretty comfortable with our bodies we try to avoid outright nudity if we can. As I am still nursing our youngest the breast is a common reality, which is just there. I believe in being discreet, but also being relaxed. As the children grow it will become evident when it is time to re-draw our lines (:


My kids are 6 1/2, 5, and 2. We don't hide who we are and what our bodies look like. This is our home, and they should feel comfortable to run around naked once in a while. We are also teaching them not to judge others. We have a small home, so we change in front of one another without even thinking twice about it. Yes, I am white, yes I am an American.


I find it humorous reading all of these responses which, I assume, are mostly coming from Americans. Different cultures have different views on familial modesty (it seems to me that Americans have a more conservative view compared to much of the world)and since my kids are preschoolers, it hadn't even come up on my radar to cover up when they are around. Think about it: the majority of families on this earth live in small or one-room dwellings... They don't have the luxury of "hiding in the bathroom" to cover up. Instead of freaking out as my kids start to notice and point out differences, I have been using those teachable moments to show how wonderfully and creatively God made us. Bodies are part of life, end of story.


Thanks for sharing, Bethany. I grew up in a "naked house," in my early years, anyway, and I am pretty comfortable being nude around my 4 and 5 year old kids, and still shower with them. I agree that this can be an uncomplicated and unfussy way of life, if that is what works for your family.


My husband is private the kids never really see him naked. He does not freak out or act weird if they do walk in but he avoids the situation. Being a SAHM they do see me still (girl age 4, boy age 2) because they just walk right in. A few weeks ago my daughter stared, pointed, and laughed at my breasts...I said to her 'do not laugh at my body that is not nice.' and she replied 'sorry mommy they just looked like eyes' I really had to hold back the laughing there! I will have a baby in Feb and I do not plan to hide while just will not be practical. I do not use 'proper anatomy terms' I honestly do not think it is necessary (plus why would you tell a girl about her vagina when she is likely asking about her labia or urethra.) They take baths together and know that girl privates look different than boy privates they just shrug and say ok. I do not avoid questions or make up stories but I tailor my answers to their age they do not need to know it all right now.


Toni it sounds like you have a pretty healthy take on the whole thing. I do use the actual words with my kids (4 and 5) and always have, but the proper terms don't always stick, anyway. When my daughter was 4 she asked me, "Mommy, how do babies get out of the daddy's peestein when they are born? Are they just really tiny?" The comments my littles make about body parts is almost always good for a laugh.


We have a 3 year old daughter. Since I breastfed her until she was 15 months old, it's common for us to take showers together or just hang out in our undies. But this we only do when it's just the two of us. She knows that we can be naked or in our undies in the house, but if someone comes over, or we go out, we have to put clothes on. It's not about shame, but about modesty. My husband, on the other hand, doesn't feel comfortable with her seeing him naked, so we try to make sure that she doesn't. One day, we were eating at an Italian restaurant that had a statue of David. She pointed at it and asked why he had "poo poo in his whoo hoo", which is what we call her private area. We had to explain that boys have different parts that girls, but that no it wasn't poop. A few weeks later, she accidentally saw my husband naked as he was getting out of the shower. She said the same thing to him, so we had to tell her again that boys just have different parts.


Modesty is a term I need to pull out of my mom hat and talk about with my daughter, in particular. A couple of months ago I was laying in bed and I heard the front door open, close, then open again 30 seconds later. Then I heard my five year old say to herself, "Oh. I forgot to put clothes on." She had popped out into the front yard for who knows what completely naked, and apparently didn't realize it. OOPS! I don't think I've ever accidentally paraded around the neighborhood in the nude, myself...