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?