I’ve never been comfortable around nude people. When we built our house, I pictured a giant bay window with a Romeo and Juliet balcony off of the master bedroom where we would drink champagne naked with no rear or side neighbours.
However, just a week after we moved in, I found myself crawling from the shower, military-style on my elbows, to the laundry room to find a towel, so as not to be seen by the non-existent neighbours.
I have friends who shower with and in front of their kids, or wander around the house naked and my first thought is, ew! I think that should end when the child is old enough to poke and prod and when they start asking the same questions over and over while giggling. This behaviour by parents should only exist before kids have familiarized themselves with the anatomically correct body parts. Once they comfortably understand how everything works and its function, it’s time to get dressed.
“It’s important to be intentional regarding nudity at home when kids are older than three,” says Dr. Deborah Gilboa, founder of AskDoctorG.com. “In order to teach kids privacy, and respect for their own bodies and others’, we need to talk about these issues and model the behavior we want to see in them.”
Let’s use this opportunity to teach our kids about personal space, boundaries and their right (and ours) to privacy. I recommend Julia Cook’s book Personal Space Camp, which helps to explain boundaries.
Teaching kids to be comfortable in their own skin is certainly a parenting priority for all of us but do you know what’s even more comfortable than skin? Cashmere.
TRUTH: There is nothing sexy about a naked mom sitting on the toilet trying to have a quick pre-shower pee while her toddler tries to stuff wads of toilet paper between her knees. Thigh, elbows, belly, breasts, bum. Neither the scene nor the parts on display are extraordinary. And neither of us is or should be embarrassed.
My boys (four and almost two) are used to being partially or fully naked at home. Having their bums wiped, getting changed and taking baths are just as mundane as eating breakfast or brushing teeth. And that goes for their parents, too. I’m not arguing that parents should be naked in front of their children to prove a point about what real bodies look like before they’re exposed to Photoshopped ads, thigh gaps and angels in lingerie, (although that’s a convenient side effect). I think that having your kids see you naked is good because it’s real and true.
We are all naked underneath our clothes and I’d guess that the majority of the time we are in a state of undress there is absolutely nothing sexual about it. I’m not going to hide behind the shower curtain if my four-year-old comes into the bathroom as I’m toweling off. I’m not going to send him away if he follows me to my closet when I go to change. And I’m not going to change the subject when he asks why women wear bras or why I don’t have a penis, because these are not taboo questions. These are simple, everyday things that kids should learn. The province of Ontario put a curriculum into place last year mandating that Grade 1 students learn the anatomically correct words for all body parts.
I hope that as my boys grow older, they’ll come to understand the idea of private parts without embarrassment. They’ll choose not to follow me into the bathroom, but won’t be traumatized if they open the door while I’m peeing. I hope they’re proud of their bodies, both clothed and naked because our bodies are incredible. Mine created (with my husband’s help), carried and birthed two amazing people.
There’s a great difference between walking naked from the bathroom to your bedroom after a shower versus potentially embarrassing your children by sunbathing naked on your deck with neighbours looking in. Feeling comfortable enough to reveal your body, imperfections or not, around the house for brief periods of time will likely help your children feel that there is no shame in doing so.
If you’re not comfortable with this type of appropriate nudity at home, consider that this may have something to do with the degree of comfort your own parents showed you, along with the age, gender of your child and way in which they respond to your being naked, are certainly worthy of consideration when choosing to be naked or not in front of them.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Spring 2017.