Is there a certain age you should refrain from being naked in front of your children? I ask because I recently read a tweet that proclaimed something along the lines of, ‘Trying out six different yoga poses to cover myself up with a towel so my six year old doesn’t see me naked.’ I thought it was a little odd, considering the child was just six, and, at age six, kids don’t tend to be embarrassed by parents just yet. So is six the cut off age when you should stop letting your child see you naked? I’m not convinced.
At the same time, I also recently came back from a tropical vacation with my 13-year-old daughter, where, yeah, I changed in front of her, in and out of bathing suits, like a thousand times. Never once did I think about covering myself up with a towel when I changed, let alone changing in another room, with the door closed. Never once did my daughter say anything, as she’s so used to seeing me change, while not doing yoga poses with a towel to cover myself up.
So, yes, my 13-year-old sees me naked. And so does my four-year-old son, who walks into my bedroom each morning as I’m getting out of the shower and putting on body lotion, nude. I have never once thought, ‘Hmmm, should I be covering myself up as I butter up?’ Still, a number of people have, literally, gotten themselves in hot water for posting photos of themselves naked with their young children. In 2014, a father who was naked in the shower, holding his sick baby, trying to keep his son’s fever down, came under attack after his wife, a photographer, snapped a photo because she was ‘overwhelmed’ with emotions over her ‘patient and loving’ husband. Still, people were quick to comment about the nudity in the photo and not so much on why she had taken the photo.
‘I was taken aback by how many people missed the story or didn’t even look past the nudity to find the story. They were just hung up on them both being nude and being in the shower. I had crossed a line. It was too intimate. It shouldn’t be shared publicly. But, I disagree. My family may be different than yours. But, that doesn’t make your way right or my way wrong.’ expressed the mother. Amen!
Then, in 2015, a Danish comedian posted a photo on his Facebook page of himself taking a bath with his young tot, naked, as a ‘gesture of solidarity for some of his friends, dads who have also been heavily criticized for being naked in front of their young children.’ He explained, ‘Listen, children and adults can be naked together. There is nothing wrong with a father who washes his daughter’s bottom and vagina when she’s a child. On the contrary, it is bloody disgusting if nobody does it, and unfair if only the mother does it.’ (Totally!) In response to his comments, the online community brought out their pitchforks. One irate commenter wrote, ‘Put on some underwear my friend. What good will your daughter get from seeing your genitals?’
I’ll tell you what. They’ll learn that people shower and bathe without clothes. I kid. But they’ll learn about genitals. Aren’t genitals a part of life? Do you really want your kid to grow up having never seen a genital and be scared shitless when they do? I think that would be more horrifying for your children, scarring them for life.
Finally, last year, fans of celebrity-watcher Perez Hilton were divided over a selfie he took with his then two-year-old son in the shower. Two-year-olds don’t remember anything, except when you lose their security blanket, and what parent hasn’t had fun taking a bath with their child? It’s one of the more fun parenting moments.
Maybe I’m coming from a different place from commenters who think it’s odd or creepy or disgusting to be naked in front of your children. I’m perfectly comfortable in my (naked) skin. And I think young children should learn to be comfortable around naked people, that is, if they are their parents, let me be crystal clear about that. But this got me thinking. Am I wrong to be naked in front of my kids? Does it matter if you’re naked in front of your son, or naked as a dad, in front of your daughter?
I still shower with my four-year-old son, because he loves when I draw hearts and his name in the frosted glass wall, thanks to the condensation from the hot water. Really, what’s so ‘creepy’ about your own children, especially at such young age, seeing you confident in your own (naked) skin? Let me also be crystal clear: It’s not like I’m making breakfast nude or running around the house naked, while screaming at my 13-year-old girl and four-year-old son to clean up their mess or put their shoes on.
When I went to overnight camp as a young kid (and into my teens), I had to shower in front of other girls, as we all had to share one shower head, in one big washroom. That experience made me totally comfortable, as an adult, in front of other female strangers in change rooms. In the change room at the Miles JCC, where I swim laps a couple times a week, I see dozens upon dozens of naked women, of all shapes, sizes, and ages, walking around the change room naked, including myself and my best friend. Yes, it’s a women-only change room and none of the women are related to me, but I want my kids to learn to be comfortable in change rooms, at overnight camp, or wherever else they’ll need to see other naked people, like showering at the gym or changing at school for gym class.
I want my children to grow up knowing what a body looks like. I don’t believe in coming up with cutesie names for body parts. A penis is a penis. A vagina is a vagina. Breasts are breasts. And that, my friends, is called being a human, and, also, um, life?
Plus, if my kids are uncomfortable with seeing me naked, they’ll leave the room. But I’m not going out of my way to make sure they don’t see me naked. Does this make me a bad parent? Not to me. And guess what? My theory works, at least in my family. When I told my 13-year-old daughter I was writing this story, I also asked her at what age she thought I should stop walking around naked in front of her. Her totally teenage answer? ‘Um, now?.’ I laughed.
See? Your children will let you know when they feel uncomfortable seeing you naked. They’ll know to learn to knock before coming into the washroom or bedroom. They’ll avert their eyes if you need to change in front of them.
But I do not think, as a mother, you should freak out and possibly pull a muscle all because you’re trying to hide your naked body from your six-year-old with a towel. I’ll save the yoga poses for a yoga class. Namaste!