Posted by: Lisa | January 14, 2011

Family Nakedness: Yay or Nay?

I grew up in a very “open” family.  We were ourselves around one another.  We burped.  We farted.  We discussed bodily functions.  We peed with the bathroom door open.  My mom had the birds & bees talk with me when I was 8 years old, and when my dad got home from work that evening I proudly informed him that I knew all about his _____ (I’ll let you fill in the blank).  Around that same age I pranced downstairs buck naked in front of a group of my mom’s friends & she had to have a talk with me about covering up in front of people outside our family.

I think this relaxed environment led me to never be afraid to talk to my parents or ask them personal questions, even as a teenager.  My hubby’s family is definitely more private, and I know I’ve often grossed him out completely – particularly when I was pregnant & fascinated by every part of the process – but the phrase “TMI” (too much information) just doesn’t exist in my vocabulary.  I laughed hysterically when I read that some women are mortified when pregnancy causes them to pass gas in front of their husbands.  Seriously?  My feeling is that if he got you pregnant in the first place then a little gas is nothing.  I don’t really get why there are certain topics you aren’t supposed to discuss while people are eating.  So what if Uncle Charlie is describing the gory details of his hernia surgery while you’re eating a spaghetti dinner?  I can’t relate to women who are embarrassed to breastfeed in public.  I suppose “modest” probably isn’t a word people use to describe me.

So I guess it’s no surprise that I’d like to give my son a similar upbringing.  I want him to learn about sex from his father and me, not from the other kids at school.  I don’t like the idea of a child being ashamed around his own parents.  I think if he can’t tell me about a personal problem at the age of 6 without one of us getting squeamish or uncomfortable it’s going to be very unlikely that he’ll come to me with a more serious problem later, like if he gets a girl pregnant at 16 or has alcohol at a party at 18 and needs me to come get him so he doesn’t drive drunk.  I hope neither of those ever happen, but I was a teenager once & I’m not naive.  Anything’s possible, and I just hope my son is open enough with me & trusts me enough to never be afraid to come to me.

Starting around the time Jacob could sit up on his own he’s been taking a shower with me.  It’s just easier.  It saves water & time, compared to bathing him separately) and it means I can actually get a decent shower in each day while still supervising him.  He doesn’t really nap, so I’m not sure I’d ever bathe if he didn’t just get in with me.  He sits on the shower floor playing with the shower sprayers or some water toys.

Ok, taking a shower with your toddler isn’t quite the same thing as having your teen call you & admit that he’s been drinking & needs you to come get him, but I suspect they are more similar than one might think.  Both have to do with forming a parent-child relationship built on mutual trust, respect, & a casual, relaxed feeling toward one another.

Here’s an article on this topic:

http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-okay-for-our-toddler-to-see-us-naked_11924.bc?scid=momstodd_20101228:3&pe=2UvRXaW&st=MjAxMTAxMTQ=

So, what do y’all think?  How much openness is too much for kids?  When do you start teaching modesty, and how do you do it so a child isn’t ashamed of his body nor uncomfortable around his own parents?  When is it time for a child to stop seeing the opposite-gender parent naked?  Thoughts?

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