Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Naked's Not News

This is more of a musing post because I'm not sure where our parenting practices will end up.  So, as a new parent, it's no big deal for my infant to see me naked.  Changing a dirty shirt, getting into pajamas, I didn't hide from his baby gaze.  Fast forward to toddlerhood and it was helpful for him to see us using the bathroom as part of toilet training.  Again, no big deal for us to help him change dirty clothing or to change our own.  Now, I have a six year old and I would have thought that, by now, nudity would be different.  To my surprise, it's still the same.  Literally, naked's not news.  He can dress and bathe himself, but if we're both ready to rinse off hot tub chemicals at the same time, we'll get into my shower together for two minutes (it's the only one with a hand-held sprayer).  If I'm changing into pajamas and he comes in with a question, I don't duck behind a door or sternly invoke the privacy card (*more later).  Basically, he has complete comfort with the body as something not to be hidden and as something normal.  These interactions have remained consistently positive.

Now, I'm curious when this is going to change?  I can imagine it will get to a point where our current openness is no longer appropriate i.e. a teenager might have a confusing response.  I know the norms in other countries are quite different (nude beaches) and the separation between nudity and sexuality is the cultural norm.  We even have a friend who runs an Alaskan adventure business and they only have one sauna shower for their staff, including teenagers.   That's what's available for all their staff to get clean once a day and being naked is rather essential.  I also remember going to camp where there was a communal shower, but that was divided by gender.  I like that my son has no shame in his body.  I'm so impressed with how much of a non-issue this is for him.  In contrast, my husband spent a significant portion of his childhood without a mom and remembers that even at my son's age he had anxiety and confusion about a woman's body and how it was different (not anatomically, just not part of the normal).

Just to clarify regarding privacy, when my son was much younger and had a natural curiosity about bodies, he learned about which parts of the body are private.  He knows those parts are not to be touched on other people and he knows those parts of his his body are private too.  He has learned to close the bathroom door when we have guests and he is slowly learning about changing in his room during those occasions too.  He understands the concept of privacy and puts it under the category of politeness and respect.  He also understands how some people are closer in relation to him and there are different appropriate interactions.

So, again, I'm musing.  I'm curious when, if ever, did you insist on privacy when changing?  Are the privacy rules different for the parent of the opposite gender?  I'm figuring that my son will make it clear for me, by his behavior, when "naked is news".  Clearly, there is a connection between nudity and sexuality at some point.  I don't want him to be confused when he starts making that connection.  For now, I'll observe and enjoy how purely joyous he feels within his own body.  I just wonder, will it change, or will he maintain this view of the body as a unique part of each person, a separate evaluation from sexual desire?  


  1. Naked's not news around here either, and my oldest is nearly eight. He has begun to ask for privacy a little more often, however, so I think it might be the beginning of a new phase of privacy. But like you, I don't know for sure!

    My daughter, nearly five, is the Nakedest Child on the Face of the Planet. I have a difficult time imagining a time when she'll ever need privacy, but I suppose it will come! And I plan to use nakedness as a potty training strategy for my youngest this spring/summer.

    All of our kids bathe and shower with us at least sometimes, and nudity has never been an issue. We've handled the issue of private parts in the same way, too. They understand about not touching the genitals of others, and we have some hilarious conversations to prove it!

    They are learning about privacy in other ways, too--knocking on bathroom doors, for example, and everyone is free to say "I just need to be by myself right now." That's part of privacy, too. Sometimes I just want to get dressed without an audience, and it has nothing to do with concerns about anyone seeing me get changed!

    I imagine that the connection between nudity and sex will come as their bodies mature and they hit puberty. Right now, the primary connection with nudity seems to be thinking it's funny to moon people. Sigh.

  2. Jenn- Ryan sounds so much like Cameron to me! So, I'm guessing I have at least another few years then :) Thanks for the comment and for the warning! I haven't had any intentional mooning challenges yet, but he doesn't care a hoot if pants are loose and dropping every few steps. He doesn't even notice if they're not half way down the thighs and slowing his movement!

  3. I am also very struck by the similarities between Ryan and Cameron! Their personalities seem very similar, and their interests and ways, too. We have to get them together one day--they'll either be the best of friends or possibly they'll have no use for each other. :o)

    And you correctly assumed that the Mooner is Ryan. Is it a boy thing or an age thing? Oh, and the other funny thing he and his buddies next door like to do is drop trou in the front yard and play "pee pee light sabers." I am not making this up! I'm glad they all have enough sense not to "battle" AGAINST each other. Poor Morgan tries to emulate the boys sometimes, but it's just not the same for us girls, is it?

    We have some seriously funny conversations around here about everybody's personal business. It will only get funnier as the youngest becomes easier to understand.

  4. Oh, and this is completely off-topic, but I was wondering if you'd share some information about autism in a future post. I don't know too much about it specifically, and I'd love to learn more.

  5. Jenn- I'd love to get together! Anytime you're feeling like a venture Seattle-ward, I'm up for hosting and I come equipped with a high chair and crib. I doubt I'd get my husband to Atlanta, but we can hope and perhaps a future conference will work out. Woah, I'm warned about mooning and light sabers too! [Shaking with trepidation. Not really.] Also, I'd be glad to do a post on Autism, it's really broad as a topic. Hmmm, Cameron's specific issues with hyperlexia might be more informative. I'll do some brainstorming :)

  6. @Jenn: I wouldn't worry too much about Morgan. She'll figure out how to use the force as soon as her boobs come in. :)
    Haven't we all?

    Fun post, Rachel- thanks for pointing me here.

  7. What fun! Thanks for all the comments here and...
    ... on my two favorite parenting lists under the title "Naked Around Kids":

  8. Rachel,

    I'm starting to approach the topic of nudity with Athena. It's not that I care if she runs around the house buck naked, but she has been trying to run around school that way, too, which some of the other parents might object to. What I've decided to do (since I'm running a business out of my home, this is much more necessary for me) is to tell Athena that it's okay to be naked in private (in her room, in the hot tub when it's just our family, etc) but that when we're in public (in the preschool part of the house or in view of the neighbors, or out in the community) or when we have guests (if other people join us in the hot tub, for instance) we have to wear clothes. I think this is probably most effectively done with modeling (we always wear swimsuits when we have guests or go to a public pool, etc, and although we sleep naked and don't hesitate to walk around our room naked in view of the kids, we put on clothes before we walk out into the living room.)

    I too, like that Athena is so unconcerned with nudity, and hope that the nonchalant attitude continues throughout adolescence and adulthood, but I figure if she's going to get along in the world she'll have to learn some of the social mores and basic ettiquite (like closing the door in public restrooms.) For now, though, it is refreshing to see her so comfortable with her own body. Thanks for the post.


  9. Mia- I completely agree. We're working on the privacy concept with Cameron too, but he'll still strip his clothes in front of twenty people if we mention it's bed time when we're having a party. Closing the bathroom door we've been more successful with and respecting people's privacy areas, so hopefully the idea will bridge to privacy when he thinks about switching to pajamas! We've definitely learned to be more clear with our reminders and include a privacy comment when guests are around!