Is it OK if my Kids See Me Naked At Home?
Many parents wouldn’t think twice about changing their clothes in front of their baby or toddler. But is it still appropriate as kids get older? At that point, the question of whether it’s OK for kids to see parents naked at home can be a delicate one.
Parents often find themselves asking this very question, so we thought of compiling expert advice on this matter.
Dr. Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, a board-certified pediatric psychologist with Beaumont Children’s in Royal Oak, says the answer could be different for each family based on their personal beliefs and habits.
“The short answer to the question is that it is going to kind of depend on the parent,” she says.
How family nudity can help your child
You can’t expect your child to learn about body image and body confidence in school. When you walk around with confidence in your skin, and its flaws, you make your child more confident in their skin and accepting of their body for what it is. Contrarily, when parents see nudity as something to be ashamed of, their kids adopt the same view and can grow up with body image issues. Additionally, when you are open to nudity, your child will find it easier to open up to you whenever they have questions about their body.
Cleaning Up Your Child's Perception and Expectations.
When your child sees you naked, it satisfies their curiosity. It demystifies the adult human body. Whether you hide your nudity or not, your kids will see naked people (especially naked women,) in the media. This in and of itself isn’t bad.
The bad thing is that the nude women we see in the media are typically nothing short of ‘perfect.’ All kids – boys and girls need to understand that bodies are not meant to be ‘perfect.’ Especially with extra pressure placed on women, it’s good for sons to understand that the women they meet are not meant to be perfect. Beauty is much deeper than skin level, and sometimes it's our flaws that create the unique something more beautiful, and certainly more interesting, than homogenous social media filters. Your daughter also needs to understand that real women have imperfect bodies and that loving herself and feeling good in her skin is the most important thing. The same things for sons or non-binary youth – everyone deserves to feel good inside their body and be loved for who they are, right now.
Learning That Nudity Is Not Sexuality
Exposing your child to non-sexualized nudity will also bring to their attention that getting naked does not always have to end in sex. This is particularly useful for males who might have an obsessive urge for sex, especially in adolescence. Bodies are bodies, and naked bodies are just normal and natural. They do not need to be automatically sexualized. Also, if your daughter grows up to be a mother, this kind of comfort will nudity will help her know she should never feel embarrassed about breastfeeding in public. The female body is not a sexual object.
At what age is it inappropriate for a child to see a parent naked at home?
What age nudity should stop inside the home is debatable. Limited research is available on the topic, so parents should use their comfort and their child’s comfort level to guide them.
“There’s no magical age” when it stops being OK for kids to see parents naked. The best bet is to follow your kids' cues.
Children as young as 3 and 4 can begin wanting privacy in the bathroom or when getting undressed, and parents might consider this a sign that the child isn’t comfortable with parental nudity either.
“Kids will kind of let you know. You can follow their lead,” Truesdale-Howard says. “At the end of the day, it’s going to depend on what your child is communicating to you and what they feel comfortable with. You’ll know because they might become silly or show that they’re embarrassed.”
Even parents who make it a point to be open with nudity can find that their children don’t feel the same, “You could be a nudist family and still have a kid that’s strongly against it,” Truesdale-Howard says.
Privacy and kids can take some extra navigation in these circumstances.
Strike a balance
Families might consider setting household boundaries around nudity – like only changing in private, for example, or explaining that nudity is OK at home but not in public. For daughters, it might be nice to mention that in some USA cities, and many countries, such as France, it’s perfectly normal for women to go topless, as well as men, especially at places like the beach. It’s unfortunate that in the USA there is so much stigma around breasts, but hopefully, in time, women can have the same comfort and top-free freedom as men. The bottom line is she should not feel any shame around her body.
“You want to strike a balance between adhering to whatever your family values are and what you do in your household but also preparing your child for the culture they live in,” she says.
If you do let your child see you naked, or if it happens by accident, be prepared for any body-related questions that might come up. The best you can do is maintain a matter-of-fact tone as you explain the anatomy behind your body.
If you notice your child starting to develop body shame, you can gently remind them that their body is beautiful and totally normal. You can ask if anyone’s said anything at school to make them feel uncomfortable. Since we live in a fairly body-negative society, it’s common for kids to become embarrassed by nudity at a certain point. You can respect this shift while at the same time reminding them that being naked is natural and nothing to be ashamed of and that they should never listen to anything or anyone that makes them feel embarrassed for who they are.
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Regardless of the approach, you decide to take, it’s essential to teach your kids about their bodies and how to engage in the world. Through your behavior, rules, and reactions, you can help them understand the importance and necessity of covering up when necessary and also feeling free to be naked when it’s safe and appropriate. Body confidence starts at home. As you help your kids grow up with body awareness and free of shame, it’s an opportunity to learn to love yourself more too.