The naked truth about parenting
What’s best when it comes to nudity in the home?
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Behind closed doors it shouldn’t matter what any adult chooses to wear (or not to wear). That is, until children come along. Some parents instantly shy away from being naked in their own homes in front of their kids, while others don’t have a problem with family nudity.

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The ultra-conservative approach is that adults should cover up, even in front of tiny children. Reasons given include avoiding “confusion” for the child, preventing awkward questions about hairy bits and the why mommy’s “front bum” is different to daddy’s front bits. This extends to blush-worthy loud discussions of these bits in supermarket queues. The conservative approach includes separate bathing/showering times for kids and parents.

Some adults just prefer to be covered up as a personal choice.

A more relaxed attitude is for parents to bath with their kids while they are younger and to simply walk around the house without clothes if they haven’t dressed yet. This usually changes as the children get older (perhaps around late toddler-hood or in the pre-school years). Some parents extend this as far as the moment their kids hit puberty and develop self-consciousness or embarrassment at seeing their parents nude. MetroParent.com suggests that kids will often let their parents know when they're uncomfortable with nudity by wanting to change in the bathroom, for example. That same writer says it's normal for kids to see their parents nude in a non-sexual context.

There are some families that don’t worry about nudity within the home at all, no matter how old the children are. It’s simply seen as part of life.

For cover-up parents, the latter can be extremely disturbing as a concept. For the nude parents, the idea of covering up in front of a baby is rather nuts.

Sexuality and child protection

The main discussion behind nudity in the home revolve around sexuality and the protection of the child.

While family being naked around each other is not an expression of sexuality, there are times when this can be inappropriate: if one person is only introduced to the family as the partner of a single parent later on, for example. In a social climate such as South Africa, parents can be extremely protective when it comes to their children, as the rape and molestation of minors is common.

Parents often choose a low-nudity attitude in order to teach their younger children about personal privacy and protective behaviour when it comes to their bodies. This is a healthy concept provided that it’s not drummed in with threats: “If you don’t cover your body, you’ll be attacked!”, for example.

Certainly, even if your family is liberal when it comes to nudity in the home, covering up in the presence of visitors and family members from outside the home helps to prevent any kind of ambiguity.

One school of thought is that not being too stressed about nudity helps the child to have a more secure attitude about their own body. In stuff.co.za, one parent insists that her kids are more comfortable with their bodies having seen hers: they don’t have the misconception that a naked body is supposed to look like the one presented in the media: a movie star or model’s body is rarely a good indication of what we look like under our clothes.

She adds that this helps her kids to be more confident.

What would you say? How much nudity in the home is acceptable?

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