The naked truth about family
How does your family deal with nudity in the home?
While chatting to my best friend she commented that she doesn’t understand why grown-up children don’t like to think of their parents as sexual beings. She has no problem with her mom who is in her early sixties talking about her sex life. Now I don’t want to know or even think about my mom as a sexual being, after all- it’s my mom! This got me thinking about differences in upbringing and about being open about sexuality and nakedness within families.

Nude or not?

I grew up with a mom and a stepdad who had different ways of dealing with nakedness. My mom would frequently walk around naked and I didn’t think anything of it, but my stepdad would never walk around unclothed. Maybe because he wasn’t my biological father he felt the need for modesty (or maybe because he is British), he always bathed with the door closed and so I did too.

As a teenager I went to a friend’s house and they were also open about their nakedness. They had one bathroom and her dad had no problem with walking in while she was in the bath to use the loo. There was a sense of unashamed openness.

When puberty closes the door

Later on I had a family of my own, and we also adopted the open philosophy of walking around naked in front of our children or changing with the bedroom door open. This was not strange to my kids because it was how they grew up. There did come a time when they felt the need to ‘cover up’: I remember just before my eldest daughter started closing the bathroom door. She was around 12-years-old and had gone in for a shower. My son, then 7,  went into the bathroom to brush his teeth and came running out almost hysterical. He was shouting “Mommy, mommy, Cherilyn is a grown up!” Puzzled, I asked, “What do you mean?” He said, “She has hair….you know…down THERE” After that Cherilyn started bathing/showering with the door closed. In turn when my son hit puberty he too started bathing with the door locked. I’m still not sure whether I was sad at the loss of his innocence and his need to cover up in front of his mom, or if I was proud of the fact that my baby was growing up and taking responsibility for his body by showing modesty.

The privacy option

I’m still not quite sure if there is a 'best' route to take when it comes to being openly naked in front of family. I do know that being open and free will seem natural and hopefully this will promote a sense of openness so that awkward sex talks will come as a natural discussion. This may help if your child has a bad experience in this area, as he or she will be less shy about discussing an ‘embarrassing’ moment. On the other hand there is definitely something to be said for being ‘private’ about your privates and promoting a sense of modesty. Modesty about the body may come from a particular cultural background, too, or be be limited to only males being naked in front of other males/females on front of other females. Some families are fine with nudity when the kids are small, but cover up when the kids become teens.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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