I have always been a “nudie booty” in my own home. I would come home from work or class and just shed my clothes. I was that way before I got married, and I remained that way after I got Offbeat Wed.
It’s not so much that I dislike clothes; I actually love them quite a bit. I love to be able to express myself with my wardrobe, but when I want to relax, I don’t want anything to do with them.
Not even underwear. Nudie Booty! I just like nudity at home.
My husband had always liked it in the past. He’d come home from a long day at work to find his bare girlfriend sitting at her computer playing World of Warcraft, or his disrobed pregnant wife sleeping on the couch. It was my own body, and it wasn’t a secret.
He even thought it was cute after our first son was born to find the two of us fresh from the bath, napping in the bed.
But something changed when we found out our second child was a boy, too.
Not too long after the big gender reveal of our latest pregnancy, my husband came home and found me and our son, playing in the bathtub together.
He very calmly said “Don’t you think you should start covering up around him? He’s getting a little old for that.”
I just brushed it off saying that our two-year-old didn’t care or understand just yet.
Husband let it go.
But my nakedness has come up again
Our youngest son is about to turn one. Our oldest son is just over three, and well aware of the differences between my body parts and his and his brother’s.
The thought of my nudity at home around our sons has stirred up a sense of panic in my husband again.
He uses words like “appropriate” and “decent” and “private parts” to try to justify my need for covering up. I guess I still don’t really get it — why I, as their mother, would need to cover up around my sons.
Husband and I had a long talk about it one night because I honestly don’t understand his problem with my being bare around our boys and he rebutted that he didn’t understand why it was such a big deal to me.
That one stumped me.
I told him I’d think about it and get back to him.
Well, I’ve thought about it, and here’s why it’s a big deal: because my body isn’t bad.
Why should I hide my very real body from my sons? They’re going to be accosted by images of perfectly Photoshopped and smooth women their entire lives.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to show them, starting from a young age, what one real woman’s body looks like? A size 10, saggy belly, dimply, stretch-marked, real and very imperfect body.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to show them that bodies are nothing to be ashamed of? That just because you’re not what our society deems as perfect doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of your body. This is part of modeling health body image.
I want my sons to grow up with a much healthier view of their bodies than I had growing up.
I want them to see their bodies as instruments, not ornaments. Finely tuned machines that need to be treated well to run well with good clean fuel and plenty of exercise. To make them want to do all these things because they want to be healthy, not just skinny.
I want them to respect all shapes, sizes, and colors of people’s bodies for more than just their aesthetic appeal. To realize that there is much more to a woman (or any person) than just her physical body.
I feel like not changing who I am, not hiding my body or being ashamed of my body will be a good foundation and example to point my sons into this direction.
But I will adapt as they become older children
Of course, I do realize there will probably come a time when being around a noody-booty mommy will embarrass one or both of my boys, and when the time comes that one of them asks me to cover up, I will.
But for now, while they still have innocent pliable minds, I think my nooty booty will do them more good than harm.
If you’re navigating conversations about family nudity in YOUR home, here’s some further reading to do:
And now, courtesy of SP Families, I offer this reading list for other parents who want to raise children who aren’t afraid of nudity:
From Diapers to Dating: A Parent’s Guide to Healthy Children- From Infancy to Middle School by Debra W. Haffner
Beyond the Big Talk: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Teens- From Middle School to High School and Beyond by Debra W. Haffner
Ten Talks Parents Must Have with Their Children by Pepper Schwartz and Dominic Cappello
How to Talk to Your Child: It’s Best to Start Early but It’s Never Too Late- A Step by Step Guide for Every Age by Linda Eyre and Richard Eyre
Exploitation: Helping Kids Develop by Cindy Pierce
30 Days of Talks for Ages 12+: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Intimacy (Volume 3) by Educate and Empower Kids
It’s Not the Birds and the Bees!: How to Talk to Children by Dr. TaMara Griffin
Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids by Bonnie J. Rough
Comments on Family nudity: my sons see me nude at home
Oh wow, I don’t know where to begin agreeing with and encouraging you!
My parents and brother and I have always walked around the house (well okay, not in front of windows and front doors etc, but to and from the shower and such) in the nude – how very European of us 😉 – and I’m certain that (of course among other things) has had a positive effect on how we’ve gone about dating and the opposite sex, like there was less fear of the unknown, if that makes sense?
Anita, Like you , I was raised in a family where nudity was fine. I have two brothers and they seen me and my mother completely nude almost every day until they moved from home. We lived in a rural area with no close neighbors, so we often went nude outdoors. I loved the openness of nudity and am continuing that type of life. I feel like my mother was very smart by making sure we were very open that way. Of course we covered up if anyone came around, my mother was a very attractive woman and she would have had a yard full of admirers if she didn’t.
Hum… that’s given me something to think about. I am not a nude person, but I do often wander around in just undies and a tank in our house, and my daughter can do the same around bed time. You also have to go through my room to get to the bathroom or her room, so she often sees me after my shower, or in the throws of getting dressed.
I ask for privacy while naked naked, just because I feel it right for me, but I’ve wondered about our “pantsless” attitude for a while. I like your comment that there is nothing wrong with a child seeing a real body.
You’re right: you should stop walking around naked in front of your sons when they express discomfort with it. Typically, that begins to happen around age six, but everyone’s different.
Actually, this doesn’t “typically” happen unless or until children are taught to be uncomfortable around nudity, either by their parents, other adults or kids in their lives, or society in general. Being uncomfortable with nudity is not a natural human condition – it is a social artifact.
Eh, that’s not totally true. Around 4-5, young kids start to recognize that we wear clothes all the time. If confronted with someone who doesn’t – they will typically respond in one of three ways – be okay, be indifferent, or be uncomfortable (not because of the nudity per se, but because the behavior is counter to their every day experiences). And it’s totally okay to not want the world to see your body.
But again, wearing clothes all the time is historically and culturally bound. A person (children are people too) who is accustomed to seeing the body as normal and not something secret or to be hidden is less likely to feel uncomfortable about bodies.
Mhm. Also, there were and are many cultures where people wear little or no clothing, at least part of the year, and no one gets embarrassed about it because that is the cultural norm.
But agreed that it is ok to not want to have your body seen.
Agree entirely. However, feeling uncomfortable, though a social construct, is a real phenomena. So unless we are going to set up an alternative society, we have to accept that our kids will pick up many of the ‘norms’ out there – and we have to go with it, or risk making them feel uncomfortably different. Having said that, many families here in Europe go topless/nude on holiday together, with no problems at all because everyone is cool about it.
It didn’t happen in my house growing up…ever. And my own boys are 18 and 16 and while they don’t walk around nude (but one sleeps nude and is nude a lot in his own room), they haven’t YET expressed concern with much nudity. They still come talk to me in the shower or if I’m changing. I nurse their toddler and infant brothers openly.
And a breastfeeding woman gives them no pause at all.
My son is odd then, I guess. He’ll be 11 and this month and still doesn’t care if anyone else is naked. For a weird twist though, he doesn’t like to be naked himself. *shrugs* To each their own! 🙂
I gotta say…I am a bit uncomfortable with the idea that children should dictate how their parents choose to dress (or undress, as the case may be). It’s one thing if you refuse to put clothes on when their friends come over or something, but if they’ve grown up around you being naked all the time, I don’t see why you can’t continue to do it.
I think it would have really upset me as an adult to learn that my parent(s) had stopped doing something they really enjoyed, purely on my account.
Maybe I’m missing something too?
One thing you might be missing is–if the parents disagree, the kids pick up on that. My dad used to shower with me and my sister, and I was old enough to remember, but it was great, because showering with daddy was fun! He showed me how to shave (I’m a girl, but he showed me anyway) and we sang songs and stuff and it was the best thing ever. Also, we had a shower with a ledge I could sit on, so we were almost at eye-level. Had I been at exactly crotch-height, it might not have been so cool. I don’t know.
And then… he refused to put anything on in hot tubs, or when transferring from the shower to the bedroom, even though my mom asked him to. She was clearly uncomfortable, my sister was uncomfortable, and their discomfort made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t say anything. Because of social pressure to Be Cool.
It got more and more uncool as we got older, too, but I kept on not saying anything. I’m assuming Krystal isn’t a self-centered idiot like my dad, so I guess I’m just saying you gotta watch out and be sensitive to your children’s averted eyes and fake smiles. I’m sure you’ll make the right choice for your family. And even if you don’t, your boys will still be fine.
My boy is seven and we are both still very comfortably nude around each other. It will stop as soon as he tells me he’s uncomfortable with it. So far, he doesn’t give a toss, and it’s teaching him a lot of good things about body image. 🙂
As a son, my step mom enjoyed keeping me nude. That way she got closer to me. We started kissing each other. Sometimes i felt erect but she was least bothered. I always feel like hugging and liplocking her.
Sounds like you had a good relationship with your step mom, nothing wrong with being naked together. I bathed with my own mom from being a toddler until I was 15/16 and it got a bit tight for both of us to get into the tub, I never felt embarrassed or threatened we would help each other to wash and never had a problem with touching each others intimate parts, I grew up respecting the female form.
As mom got older she had problems with Arthritis and found it hard to get in and out of the bath tub, so I used to help her, by this time I was in my 40’s neither of us were embarrassed and I used to get naked to help her so’s not to get drenched when I helped her back out of the tub, over the years she had seen me get erections as a young guy and as I got older when I used to help her and it never worried either of us, she just took it to be the natural thing. After all she had washed it for me often enough when I was growing up and in my teens, so she was used to seeing it just as I was used to seeing her.
I like to sleep with just panties on, and I’ve always wondered if I would continue doing that when my baby is older. My husband is not as offbeat as I am, and I could see him making similar comments to me like the author’s husband did with her. This article has given me something to think about!
As a side note, I’m glad to see I’m not the only girl who has played World of Warcraft in the nude! Woo!
Haha, I’ve played Guild Wars and GW2 nude. I don’t play WoW because I find it too much of a grind, but everyone’s different. I’d like to think my nudie…or at least topless ways won’t change too much when I have kids, but I’ll play it by ear when the time comes.
My parents never walked around naked when I was little, but they did always sleep naked. This actually kept me from going to them if I was sick or scared in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what sex was, but I just knew that there could be things I shouldn’t see going on, and I wasn’t comfortable going into their bedroom. This was not something I ever vocalized to either of them. As an about-to-be Mama, I plan on always sleeping in at least a top and underwear. Just something to think about.
As a counter point, if your parents had walked around naked, you probably wouldn’t have thought that nudity was synonymous with things that children shouldn’t see. Food for thought.
Honestly, though, I think it depends entirely on how much and how early your child is exposed to the rest of society, and non-kid movies. I grew up with tons of adults as friends, and always watched movies with my family, no matter what the rating. I’m pretty sure by the time i was 5 I was highly aware of how society views nakedness, and I was on board with them already. I know that nude parents would have mitigated that a little, but likely not for very long.
My mom was a total nudie growing up, and I never wore shirts at home until I was at least 7. I routinely watched movies up to an R rating starting when I was like…5. I already knew that outside of the house, I was supposed to wear clothes, but I also knew that TV was “just pretend.” I have always had a really healthy body image and I feel like it comes from my mom’s comfort in her own “imperfect” skin.
I was exposed to a decent amount of society early with brothers so much older than I. Around 6 or 7, my mom started making me wear at least an undershirt, but that didn’t stop me from stripping my t-shirt off in the living room of a friends house once. I just didn’t understand what the big deal was about girls not wearing shirts. Boys didn’t have to wear shirts, I didn’t see why I had to. However, I’ve known guys that will not strip their shirt off in public, or outside, regardless of how hot they are. Some people are comfortable nude, or partially nude, and others aren’t and never will be.
It’s true! My parents were sometimes naked during the day, so when they slept naked, it seemed normal to us, and we just climbed right in.
I’ve been naked at 339 pounds in front of my son and at 129 pounds. I’ve been naked at 25 in front of my son and I’ve been naked at 49 in front of him. Now, I admit, I don’t lounge around naked, but I don’t do that alone either. I do however lounge around in panties and a bra. I also drop the towel and get dressed when my son is in the room. [At some point I started turning away from him whilst I was getting dressed, but I never stopped dropping the towel.] He’s never asked me to cover up and I never thought to ask him if he’d like me to. I can’t even remember when the last time was that I shut the door to my bedroom. He comes in and out whenever he pleases. Heck, quite often he’ll even come in the bathroom while I’m in the bath and have a chat. Bodies are just bodies.
And I bet when you’re old and he’s the one who has to take care of you, maybe help you out of the tub, you’ll be glad that the nudity issue isn’t one you need to “get over” between the two of you.
I showered with my mom pretty late (I’m a cis*girl), but she would get laundry out of the dryer–in the kitchen, at the extreme opposite end of the house from her bedroom–including bras, running out in nothing but underwear to do so. And let’s just say, these were not underwear that left anything to the imagination. My dad was known to lounge in boxers during warmer months, and if I wandered around in a tank top and underwear during the summer, no one ever said word one about it. My brother wasn’t one to do so, but he never said anything so it was a totally personal decision in our house. Full nudity seemed to be a little passe, but underwear was fair game.
Bonus, if a man from our family sat wrong in a kilt, it wasn’t a big deal, even as an awkward teenager. A simple reminder to “check your sporran” is all that’s needed to avoid continued up-skirt shots of the family jewels.
My brother and I grew up with a very open mother. I must say that even as we got into teen years and beyond my brother and I would both end up having our deepest conversations with her as she soaked in the bathtub. I don’t know if it fostered a positive body image onto us because I’d say we both lack in that department. I would say it creates a special bond and drops social barriers to let a wonderful relationship flourish. I am and my fiancé is a nudie booty as well and we are not small people, I hope to be open the same way my mother was with me with the child growing inside me right now. Good job for standing your ground, allow your husband time but do try to get him to understand the importance of such a great relationship you will have with your sons!
There are two points here, of which only one was acknowledged at the conclusion: awareness of awkwardness in someone who isn’t explicitly saying anything to that effect.
However, you were quite aware that your awkwardness was generated by the other two members of your family who had an issue.
One can easily infer that the dad ought to have been more mindful of your growing discomfort and adapted accordingly. But it’s the mother in your case who wasn’t able to be aware enough to appreciate the affect her emotions were weighing upon you, and as a result, ended up turning something innocent and enjoyable and unharmful into an experience that is sounding more distasteful than it should have been. It’s also something most people will immediately say reflects poorly on the father–a man–who should not be “inappropriately” exposing himself to a growing female child. Of course, that is ridiculous and is based on a predicate that most dads abuse their daughters, which we all know isn’t the case.
But no one pauses to think about the damage caused by the mother creating an issue where there was none previously, and the last effect of it. I’m not suggesting it’s in any way destroyed your life, but it doesn’t sound like it’s instilled a sense of positivity or even nonchalant indifference about the general possibilities of fathers and daughters being naked together without it being weird or uncomfortable.
Most people tend to feel a bit of that, and it’s always something imposed upon us rather than a natural barrier that is meant to stop sex within families. The only way this ends up happening is by the fetishising of a situation or act that everyone around a person believes is wrong or puts measures in place to actively prevent it, hence the excitement for some in circumventing these measures in order to break the rules and go against the norm. It’s the mechanism behind lots of paraphilias, such as scat, and is reliant upon a child being raised to view two separate activities as each being undesirable, then learning that one of these is pleasurable, which can subconsciously bridge the same feeling of pleasure to the other activity that becomes a fetish.
Studies of nudist families and communities have demonstrated lower incidences of rape, molestation, incest, misogyny, homophobia, body dysmorphia, low self-esteem, and unwanted pregnancies; compared to the rest of society. In many cases, they are a few standard deviations lower, particularly the attitudes boys have towards females and female sexuality.
This attached itself to the wrong message. This isn’t a reply to Dana’s message and now I can’t find the one that it pertains to. Apologies for sounding massively out of context.
This. This is super important. Teaching your boys that nudity isn’t sexual nor is it for their benefit will go a long way toward them treating women like human beings when they’re adult men.
YES! Nudity is incredibly over (and unnecessarily) sexualized in US culture. I grew up in a family where grandma peed in front of me and I talked to my mom while she took a bath, but nudity was a female thing, for other females. I remember the first time I was around a lot of nudity (on The Playa over 4th of July in my early twenties): people were naked and swimming in a natural hot spring. I was nervous at first until I realized that no one there actually gave a rat’s ass about everyone else being naked. No one was “checking people out” or approaching people in a sexual way. We were all just hanging out and happened to be naked. And there were a variety of body types (and modifications!) I had never seen before. Ever since, I have been so much more comfortable with my own nudity. Now, I am definitely naked in front of my two year old a lot. Hopefully, I’m making it enough a part of our family culture that it will be a non issue growing up.
I believe that every family is different and whatever works for your family is awesome but I will say my husband has brought up to me (but probably never his mother) that he was very uncomfortable with her being naked around the house and wearing “slinky” nightgowns (to the point that he’s asked me not to wear such nightclothes as it reminds him of his mom). Again, he’s probably never said anything to her about it- he avoids confrontation with anyone but me at all costs. While I don’t want my kids to feel embarrassed by the naked body, I’m not sure I’ll ever live in a “naked” house. On the flip side my husband is very comfortable being naked around the house so who knows.
The same is also true of my brother and me after we reached a certain age. We could hear our parents having sex sometimes in the middle of the night, and once we were old enough to know what that meant and to know it should be private, seeing them nude made us very uncomfortable because it reminded us of hearing their very intimate moments.
Which actually raises a point that I haven’t really seen anyone else make yet. Sometimes, your child may not be able to verbally tell you they are uncomfortable, or articulate why, even if he/she grows up in a very open, loving, communicative household. If the parents going to be openly nude around the house (which I think is OK if it works for the whole family), the parents should make sure to pay attention to non-verbal cues of discomfort. If your child is ALWAYS dressed while you are naked, for example, his/her actions may be speaking louder than words. Also, if your child can’t look at you while you’re naked, or if they can’t stop looking at you, it may be a sign they are uncomfortable and should necessitate a conversation.
I brought that up in my earlier comment. That’s what had happened to me. I never told my parents that their nudity was the reason I wouldn’t go to them when sick or scared. They knew that I would never go to them unless it was an absolute emergency, but never figured out why. Just because your kids don’t say anything doesn’t mean they’re comfortable.
One of the reason why a child or for that matter adult might feel uncomfortable is the inability to affectively communicate ones feelings. How many of you actually have conversation with your parents on nudity or sexuality growing up?
I have the no-clothes policy with my children (not avoiding covering up if they are in the room while I’m changing, using the bathroom, etc.) until it feels “inappropriate”. I don’t know how to describe that moment, but I felt it with my older child, so I’ve tried to not openly be naked around him. My children are of a literal world, so I have the double duty of explaining why people do things, and why it is or is not okay to do things. I admire people who can be openly naked around their children and spouses. I’ve had some serious body issues for many, many years and it wasn’t until maybe 2 years ago that I finally started walking around naked in the bedroom with my boyfriend in there.
My husband and I liked to be in various states of undress when we’re home alone (alone being alone or with just each other around), and we agreed before we got pregnant that we wouldn’t stop doing that because there were kidlets around–unless kidlets had friends over, of course. I came from a home that consisted of Mom, Dad, and the three of us girls. We had no qualms of walking around in bras and whatnot (though not naked) unless Dad was home; if we weren’t fully dressed, he was very uncomfortable.
So hubby & I sleep naked, and frankly, I hope that my daughter feels okay doing that when she’s older and making her own nightwear choices. I personally didn’t start sleeping naked till I was in my 20’s no matter how hot it was outside. I want my daughter to be a lot more comfortable in her skin (and around other people’s skin) than I was growing up.
In my opinion, as I can see is the many people opinion, nudity didn’t not be confused with sex. Why the people are nude at home? I guess the ask is another one: Why use colthes at home? We, me and my husbund are naturists and being nude is “natural”. The kids growing up “au naturel” is normal, they won’t have the curiosity about nudity, mainly about the opposite gender. They will growing up without traumas, with strong self-confidence. Is not wrong with nudity from the mama or papa or kids in any age, same in the teenager. The fear is in the mind of people. Try live more natural, I guess that you will enjoy. Go at least once in a live to a nude beach or nude resort and you will see what I’m telling. Everybody that live a social nudity once, don’t go back anymore, the mind opened forever and you see the life from different way, pretty better.
I totally agree with Bianca`s position in regards to parents and children being nude at home. I never had any such issues when I was growing up. Both my parents were naturists too. I felt I could do what every kid does at home without the need to wear clothes. Never crossed my mind to think that my parents were stepping out of line by being nude in front of me.
Both of my parents would walk around naked sometimes when I was growing up and I would do the same. Once I hit the awkward teenage girl years I started becoming less comfortable with my own body and walking around naked, but my parents still would from time to time (getting out the shower, getting dressed etc.) and it was never something that made me uncomfortable or thought was weird.
My husband and his ex wife also practiced the same thing with their son and he would walk around naked too. He just turned 12 and has just now started to ask for privacy when he is naked, which we obviously give him. My husband and I both sleep naked now, and his son knows this, but it doesn’t stop him from coming in when he needs something from us.
I really think being comfortable with nudity in the house helps kids be more comfortable with their bodies and the bodies of other people. When and if they ask you to cover up, do it. If they don’t ever ask, don’t worry about it.
I love most of your comment, but (respectfully) disagree with your final sentence: “When and if they ask you to cover up, do it. If they don’t ever ask, don’t worry about it.”
I’m actually cutting and pasting a comment I just made above to explain why I disagree:
Sometimes, your child may not be able to verbally tell you they are uncomfortable, or articulate why, even if he/she grows up in a very open, loving, communicative household. If the parents going to be openly nude around the house (which I think is OK if it works for the whole family), the parents should make sure to pay attention to non-verbal cues of discomfort. If your child is ALWAYS dressed while you are naked, for example, his/her actions may be speaking louder than words. Also, if your child can’t look at you while you’re naked, or if they can’t stop looking at you, it may be a sign they are uncomfortable and should necessitate a conversation.
Sorry, I guess I didn’t really clarify what I meant by the kid asking you to cover up. It definitely came out different than I meant it now that I’m reading it again.
I totally agree with you. You need to look for the verbal and non-verbal cues to know if your kid is uncomfortable with it. It really comes down to knowing your kid and paying attention to what they are and sometimes aren’t saying.
The people need to know that the nudity not happen only in your houses. The kids need to know that the people don’t comment with others, but that they stay also naked in your houses, and what happened in your house, also happen in another houses. Although the people don’t walk nude outside, or when they visit another people, are clothed, but doesn’t mean that don’t take off your clothes at home and that the nudity is something wrong. Tell to the kids that nudity is natural for them and for all
It seems to me that everyone in the family needs to be listened to on this stuff. When it comes to clothing/naked norms in my house I try to listen to my own level of comfort and the hidden lessons in what my dress or undress says to my kids(what about it evokes strong emotion from me? why?), my spouse’s comfort levels (after all if I am choosing to do something involving our children that makes my spouse uncomfortable this sends messages to them too), and the kids’ own cues, verbal and non-verbal.
I don’t think that family nakedness is the only way or even necessarily the best way to communicate comfort and body acceptance to children. It may be a good way, though.
Carry on, my nude good woman! CARRY ON! I think you’ve got it just right 🙂
Although I am not disagreeing with a lot of the arguments around nudity in the home — I love the points about body confidence and raising boys to have a positive attitude towards their own and women’s nudity — I do think that there is a second point here for discussion.
In a lot of the examples that are coming up in response to the original post, people are saying that nudity is the norm in their homes as a result of agreement between both parents. In the original poster’s story, though, one of the parents, the dad, is saying he isn’t comfortable with the nudity.
I think the father’s feeling that he’s not comfortable with nudity is just as valid a point of view as the mother’s feeling that she is. They need to reach an agreement between them about levels of nudity in their home that both partners can be comfortable with, or else arguments between them about it is going to shout to their kids louder than any number of layers that nudity is a big deal. Just as a previous poster pointed out that kids might express their discomfort with nudity by always being clothed while a parent is naked, so kids will pick up on the message if one of their parents is always clothed while the other is naked.
Yes. Thank you. This is what I was thinking the whole time reading the article and the comments.
There are a lot of ways to parent, and a lot of opinions on all sorts of issues, but in the end of the day the most important thing in a two-parent home is for those parents to find a parenting style that suits them both.
As much as you may feel that your nudity is important to your children, your husband’s comfort level is also important. Articulate your feelings to him (as I’m sure you did before posting this article) and find a way to accomplish your goals without alienating your husband.
Well… I have one quibble with your sentence: “I think the father’s feeling that he’s not comfortable with nudity is just as valid a point of view as the mother’s feeling that she is.”
The difference is between the decision about what to do with your OWN body, and what someone else is doing with their body. The difference is between “Here’s what I’m going to do to make myself comfortable” and “Here’s what YOU should do to make ME comfortable.”
I agree that living together and being a family together necessitates consideration of everyone’s comfort level, and we’d really get nowhere if we only considered what we wanted for ourselves without taking others’ needs into account, but I still think it’s sketchy to say they’re equal or equivalent needs.
And going back to the original post, I’m gonna go ahead and get all feminist about this: “Well, I’ve thought about it, and here’s why it’s a big deal: because my body isn’t bad.”
The world is full of men telling women what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies. Patriarchy is all about women believing that how they feel in their bodies is secondary to how other people feel about their bodies. I’m positive this particular man and this particular couple does not intend to reproduce that dynamic, but regardless of intent that’s what’s happened, and honestly I think how they talk about this conflict and how they resolve it WILL have implications for how their children think about women and women’s right to decide what to do with their own bodies.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate a bit here, because while I agree in principle that someone doesn’t have the right to say “what you’re doing with your body doesn’t make me comfortable, stop it”, I don’t think that fully encompasses this particular situation. If the original poster was talking about her then-boyfriend coming home at the beginning of their relationship and finding her naked on the couch and asking her to put some clothes on, I would utterly agree with your response. If my partner had walked in on me naked at the beginning of our relationship and said anything like that, I’d have had serious questions about whether or not I wanted to be with someone that wanted me to hide my not-perfect-but-proud-it’s-mine body away like a dirty secret.
But the original poster isn’t — or isn’t just, at least — talking about her partner asking her to cover up more. She’s talking about her co-parent expressing that he is growing uncomfortable with a parenting choice that affects their children. He may have very real reasons for his discomfort with his partner’s nudity around their children which, with a bit of time and thought, he could articulate just as clearly and convincingly as the original poster articulated her point of view. He may just have grown up in a family where nudity was kept behind closed doors and is struggling to get to grips with his partner’s different approach. Possibly, he himself is just a private or body shy person and, like some previous posters, was made uncomfortable around parents who were as comfortable with nudity as his partner, a situation he is trying to prevent for his own children. Whatever his reasons, however, they deserve to be heard out by his partner and an agreement reached between them on what is best for their children.
As I said in my original comment, I like the discussion around encouraging positive attitudes in her sons towards their own and women’s nudity. But if you think it’s sketchy to say that the pro-nudity parent and anti-nudity parent have “equal or equivalent needs”, I think it’s sketchy to suggest that the mother’s point of view here should be somehow privileged over the father’s as to what is best for their children. Besides, nothing will make the kids more confused and uncomfortable about nudity than the sense that Dad isn’t comfortable when Mom is naked. And they will pick up on that if the parents can’t agree on what and when to cover up.
I definitely agree with you about teaching healthy attitudes about bodies in your home with your family. But beware about dismissing what your partner is expressing is important to him. Aren’t you a parenting team and isn’t he equally entitled to decide how you two parent in this area? And while I think you have a few years before it becomes as you put it, “embarrassing” for your sons, I encourage you to really consider the problem with leaving it open-ended: it puts the burden on your son to display his discomfort. It’s possible that as he turns 5 he’ll start to feel uncomfortable but not want to hurt your feelings by saying so.
I was JUST about to mention that the reason I would suggest covering up is because your boys might eventually be uncomfortable/embarrassed by it. But then you mentioned it yourself. So… for what it’s worth, so long as you know that yourself, I think there’s no problem with the course you’re on. Kudos for attempting to teach your sons that women don’t come airbrushed.
Grew up in the country.
Kids naked, parents naked, it’s hot and dirty in the garden, I don’t think anybody cared.
It was a kid-led nakedness, mostly – if the kids were naked, parents could be naked too, but my parents didn’t usually disrobe first? In retrospect, what a weird system, though it worked for us.
We skinnydipped for a lot longer than we just casually hung out naked and weirdly nakedness was mostly an outdoor activity.
I don’t really know what to make of it all – but, seriously, good on you for thinking about it. It seems like if you’re just naked/barely-dressed un-sexually (ie not only in the bedroom or sexy undies) then you’re probably fine. Seeing my parents’ bodies in a boring context didn’t do me any harm, and maybe even some good (so THAT’s what adult men look like from dad, and a premonition of my future butt from mom). I also thought my body was “cool” further into puberty than most of my friends, but that could’ve been parenting differences other than nudity policies.
My son is three and he has always showered with me. I have had the question, why do girls have big boobs and boys still have boobs but little ones. I have thought that maybe he is getting a little old, and when I change in front of him, I turn my back… But to be honest there was a moment a few weeks ago when I pulled out a pregnancy book (I am 11 weeks pregnant now) with a picture of a naked woman and what the baby looks like inside my belly.The first thing my husband says when I show him- Geez, look at her boobs! The first thing that my son says when I show him the same picture- What are those? (Intestines) So I think I will just keep doing what works for us until it doesnt work anymore.
So, I actually have a question. I’m not even sure how I feel about this perspective but I think it bears consideration. (I grew up with same-sex nudity ie: mom, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, all being totally normal; my dad was the only guy around and he always at least wore underwear. My daughter is nearly 2 and I’m naked with her frequently, my husband wears underwear around the house now because of his comfort level and also because she has started being grabby!) My question is: Is this necessarily a question of how comfortable the child is with nudity? Does the parent have the right to be clothed or nude in their own home however they are comfortable? Obviously, we put our own needs a distant second to our childrens’ needs in most circumstances, but should this be one of them? Is it possible that by trying to be super sensitive to a child’s feelings, we are compromising our responsibility to teach them that everyone’s body is their own? That they should not be subject to someone else’s opinion of what is right for their own body? How much should we be careful of our children, and how much should we teach them that the world isn’t about making them comfortable?
Again, I am really not sure how I feel about this argument, but I would really appreciate your opinions.
Thank you for asking this! I am really trying to understand the assumption that a lot of commenters have, that if the child wants you to cover up, they necessarily should.
For my part, one of the most important lessons I feel I learned from my parents was that they were separate people from me, with their own lives, interests, dreams, etc. that definitely *included* me but weren’t *about* me.
I feel like if a child has difficulty dealing with their parents’ nudity, it would be better to talk to them about it and find out why it makes them uncomfortable, and help them work through it, then to just cover up when you see it bothers them. I feel like covering up like that gives the signal that nudity is shameful.
The thing that I find interesting is that there appears to be an assumption that nudity is inherently the better thing, and that if nudity makes someone uncomfortable then they have a problem that should be worked through.
If that uncomfortablenss is motivated by poor body issues, or a skewed view of the human body, then of course those are things that should be talked about and worked through. But shyness is a natural personality trait, and I think that if someone doesn’t want to be nude, or doesn’t want to be around people who are nude then that’s perfectly acceptable. Isn’t that why as a Western society we have agreed to wear clothes in public? Out of respect for the choices of others, right?
When it comes to the choices made at home, I think the greater lesson here is that relationships (familial and romantic) are about compromise. What is this same question was about one partner being vegan and the other not? Should one person be able to impose their views on the other?
Perhaps there is a way to appease both parents here. We have occasional nudity at my home. I sleep naked, and walk from the shower to my bedroom nude, and I enjoy lounging with just my silk robe on. My son (almost 5) has bathed with me, slept next to me, and has always enjoyed his own nudity. My partner however isn’t so much into the nude thing, and the pre-schooler crawling all over him nude makes him uncomfortable (what can I say, getting tea bagged by a 5yr old isn’t his thing.). We don’t use shame to ask my son to put his clothes on. We simply say, “hey I know its fun, but if you want to do this activity then you need clothes”. I think in doing so he’ll be fine with his bodies and others (well aside from his obsession with boobs) but I also want him to understand the importance of showing compassion for others by being considerate of them as well.
Wow Tess! you make a very good point. Are we here on this earth to only make others comfortable? My rule is if it doesn’t hurt me and it doesn’t hurt you, then Im ok with it (and I don’t mean your opinion on how I should live my life or how we ( the family) should live.
Another big question is: why do we feel uncomfortable being nude? Answering this question may solve the problem.
I had swimming class when I was a little girl. Up until my fifth birthday, I would go in and change with my dad in the men’s room. I guess because of that ‘rule’, 5 became a magic age for me. ALTHOUGH I have to admit, I may feel a little bit weirder if we have a girl and my husband is around her naked, only because of the grabby factor. My son reaching out to grab my husband’s penis in the shower was hilarious, but the idea of a bay girl doing it seems less so. I’m not proud of feeling that way, but I guess I do!
For occasional nudity or partial nudity, I don’t think it is ever completely inappropriate – walking through the house to the shower, etc. – although at puberty if would have made me really uncomfortable!
As for me, I have no intent of covering up. Thankfully my husband and I both grew up with naked moms and it’s no big deal. I guess we’re starting a naked house over here!
The sexualization of women’s bodies is a real problem in the U.S. and elsewhere. Marketing, movies, TV, and porn (can’t pretend it doesn’t exist!) all tell men AND women that women’s bodies are for sex first. (For example, a nude man in a film causes a completely different reaction in an audience than a nude woman.) I can’t speak for anyone else, but this sexualization of women’s bodies makes me feel like a prisoner.
I appreciate that Kyrstal is trying to combat this in her own family, and I find it inspiring that she somehow managed to develop such a healthy relationship with her own body. I don’t know how well (or for how long) the strategy will work, though. The outside forces are real and they seep into every family. A larger scale cultural change of the understanding of women’s bodies is really needed.
I do think that her partner’s discomfort is coming from a correlation between her body and sex, which is also why he enjoyed the nudity in the just-we-two context. Ultimately, it may be difficult for a male partner to understand that Krystal’s “nudie booty” preference is political (in the way that the personal is political), and so his being against it may also feel political to her. Essentially, she is saying, “My body is not an object. My body is not sex. My body is just my body.” And he’s saying, “I’m not so sure about that,” and the larger culture echoes this position.
I agree, is necessary separate sex and nudity. The human body can be seen in a health family without problems. The good sense must be a good factor, without shames or sexuality. Everybody will growing up and need to know that a relationship between people can have sex, but see other people naked not necessary has a sexual connotation
My dad was never naked around us ( I have 1 brother and 1 sister). My mom on the other hand always was and still is (I am the oldest and my bro and sis are 23 and 19). It has always been totally normal to see my mom in her bra and underwear and panty hose! running around the house. My mom has always been overweight, but very accepting of her body. My brother is very respectful of women and has never commented on my mother’s choice of non-clothing around the house. My parent’s room was always a place we all gathered. To this day it is totally normal to see my mom laying in bed with me, my sister or my brother laying beside her talking or watching tv. I think her openness made us feel much closer to her. My dad on the other hand has a more distant relationship with us. We love him dearly but we are less likely to snuggle up to him. I understand why your husband might feel uncomfortable, but I think it is complete natural.