(CMR) As parents, you may wonder if it is ok for your children to see you naked, especially those of the opposite sex; some experts said it is acceptable, but there are some things to consider.
Tiffany R. Jansen, Parents Magazine writer, explained that research on the topic is limited but said one study found exposure to parental nudity had no harmful effects for kids aged 3 to 6.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with being nude with members of your family,” Paul Abramson, a professor at UCLA focusing on human sexuality, said, according to Jansen.
However, Jansen said it can still be a tricky topic for any parent to handle, especially as their kids start getting older.
She explained several ways to navigate the topic of nudity with children and explained when it might be time to start covering up:
Set Boundaries Around Nudity
According to Jansen, experts say it’s important to set some ground rules around nudity in the home. Make it clear to your child that the clothing-optional mindset only applies to your home and that other families may have different rules, said Amy Lang, a sexual health educator in Seattle, Washington. Make sure your child realizes they need to put on clothing when other people are around since guests may not be comfortable with it, added Lang. And be firm. Stick to whatever boundaries you establish. Note that not everyone in your household will be comfortable with nudity.
Be open to answering questions
Jansen explained that as kids approach the age of 3, they start to become curious about their bodies, what they look like, and how they function. That applies to toes, tummies, and noses but also to body parts typically covered by underwear or a swimsuit. When kids see a naked body, whether intentionally or by accident, it’s natural for them to have questions.
She explained that staying calm and answering any questions matter-of-factly is a positive approach. Jansen pointed out that when kids realize that you are totally down with whatever questions they have, they’re going to be more likely to come to you when they have a problem with their body.
And truth is that, despite a parent’s best intentions, children will be exposed to the sexualized, photoshopped, and airbrushed images of nude or semi-nude adults prevalent in advertisements and on magazine covers. That’s why having conversations sooner than later is a good idea, Jansen stated.
“We have to start teaching kids at a young age that we are imperfect by nature, and our bodies go through changes and transitions,” said Aviva Braun, L.C.S.W., a New York-based social worker.
But try and keep responses age-appropriate and don’t go into more detail than necessary at that moment. Keep it light, offer a straightforward answer, and return your focus to the task at hand, Jansen advised.
Regardless of your viewpoint, be aware that your child’s attitudes toward family nudity may change as they get older, she stated.
Jansen explained that a child may start shutting their bedroom door when they change or turning their back to you when getting dressed. They may make a hasty retreat after accidentally walking in on you naked or even request that you keep your clothes on.
According to Jamsen, Lang explained that it is imperative that parents respect their child’s wishes in terms of covering up or what they need in terms of their privacy to let them know that a safe adult respects a child’s boundaries.