Parents always seems to agree on many things, except on the level of nudity allowed at home. On whether it is right for their children to see them naked or not, opinions vary greatly. Others think there’s absolutely nothing wrong while the other function say no way! That’s not going to happen. Who’s right in this seemingly endless push and pull?
I talked to a few families from different backgrounds, ranging from race, religion, and economic backgrounds, just to get their views on the same. The revelation was mind blowing! I will tell you about that later on in the article, but first, here is a short story about my own experience with the same. In my early years below ten, I almost never bathed in a bathroom. All of us showered in a nearby river. (Deep in an African Village) As you can probably imagine by now, there were no bathrooms at the river! Not that there was no water, it was just our way of life as per my culture. Everyone bathed in one spot naked. The old to the children, everyone. I later went to a boarding primary school, and experienced the same! We had a common bathroom where we all bathed naked. Come high school, the script never changed. Naked moving bodies all over the place. Did I feel awkward? I never did, I didn’t even think someone should. I later learned that some guys actually did experience levels of awkwardness especially at the beginning.
Why did some feel awkward, while some like us felt nothing?
The answer lies in these two Indian families that I talked to. One had no issue at all with nudity in their house while the other felt it’s something that should be private. It was interesting because, from my expectations, I thought that both of them should bear the same beliefs since they share the same religion. However, I was so wrong. I didn’t factor in that they were from different backgrounds. Whereas one was raised in Nairobi-Kenya, the other was raised in Britain, an environment that has truly warmed up to modern parenting and thus lifestyle. In short, they were being influenced by culture and environment.
Some cultures allow nudity, while others don’t. But modern parenting is trying to help you have both using your instinct. Modern parenting has recently been faced with issues of body shaming and not loving oneself, in which you have to explain to children from a young age about their bodies being personal and needing attention, to help them love themselves and cope with bullying.
There are people that are unable to look themselves naked in the mirror, nor make love when the lights are on because of feelings of guilt. It is further said that, body insecurities are ranking high among married couples now than it did two decades ago. According to psychologists, this is highly connected to the environment that one grew up in. They say, “Children raised in families with tough, strict rules on nudity tend to grow up with skewed perception about their bodies than their opposite counterparts.” One should therefore strive to strike a balance when raising children.
To strike a balance, parents are advised to try these six tips:
1. Allow nudity, but within certain boundaries. Let everyone respect each other’s space. For example, knock when entering someone’s bedroom or bathroom, respect the other’s property. Parents can ensure this by letting kids own their personal stuff. Sharing of things like a bed, personal cloths, and even sometimes rooms makes it impossible for kids to exercise responsible nudity in their own private environment.
2. Observe your kid’s body language; kids are usually okay with nudity up to a certain level. If you notice that they are uncomfortable, start covering up. Don’t let them ask you to. For instance, younger children below four years may not mind while older ones may feel awkward.
3. When they walk on you naked, don’t panic, react as normal as you can. This way, the child does not grow up feeling awkward about being naked. Always turn them away politely explaining why they have to wait. It teaches them how to respect boundaries.
4. Be prepared for some really weird and silly questions. Don’t panic nor be shy, simply answer them in the best age appropriate way as you can. Remember, it is an opportunity for you to teach about ones anatomy, the difference between boys and girls or men and women. In all these discussions, it is better you do it as the parent. That way, as they grow they are most likely to trust you with any body-related topics/issues.
5. Insist that their private parts are private and should be regarded so. In the outside environment that is not your home, child predators lie waiting. Empower your child to name every body part appropriately from a young age and report anything that makes them feel violated. No one should be allowed to touch their privates inappropriately.
6. Teach decency in your home for both genders.
The road in parenting is never a silver lining as there’s no one size fits all. We keep on learning and relearning. Choose whatever it is that works for you and makes you comfortable. If you choose to allow nudity, do it within the boundaries mentioned above. Nonetheless, my goal is that you’ll parent from an informed point and not ignorance. Have fun!