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When Should You Cover Up in Front of Your Children

When Should Parents Stop Being Naked Around Their Children?

Alicia C. poses a question we've all likely asked ourselves silently: "At what point should we stop being naked in front of our kids? Is there a 'magic number' at which parental nudity suddenly becomes a problem for children?"

Here are three questions and perspectives to consider as you figure out what's right for you.

1. Is Your Child Uncomfortable?

Trish P. says that the moment at which parental nudity becomes inappropriate is when your child starts posing questions about "private parts." She believes that once children are aware enough to notice and ask about breasts, penises, etc., parents should avoid being around their kids naked. Christina H. covers up because her 3-year-old is in the "laughing and pointing" stage.

I believe these questions and reactions are more likely to signal a child's curiosity than his discomfort, but I do think there's an argument for teaching your child about privacy (his own and yours) when he's old enough to understand it. For example, I would like to be able to close the door and go to the bathroom without taking my toddler with me — not because it's inappropriate that he's there, but because it's one of the few opportunities I have to take a break from his constant activity! Still, I don't see the harm in all of us marching around the house naked, especially in the context of bathing or dressing.

In many families, gender matters; Trish's toddler-age sons are not allowed to walk in on her while she's dressing, and her daughter can't take a bath with dad. Many moms agree with Trish, though their age cutoffs tend to be higher. For instance, at around 8, Shannon T.'s son thought it was "gross" to see his mom naked, so her family found an organic way to draw that line.

2. Can It Make Kids Inappropriately Sexual?

Milka K. worries that exposure to adult nudity at a young age might cause kids to become sexually curious before they're ready. As she puts it, "it may trigger them to explore, and that may be the beginning of early sexuality."

While several moms share Milka's concern, Jenny G. points out that "not everyone looks at a body and think 'sex.'" And Misty M. believes that the exact opposite is true: that focusing too much on modesty makes sex taboo and can lead to a fixation on it. As she puts it, "some of the most modest people I know are the most promiscuous. I guess because sex was also a naughty thing in their households. Sex was not a taboo subject in our house growing up, [so] nudity's not a big deal."

3. Is Making a Big Deal the Real Cause of Harm?

To some, family nudity is simply "natural." Cathy S. believes that making a big deal in either direction is what's really damaging. As Alixa H. expresses it, kids learn to feel ashamed of their bodies and of their sexuality when parents always hide their own bodies, especially when it would be normal for them not to, such as when changing: "It is all [about] how we feel [about] it and present it to our kids, and what we have in our hearts to teach them about the world."

When did you (or will you) start avoiding being naked around your kids?

Image Source: Corbis Images
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Patty65667 Patty65667 4 years
mmmm thats a weird one my son is 15 its just him & I @ home we never shut the bathroom door when we use the toilet even when we go to grandmas we FORGET to shut the door just habit I guess but showers yes we shut the door & robe before we get out my mother yells about the open door thing dosent seem to bother us @ home!
MeggyRobertson MeggyRobertson 4 years
My sons are 8 and 5. Until recently I did not worry about nakedness. But as they grow up things evolve, and i am not so comfortable now baring all in front of the 8 year old.. These days I try to ensure I have privacy to dress, shower etc. If the kids walk in I just ask them politely to leave as it's 'mummy time' I don't make an issue about being naked. We get changed together in the cubicle at the swimming pool. I try to make a point of not being 'coy' eg turning my back etc in this situation so they don't think I'm ashamed of my body or nakedness. It's also good for them to see that not all females are slim and shapely! My 8 yr old will still wander about the house naked, and we are trying very hard to stop this - apart form anything else it's a bit disconcerting to visitors! If my kids need to ask questions about their bodies or ours we answer them in as straightforward a way as possible.of course they usually ask in the public toilet or somewhere equally embarrasing!!
CaleyKrantz CaleyKrantz 4 years
My oldest daughter isn't comfortable being naked in front of others which works for her. My youngest daughter hates wearing clothes. I personally am a nudist and I don't think that people should be ashamed of their bodies. I will never go out of my way to make someone uncomfortable nor will I put them in a position that makes them uncomfortable. My family frequents a secluded nude beach and my oldest wears a bathing suit while the rest of us wear nothing. Kids are smart enough to know what inappropriate and what's not. If an adult is being inappropriate with their nudity then that's not ok.
amandastoughton amandastoughton 4 years
i just now got my husband to not be naked around my kids they are 1year old and 3 year old girls i am not naked around them and he shouldnt be either he dosent see the problem but i do with my 3 year old that is i didnt grow up in a naked house but my husband did so he dont see why he is just respecting my wishes on this subject so reading all of your responses makes me feel better about both me and my husbands debate on this issue
VictoriaWalsh VictoriaWalsh 4 years
I have a 4 yo son and a 1 yo son, and around bedtimes, bath times and early morning me and my husband walk around naked. Neither boy minds.The oldest sometimes comments on certain aspects (ie "I can ssee your bum"), but until he feels uncomfortable, I can't see us stopping. I only ever saw my mum naked on very rare occasions, when I needed the loo and she was in the bath. I always felt really uncomfortable looking at her when we were talking, thinking she might think I'm looking too much,or staring. The more it's made into an issue, the more it becomes one. I don't feel very comfortable dressing/undressing in a communal changing area due to the way my parents treated nudity.So I think it's quite a helathy attitude to be open about our bodies and teach our children there is nothing to be ashamed of. I have spoken to my older son about privacy, explaining that certain parts of the body are private and he shouldn't touch anybodies private areas, or let anyone touch his private areas.
KimSnelgrove KimSnelgrove 4 years
After reading a few responses on this, I think I agree most with Maria Dominguez response and I whole-heartedly support the way she is handling this with her teenage daughter. My older kids (bg twins) were 4 when we started drawing the line at them showering with the opposite-sex parent, and with each other. I'd like to think we encourage openness in conversation and that they know it's ok to ask questions - my husband and I don't hide our bodies, but nudity is uncomfortable for me because of the way I was raised. I don't have a problem with either of my kids seeing me in my undergarments though; I also didn't cover up while breastfeeding my now-toddler son, so the older kids know that's what breasts are for. I think our society is over-sexualized in general, and that we as parents assume our kids will think that direction when there is no real reason they would unless we have exposed them to it at a young age. Their curiosity is natural and I'm all for encouraging it and answering all questions in an age-appropriate and honest manner.
JaniceBeaumont JaniceBeaumont 4 years
I think we're in the 'norm' for this one!! Our 3 year old & 5 month old see both of us naked when we get out the shower and dress (in our bedroom). we leave the toilet door open (as recommended for toilet training), and also have the door open when showering!! We also all share a family changing room at the swimming pool!! And my daughters often see my breast out (breast feeding)!!! I think that by hiding your body you are teaching children that it is something naughty!! Not to be seen! Wheres taking a casual approach tells that that it is our body to respect etc, but that it is nothing to be ashamed off!! My daughter knows that she should wear clothes in public & why, and she also knows the difference between boys & girls!! For those of you against this ... did you breast feed???
CoMMember1361515759643 CoMMember1361515759643 4 years
I absolutely love being naked!! I have always been that way. I have a 2 year old and an 8 month old and I also let them run around naked sometimes if they like. I don't know when I'll stop bein naked around them. Both my sons like taking baths with me as well. I guess at some point I'll know when it is time to stop but for now they are young and little and until they get to the point where I think they're too old or whatever then I'll probably stop. I guess I'll know it when I get there.
reneeewington reneeewington 4 years
my mum walked around naked now i do when my brother isnt home an there is 5 of us an three of us waithed till our 20s to have sex one was 17 an the other is 24 an still a virgin so it is not a problem i have three friends who r in the same boat an they all also had sex after 18 22 an 25 so it all up to the induvidual
ezabe ezabe 4 years
I don't think theres a limit. we love to be able to feel free and comfortable anywhere In the house. its a lovely feeling of freedom.
rhondaanderson83626 rhondaanderson83626 4 years
I dont see anything wrong with being naked infront of your kids. Dont get me erong i dont walk around the house naked but if they come in my room and iam naked thats there choice to enter or not. this is the same as with my husband he tends to cover more just the bottem part but he dosent make a big deal if hes not covered thats oour room and that is our choice .......yet again everyone has there own opinon
deefinnegan deefinnegan 4 years
being naked around them as long as possible allowed open questions that has made communication and a comfortableness to talk about personal thoughts. Being able to get freely dressed in a swimming pool change room without hiding is a freedom, I am glad my children share. I grew up feeling like I had to hid my private parts and Its restricting to say the least. my children don't flaunt and do wear clothes, but I'm glad they feel comfortable even at 9 to sleep naked on a 30 degree night. and can run around the back yard through the sprinkler naked (less washing for me). within reason I think its healthy until they want to cover up themselves around the house. looking at the adults is learning. poking and calming explaining that poking and pointing is un nessasary, teaches boundaries, which they can take into thier growing years, saving them from thier pesonal space being invaded. I personally think modelling and using life experiences to teach our children is so so important. Use the naturally occuring ones, as they work best! thanks for reading.
deefinnegan deefinnegan 4 years
when my children become aware of and hiding thier bodies is when I started drawing the line in of privacy. I respect thier privacy and they now respect mine. but I let them unconciously lead the way and they don't have hang ups about their bodies. Nor is my 14 and sixteen year olds looking out for sexual encounters. we speak openly but carefully and age appropriately re any parts of themselves
MonikaKenez MonikaKenez 4 years
just think about this one thing: WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON PLASTIC SURGERY AMONG 18 YEAR OLDS TODAY? RHINOPLASTY ONE WOULD THINK. WELL, NOT ANY MORE. IT IS LABIOPLASTY. YES, GETTING THEIR GENITALS DONE. AT 18. Why is that? Because they learn nudity and sex from magazines, porn movies and the internet. 18 year old boys think girls SHOULD look like those porn stars in the films and on the internet (no pubic hair, no visible labia minor and of course, silicone breast) and all 18 year old girls think they are NOT NORMAL as they not looking like them. Unfortunately they haven't been exposed to "normal" and they can't even compare themselves to each other of course. So they think they have a problem. So off they go to get themselves mutilated. So what do you think, what do we think as parents is the answer to this article? Cover up at home and let them figure it out themselves?
VictoriaMorton19880 VictoriaMorton19880 4 years
I am a firm believer that kids are much more likely to be fixated and curious if we treat nudity as a taboo. Of course kids are going to be interested in the opposite sexes parts because they're different, but it doesn't make it sexual.
ElizeVanKerckhoven ElizeVanKerckhoven 4 years
I have 3 children age 25, 21 and 4. I have always bathed with me older kids and there was never a problem. I started bathing with my 4 yr old since he was born and still do it today and I have never had any strange questions. I believe if you don't subject them to that and make an entire secret about it they will seek for it somewhere else.
CoMMember13629214658384 CoMMember13629214658384 4 years
This in kinda funny, in my culture we go to the sauna, all naked, not worrying it would be harmful to the kids! My son is 8 and he is all ok about going to the sauna with us. He can take the shower afterwards by himself, my daughter (age 5) I wash just to make sure she will be clean and learn how to shower. In a couple of years she will be able to shower by herself. I hear there are families who go to the sauna when their kids are in their teens. I am pretty sure we will all stop going to the sauna and go me & daughter first, son&dad later when he grows older.
ShalanaLall ShalanaLall 4 years
My daughter is 3 and as her mom I'm ok walking around naked in front of her. Her dad is not as comfortable especially since she asks questions now. So he avoids her seeing him naked. If she walls in on him we don't make it a big deal, but we try to prevent it from happening.
SherryStepinski SherryStepinski 4 years
See so many of you are so wrong. You can teach your kids about the human body, without walking around nude in front of them. My oldest is 12, and at that age I have no business walking around him naked. He is very open with me, I talked to him about things and explained things to him as well as my husband. Plus when he had family living last yr in 5th grade, when he came home everyday we talked about what he learned, looked at books together, etc. Just because your kids don't say anything to you, they don't want to have the image of their parents naked when they are 20 yrs old. My son still learned from me, not porn or sex like you all think, without me showing him my entire naked body. Not past the age of 3 should a mom be naked around her son. I have memories from when I was 3 and 4 yrs old, I'm so glad that not one of them is a memory of my parents naked. Like I said we are an open house with conversation, not messing my kids up by exposing myself to them.
MonikaKenez MonikaKenez 4 years
I totally agree with Elisabete B. If they don't learn THIS from us, where do they learn it from??? I'd rather face the questions from my children then find out that they have their answers from somewhere/somebody else. The family is their safe heaven, they should feel and made absolutely secure. Including being naked there and not somewhere else. My 3.5 yo son is looking at himself and saying "I am big now, when I am even bigger, I'll be a man like Daddy. I don't have hair under my arms but when I am a man I will." They will reach the age when they will become shy about their own bodies and THEY draw the line. That is the line we need to notice and respect. Having said that, in Europe where nudity is so normal children grow up totally healthy mentally about their bodies... If we don't teach them, they will learn nudity from porn.
vickiec51 vickiec51 4 years
I had 5 kids, and as a result of my husbands families teaching about privacy and keeping your clothes on...or wear a houserobe, or pjs....or at least underware....but only if the underwear is very coversome....we teach our children best through example....so at least by 3 we need to keep ourselves covered in front of our children....in the end it might also refer to chastity....we need to teach our chldren to dress more appropriately.....more covered up....
michellewill michellewill 4 years
my 4 year old son always walks in on my when im in the shower. it doesnt seem to bother him.
MonicaHattoonGreen MonicaHattoonGreen 4 years
@Sandy Mooney--where in the bible does it say children should not see their parents naked? If you read any book on child development, it will tell you that children are going to be curious about private parts at some point during childhood. It's a learning tool. I see no harm in letting a child see parents naked, up to a certain age, when boundaries then need to be introduced. I am 42 and have no qualms changing in front of my mother, nor does she in front of me. Of course, I have not seen my dad naked since I was very young (thankfully!). As long as the nudity is not presented in a sexual way (kids seeing parents having sex, etc), it should not be an issue.
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