Ever since my little girl was born, I have taken baths with her. She has never been a big fan of the water, and when she was younger, having me in the tub with her seemed to make bath time less traumatic.
So, like a lot of new parents, I happily stripped down and got in with her. I was always big on skin-to-skin contact anyway, and those baths produced some of the sweetest cuddles.
But now my girl is 2-and-a-half years old, and I still regularly take baths with her. Not every bath, mind you, but maybe once a week. We put in some bubbles, grab all the bath toys and will soak for up to 30 minutes. Just concentrated, focused play time in the tub with my little girl.
I pretty much love it. And so does she.
But lately I have been wondering when our dual baths should stop. When do you cease being naked in front of your kids? At what point does it matter?
Or does it ever?
I have memories of taking showers with both my parents. My dad tells me that stopped when I was around age 3. Those memories are nothing out of the norm, or traumatic in any way, they’re just … memories. The kind of memories that maybe I would rather not have, if only because … who really wants to remember their parent’s naked?
And it is perhaps because of those memories that I have started to question when (or if) I should stop being naked in front of my own child.
The truth is, I have always been a bit of a nudist. I was the girl who would strip off all her clothes and jump into just about any body of water she came across. My old roommates in college used to joke that neighbors would line up outside our townhome hoping to catch a glimpse of me walking naked past windows. And I’ve had boyfriends who have teased that my penchant for nudity around the house can get distracting.
Being naked has never bothered me.
As someone who has traveled quite a bit and visited plenty of places where nudity isn’t the least bit taboo, I also never thought I would be the mom who would ever worry about being naked in front of her kid. After all, there are a lot of countries where nudity is the norm and where children grow up comfortable with seeing the human body.
But then I became a mother myself, and all of our cultural norms started to seep into my head. I’ve begun questioning myself, particularly when my little girl started to recognize parts of my body that were different from hers, asking questions about my breasts and pointing to the patch of hair I have which she does not yet possess. I use those opportunities as teaching moments and have tried to explain to her that she has breasts as well (though she looks at mine, then at hers, and tends to give me a doubtful expression). But I wonder, is there a point when my little girl is going to wind up embarrassed that her mom is so frequently naked or wishing that our dual bath times had ended sooner rather than later?
The funny thing is, I am weird about nudity in other circumstances. For instance, I have never (and will never) posted a picture of my little one’s naked baby bum anywhere online. I’ve even gotten to the point where I am uncomfortable with pictures of her topless — which is silly because she’s a toddler and clearly doesn’t have breasts. It’s more about protecting her image and privacy than anything. Do I take those photos? Absolutely because they are freaking adorable. But they are reserved entirely for our private family album, not for public consumption online.
So if I am so protective of her nudity, why am I so free with mine?
What’s worse, if she was a boy, I think I would have already started to cover myself up more. This isn’t necessarily justified, but does go back to those cultural norms that dictate the idea that parents should be more cautious about nudity in front of their opposite sex children.
Because she’s a girl, I find myself a little less concerned. Though I do still wonder if there is some point on the horizon where I am going to have to get out of the tub and stay out.
There aren’t really any rule books for this type of thing. There are theories and opinions based on personal experiences all around the world, but no one can definitively say that one way of doing things is better than the other. Perhaps because of my comfort with nudity, my girl will grow up feeling more confident in her own body.
Or, she may grow up thinking her mom is a giant embarrassment and wishing I had chosen to cover up more.
There’s no way to really know. So for now, I think we’ll keep up our bath time ritual. It won’t be long before she wants me out of the bathroom completely so that she can shower in privacy, so I kind of want to enjoy these moments for as long as they last.
But I am curious how other parents handle nudity with their kids. Is there a cutoff point when most believe enough is enough?
When did you stop being naked in front of your own children? Or have you ever?More On