When was the last time your child saw you naked?
If you’re anything like me, the answer is today. Being that my daughter isn’t even two years old yet, I haven’t thought a thing of showering and then getting dressed in front of her. Now, with potty training on the horizon, she’s also been taking a lot of interest in what goes on in the bathroom the rest of the time, too. And I’m totally fine with that.
I’m not a super modest person to begin with. When I attended a women’s college, it was de rigueur for some of the young ladies to walk around in their underwear, and no one batted an eye. I have no qualms about changing clothes in front of friends, and you’ll never find me in a one-piece at the pool, even if I’m super pregnant.
But as A gets more and more observant, and curious, she’s starting to notice things. Bodily things. The things my mother (and I believe her mother before her) referred to as “private parts.” I, too, have been referring to our genitalia as “private parts” since I’m too clueless to think of a more clever, modern term, and this one serves its purpose well. These areas are private on you, on me, on everyone. They’re not to be shared.
Of course, it’s a little confusing when mommy walks around getting dressed with her private parts exposed. And hey, look, daddy’s private parts look way different than mommy’s. What’s up with that??
I want to be mindful not to demonize said private parts in some sort of old-fashioned, chastity-belt kind of way. But there’s got to be a certain point when parents stop sharing their stuff with their kids, right? I do remember being in Greece with my family when I was sixteen and seeing a whole German family—mother, father, and two sons—playing and bathing at the beach in the nude. The whole family…naked.
It seemed soooo weird to me, and still does, but I also kind of like that attitude. It supports what my mother used to say: “It’s just a body. Everyone’s got one.” But is there a time when teenage sons don’t really need to see mom’s saggy breasts? Or, should we embrace a more global view on breasts (and bodies in general) and acknowledge that their true purpose is to feed babies, not entertain men. I, personally, don’t have any problem, whatsoever, with seeing women topless on beaches in Europe or South Beach.
So, do I maintain my confidence and comfort in the body God gave me when exposing it to my own daughter, or is it time to start becoming more modest? And what about my poor husband, who will step out of the shower and tell me he could really use a “fig leaf”? As open as my mother was in her “everyone’s got a body” attitude, I never saw my father nude, and I’m guessing few daughters have.
It seems so hard to find a balance between raising a child (especially a daughter) who is “confident and comfortable” with her body just as it is, in a world full of cosmetically enhanced everything, and one who is modest enough to know not to reveal her “private parts.”
How does your family address this issue?