When her twelve-year-old son mentioned that he’d encountered his gran wandering around in the buff, this mum wondered if it was prudish to think this was unacceptable. She took to Mumsnet to find out what other parents thought …
“Just seemed a weird thing to do”
The mum notes that it was the school holidays and her mother-in-law was helping out with the kids, caring for her sons (aged 7 and 12) for a short time. She explains that her twelve-year-old “came home and said Gran was walking round naked! It turns out she had gone for a mid-morning shower and was walking about naked.”
The mum said that she found this unacceptable and that it wasn’t a quick flash, but more a leisurely stroll.
“She was more just wandering round between bedroom, bathroom and back to her bedroom. It’s the first time in years she has had them during school hols, just seemed a weird thing to do and [twelve-year-old] was rather embarrassed.”
A flurry of respondents were keen to weigh in, deciding that the issue at the heart of it all was individual attitudes to nudity. While some families see the naked form as no big deal, for others being nude in front of others is a mortifying and even offensive proposition.
It’s probable that kids might catch a glimpse of grandparents, aunties, uncles and other family members in the buff at one time or another. But is it ‘weird’ for family members to wander around naked in front of children? Lots of people thought it really, truly was.
“Not appropriate, not at those ages. How hard is it to wrap a towel around yourself?” one wrote.
“I wouldn’t be naked in front of my 12-year-old so definitely wouldn’t be comfortable for my mother in law to be!” another posted.
“I wouldn’t let her have them alone again,” someone else shuddered.
Naked nanna was not a popular lady.
To nude or not to nude?
While many of us like to keep our bodies private and would not be keen to bare all in front of our relatives’ small children, it’s possibly something we’d do in front of our kids? Because … no choice and toddlers without boundaries! That said, as kids grow older – and more vocal about various wobbly bits – we might prefer to avoid their withering observations about our bodies and cover up!
By the time our kids are pre-teens, lots of us are not wandering from shower to bedroom sans towel, I would imagine. That said … why?
In some other cultures, even bathing together is no big deal, so perhaps the stuffy, non-nude brigade are the ones being weird?! #ItsOnlyNatural?
What is clear is that there’s no one size fits all approach – and that there’s not a lot of research to help parents decide what’s best for kids, in the long run.
“One study found no negative impact on adolescents who regularly saw their parents naked at ages 3 and 6,” CNN reports, “but another study found that parental nudity when kids were ages 6 to 11 resulted in more permissive attitudes about sex and increased sexual frequency.”
“Naturally occurring nudity”
Still, it’s fair to say that if we asked the grandmas or uncles or pops or aunts in our family to mind the kids for a few hours, we’d probably expect that a leisurely nude wander wouldn’t be part of the arrangement?! At least that’s what this mum (incorrectly) figured.
So perhaps this is a sign we need to take a few steps back? Maybe discussions about familial attitudes to nudity are something to chat about when we’re laying the groundwork of relationships, to avoid naked surprises. Kind of like a pre-nup, only it’s a pre-nude agreement.
Family health expert Dr Gayle Peterson votes yes to this. She says speaking openly about attitudes to nudity helps unravel differing views. Dr Gayle points out that family members will each have their own feelings about “naturally occurring nudity” and that everyone’s comfort levels must be respected. Talking things over (in a non-nude preemptive strike!) is key to addressing everyone’s feelings, she said.
“Talk with your partner about the beliefs and attitudes prevalent in your childhood families around nudity,” she writes on her website. “Explore how your respective parents handled this issue and the effects of this on your own development.”
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