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We can most likely all agree that intentional nudity — nudism — is absolutely nobody's business when it's practiced behind closed doors (and windows) or the walls of a nudists' camp, among consenting adults. Indeed, spending time in the nude may be good for your skin, help you sleep better, and can help you get that much-needed vitamin D when you practice it outdoors.

What if parents are nude in front of their children as a matter of course, though? Is that OK? Is it, in any way, damaging for children? 

Though it's not hard to find opinions, studies of the effects parental nudism are hard to come by. One study of child welfare and mental health professionals found, however, that significant numbers of these professionals hold the view that intervention is required in cases where parents engage in behaviors seen as boundary-crossing, including co-sleeping, exposure to parental nudity, and parents entering the bathroom without knocking while a child is bathing. A total of 75 percent of these professionals answered that they'd consider intervention if a mother "often" appeared nude in front of her five year old son.

The answers, we'd have to admit, say more about western cultural norms than they do about the inherent dangers of nudism. While I am quite certain that these same professionals would not consider it appropriate for children to be able to see their mothers' breasts as a matter of course, would they consider staging an intervention for the same among the Himba people of Southern Africa, whose women do not cover their upper bodies? I doubt it.

Nudity, then, cannot be considered in a vacuum, but only in the cultural context in which in takes place. In the context of the lives of these mental health professionals, and most likely in the context of your own, nudity is seen as sexual, and that's where the problem with nudism and children comes in.

Nudists, presumably like the Himba people, are not, studies have shown, sexually aroused by the sight of naked bodies. Being used to nudity in a non-sexual context, they simply see bodies, not potential sex — unless other things pique their interest. The same can easily be said for situations non-nudist parents probably all encounter at some point or another. There's nothing sexual about changing your clothes when your child might be looking or your child suddenly needing the restroom while you're in there brushing your teeth.

Our feelings about nudity develop within the society we live in, and if you are a nudist who has children, your children's feelings will, too. At some point, what they have grown up seeing as normal becomes something they question, because nudism is not something everyone engages in. Indeed, children may begin to experience parental nudism as embarrassing, and it could have a damaging psychological effect on them.

Therefore, I can only say that I believe, within the context of western society, that parents who would like to practice nudism should never, ever make their children engage in the same against their will, and if their children express negative feelings towards parental nudism, or even hint at them, those parents should put on clothes.

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