When Should You Tone Down the Nudity in Front of Your Kids?


A friend of mine recently dated a guy who was from, what I’ve come to refer to as, a “naked family” – that is, a family where even as adults, nudity just isn’t a big deal. She learned this the hard way, while on vacation with him and his parents. Her boyfriend’s mom stopped by their hotel room before dinner to ask her son a question. He was in the bath, my friend told her, expecting her to come by again later. Instead, to her horror, her boyfriend’s mother walked right into the bathroom and had a full conversation eye-to-eye with her 30-something-year-old son as he soaked in the tub, naked as the day is long. Later, this guy acted like my friend was some kind of prudish weirdo when she expressed shock at the exchange; they didn’t last much longer after that.

Hey – no judgment. Naked is natural and to each their own!  I’m all for body positivity and being comfortable in your own skin.  But if you can’t tell, I came from a family where, past young childhood, we never saw each other’s bits if we could help it. “Never-nudes,” some might say.  (Granted, some of that modesty fell away when I gave birth to my first child, and my dad, a doctor, asked if he could stay in the room for the delivery. I said he could if he stayed up by my head. Little did I know that in the course of birthing a tiny human, I would be contorted into all sorts of positions that left no corner of the room safe from the view of my writhing, straining, squishy and fully exposed body parts.) 

Of course, nudity stops being any kind of big deal when you’re talking about you and your small children.  Being naked around their parents and siblings isn’t really a choice for babies and toddlers, and modesty doesn’t become a realistic option until they’re independent enough to bathe alone and wipe themselves clean after using the bathroom (when oh when will this blessed day arrive?).  Parents are also forced to let go of any squeamishness in the presence of clingy, curious little ones.  I feel like I must put on one heck of a show, because every time my children sense that I’m about to sit on a toilet, strip down for a shower, or stand bare-chested in my closet choosing clothes, there they are.  I’ve always got an audience of two kids (and usually a dog and/or cat) staring intently at me in all my naked glory.

But lately, I’ve been starting to wonder just how much nudity is “OK” in my house. Mostly, because my nearly five-year-old daughter is brutally honest with her observations. Typically, she just comments on things like my bad dancing, excessive “fur” inside my nose, or the white “stripes” in my hair. But then there are comments like this:

  • I have little nipples. Mommy has giant nipples. Mom your boobies are huuuuuuge
  • (Watching me – of course – as I pee during “that time of the month”) Why do you have to wear that diaper? I thought you were already potty trained. 
  • I have a cute vagina. Mom your vagina is big and old.
  •  (Staring straight at my crotch) O.M.G. I came out of that?!?!?!  WHAAAATTTT? (Followed by maniacal laughter and my two children running around the house screaming in mock horror.)

Don’t get me wrong, I take these opportunities to teach my kids about biology, their own bodies, and how to speak respectfully to people and adhere to boundaries.  My kids (hopefully) know, for instance, that they shouldn’t be staring down their classmates in the open bathroom at daycare or commenting on people’s bodies willy-nilly.  But I want my kids to feel free to talk with me about their bodies and ask me questions about mine if they want (there’s a lot to learn!). 

At the same time, I am cognizant of the fact that we don’t live in a society where “naked families” are the norm, and I want to cultivate a healthy sense of modesty and respect for privacy in our house.  I also don’t especially relish the idea of my kids reporting on my naked body to their friends (which you know they do), and then having those friends repeat things to their parents.  Let’s just say that I have some intimate knowledge of my daughter’s friend’s mom’s pubic hair, which I wish I could wipe from my mind.

For now, I’ve decided to let my kids guide the way. When they ask for privacy, I give it to them and then offer it to them moving forward. If the day comes that they start acting weird around my naked body, I’ll do what I can to make sure they don’t see it anymore!  From what I’ve heard, the transition away from seeing each other naked usually happens pretty organically, around the time that kids are 8 or 9 years old.

What do you think?  How old is “too old” when it comes to nudity in families? Should parents cover up around their kids before kids are expected to cover up around their parents?  Or is there no such thing as an “appropriate” cut-off point for this kind of thing?

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Lorrie lives in Cupertino with her husband, two small children, crazy dog, and obese cat. Originally from the Chicago area, Lorrie headed west in 2010, and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring the Bay Area, and finds that even after six years, there is always something new to discover. Lorrie is a licensed and practicing attorney in both Illinois and California. She is proud to represent employees in all manner of work-related disputes, and partners closely as Of Counsel with Caffarelli & Assoc. Ltd., a Chicago-based firm. When she is not working or chasing her kids around, Lorrie likes to tinker with home improvement projects, walk around on sidewalks and trails, zone out on the internet, and “Netflix and chill.” She also likes to run, and aspires to one day make it to a yoga class.


  1. Great piece, Lorrie! Well-written, humorous and balanced! My family falls more on the “naked family” side of the spectrum. We have two girls and I don’t think I’ll ever feel the need to hide my body from them. I think it’s good for them to see how a woman’s body looks, even as it starts to get up there in years. 🙂 Our twelve year old is very open in discussing the changes in her body with me, and I think this has to be at least in part a result of our no-nonsense approach to nudity.

    • Thank you Inger! I really value that perspective… I’m definitely leaning away from being a “never-nude” family but need to figure out the right balance. I would love for my kids to feel comfortable talking to me about their bodies; so fantastic that you’ve been able to achieve that so far with your daughter! #momgoals

    • Hi Inger,

      To Lorrie, great post! I’m glad to see this topic on a more recent post!

      Inger – I have two young children, 2 and 9 months, and I’d like to keep my family, a “naked family”. Only at home with no guests. Do you have any advice on how my wife and I can help them remain comfortable in a nude positive, immediate family only atmosphere as they get older? Or even advice on how to handle the situation in case the majority opinion starts to make them uncomfortable with nudity in the comforts of home?


  2. It is never to old. I think that it is very good for psychosexual development of children when there is no taboo about nudity and sex in the family regardless of children age, sex. I mean there is nothing wrong when children see parents nude (even when parents have sex). Parents should not get naked or have sex in front of children on purpose but should not make a secret out of it either and should not make big deal of it. If parents like to be naked, then they should get naked. If they like to get bath with children -fine. If parents want to have sex in living room when children are playing there -it is fine too. If children want to walk naked or take bath with you or siblings (fine). Just be natural about nudity and sex with your suppose regardless of children age and sex. It doesn’t matter if your child is same sex as you or how old it is. Age difference between siblings and their sex doesn’t matter (it doesn’t matter when your 12 year old son sees your 16 year old daughter nude of if your 10 year old daughter sees her 16 year old brother nude even when he has erection). It is all natural and healthy for family relationship, trust etc. Just be coherent how you raise your kids and don’t make your kids an active participant of your sex life. But there is nothing bad if your kids just see you or their siblings nude (regardless of their sex and age and sex) or see you having sex with your suppose. It is natural and normal, therefore nothing to be ashamed of.

  3. My parents would have kept an openly nude family were it not for our grandmothers. Living in the ‘bible buckle of the US,” it just was prohibited. There were the 4 of us, 3 males and mom. Dad instructed mom to hide her body, though he never did. In primary school I talked with four friends who lived naturally. They’d wear underwear and pj’s if there was a sleep over. Rest of the time after evening showers the families interacted and relaxed nude. I knew one family the parents were open with sex, too. Nobody noticed. In high school I drove over to pick up one of my friends for a movie we planned. Walked in through the kitchen to see him fresh out of the shower nude using a wall phone. His sister and mother were clothed cooking dinner and dad was nude at the table reading the evening newspaper. These families turned out some extraordinary students. They were self confident, outgoing and popular. My wife and I decided to encourage nudity in our family. Our son teaches higher math in public school and our daughter is an artist.


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