Saturday, September 22, 2007

Parents undressed

Slate has an article with the fascinating title "Are children harmed by seeing their parents naked?". The article itself is even more fascinating, since it completely avoids the question in the title. It starts by declaring that no studies exist, so in a sense the answer is "we don't know".
It then proceeds to say that younger children may not notice and in any case will not remember, so they should be no problem.
Mercifully, it also mentions that breastfeeding doesn't cause trouble, at least at age 12 months. I can't say anything about later ages since my kids decided to stop breastfeeding not much later than that.
It then goes on to discuss possible problem mentioned by adolescent psychiatrists. However, no evidence is given for such problems. It finishes by explaining at what age children want to stop using the other sex's bathroom, and what age girls don't want to be bathed by father any longer.
There are a few points I would like to raise. First of all, it should be very easy to study children of nudists, and see whether they have any specific sexual trouble. After all, there are plenty of people who go vacationing in nudist beaches with children.
Then, it should be possible to compare americans with northern europeans, who are used to seeing grownup nudity (e.g., when people change bathing suits on the beach they don't cover up).
Finally, a few remarks about my own kids. We are raising them as I was raised: going to the bathrrom for solid reasons demands a closed door, since concentration is required; any other activity does not prevent the use of the bathroom by the rest of the family. If you think this is crazy, try to grow up in a household with only one bathroom and see where this leads you.
My children know how they differ from each other, and from us. We have explained that grown ups have hair under their armpits and between their legs, that men have a larger didi then boys, and that girls and women have a didi so small that it's hard to see. We also explained that women need a diaper on a regular babies, since they loose blood; this is the blood which forms a nest for a baby inside the mother, and when it has been there too long and no baby needs it, it gets thrown out before it goes rotten.
My kids are squeamish about using the "wrong" public toilet, and they insist that their clothing and haircut corresponds to societal standard for their gender. They also prefer to pee privately, I suspect (but have only circumstantial evidence) so as not to use toilet paper.
I always saw my parents naked, and I grew up more or less normal. Or maybe I didn't, and haven't noticed yet.
However, one question about this article is really, really important to me now: is there a way to make sure boys do not want to be bathed by mommy anymore? I certainly wouldn't mind sharing the bathing duties along gender lines: C#1 showers on her own, needing only a look to check that all the shampoo has been rinsed from the head, while the twins resist and C#2 has still a strong opposition to having his hair washed. Had I known for sure that less nudity in the household would have led to me avoiding bathing duties for the twins, I would bought a burqa years ago.

No comments: