Thanks for this thread. I personally find it comforting to hear other parents experiences with these things. I just discovered that my 8 year old dd now has pubic hair. Whoa. I wasn't really expecting this so soon.
Its comforting to hear all the sweet stories about kids who like to tell their parents things. I hope my dd continues to feel she can trust me enough to share stuff throughout puberty.
I completely respect her privacy-I know I wanted it when I was going through that! But its also cool to get to have my 2 cents about body changes,puberty and the like. If she trusts me enough to share, I am honored and would never tell her it is TMI!
I'm glad I know that she is starting some changes, because it explains her recent COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL behavior, and makes me have more compassion around that. (Hey, I too was a hormonal emotional mess only 5 months ago only for a different reason.)
Also, we haven't done a ton of talking about puberty and sex, and I am now thinking I'd like to introduce that book I got her a while back but have been saving. I thought it would be another year or two at least before it became real relevant.
My sons are both little, but I don't think its at all abnormal for a boy to talk to his mom about these things. Unusual, I think, but not wrong or bad.
I don't relate to my kids a whole lot differently because of their gender, and I would welcome my sons using me as a friend and resource during puberty. In fact, I really think these boys who talk to their mamas and are comfortable with themselves must be very healthy. Puberty is such a tough time- the more confident kids feel and the more trustworthy resources they have for information and support, the better. Come on, how could that be unhealthy?
Also, I want to add my input as someone who has worked in sexual assault prevention, on the whole sexual abuse issue. Sexual abuse has nothing to do with whether a family is nude around each other or not.
The level of modesty around bodies is a cultural and personal issue that I'm quite certain has no bearing on a child's risk of being molested. There are many places in the world where it is ordinary for family members of all ages to bathe together, and it does not result in more sexual abuse.
I would say the same goes for public swimming nudity. That is not the typical situation that results in a kid being abused, though it is possible that a pedophile could be scoping out a public swimming area. Swimsuit or not, though, is not going to make a great deal of difference in their risk level in terms of sexual assault. If they are scoping kids out, they will be regardless of swimsuit or not.
Abuse happens to kids in families that have very strict codes of modesty, and in fact, may be more easy to keep a secret in these families since there may be a lot of quiet and shyness about bodies. Really, it can happen to anyone.
I would say our style is sort of middle of the road about these issues. In my house, my husband is modest and I am not. My kids get to choose how modest they want to be, though we have rules against clothing that we think is sexualizing, and we do make our children wear clothing in public after they are not babies. Also, we don't allow our littles to touch their genitals in front of people, mostly because its awkward and embarrassing! I also don't allow sex play between children in my house. I don't judge people who have different ways of dealing with these things.
The important thing is that kids feel loved, respected, and safe, and that they know their body is special. How conservative or liberal you are on these issues is not at all the point.
The only inoculation against sexual abuse is making sure your kids are self-confident, and can talk to you. It sounds like these families are doing a pretty amazing job with that, so I'd say their kids are likely at a lower risk of sexual exploitation than a lot of kids. Safe to say if anything happened, they know they could tell their mom. I think its great.