When did you stop showering with your kids and explain privacy? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 12-28-2014, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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When did you stop showering with your kids and explain privacy?

When did you stop showering with your children and what would you do if your ex didn't stop?

My daughter, her father, and I have always been a very no-shame, nudity all the time, bodies are beautiful, kind of family. We've always showered together, changed in front of each other, gone to the bathroom with the door open, etc.

About 2 years ago we split up, and it bothers me that he still showers with our 5.5 year old. She DOES still see me naked when I am changing or whatever, but to be honest… my mother still changes in front of me, too. Women should be able to see each other naked without feeling like they have something to hide. Plus we are family.

But I have very vivd memories of accidentally seeing my dad naked when I was very young, and I really wish I didn't have those. LOL. Plus, my daughter is completely capable of showering on her own. She does it here at my house every day. I stand next to the shower and help her rinse her hair, but she's capable of doing everything else on her own.

My ex and I do not get along. If I tried asking him not to shower with our daughter he would only blow up at me and think I am accusing him of something. (which i am not.) Plus he would tell me I don't get to make the rules at his house. (which I don't.) So, I've tried having talks with my daughter about it instead. I've told her that she doesn't need to shower with daddy. That she can tell daddy she is able to do it on her own. I've had talks with her about why it's not ok to be seeing adult men naked.. etc. Though she seemed completely baffled by that because (while her dad is the only man she's seen naked) she didn't realize that being naked was a big deal to anyone. She's perfectly happy changing her clothes in front of an open window or outside in the lawn if given the chance.

The reason I bring this up is because today my daughter told me about this funny thing she and her step-brother do by filling squirt guns with cold water and then squirting daddy in the penis with it in the shower. This bothered me because she's obviously old enough and conscious enough to know about daddy's penis, and she doesn't need to be messing around or even thinking about it.

Now, my boyfriend on the other hand thinks this situation with my daughter seeing her dad is completely messed up. My boyfriend's 4 year old daughter has NEVER seen him naked. Never. Not in a changing room. Not in a bathroom. Not in the shower. When she was a baby and he would bathe with her, he wore swim suits. She has no idea what a penis is or that her body is different than dad's or mom's for that matter.

His daughter is now very private about her own body though because she's picked up on the body rules she's been taught. She will not change in front of me or my daughter and demands absolute privacy. She will not let her dad help her in the shower, and wouldn't let him look at her vulva when she had a rash.

We all live together and It's been an issue for us in the past so many times. When I am home alone with her and she has trouble wiping but won't let me help. etc. I mean, think about how often you see a 4 year old naked when you live with them.

So, I guess I am having trouble balancing the nudity - body privacy - boys/girls issue with the two girls. How have you guys handled these situations in your own families?
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#2 of 12 Old 12-28-2014, 04:56 PM
 
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I'd look into it to see if there are any laws related to this. (I don't know, feel like there might be) If this is just a difference in comfort, that's very different to if there's a risk of CPS coming in over it.

Assuming there's no legal issues- I don't know how much gender should matter, especially because she's pre-pubescent. Your daughter doesn't seem to mind. If she minded, again, it'd be a very different story. Why do you mind so much? Were you traumatized by your memory of your naked father? Are you concerned about it doing damage to her? If so- why? I'm not saying that to be mean, I'm asking if there's a legitimate concern, and if there's not I'm asking you to re-evaluate your own hang-ups around nudity. There certainly are situations where this could be bad and even damaging to a child. At the same time, there are nudist families where kids grow up seeing both parents naked and it's not a big deal. As long as you don't feel your daughter is in danger, I don't think there's inherent harm in it. You may make your daughter more upset and uncomfortable by trying to tell her something she sees no problem with and enjoys as a pleasant time with her dad is wrong.

I do think she needs to learn about when it's appropriate to be naked, just because we don't live in a perfect world. Even if it's okay for daddy to see her naked, that doesn't mean it's okay to be naked around any adult. She needs to both be aware that some people are made uncomfortable by it and also that there are times that she just shouldn't be naked. They're called private parts for a reason.

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#3 of 12 Old 12-28-2014, 05:07 PM
 
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Showering with daddy = no big deal

Showering with step brother = big red flag

Bring back the old MDC
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#4 of 12 Old 12-28-2014, 05:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post
Showering with step brother = big red flag
I missed that bit, I went back over it. How old is the step-brother? If the step-brother's a toddler- I think that's a grey area. (and how big is that shower?!) If the kids are the same age, I could see it but it would bother me. Any older and it starts getting unnerving fast.

I hope the dad's girlfriend knows about it...

I'm also not really sure about any game that involves interacting with the genitals like that. I know it's not hands on (thankfully!), but aiming for someone's genitals with a squirt gun does rub me the wrong way. There's a difference between showing that they're a natural body part that isn't shameful and encouraging your kids to pay attention to it like that... I can see kids starting that game innocently, but I'd be stopping it quickly if my toddler tried that with me.
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Last edited by sillysapling; 12-28-2014 at 05:31 PM.
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#5 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 08:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post
Showering with daddy = no big deal

Showering with step brother = big red flag

I find that your ex is showering with his stepson extremely odd. I am a more private person and DP and I have 2 3year old dd's and they have never bathed together. They have seen each other changing as they share a room and came to live to gether on the tail end of potty training but on the most part they don't. None of his kids have seen me nude and like wise for him and my kids. My ds started becoming self aware around 6 and needing his privacy. DP's oldest daughter hasn't gotten that way yet but we are teaching her to shut the door when bathing and changing etc because she just doesn't care as much. Some people never grow out of it.

I'd say anything much past 3-4 and seeing some parent or step parent nude is a bit innappropriate.
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#6 of 12 Old 01-02-2015, 08:48 AM
 
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Some of these replies rub me the wrong way. I don't see the problem with your ex and daughter showering together, if it doesn't make her uncomfortable. There isn't any need for you to try and make her uncomfortable with it, or see it as something wrong, either.

I also don't see why your daughter showering with her sibling (a step sibling is a sibling) is weird or wrong, nor your ex showering with his step son.

Maybe we're weird, but I bathed with my step daughter when she was younger, she bathes with her friends (age 7) and my son, her half brother. My DP doesn't bathe with them, but we change in the same room at the pool. Nothing feels weird here :/

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#7 of 12 Old 01-04-2015, 11:45 AM
 
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I think @wanderinblues makes a really good point about how this is very much an issue of cultural difference as well as personal boundaries.

It's quite complicated. On the one hand, I agree that as long as she's not uncomfortable there's more leeway, and in other cultures family and even public bathing is far more normal. There are nudist families that are naked around each other regularly and even take their kids to places with other nudist families where their kids see other nude families. At the same time, it's true that abusers groom their victims to see the abuse as normal, so it can be very uncomfortable to have adults crossing our boundaries with kids. I've seen a few people who found out their child was being molested and the child really did feel it was normal because the molester taught them to feel that way. That didn't make it non-damaging, and so it's understandable for people to get on edge about anything involving child nudity that's out of ordinary to them.

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#8 of 12 Old 01-05-2015, 09:22 AM
 
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While some of what is described is past my own personal comfort level (my kids, a boy and a girl, stopped showering with me when they were 3-4ish, by their choice, and I never showered with my stepdaughter or was naked around her) the thing that is a red flag to me is the game you described with shooting the water pistol at his penis. I don't think that any adult should be using his/her genitals in any game involving children. Did it sound like something that was initiated by your ex, or rather something that maybe happened once and the kids thought was funny?

I also think the age of the stepbrother makes a difference-yes, they are siblings, but I would not be at all comfortable with my kids showering with a much older step sibling. My children do not even bathe together anymore because dd decided she wasn't comfortable with it-they are 7 and 4.

While I wouldn't necessarily try to tell your dd that seeing her dad naked is "bad" or "wrong" I would start talking a lot about personal boundaries, and how she has the power to say no, or "that makes me uncomfortable", etc., in a general sense. That way she will be able so speak up when she does get to the point of not wanting to shower with dad and/or stepbrother.
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#9 of 12 Old 01-05-2015, 10:39 AM
 
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I think the real problem is that both kids would be easier targets for an abuser because they aren't being taught boundaries. I'm not saying that dad is an abuser, or that step brother is a potential abuser. I'm saying that using genitals as part of game crosses a line, and that dad isn't setting appropriate boundaries.


Different families have different comfort levels with nudity, which is OK. But ALL children need to be taught how to set boundaries because it protects them from people who would enjoy hurting them. If they kids came up with this game, then he should have used it as an opportunity to teach them how to politely set boundaries, which is something every child needs to know.


If dad came up with this game, then I would go to court and trip to make all visits supervised because it could be grooming for sexual abuse. Any man who thinks its funny for children to use his penis as a target shouldn't be alone with children.


Hopefully, that isn't the case. Hopefully, it's something innocent, like the first time it was an accident and then the kids thought it was funny. This is your ex -- does he seem twisted, on a power trip, or insecure?


Either way, I would put a stop to it in such a way that the kids learn that genitals are private and we don't touch them or play with them just for sport.
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#10 of 12 Old 01-05-2015, 10:55 AM
 
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If you were all ok with showing together before, I don't see why you'd want your daughter to stop showing with her dad. It sounds like something they both like and are comfortable with, and it provides continuity into her current family situation. The spraying game sounds like something that kids would find funny. ...Because it's cold water, which is probably uncomfortable and gets a reaction. In my family, I would not make a big deal about it but stop it, and tell the kids I didn't like it.

I think the healthiest thing you can do is to drop it for now, and keep showing your daughter it's ok to say no to doing things she is uncomfortable with, no matter what they are.

For what it's worth, I think it's messed up that your boyfriend's daughter has never seen him naked, ever.

I think you and your ex should keep your previous non-shaming attitude. She's comfortable with bodies, and now she can start leaning boundaries. Sounds normal to me. (What I'm saying also is that if your ex isn't teaching her that particular boundary, then you could do that with your own body or other topics.)

Sorry, no personal experience to add, but I was happy to hear about a kid who had been taught that bodies are normal.
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#11 of 12 Old 01-24-2015, 03:10 AM
 
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I'm an American but grew up in a "bodies are normal" home and now live abroad in a country where entire families go nude to the sauna with entire other families if one family is visiting the others home. All ages, mixed company, no one blinks or thinks twice. My husband has showered and taken sauna (nude) with my 9&11 year old sons and I shower with them all the time. No one thinks it's weird in this culture.

The penis squirting game is weird but totally normal to imagine being initiated by the stepson if the stepson is under, say, 8. But should have been shut down in a calm way asap by the ex.

At age 5 I think it's normal that she is comfortable changing in the yard and not thinking twice about her body being something shameful. In fact, in appropriate circumstances that feeling is lovely to have always.
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#12 of 12 Old 04-27-2015, 11:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Serafina33 View Post
I'm an American but grew up in a "bodies are normal" home and now live abroad in a country where entire families go nude to the sauna with entire other families if one family is visiting the others home. All ages, mixed company, no one blinks or thinks twice. My husband has showered and taken sauna (nude) with my 9&11 year old sons and I shower with them all the time. No one thinks it's weird in this culture.

I agree with this.
I knew a latino family that showered together, mom, dad, and two teenage girls. They did it every Sunday before going to church. It seemed perfectly natural to me. I hope that when my kids are teens, they feel comfortable doing this with me, in the same way that in other cultures, family nudity while bathing isnt considered taboo. Japan comes to mind, where families enter hot baths together.

Likewise, my children still bath together (3,7, 9), and would happily shower with me if there was room or of they liked showers (they dont).

I think the question is, is your daughter comfortable with it? If not, then let her know that she doesnt have to if she doesnt want to. My boys have gone through phases of wanting more or less privacy. My 3yo dd is still in the staying naked most of the time phase.

Another thing, is to get her a book called "I said No!-A kid to kid Guide on Keeping Parts Private"
That way, you can feel comfortable she is equipped to defend herself if boundaries are crossed.

However, it doesnt sound like they have been here, although it must be hard for you to not be able to be there and verify. Assuming your ex has nothing but good intentions, let the daughter shower with him as long as she is comfortable.


The penis squirting game is weird but totally normal to imagine being initiated by the stepson if the stepson is under, say, 8. But should have been shut down in a calm way asap by the ex.

Exactly! It sounds perfectly innocent, and how to you know your ex didnt put a stop to it immediately? Kids do these sorts of things.
Also, why is showering with a step brother a red flag? My children bathe together all the time as i said earlier. It would depend on the age of the step brother, but the red flag comment is a bit premature.

At age 5 I think it's normal that she is comfortable changing in the yard and not thinking twice about her body being something shameful. In fact, in appropriate circumstances that feeling is lovely to have always.
I agree!
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