Nudity, gender, and age - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 06-25-2013, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
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A couple of threads here (and the situation at my own house) have me thinking lately....


I have two boys. I was raised by VERY modest parents and they were nearly never naked around us. My mom wouldn't even try on clothes with me in the dressing room unless she was desperate or able to hide enough. I have been trying to be a little more "natural" about the whole body thing, and DS (5) has been raised with nearly completely open doors. He's never been all that curious other than one or two questions about where my "penis" is or what a bra is/is for. He comes into the bathroom when we're using it and it's never been a big deal.


But lately the questions have been increasing, and his timing has been terrible for me (trying to come into the bathroom when I'm dealing with my period, for example) and I'm starting to think I need to start drawing a line somewhere. But I'm not sure where....


If he were a girl, I'd probably let him see me doing anything and everything, so she'd be prepared for her own period when she got older. But he's not going to have that, and I'm not sure how much he really needs to see/know about it.


How do you all handle this stuff? Is it "something private that only girls have" or is it just all out there and your daughter-in-law will thank you someday (or think you're creepy)? Sometimes I see him looking at my body and really processing what he's seeing, and I wonder if I'm scarring him for life by having him know what his mom looks like naked or if it's good for him to know what "real" women look like so his expectations aren't all about what he sees in the media. Do boys really need to know about periods, especially when it's cloth pads and Diva cups?

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#2 of 6 Old 06-26-2013, 08:58 AM
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I find myself in the Let Him Know camp.  I've felt some internal reservations, even with my daughters, but I felt it is so important to treat it as normal, something my mother never did either.


You are setting the first standard of Womanhood for your son.  Let it be confident.  Teach him what is going on, and what the differences are, if he asks.  I've always told my girls that menstrual blood helps clean out my uterus every month, and an egg along with it.  Simple.  And let him know that people feel more comfortable if these things, like peeing and pooing and changing menstrual pads, be kept private.  I wouldn't turn him out of the bathroom at this point, but if the reminders are there, at some point you can tell him that "I'm changing my period pad now/peeing now, I'd like some privacy please" and by then it will be Old Information and he will be ready to let it go, I'll bet.

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#3 of 6 Old 06-26-2013, 09:00 AM
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He is a boy does not translate in my mind to he should not know anything about women. Both my DS and DD used to walk in on me all the time in the toilet. Usually for something really urgent, like can I find the orange 6 pegged lego? My period is heavy, and messy. So of course they have asked why was I bleeding, is it normal, does it hurt... I answer all the questions. Sometimes I have even told them without them having to ask. Like telling them it is my egg coming out, it happens once a month, unless I was going to have a baby, then the egg would stay in me and I would not bleed... If my DS asked and I said it was something only women have, then he would know only it is some sort of mystery, and all those questions about why it happened and if it hurt would have gone unanswered. The mystery, to him, would then be answered by someone else - one of the kids in his class perhaps. Who knows what they would say. At least if I tell him, then I know what he knows.

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#4 of 6 Old 06-27-2013, 01:35 PM
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I think it is important for boys to understand and feel comfortable with women's bodies, but I also think it's important for parents to feel allowed to have privacy when we want it, as soon as our kids are old enough to begin learning.


My son is 8.  I still allow him to come into the room when I am changing clothes or in the shower, but I've taught him to knock first and not come in until I say it's okay.  Since he was about 3 or 4, I've been able to have him use a separate stall in a public bathroom or wait outside, and to stay out when I'm using the bathroom at home.  When he was little, I tried to be matter-of-fact about using the bathroom and answering any questions he asked about my anatomy.  Most of his questions have been related to breastfeeding, pregnancy, and birth--how did that work, where exactly is the vagina and why can't you see it, etc.


He went to a preschool where bathroom privacy was optional--many kids did not close the curtains.  One day at home he said, out of the blue, "The girls in my class have bottoms that go all the way around!  What's up with that?"  His dad explained that the front part of a girl, called labia, is like doors to keep the vagina clean.  My son was surprised that a little girl already has a vagina when she is not old enough to have a baby.  He then asked me to confirm this, and I explained that I still have labia but they look different because they are furry.  He said, " are a girl?  I thought you were a mama...." and we did some clarifying of how girls grow up to be women and boys grow up to be men, and the special parts change with maturity but are basically there from the beginning.


I also use the Diva Cup, and because it holds a lot, I was able to avoid emptying it when he could see.  (It helps that I've always worked outside the home, so I usually wasn't alone with him for really long stretches of time.)  I kept thinking the subject of menstruation would eventually come up....  When he was 7, I had an embryonic demise that didn't miscarry on its own so I had a D&C, and he was very interested in the whole process and surprised that I seemed so calm about having blood come out of me for weeks afterward, so that was my opportunity to explain about menstruation.  I told him it is "uterus cleaning fluid" that is red, because I remember my mom telling me that and it was less scary than thinking of it as all blood (which it isn't).  I explained about my cloth pads and my cup.  He said, "Why haven't I ever noticed this before?!?" and I said that because it involves private parts, it is considered a private thing that we deal with in the bathroom.  Since then we've had an incident when he came in asking, "Why is there blood on the bathroom floor?" and I said, "Oh, remember I told you about menstruation?  It started very suddenly, and I guess there were some drips I didn't notice, sorry!" and I cleaned up.  He seemed totally calm and accepting.  My partner says his mom had that kind of attitude, so he never felt freaked out by menstruation.  I think it's the guys who have no idea there is any such thing until they're teenagers who have a hard time with it.

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#5 of 6 Old 06-27-2013, 08:09 PM
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To me there's a line you can walk between privacy and openness.  My DD is 3, and I've already started asking her to leave the bathroom for period stuff and #2, but I'm open about what I'm doing and why I'm asking for privacy.  It's only recently that she understands not to run to the bathroom and get me a pad when I say the word privacy :)  I am not one of these "the period is beautiful" people.  I don't mean that I'm ashamed of it, and I embrace the way my body works, but in practice - well, it can be kind of yucky and I just don't feel like my DD needs to see it much.  I guess what I'm trying to address is your last sentence - do boys need to know about periods, and to me the answer is yes.  But they don't necessarily have to observe you changing your pad and whatnot in order to know about it. 

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#6 of 6 Old 06-28-2013, 07:57 AM
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Lizzy has a good point that knowing about periods doesn't mean seeing all the gory details.  My own parents were not modest at all, hung around naked a lot more than I do when my son's awake, and rarely closed the bathroom door--but my mom avoided having either my brother or me see much of her period.  That was fine; I still understood it well.

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