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Is it okay to shower with your kid?

At this point in my parenting career, I'm pretty good at taking others' opinions in stride. Think cloth diapers and home schooling are the way to go? Fine. Neither are for me, but who cares?

But every so often, I kick myself for not addressing a remark more clearly (or at all). So, behind the shield of the Internet, consider exhibit A...

What? You shower with your son? Gross.

As a person with generous sebaceous glands and kids that wake before dawn, I was thrilled to discover I could kill two dirty birds with one stone by taking Gunnar into the shower with me during Annie's morning nap. To my delight, he wasn't afraid of the "rain," as we called it, and would happily practice washing his belly and arms and neck while I indulged in basic self-hygiene. I would have just enough time to clean and dress us both before the baby woke up.

Proud as punch to be able to leave the house without the signature baseball cap, I bragged about my feat to fellow moms. I never saw the flack coming.

One person gravely warned me about an experience she had staying at a friend's house, in which the friend's children unexpectedly joined her while she was sudsing up--because "they were used to showering with adults."

Caught off guard, I think I gave a lengthy nonsensical response.

What I wish I'd said:

Kids who barge in on house guests in the bathroom are just rude, not warped by family showering practices. I would not tolerate that kind of obnoxious behavior from my kids, so no need to worry about how we get clean.

Others seemed offput by the notion of a little boy seeing an adult woman's body. I likely changed the subject, thinking:

Our kids see us naked. So what? Nudity in your own home is not sexual unless you make it that way. If an infant can drink from my boob, why can't a toddler play with a washcloth beside me while I happen to be nude? Trust me, I'll be thrilled when both of us can bathe alone.

As a kid old enough to remember, I accompanied my mom in Marshall's changing rooms and spied my dad peeing with the door open. I asked questions and got short but accurate answers. When I was nine, they gave me a copy of some children's anatomy book from the '70s, let me read it on my own, and made themselves available for questions. Seemed reasonable at the time and still does. I think I turned out okay.

But what do you think? Is changing clothes, peeing, or showering in front of your kids a big deal? Does age matter? Does the gender of the parent or child matter? How do you field your kids' questions about bodies--theirs or yours?

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Comment by Brae Lee Craig on August 24, 2009 at 6:01pm
LOL. They came out of my VAGINA, I think they can handle seeing me naked here or there. I don't have sex in front of them. I am comfortable with my body, and I think they need to be comfortable with theirs. We don't go out of the house naked, or even prance around continually nude. If I need a towel or article of clothing, yes, I meander to the laundry room, but when there's company or the window is open, we're covered.

Now, my children are 4,3, and 20 months old. I am sure that somewhere in their future, they will get annoyed and horrified by their parents nakedness. When this happens, I will take care to cover up and make them feel more comfortable. But until then, I'm sure my 3 year old isn't lying awake at night thinking of his mom on silk sheets.

I don't think there's ANYTHING wrong with you showering with your son. He sounds like he enjoys it, and you get something necessary done.
Comment by Amy Musing on August 2, 2009 at 9:58am
If I need a bra and the only clean ones are in the laundry basket in the basement that never made it upstairs, I will walk by my two boys and go get it. No towel. No modesty. Just matter of fact. My boys are used to random nudity, which is to say that if there aren't any towels in the shower but I don't discover it until I get out, and my son is watching TV on my bed, it's perfectly normal for me to duck in front of the TV so as to not block his view of his show, while I fetch a towel.

The traumatic effect this has on my boys? Well, if being the only child on a school field trip to an art museum not giggling at the nude sculptures is a sign of trauma, then my kids needs oodles of therapy. Nothing is wrong with the kids who light up light a Christmas tree and turn three shades of red walking by a nude sculpture. They'll be fine.

First of all, you're talking about PRACTICALITY! You shower with your son so you can actually GET a shower before leaving the house. Not to mention it was excellent water conservation. Kudos for teaching your child two important things in life.

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