TFT: Family Nudity and names for private parts

(I wrote this post about a week ago… but since our funny little trip to Target the other day, I figured today would be the perfect Thursday to post it.)

I recently found a post on the iVillages "due date" board that sparked an idea for this TFT post.  The topic was this:  Family Nudity… are you comfortable with your kids seeing you and your hubby naked? 

I was surprised by the variety of replies.  Some said they have no problem… unless someone is uncomfortable or becomes uncomfortable, they are pretty open.  Some said once the kids start asking questions or naming body parts.  Some said once their kids were 3 or 4 they stopped the openness. 

Interesting to me. 

In our house, we are often found walking naked from the shower to the bedroom to change, or sometimes if I’m changing in the bedroom and I need laundry from the basement I’ll walk through the house naked.  We have always done this in front of Porter, and while he does notice body parts, we don’t hide it from him.  Porter watches us change. He usually hangs out in our room and plays on the bed.  I have no idea how long we’ll do this for.  I guess I never thought about it.  I assume once Porter is older it would probably be uncomfortable for him to see his mom walking through the house naked.  Maybe not as awkward if he were to see Ryan once he’s older, but who knows. 

Now, body parts.  This one is even more intriguing to me and I wondered if I’m "doing this right."  A few weeks back I was out with some mom friends (one with a baby, two have 4yr olds and one has a 5 year old).  Somehow we were on the topic of anatomy and what our kids call it.  I was saying how Porter knows what his penis is, and he will refer to it as that.  He’s known to walk around the house "naked booty" and grab his penis and say "Penis!"  We jokingly call his butt his "booty" and if I’m changing in front of him he’ll slap my butt cheeks and say "Mama booty!"  He knows my boobs are called boobs.  Just recently, he saw me changing, and pointed at the appropriate area and said "Mamas penis!"  I was a little stunned, and wasn’t sure what to say.  Do I tell him the right name?  Well, I surely didn’t want him thinking I had a penis, and surely didn’t want him saying that in public.  I told him "No, Porter.. boys have penises. You’re a boy.  Mama is a girl.  Girls don’t have penises they have a vagina."  He stared at me blankly after that explanation.  He’ll learn about it someday, why not sooner than later. (and… well… all this educating little dude ended up landing me in an embarrassing dressing room in Target HAHA!)

Back to the hanging out with mom friends…. two of my friends (with 4 and 5 year olds) said that their girls didn’t know their female parts were called a vagina.  They just call them their butts.  And the moms refer to them as their butts.  As in "Wipe your butt in the front."  I thought this was a bit odd, but hey, whatever works. 

So, my questions for you this week:

  • How does your family view "family nudity"?  Do you walk around uninhibited without thinking, or are you careful to not let your kids see you naked?  What ages are your kids?  Male/Female?  (And furthermore… what about moms/sons and dads/daughters being nude around eachother).
  • What do your kids call their body parts? Do they use appropriate names or do you have made up names for them?  When did you teach them these names?  What ages were your kids beginning to notice body parts? 

  1. I haven’t been around your blog in a while, so first I want to say ” Congrats!”
    Second of all, yes TJ knows what his body parts are called. He knows my boobs are boobs, although he calls them boobies:)He even pointed to them a few weeks ago and told me they were “his boobies” HA HA HA! Right now, I try not to let him see me naked anymore, because since he is getting old enough to recognize the difference in body parts on me and his daddy, I figure I need to stop it before I have some embarrassing moment like yours in Target…ROFL. He still sees me walking around in underclothes, just not naked. But he has started telling me and his daddy to put clothes on when we are not fully dressed.

  2. I’ll comment on this one, of course! My kids come & go when I am naked & getting dressed, showering, using the bathroom, etc. They see it as a way to corner me like a rat in a cage & not let me up for air when they need something such as papers signed, jars opened, etc-ha! So, to the 2 younger ones, semi-Nudity-by-Mom is nothing new! Now seeing their older sisted naked though is totally hysterical! It is like a joke to them if she is drying off & they walk in they find it totally funny? Kids are strange! My kids are also amused & curious by my husbands nudity-since he has NEVER been naked in front of the kids since the time they saw daylight, locks the door to shower no matter whose bladder has to suffer! **Disclaimer** Not that I am condoning nudity among parents & children, but I just don’t lock my children out of the bathroom,bedroom, etc when I am getting ready in case they need me or I need to ear-hustle on their schemes 🙂

  3. Well, my kids are still very young, and they both see both of us naked. We shower with the girls in our room and dress as well. I guess I’m not uncomfortable with it and as far as Brian goes, I don’t think he is either. Annika did notice a difference not that long ago, but she’s young and what is the difference really? Just a difference, that’s it. We call things nicknames I guess, boobs, hooha, booty. I’ve never had to refer to Brian’s penis before, so nothing there. Good topic!

  4. Great post! When you get a minute, see my post on “How Hard it is to be a mommy and why we aren’t honest about it” – long title, huh?! lol!

    I will answer, even though Cadi is only 7 months and isn’t talking yet. We are naked all the time in our house – esp. me. I am home with her, so she definitely sees me naked, as I have no one here to watch her. I do the same thing as you, too, if I have clean laundry downstairs. Also, the past week, Cadi has been a bit sick, so I have turned the shower on for a while to get the bathroom steamy, and then Cadi and I hop in together and take a shower.

    We call her vagina a vagina. I *personally* don’t see anything wrong with that word. When she gets older and asks me about it, I will tell her that she has a vagina and that boys have a penis.

  5. hey nicole. i *obviously* done have children..
    but i think it is so great that you feel you can be open with porter about this.
    seeing as my focus in public health is sexuality education… i know that it is very important for children to know about their bodies and what their reproductive parts are called. this is so important for their sexual health and even body image. they need to know that private is not “bad”. though i’m sure you already know this 😉

    i commend you

  6. Is it weird that Tiegan came up to me the other day grabbing her nipples and saying “BOOBIES!” ??? hahahaha!!!

    I think my family is about on the same page as you are with the nudity & naming body parts. Except for daddy. Jason feels a little uncomfortable being naked around Tiegan, probably just because she’s a girl and soooo curious. We go to the bathroom with the door open, but when she walks in to visit him (of course since potty training started – probably wondering why he pees standing up) he turns away and says “girls don’t watch boys go pee pee!”

    hahahaha.

    We keep all our clean clothes in a wardrobe in the basement, since our bedroom is too small for dressers and there’s no closet. (yeah, it’s THAT tiny). So we’re constantly going from the bedroom to the basement sans clothes… maybe wearing a towel. Tiegan knows boobies, and I tried to teach her vagina (because she touches herself when trying to go potty). But I think Jason is uncomfortable saying it around her, because he says “leave your hoo-hoo alone.” He cracks me up.

    I’m not going to really enforce the technical terms right now, but I agree that it’s better that they know the truth. Good post! I’m going to try to think up a TFT today.

  7. I can’t answer the 1st question because I don’t have kids but on the 2nd question. I think that you are doing the right thing teaching Porter the names of his body parts. I used to work for an attorney who prosecuted child molesters & learned that you should teach your children the proper names of their body parts in case “God for bid” they have a Horrble experience happen to them. It was so Sad to read the court documents with the little kids explaining what was done to them. But, it was shown that children in more open families who taught their children about their body parts were more likely to come forward and tell their parents about what happened to them.

  8. tucker is 19 months. matt and i change/go to the bathroom in front of him. he is more curious about when matt is going to the bathroom (i hope that help’s with the whole potty training issue). he knows what his/our body parts are called (penis or peepee, boobs, butt and vagina). i rarely am completely naked in front of him now, only because he is also recognizing that there are differences and i too want to save myself from any weird boob/vagina/penis moments that could come up in public (i am still laughing about your previous target post).

  9. Morgan is 21 months and Ryan is 6 years old. I will change in front of them but only in front of Ryan if I have to (in change rooms) he has a whole lot of questions about boobs lately. We too call our body parts the right names although Ryan has picked up a few other names for his penis at recess at school. When Ryan was 2 ever time we were in line at a store he would ask me if the person in front of us was a boy or girl and if they had a vagina or penis. He did it so often that my mom wouldn’t line up with us anymore. Morgan doesn’t really really seem to care she just says Ewwww when I’m on the toilet and brings me one of her diapers when I’m done. My niece also refers to her part as her little bum and they don’t correct her and she’s 5, I find that a little odd too. Get use to those embarassing moments, Nicole, you are in for a lot more, especially with a boy!

  10. well right now max is still so little that it’s obviously not a big deal. but i think that at some point, yes, i will just cover up more around the house. i’m thinking this will just come about naturally? but who knows? and i think we will teach him real names, too. i think it’s good you do that with porter. 🙂

  11. We are pretty open in our house. However, I do feel there comes an age when you have to be more modest. Amonte is 15 so I obviously don’t walk around naked in front of him. I do however breastfeed freely and he could care less. I agree in teaching them the right names for their body parts. I have actually had patients who didn’t know what a vagina was. I mean these are grown women. Even though we have tought them the proper names Cade insists he has “man cans” and one has milk in it and the other one has juice in it. Wierdo!

  12. I’d say we’re pretty modest around our little guy. He’s definitely done the shower thing with one of us a few times but for the most part he hasn’t seen too much. He’s still little though and he haven’t come to the point to need to explain things. Growing up, I never really saw much of my parents and I think I’ll probably keep it that way with Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, I will explain things to him with the proper terminology when the time comes though.

  13. We have also taught Lukas butt, penis or pee-pee, vagina and boobs or boobies. In fact when I walk around my house with a bra on, he’s even learned what that is. Recently we went to Target and we went by the Bras to get to the Diapers and hes starts pointing out “Bras… more Bras… more Bras” and just kept going until they were out of sight! LOL. Tony and I are both okay with being naked in front of Lukas and I take him into the showers with me quite often when its just us two at home and I NEED to shower then. So he enjoys joining me. I don’t want him to feel that private areas or bad, but will express to him later on that about the rules of noone else touching them. Great posting! and I loved reading everyones comments and opinions on this!

  14. We’ve always been open with Alysss, and will continue was Hailey gets older. When she got old enough to ask questions, we answered them honestly. And, we’ve always just called them by their names…No “hoo-ha’s and “ding-dong’s”…LOL!

    We teach more about respecting people’s privacy than harping on the fact that it’s somehow “wrong” for her to see Daddy in the shower or something. If we make it a big deal, and make things like body parts “off limits” to talk about freely, then how is she going to be comfortable in her own skin with her own parts?

  15. We are very open with Parker who is 3. He calls his parts by the appropriate name and always has. He also knows that Mommy has a vagina and has for probably over a year now. It’s never landed me an embarrassing moment…yet! LOL We will do that with Cole too.

    I felt better about using the correct names when I heard a sexual abuse investigator speak to our MOPS group last year. He said the best thing you can do for your children is tell them the correct names to their anatomy. I’ve never regretted my decision to do so since I heard him speak.

  16. Well… I dont have kids but when I was growing up, I never saw my Dad naked. I saw my mom naked. Still do to this day…she doesnt care…she will dress, pee, shower, walk around the house… even if I am in the room.
    As for naming body parts, I think that you will be better off if you just call them what they are…boobs, vagina, penis.

  17. when they are little, i see nothing wrong with how you dress or undress around your children. as they get older it’s probably a good idea to be more appropriate. you never know what they will say outside of the house, i want to save myself the embarrassment. when they are real young things are funny, a bit older and well it might not be funny anymore. i too see nothing wrong with using the proper terminolgy when children are old enought to understand.

  18. Sorry I’m a little late on this one, but we’re with you. We’re pretty relaxed with nudity and the kids. I mean, it’s not like we walk around naked often, but the kids are often around while changing, showering and bathroom things.
    We’ve always used appropriate names for body parts, well as far the males go I guess. Our kids call a penis a penis. Well, you know the story with Savannah and her calling it a tail, even though she knows technically it’s a penis. With the girl stuff, we do call the “front part” just “where we go pee-pee” and all of it in general is her bottom or her private parts. I’ve always felt a little odd telling small kids that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina because obviously the vagina is something you can’t really see. It’s not like little girls (or boys!) have gotten a good look down there and know there’s stuff that, um, leads inside. She doesn’t pee from her vagina and I feel like that’s all they know about, so we don’t call the peeing parts that. She has heard that word, but it’s something I feel is more appropriate to when they are learning a little more anatomy than the basics that toddlers and preschoolers need. I just feel odd telling my two year old little boy that I have a vagina when really he has no clue what or where that really is. I don’t see us using the word vagina much until we’re talking more about how babies are born and then eventually detailed body parts and then ultimately the sex stuff.

    But then again I don’t really like generalizing so much and calling it all her bottom, so any ideas on what word to use specifically for peeing? I mean, I don’t really want to use the specific “urethra”. People would look at me like I’m crazy if they overhear my kid saying anything about their urethra!!

  19. Ok….so the part about your two friends with 4 and 5 year olds…yeah that was referring to Missy and I….For the record, my 4 year old does refer to her privates as her butt….whether she is talking about her actual butt or her girl parts. However, she doesnt say “Wipe my front butt” or whatever….its not even like that. I feel that I must defend myself…I am not the kind of person who uses slang words or proper words for anatomy….the slang words are vulger and the proper words just sound weird…I just call them girl stuff and boy stuff…actually my daughter calls boy parts,”Tails” which I kind of think is cute, because she came up with that all on her own. I guess my point is that I dont think it really matters what they call it….I am sure we were not all taught the “PC” term for our privates when we were little. To each their own 🙂

  20. I agree with Carrie, I don’t think it make’s us bad mom’s that are daughters don’t go around calling out private parts where ever they go. When the day come when she has question we will talk to her then. You have your way and I have my own it does not mean that one is better then the other, and I think people need to understand that instead of cutting other mom’s down.

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