Q&A: Navigating parent-child modesty

Question:

Can you suggest guidelines for modesty in the home? I assume it’s okay for my husband and me to shower with our children and change clothes in front of them while they’re still toddlers. I’m just wondering when we should stop doing that. Any ideas?

Answer: There isn’t a hard and fast rule for dealing with this issue. Most paediatricians and child development experts agree that when a child begins to express a desire for privacy when naked or going to the bathroom, that’s the time parents should begin to express more personal modesty. This typically occurs around the age of three or four. For some children, it may be a little later.

It’s also important that you begin to instil a healthy view of sexuality in your children from an early age. You should start when they’re toddlers, using age-appropriate concepts and language.

For example, when a young child asks questions about where babies come from, answer their questions in a positive straightforward manner. Deflecting the question or making an awkward reference to “the stork” won’t cut it! You might say something like “God made a special way for mummies and daddies to have babies. He uses a tiny little seed from Daddy and a tiny little egg from Mummy. The seed and the egg come together inside Mummy’s tummy, and then God does a miracle and makes a new baby.” This kind of explanation is typically sufficient for most children. You don’t need to go into a detailed description of human physiology.

One more thing that is bound to come up in your home, if it hasn’t already: most experts also recommend using accurate names for male and female genitalia. Cutesy names or codewords can be confusing to a child, and can unintentionally lead to shame and embarrassment down the road, especially with other children.

For more guidance in this area, explore our Resources.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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