Should we avoid showing ourselves naked in front of our children?
The sexual liberation of the 1970s led to a change in behavior related to modesty and nudity. It was then admitted that walking naked in front of her children posed no problem, even adding that it helped them to accept their bodies better, not to be ashamed of them, and to free themselves from the taboos relating to sexuality. Nowadays, child psychiatrists and psychologists agree that it is better to avoid being naked in the presence of children and that it is necessary to preserve a certain modesty. How do we explain this divergence of viewpoints?
The sixty-eight ideology has given birth to a philosophy of free education, a liberation of bodies and morals.
At this time, one thinks one must live one’s body in a natural way. Now, a healthy body has nothing to hide and does not have to encumber itself with taboos deemed useless and retrograde. Some parents think that if their children see them naked, it will help them to break free from the straitjacket of sexual repression, and they will be able to live a fulfilled sexuality when they are adults. They think that when they show themselves naked in front of their children, it is a kind of desexualized nudity, as they do not put any original intention into it and that it has nothing to do with the child ‘ exhibitionism.
Understanding Children’s Discomfort
The lack of modesty in the family circle is not altogether trivial. This is how many testimonies tell us that children are often embarrassed by the nudity of their parents, but they do not dare to talk about it. Parents need to detect, understand, and adapt their behavior according to the child’s reactions. Thus, while avoiding excessive prudishness, it is often preferable not to show oneself naked in front of children, especially in the common rooms of the house such as the living room or the kitchen. Psychoanalysts give a theoretical explanation to this recommendation …
Being naked in front of children: the point of view of psychoanalysis
Parents should be aware that when they show themselves naked, even if they do not put anything sexual, it is not the same for the child. The recent experiences incestuous desires for the opposite-sex parent. However, these hopes remain imaginary. They participate in its psychic construction. This is what psychoanalysis calls the phase of the Oedipus complex.
If the child is too directly confronted with the sexuality of his parents or the reality of his genitals, he will not be able to desire his parents without risk unconsciously: his unconscious thoughts are too directly confronting reality. He will then prefer to put a lid on his wishes, which can not be elaborated. This may cause him problems in his adult sexuality. So, The nudity of the parents can create in the child a psychological tension and the only way to calm this anxiety will be to renounce his desire, to repress it. As an adult, he will tend to reproduce the same mode of functioning with the desired partners and control his desires.
Psychology thus warns against showing oneself naked before his children. However, of course, in education, parents are the only judges of what is right for their child … Do not hesitate to confront the points of view and ask the other parents what attitude they have adopted! Moreover, repress his desires.