How families deal with nudity and privacy seems to govern how children feel about being seen nude. In families that are strict and avoid discussing sexuality, children learn to be modest about their bodies. In other families that take a more relaxed view toward sexuality, children feel easier about nudity. The most positive outcomes appear to happen when a parent can be a positive role model of a sexually mature adult and validate the youngster's growth into maturity. There is some suggestion that European families tend to be more relaxed about nudity and sexuality than families in other parts of the world, especially the U.S. However, the tendency for a youngster to be self-conscious about nudity (at least initially) seems to transcend culture.]
I have two daughters and am divorced, with a very small place that has little privacy. I have been naked in front of both of them as I remove a towel to dress, or if I am shaving when they come in. This was when they were younger. I am casual about it. I think they should be familiar with the male body. My younger daughter, now 8, still likes to walk in on me and pretend disgust. I just ask her to respect my privacy and remind her that what she has seen is normal. (I wonder what she would do now if she realized my genitals are shaved.) In any event, I feel proud, even though I am no specimen, that I am their first "naked man."
- age 45, Virginia
This Week's Wackiest Response:
If the color of yogurt were green, we might as well stick it to the floor and laugh. On that note, yes, family has seen me naked since puberty. I feel uncomfortable about it, like it's not right, but I don't feel bad or embarrassed. The brownies do quarrel.
- age 15, New Jersey
When I was 16 and had erections all the time, I once came out of the shower with such an erection. My 14-year-old brother had just come in and was impressed by the size (average, 6 inches). I felt proud that he thought I was big. Since then, he has seen me flaccid many times. When he hit puberty, his penis grew to the same average size and, once again, we were equals.
- age 34, Holland
None of my family has seen me naked since puberty, and I wouldn't feel comfortable about it, either. In fact, come to think of it, no one at all has seen me naked since I was about 8 years old (and that's everyone, not just my family). If for some reason they did, I would feel quite embarrassed and probably upset at their invasion of my privacy.
- age 16, New Zealand
As an adolescent, I was very shy around my parents and sister. None of them saw me naked for years. Even so, swim classes in public schools and college all were conducted in the nude at the time. In my late 20s and 30s, when I was raising my family, my wife and I were open about nakedness around the house. My two daughters regularly saw me naked throughout their childhood, as did my mother-in-law, when she lived with us for several months each year. For the past 10 to 15 years, I've been a nudist. I am usually naked at home. My adult daughters and their boyfriends have been seen naked around the house. So has my sister when I visit her in her home – likewise, both of my parents during their last years, a male cousin who accompanied me to a nude beach, and my wife's sister and brother-in-law when we all shared a motel room together. I enjoy the free feeling of being naked, even if others around me choose not to be. My family good-naturedly accepts my customary nakedness. The nudity that so embarrassed me when I was going through puberty now seems natural, very ordinary, and no big deal. It's hard to imagine why people expend so much energy being worried about it.
- age 61, California
I live in a family of 7 (two parents, both aged 40; two brothers, 13 and 6; two sisters, 16 and 6; and me). Since I've entered puberty, everyone has seen me naked. Around the younger ones, I try to hide my penis, to set a "good example," but am otherwise indifferent about it. When an older person is there, I flaunt myself massively and am proud of my body – especially my genitals!
- age 15, Australia
I was naked in my room when my mom and dad came down to tell me something. I felt indifferent about it, because they both have seen me nude before. I like to go skinny-dipping in the pool in the morning. Besides, they often saw me naked when I was little, so why should it matter now?
- age 17, Massachusetts
When I first started to grow pubic hair at age 11, I showed both my mom and my dad. I felt quite proud at the time.
- age 15, Indiana
"I was mortified he would say something
to my parents about my 'hairy penis.'"
I was 12 and in 7th grade when my younger brother saw me naked and asked, "Why do you have all that hair on your penis?" I just told him that it happens to guys as they get older. I was mortified he would say something to my parents about my "hairy penis," but he did not. My family never has discussed sex, masturbation, or any similar topic – although when I was 10 I got a book about puberty from my mom.
- age 22, Mississippi
I was walking around my room naked when my dad walked in. He just said I am well hung for my age and walked out.
- age 15, Indiana
Does my parrot count? I think that's about the time he learned to laugh uncontrollably!
- age 60, Michigan
My mom and I have been alone since I was 10, and we have been very close. Nudity has never been a big issue, but I am naked around the house more of the time than she is. I remember that as my first pubic hairs appeared, I was so happy that I showed her. I was 12, woke up with an erection and went to urinate, and I noticed those first hairs. So I went out to the kitchen where my mom was at the table having coffee, and I proudly showed her – still erect. As I continue through puberty she has seen me naked often (and occasionally erect) and is aware of my development.
- age 15, Florida
I don't understand this question. Is it wrong to be nude around family members? I take showers and sauna baths together with my family and feel comfortable with my own nudity. I always shower after gym classes without feeling embarrassed (I know many American guys don't, because I've lived there). There is a big double standard about this in America, and it's wrong. I also like to swim nude and enjoy the sun without clothes. It's just great – try it!
- age 20, Sweden
I've always been careful not to be naked in front of my parents. I would feel very awkward.
- age 18, Sweden
My dad doesn't live with us. My mom saw me just a month or two ago naked as I was in my room. She just walked in, and it was like everything was normal. She picked up some dirty clothes, looked at me, saw that I was a little erect, and said I might want to do something about "that." I was a little weirded out about it, but since she found nothing wrong with it, I felt at ease. She really didn't mind, then, when I walked in on her a few nights later and she was naked on her bed. I can't say I minded seeing her, either.
- age 13, Illinois
My dad and I were the only guys in a family of 5, so we had one bathroom, and the females used the other one. There were times that we would all be getting ready at the same time, so we would see each other naked. My dad was cool and open about masturbation, and we had many chats about the subject. He would joke around, saying, "You're the man," but I felt proud. Also, we are both uncircumcised, so we would talk about cleanliness. I remember the first time when he asked me if I could pull back my foreskin. He used what could have been embarrassing situations for me as learning sessions, such as the time he walked in on me and I was masturbating. Later, he talked about the importance of "cleaning up" afterwards.
- age 22, Indiana
My family doesn't think much about nudity. Both my parents and my siblings have seen one another naked many times: in the bathroom, in the pool, camping. I get a little embarrassed only if I have an erection (I get them all the time, anywhere), but I just cover it up with my hands or a towel. We're not nudists; we just don't worry about it. If anyone in the family has an overnight guest, we make sure to put a robe on or dress, so as not to embarrass them.
- age 17, California
During puberty, I was very embarrassed to be seen naked by my parents or older sisters. After I turned 15, I wasn't so embarrassed to be seen by my father, and I was actually proud that my crotch finally looked just like his. He used to wake me up for school, and since I slept naked from about age 15, he actually saw me naked almost every day (and usually with a morning erection). I would walk around naked as he would be talking to me. I felt proud of my very "male" body and enjoyed sharing my "maleness" with him. He never was shy about being naked around me, either. I think it was a healthy mutual respect. But I'm still not comfortable being naked around my mom or sisters, so I avoid that.
- age 29, Texas
I started puberty early and was very uncomfortable. I had no one to talk to about it, and I even tried to hide from my mom that I was getting my period. However, it didn't take her long to find out. We soon had a long talk. I didn't feel much better, though, until she pointed out all her private parts to me, and then helped me to find them on myself. Finally, revealing my body to my mom actually helped me feel normal for a change.
- age 13, California (female)
About a month ago, we were having a family reunion. Our parents had gone out to tour the Island, leaving me and my cousins (both male and female) alone for a few hours. We got into the booze and decided to go skinny-dipping in the pool out back. I discovered then that I was significantly better endowed than my cousins. But the next day, aside from my pride about my size, I felt kind of guilty – as if it were "gay" to do that around male cousins and incestuous with female cousins.
- age 18, Prince Edward Island, Canada
In the immortal words of Marlon Brando, "The horror...the horror!" I don't even know which would be worse, Mum or Dad. Mum would probably try to erase her memory by means of an instant self-lobotomy with her manicure set. Dad – oh, God help us – I wouldn't put it past him to go for the 21st-century-fatherhood holy grail and get a "talk" going. ("Talk" referring to a conversation featuring the sentence, "I see you have become a man now, son.") I have two much older brothers, though, both of whom have seen me naked numerous times throughout puberty (sauna, skinny-dipping, on hikes). The atmosphere was always relaxed, and they always compliment me about my body – which is quite an ego-boost, coming from your brothers.
- age 17, Germany
My whole family has seen me naked. We are nudists, so I am not embarrassed at all. We are naked around each other all the time. There are times I wished I had clothes on, because it is kind of embarrassing when I have an erection and I'm standing in front of my mother.
- age 18, New Mexico
We were camping in upper Michigan in a large tent that our entire family slept in. I was 14 at the time. Everyone went fishing, and I stayed back to do the dishes. Then I went into the tent to put on my swimming suit. I was naked and horny because I had not been able to masturbate on the trip. So I started playing with myself and was in full swing when my mother came into the tent. She looked at me fully spread, with a good hold on my vagina, and said, "Honey, I am so sorry! Let me go for a walk while you finish." I finished, and then when she returned, we talked about masturbation. She told me she did it when she was my age, and sometimes still does it. She told me about her experiences, and I told her some of mine. We hugged, laughed, and then had a nice day together as mother and daughter.
- age 34, Florida (female)
One time my dad came in as I was getting dressed and had nothing on. He said, "Yours is about as big as mine," and so I was very proud.
- age 17, Canada
I had just started getting pubic hair when my family went to the water park. My dad and brother were in the shower naked, and I figured I would shower naked, too, to show off how I was starting to grow up. I felt awkward being around my dad and brother, with their mature bodies, but I felt proud that I could show them that I was becoming a man – and that I could show some little kids what they can expect in a few years.
- age 14, Colorado
The first time was in the worst possible scenario because, unfortunately, I wasn't alone. Last year my 16-year-old brother walked in on me having sex with my boyfriend. To say it was embarrassing would be the understatement of a lifetime.
- age 18, Nevada (female)
About two years ago, I had a serious stomach virus, and my mom helped me clean up and shower after extremely violent vomiting and diarrhea. It was embarrassing, but at the time, I didn't care. It was the first time she had seen me naked since I started puberty, and she said something like, "I see my boy is becoming a man." I remember sort of smiling, but I was crying at the same time because I was so miserable. However, it sure was comforting that she was there.
- age 14, Florida
I was born on a Kentucky farm, so my father and I were accustomed to bathing together from my early childhood. Those circumstances were dictated by our having no indoor plumbing. During the winter, we used a washtub in the kitchen, and in the summer, we washed outdoors behind the house. My mother simply occupied herself elsewhere at those times. I doubt that any of my female relatives ever saw me naked after infancy, but a male cousin a few years my elder and an uncle and I frequently swam naked in a river that meandered at the back of our property – just as I did with other friends (unrelated), who I guess were within about 8 years of my age. I can't recall the changes of puberty ever being the subject of much comment – certainly not of embarrassment. They occurred just as a matter of growing up, and pretty much on schedule – so they were scarcely a reason for pride, either. Sure – guys esteem penis size, but none of the people I knew were all that much out of the ordinary, myself included. Perhaps because I became a doctor, nakedness has never seemed a big "thing" to me, among my relatives or with anyone else.
- age 62, California
During a family reunion, uncles and cousins saw me naked when we went swimming. It was a locker-room encounter and I felt a little embarrassed, but also curious about what other males in my family look like.
- age 16, Indiana
I was feeling daring one night and decided to try sleeping naked. I had no clue that my mom wouldn't have to go to work the next day and would come into my room to wake me and tell me she had made me breakfast. I wasn't covered at all. My first emotion was embarrassment, but she didn't seem to care, so I didn't care either. That opened up a big door in my life. I've been sleeping nude for 3 years now.
- age 18, California
My dad walked into my room without knocking the other morning and saw me standing there with an erection. I just kind of froze, and he looked at it and said, "Damn, boy, I bet your d*** is going to be even bigger than mine pretty soon! Does it shoot yet?" I was embarrassed but I said, "Hell yeah!" He just grinned at me then said, "Cool!" Then he gave me a thumbs-up and left. He's a cool dad. It made me feel proud as I thought about it later. Now I don't feel embarrassed for him to see me naked anymore.
- age 14, Texas
My parents have seen me naked several times since I was a child. In fact, we are not quite puritans about nudity. I see my mother naked in the bathroom, as well as my father. If I am taking a shower, it is no problem if my parents have to enter to the bathroom – even if I am urinating. Neither is it a problem if I come in while one of them is using the toilet. I think that kind of thing is quite common in Europe.
- age 28, Spain
No, and I wouldn't like it!
- age 14, Spain
"My mom said, 'Oh my god! You have pubes!'
while she was on the phone."
The most prominent time was quite embarrassing. My parents are "sort-of" hippies, so when I was younger, I would walk around the house naked on weekends. One day (I think I was 11) I was in the kitchen, naked, and my mom was talking on the phone to someone. When she saw that I had pubic hair around my penis, she said, "Oh my god! You have pubes!" while she was still on the phone. I felt quite embarrassed.
- age 15, Washington
A couple of years ago, my older sister saw me completely naked. I was masturbating on my bed, and she walked in. (No lock!) I knew there was no way for me to hide. Well, all she did was stand there and ask what I was doing. I was so embarrassed! But then she said she was surprised because she didn't think I was so big. This made me feel very proud. (There's nothing going on between my sister and me!)
- age 19, New Jersey
My brother is the only person to have seen me naked since puberty. He walked in on me while I was masturbating, but he didn't seem too bothered. However, I was a bit embarrassed. Then, he asked if it was okay for him to masturbate, too, which totally threw me. I said okay, so he sat down on my bed, and we masturbated together. We have never done anything since then, though.
- age 17, United Kingdom
My young son has seen me, and it's no big deal. But I don't think any member of my original family ever did. It's funny about nakedness. I was so uptight about my body back then that I wore underpants under my pajamas and never wore short pants except when I was forced to do so in gym class. God forbid that anyone see me undressed! Today, even though I don't work out and am not in especially good shape, I love nothing better than to go to the nude beach and stroll around letting strangers see me stark naked.
- age 52, New York
One night I decided to sleep nude, and when my mother woke me up to go to school, I had kicked almost all the covers off me. I still did have one sheet on, but my erection made it look like a tent. She told me to get up and take care of my erection and then to hit the shower. I was quite embarrassed about that, and the fact that she kept on joking about it at the dinner table.
- age 15, Canada
My sons and I were always close. They have seen me naked many times, usually in the morning while I'm taking a shower or shaving. These occasions have been great opportunities for us men to connect and discuss the sometimes sensitive topics they would only feel comfortable discussing with their dad. As they are now both teenagers, they are very comfortable about their own bodies. This has had a positive impact on their self-concept. Their genitals are in different stages of development, and they still look forward to the day they will look just like their dad. Overall, this has been an opportunity for both boys to develop a very healthy attitude about sex. They are also very proud to be males.
- age 48, Hawaii
All my family members have seen me naked since I started puberty two or three years ago. I guess I am part of a nudist family, even though we have never gone nude outside of our house. I don't remember ever wearing clothes to bed (my parents say I haven't worn clothes to bed since I quit wearing diapers). None of us closes bedroom doors when changing, or bathroom doors when taking a shower. We often watch TV as a family, and we are all nude, especially when it's hot. I feel that it is perfectly normal.
- age 15, Michigan
My family saw me naked after puberty, and I didn't feel anything special. Nudity in a family is not a taboo here. In Finland, it is typical for a family to go to sauna together. Finnish sauna is for relaxation and cleaning only; it has nothing to do with sex. Every private house has its own sauna, and about half of the apartments have their own saunas. Many apartment houses have one or two saunas, and each apartment has its own time (usually an hour a week) to use it.
- age 35, Finland
In my family, we're not uptight about nudity. We're all very proud of our bodies, and have seen each other naked many times. The only time I felt awkward being seen naked by family was when my brother saw me walk into the bathroom with pubic hair and leave without any. Besides that, I've never had a problem or even thought twice about nudity, even in front of my dad.
- age 16, California (female)
My mom has seen me only twice, by accident. I was embarrassed, but I don't think she cared at all. My younger brother has seen me occasionally, but not much. My dad has seen me a lot. He's not a pervert or anything, but at times he comes into the bathroom when I'm in the shower. I really don't care, though. Also, my 8-year-old cousin saw me once when we were changing after swimming. He started asking me all kinds of questions about my penis.
- age 14, Pennsylvania
My father and I never saw each other nude at home; only in the locker room at the pool. The summer after I got pubic hair, I tried to make sure that my dad saw I had developed hair. I was neither embarrassed nor proud – I was just letting him know. We never talked about such things in my family. That was a long time ago.
- age 60, Alabama
I have definitely been embarrassed when any of my family sees me nude. Before I went through puberty, I didn't care. They were just family. But now it is totally different. I always take my clothes with me into the bathroom now, so that I don't have to walk around in my birthday suit.
- age 15, North Carolina
My dad has seen me naked. I was around 17 and walking around in my towel. I sat down to talk to him and my penis was in full view. I didn't notice until I started getting an erection (at 17, you get one even when a breeze hits it). At first, I was embarrassed, but then we just laughed. He said I had inherited my size from him, and that I might even be bigger. So, I dropped the towel and proudly walked back to my room. He joked about me going to masturbate.
- age 25, California
I was not exactly seen – it was more like touched. When I was about 14, I didn't know that much about erections then, so neither did I know how to hide them. One day, my mom noticed a lump in my pants and began to touch it and rub it as she asked me what it was. I was shocked, and when she realized it was my penis, we were both quite embarrassed.
- age 17, Mexico
No one has seen me naked since I hit puberty. I try not to undress in front of my family. The only person who *has* seen me naked was my doctor when he was screening me for testicular cancer – and boy, was that embarrassing!
- age 19, Pennsylvania
I was 12 at the time, and my friend was coming over for the weekend. I was in the shower, so my brother (8 at the time) answered the door and then came upstairs to get me. I had stepped out of the shower just as he was coming in, and he just stood there and stared at my penis, as it immediately got hard. He stared at it in awe, and then got embarrassed and left (leaving me feeling proud that I had a big penis – at least, for my age). My brother never told me my friend came in, so my friend saw me as well, which also made me feel proud
- age 14, New York
I've never been shy about my body, and I think all of my family has seen me naked at one time or another. I have always been proud of my body and probably always will. I try to stay in good shape and never worry about what anyone thinks of me. I like me, and that's what counts!
- age 38, Colorado