Young son with older sister - son nude around sister - how old is OK?

Julie - posted on 02/02/2015 ( 24 moms have responded )

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I have a six yr. old daughter and, after a long gap, recently had a son. My little girl helps me take care of her baby brother (2 months old). While, of course, she is too young to baby sit she does have experience with babies because she has often helped my neighbors with their baby boys and girls. So she fully understands the difference in body parts (but no more about the "facts"). There is no problem now. She "helps" me but I look at it more as a way for her to learn and be able to help when she is old enough to really be a help.

The question is: in a few years both will be older. While I will always like to have her help, will there come a time when it would be best for a sister not to see her little brother unclothed? After he is out of diapers there will still be years when he will need to be bathed, or baths will need to be supervised.

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Sarah - posted on 02/06/2015

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My input applies to children. I do not care to get into a discussion about adults with hang ups.
The implication that a modest child, is "wrong" or that a child's feeling are not "good" is offensive. I have not raised prudes. Like I said before; modesty and a desire for privacy are evolutionary and inherent to survival. My children are far from embarrassed by their bodies, nor am I.
To classify feelings "good" or "bad" or "right" or "wrong" is dismissive. Of course, education is essential, and constant open dialog between children and parents is critical. I am a health care worker, have been in dozens of settings for 24 years. If my child is resistant to having her genitals examined by a doctor of either gender, I would never force her to comply...that, IMO is tantamount to an assault. Whether it was convenient or not. I most certainly would not be "unhappy" that my child felt assertive enough to state her discomfort. Self awareness is important.
I have never indicated that anyone should be ashamed of their body. Rather that children be taught the importance of protecting and maintaining their bodies. Like I said before, to tolerate being examined by anyone is a learned behavior. To participate in an intimate dialog with your healthcare provider is a skill. Even if you have mastered the behavior and the skill does not mean if you feel embarrassed and vulnerable that you are "wrong".

Ginger - posted on 02/06/2015

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Sarah-I don't think that is is good that boys (or girls, or men and women) feel embarrassed or troubled by being examined by a doctor of the opposite sex. It may be common, but not good. I would be very unhappy if I took my son to his ped. (who is female) and he wouldn't let her seem him simply because of her gender. It can be hard enough to find a doctor and get an appointment. I would not like having to change doctors for such a reason. And worse, if a kid (or adult, for that matter) refuses to tell a doctor about a symptom out of embarrassment due to gender, it could be very dangerous. I know that my sons have a fear of getting shots or blood draws, even though they will get them because they have to. I certainly do my best to put them at ease and I wish they were not bothered by needles. Likewise, I am glad that my sons do not have any problem with a woman doctor. If they did, I would try my best to explain that it is OK and to help them overcome any embarrassment. I would much rather that they could put the gender of the doctor or nurse out of their mind.

Sarah - posted on 02/05/2015

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Dove, I was starting to feel like a prude! I have never had a sitter bathe my kids either, there would be no reason for teen to need to watch my child play naked in the tub. Thankfully, my kids are all independent.
Over the years of my nursing career, I have seen all ages and both genders completely exposed. I have had to touch, probe, and examine all parts of the body. I think it is my professional responsibility to provide a safe setting, create a level of trust, explain what will happen, ask permission, respect the client's boundaries and proceed with an examination or treatment while preserving dignity. In my experience most people feel vulnerable, embarrassed and don't like the exposure of an examination. I don't think this has anything to do with an inappropriate sense of modesty carried into adulthood. I take issue with the position that kids "should be able to be seen by doctors and other medical professionals of the opposite sex without reluctance or embarrassment". A sense of modesty is crucial to self protection and self-preservation. There is a vast difference from educating your children that is is alright to allow any gender adult examine their body and that they should feel comfortable with the process.

Anne - posted on 02/06/2015

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First - Sitters: When going out with my husband I have always had my sons bathed before the sitter arrived. However, some mothers may have reason for a sitter to have to help a young boy take a bath. I do not see a problem with the fact that they are the opposite sex. I have four kids. When my sons were to young to bathe themselves, the girl who is now our babysitter would sometime help me with the bathing. She was too young to be alone and in charge, but old enough to be a very big help. And I did have my hands full and could really use the help. My daughter (HS senior) has several times given baths to young boys.

Second - Female doctors and boys: Going to the doctor (of either sex) can be tough enough for a kid. They are nervous enough about shots and other things that might hurt. But they should not have the additional worry about a female doctor (or nurse) see their private parts. The sex of the doctor or nurse should not matter in the examination room. My kids have a female pediatrician. Her gender is not a problem for the boys. When my husband and I got a new doctor, a woman (our older doctor, a man, retired) my husband told me that he was very nervous about being examined by a woman. He had never been seen by a female other than his mother. I pointed out to him that my pediatrician and later, my GYN/OB were males. I think that boys (and men) should be able to be examined by a woman doctor or nurse without any embarrassment or reluctance. The sex of the doctor should make no difference to them.

Sarah - posted on 02/04/2015

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Absolutely, if a child comes to me and says her bottom hurts or privates itch...I call the parents. If I suspect abuse, I call CPS. I can't even help a girl with sanitary supplies if she starts her period. I can talk her through it or contact the parents to see how they want it handled. An emergency is different but those just don't happen often, thank goodness.

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Marg - posted on 05/24/2015

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@ sarah e.:
If somebody feels embarrassed or ashamed at getting examined by a medical proffessional then there is most definately something seriously wrong. It means that their learned behaviours have been perverted by the Internet trolls and right wing shills who taught them to their child victims.

Abby - posted on 02/06/2015

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As a nurse practitioner I have seen the effect of too much and inappropriate modesty when boys and men are embarrassed when I see them, or they will not report symptoms that they think could lead to an examination. I know that it is common for a male to be embarrassed by a female medical professional looking at their genitalia, but being common does not make it right. And the worst effect is when a problem is not detected in time to provide a cure. That does happen.

Part of my work is in a clinic in a rural area where their is no choice of doctors. People see me or several other female nurses or a female doctor, or they don't see anyone.

I applaud parents who raise children who are not embarrassed by their bodies, and can ignore the gender of the medical professional doing an examination. It does not require a nudist home, where parents and children walk around the house naked. (not that I have a problem with that - it is a personal choice). But parents should never act ashamed of their bodies, or show discomfort when seen by their child in their home.

Sarah - posted on 02/06/2015

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Anne, there is a huge difference between being able to understand that a health care professional of either gender is providing necessary care or treatment and that you do not need to be afraid and that is is "wrong" to be afraid or embarrassed.. To tell anyone that the "should" not be embarrassed, anxious or uncomfortable is unfair. No one can dictate that a person's feelings are wrong. You feelings are your feelings. Feelings are not always rational. If a man, boy, woman, girl is embarrassed or reluctant to be examined by anyone is not "wrong". Those feelings stem from the natural development of desire for privacy and are critical to self-preservation. My child (10) refused to allow a male pediatrician view her genitals. He asked her permission and mine, and she said no. Long story made short, he respected her boundaries.
As we mature and become more confident and rational, we can control our behavior to allow ourselves to be examined. I think it is very normal for adults to feel anxious, embarrassed and reluctant when exposed and vulnerable. Certainly, it is not "wrong"

Dove - posted on 02/05/2015

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That is great that you ask permission... Our ped even does that w/ the newborns to get them used to the concept that NO ONE looks there w/out your permission.

And yeah... my son will run around naked at home all day long if I let him. He is VERY comfortable w/ his body and being naked around immediate family... he is still nervous when the doctor needs to check him. I think that is VERY, VERY normal.

Dove - posted on 02/05/2015

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Well Anne... my youngest is 7 and I've never had a babysitter have any need to give any of my children a bath, so for ME and in OUR home... there is never a legitimate reason (other than a very rare and severe accident) that a child old enough to care about nudity (so... over 4) would ever need a babysitter to see them naked.

And none of my kids have any problem knowing when and where being naked and being seen naked is or isn't appropriate. I clearly said it is an easy lesson to teach.

Anne - posted on 02/04/2015

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Julie,
I have a daughter and three sons. There are six years between my daughter (oldest) and her youngest brother. She is now a high school senior. Over the years, my daughter has helped me change, bathe, and dress her brothers. Naturally, the help has increased as she got older. There will come a time when your son does not want his sister (or you) around him when he is naked - hopefully by that time he will be able to take baths and get dressed by himself. That would be the time for her to not see him in the tub. But he will let you (and her) know.

As far as she is concerned, I don't see any problem with her, at any age, seeing boys, at any age, unclothed. Very likely when your son is bathing himself without her (or your) help she will be babysitting, often for boys. My daughter was a "mother's helper" for some neighbors with little boys, then a babysitter. As a teenage she often bathed or supervised baths for young boys. Now she plans to become a doctor (she is at the top of her class so shouldn't have a problem). Certainly in the med. school rotation she will be examining adult men "down there."

And Dove, boys who still need help from babysitters taking baths do need to be taught about modesty, privacy, and times that is appropriate and times that it is not appropriate to be naked in front of others. I taught all my kids to understand when private parts are not to be seen by non-family members. They should know about that at an early age - well before they can be alone in the bathtub. But on the other hand they should allow babysitters to bathe them until they can be left alone, and they should be able to be seen by doctors and other medical professionals of the opposite sex without reluctance or embarrassment.

Anne

Abby - posted on 02/04/2015

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I am sorry to give the impression that as a school nurse I examined kids unclothed. I did not and would not. It is just that as a school nurse I had the unpleasant duty to report suspected abuse. I have also helped interview a kid under the direction of the authorities and with the child's parent nearby, so I have seen that side. But I would never, as a school nurse, see a child unclothed.

As a nurse practitioner I have examined boys, with a parent either in the examination room or just outside of it. In some cases boys were very reluctant to have a female see their private parts and were embarrassed. This can be the result of too much and inappropriate emphasis on modesty. On the other hand, kids of all ages should know when it is inappropriate for their private parts to be seen. Certainly it would be OK for a teenage babysitter to supervise a 6 year old in the tub. But a 6 year old should know that private parts are private, The same 6 year old boy that is seen in the tub by a babysitter should know that it is not OK under other circumstances for someone to look at his private parts.

It can be a difficult concept. The "don't let anyone see you there" is easy. But I have sympathy for the guys who carry inappropriate modesty into adulthood and was very embarrassed when I had to see certain areas as a part of an exam. That can be serious when either a boy or a man does not report symptoms to me for fear of embarrassment.

Dove - posted on 02/04/2015

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Oh dang... I missed her being a school nurse part. Yeah, if any school nurse were to be seeing my child naked I would flip the heck out. The ONLY time that is necessary is if there is a playground injury (not so easy to get at all) and then... unless there is profuse bleeding (in which you sure better be calling 911 in the process) I'd better be receiving a call first.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 02/04/2015

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Not at all difficult. If a school nurse is presuming to have my child remove clothing for an examination that I am not aware of, that school nurse is overstepping their boundaries, and WILL be reported to the school district.

Teaching your children the NO zones is good, but you also need to teach them that NO ONE other than their doctor (or related professionals), and ONLY in your presence, unless they are more than old enough to differentiate between OK and not OK is quite easy, actually.

My sons both knew who the OK people were, and at 17, my eldest still was more comfortable with me or his dad in the room.

Sarah - posted on 02/04/2015

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Abby, I agree with Dove, I have been a nurse in many clinical settings. School nurses are not allowed to examine children without their clothing on unless court ordered.
It is an easy rule: No one except your parents or your doctor (nurse) should ever need to see or touch you on the parts covered by your bathing suit except to keep you clean and healthy. End of story.

Dove - posted on 02/04/2015

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No... it's really not a difficult concept. Doctors and nurses needing to check you w/ your permission when injured or during a routine exam is a far cry different from babysitters, etc... Yes, if a child NEEDS help, obviously it is OK to get that help, but by the time they are old enough to care about modesty... they are, generally, too old to need help except in very rare circumstances (like an injury) anyway.

Abby - posted on 02/04/2015

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A difficult thing to teach children is that, one the one hand there are people and situations in which it is wrong for people to see your private parts - we call them private for a reason - but on the other hand there are situations where it is OK for people who are not family members to see your private parts.

I am a nurse, so I see both sides. I have had to make reports (back when I was a school nurse) about abuse based on a child's statements. On the other hand, I have had boys either not allow me to see them unclothed or be very embarrassed when I did. I am now a nurse practitioner. I have had teenage boys and even adult men become very embarrassed when I have examined them.

I have had talks with my daughters and sons about "good and bad touch" and privacy. It is a difficult concept for young minds - even for some older minds. But it is important.

Ginger - posted on 02/03/2015

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Shawn and Dove,
Yes, safety is an issue. First, for a few years I was always present when my boys were being bathed. My daughter would help. Only later would she supervise bath time, but I was very nearby. When she was 13 she started baby sitting kids while their parents were away, after babysitting and first aid courses and years of experience helping mothers who were at home.

And yes, my husband and I have had talks, particularly with my daughter but also with my sons (different ages so different talks) about when it is OK to be seen or see. I am well aware that there are people that will take advantage of kids. My husband and I are very modest, but we both have been seen by male and female doctors and nurses. But we do explain to the kids about appropriate and inappropriate sight of private parts.

Sarah - posted on 02/03/2015

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We have taught our children that no one should ever look at or touch the parts that are covered by a bathing suit; EXCEPT your parents or doctor and then it is only to keep you clean or healthy. We define "Look at" as, you are the only one being seen, so group nudity in a locker room or changing with your family is one thing, a group of clothed persons viewing your body is different. So far it has been a good rule.
All of my kids have been fine with family nudity, we are far from modest, but as they grew up each one has asserted a healthy sense of privacy. I think your kids will likely do the same.

Dove - posted on 02/03/2015

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Thanks for mentioning that, Shawnn... Family nudity is a complete non issue in our home, but Ginger's post kind of creeped me out...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 02/03/2015

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Family nudity is up to the family. However, I will say this: Even when your LO is out of diapers, your eldest won't be old enough to 'supervise' him in his bath...so I wouldn't recommend that.

Other than that, family nudity needs to be decided within the family. If you are all comfortable, and don't make a big deal, there's nothing wrong with it..

@ Ginger, its one thing to teach that nudity is ok, but you need to make sure you teach when it is NOT ok. Your kids should NOT be seeing sitters, teachers, opposite sex relatives (not immediate family, but uncles, etc) nude under ANY circumstances.

Ginger - posted on 02/03/2015

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First, my family is very modest. We are not normally nude around each other and do not bathe together.
However, I have one girl, age 14, and 2 boys, 8 and 9. My daughter helped me with my sons, starting when they were infants and continuing, with the amount of help increasing as she got older. When my boys were young she helped give them baths. The boys like bathing together. When my older boy was about 7 he decided that she should not bathe him because she was a girl. However, for a few years after she would occasionally go into the bathroom to stop the boys from cutting up. She has also occasionally, even recently, been in the bathroom to get things out of the cabinet, in full view of the naked boys. That did not seem to bother them. My sons have likewise seen her nude, even though she is now physically mature. That does not seem to bother her. Recently, while my 8 yr. old and I were out, she heard a thump and found that my 9 yr. old had fallen in the tub. She helped him out and dried him off. (just bruises and a sprained ankle, OK now).
Boys need to know that they will, throughout their lives, be seen naked by girls and women – baby sitters, moms, sisters, nurses, doctors, caregivers, etc. Girls need to know that they will see naked boys and men as baby sitters, moms, sisters, nurses, doctors, caregivers, etc. While my family practices modesty as much as we can, there will still times that we see the “private parts” of members of the other sex who are family members or people being cared for.

Dove - posted on 02/02/2015

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Family nudity is only an issue if the people in the family MAKE it an issue. For some families... seeing each other naked is never seen as appropriate. In other families it is never seen as inappropriate. What you decide for your family is not up to anyone else other than the members OF your family. If they are comfortable... no issue. If they are not... it will stop.

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