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Being all together in the all together!

Human Mum, Zoe Christien

Every family works differently. Different values, principles and rules. I read an article in which, among other things, Ben Fogle's wife Marina talks about theirs being a 'Naked house'. Now my heartburn is bad enough at the moment to be honest and I don't need an image of the Fogles in their birthday suits any more than I need one of James Arthur when I hear his song 'Naked' on the radio. (Shake head and shiver to erase) Anyway, putting that slightly creepy phrase aside, I do get what she's saying on this point.

When it comes to parenting, we try our best not to pass our own fears and insecurities on to our kids, and this shouldn't stop short of insecurities we may have about our physical appearance. I think there is a fabulous innocence to kids sharing a bath or jumping in the bath with you. Playing in a summer garden in just their pants or getting nudey with young cousins in the paddling pool. However I am very clear about them not being without clothes in a public place or in front on non-family. So in trying to work out where I stand on this issue, I think that's where I found my line to be. Public v Private.

My daughter recently went through a short phase of not wanting her sister to see her getting dressed. I was suddenly made very aware as a parent, that with a new awareness about herself came a heightened insecurity which I have no doubt will be the first of many. Firstly I wanted to let her know that I understood so she didn't feel silly. Then we talked about how it's fine to get changed in front of family and how it doesn't bother either of us when she walks into my bedroom while I'm getting dressed.

Now just to be very clear here, we are by no means a 'Naked house'! Not once have I stood butt naked in the kitchen whilst cooking Spaghetti Bolognese, only for one of the kids to shout "Mummy! You've got spaghetti hanging from your nips again!" and for me to reply "So I have! Silly Mummy! Ha ha ha". But do I mind at all if they come and chat to me whilst I'm in the shower, bath or toilet? Absolutely not...however it would be nice to have five minute to myself!

If you want hear something inappropriate. Whilst I'm writing this my son is watching Cbeebies and I just heard them say "Mr Tumble has left you a little surprise in his spotty bag!" You've be relieved (pardon the pun) to hear it was a shiny star...Phew!

Anyway, I digress.

My rules for the kids not getting completely nude in front of non-family is as much for my adult friends as for the kids themselves. I wouldn't want a friend of mine to feel awkward because my 6 year old daughter was running around with no pants on. I would say at this point however, that my reasons for them being covered at the beach are as simple as, you just don't know who's watching. Also when it comes to aspects of safety, I have no qualms at all about putting the fear of God into them. When talking about stranger danger, fire, crossing the road, water safety etc, I will tell them exactly (in child terminology) what the dangers are and what could happen.

So in summary. I think home should be a safe environment where your kids feel comfortable and relaxed, which to my mind means not giving a moments thought to getting dressed or undressed. It's up to each of us to decide what we consider appropriate, safe and considerate to everyone in a scenario, and then teach our children those values. There are more than enough pictures and moments in our young adult lives to make us feel inadequate in some way. But we owe it to our kids to not rob them of the innocent bliss of childhood with a negative body image or too much detail, too early about the inevitable subjects which will arise. Give them a foundation of being healthy, happy, confident and loved. And as importantly, give them the respect that they will flag it up when they're ready to deal with the next issue, it's not for us to put it on them when we feel afraid of dealing with it.

(Oooh, look at me getting all serious!)

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