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I am shameless: Britney Spears, Mother, Nude

Sep28

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britney%20glamour%20nude%20shot.jpg Allegations from Britney Spear’s former bodyguard of her parental nudity has become a focus over the past two weeks. The first thing that popped into my mind was that of all her supposed and actual parenting faux pas, this is the one on which I would least focus. But our puritanical and finger-wagging society cannot help itself. Plus, hello, the ratings and search engine traffic from Britney Spears, mother, and nude together would make such coverage irresistible. That’s why I’m writing this, of course.
No, really, it does bring up an interesting issue of whether kids should see their parents naked, or until what age. A couple of years ago, I was told by a child psychologist that starting around three years of age kids should no longer see their parents nude. This psychologist told me of existing research that suggested that kids experience undue emotional anxiety from the feeling of physical inadequacies relative to their parents. Said psychologist went on to explain that the much discussed “penis envy” goes back to early boyhood exposure to and memories of dad’s private parts. Immediately, I was suspicious.
In light of this Britney news, Slate has gone the common-sense route to report that “if a kid is younger than three it’s probably harmless… [but it] can be confusing for older kids who are more curious about bodies and sexuality. A child might wonder why a parent’s genitals look different from his own; he might feel inferior by comparison, or jealous; and he might be a bit frightened of the size and hair. Too much exposure might also overstimulate a child, stirring up sexual excitement along with Oedipal anxiety.”
I spoke at length with my friend, motherhood expert and author of Motherhood without Guilt, Debra Gilbert Rosenberg about this issue. Her take was realistic and respectful: it all depends on the family and what’s “normal” and “comfortable” in the air at home. For some parents, modesty is what is normal and that’s okay. For others, they are comfortable being more casual and that’s okay, too. However, Debra makes it clear that parents need to listen to and take cues from their children. Some kids are much more aware of body differences, and others don’t even notice. But at some point, all kids start checking mom and dad out, poking and asking lots of questions. And, a thoughtful approach to this is for parents to just answer questions candidly but keeping in mind the child’s comfort level. Also, at that time, a gradual progression to more modesty is definitely a better approach than an one triggered just because a child turned a certain age.
After all this discussion, I was still bothered knowing that out there, somewhere, there was research concluding that no! parental! nudity! after your kid turns three! So, I searched for, um, about 2 minutes and found a study published in the mid-90s. But, huzzah, the conclusion was not what I was previously led to believe. Behold, “Early Childhood Exposure to Parental Nudity and Scenes of Parental Sexuality (“Primal Scenes”): An 18-Year Longitudinal Study of Outcome.”

“Specifically, in the case of exposure to parental nudity, findings pointed toward potentially beneficial correlates of exposure both for boys and girls–for example, greater frequency of positive rather than negative sexual experiences in adolescence and fewer reports of abuse of certain recreational drugs–however, these benefits were attenuated for girls.”

Peoples, this is an 18-year study.
If you find any contradictory studies, I would love to see them.
So in conclusion, Britney girl, since your sons are two and under I think you can parade around in your skivvies (or less) all you want, for now. Alpha Mom gives you permission.
Photo from Harper’s Bazzar

About the author

Isabel Kallman

http://www.alphamom.com
Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of Alphamom.com.

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


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6 Responses to “I am shameless: Britney Spears, Mother, Nude”

  1. jen lemen Sep 28 at 6:52 pm Reply Reply

    what strikes me about this is the studies don’t factor in parental conversation about bodies/nudity. i think the problem is not talking about these things with your kids–NOT whether they see you naked or not. and being seen naked by your infant or toddler–give me a break!–to make a fuss about that is just ridiculous.

  2. superblondgirl Sep 28 at 9:29 pm Reply Reply

    I agree that it depends 100% on the parents and their comfort level. When I was a kid, we were not nude around each other. Ever. I once saw my mom changing her bra and it freaked me out – probably because she freaked out. Now, with my son? He’s 5 and we all still walk around naked, and none of us blinks an eye. I knew a girl in high school who still walked around her house naked and was cool with it, and her mom did, too. No one cared. It’s all about your own family and your own level of comfort. I think in the logbook of Britney’s Parenting Mistakes, nudity shouldn’t even make the list.

  3. melanie Sep 29 at 11:38 am Reply Reply

    Amen. After reading the bodyguard’s testimony, I had the same thoughts re: the nudity. And the possibility of seeing some naked Britney bits is the least of those kids’ problems.
    Also, I am continually amused by America’s schizophrenic relationship with nudity (Sexy boobies GOOD! Mommy boobies SHAMEFUL!)

  4. maggie Oct 01 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

    Nice post. Thanks for digging up that 18 year study.

  5. Kim Oct 14 at 10:58 pm Reply Reply

    And Finnish families do naked sauna with the whole family their whole lives… (And, boy, does it freak out foreign fiancees to meet prospective Mom and Dad in laws in the buff)
    Oh, yeah, and interestingly, I only caught my 70 year old mother’s osteoporosis onset by seeing her in the dressing room.

  6. Wolve Aug 03 at 3:38 pm Reply Reply

    Nudity around kids is not always an issue. I’ve seen my father naked growing up, and I never worried about my penis size, even not when I was 14 and noticed he had a larger one. My sister has seen me naked many times and she got a healthy attitude towards nudity, although she won’t walk around the house nude. Once all of her classmates ran into the boys locker room to see them in the shower, except my sister. Because she didn’t think a naked boy was that special. It can make kids much more comfortable with their own body.

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