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This is a tricky subject but surprisingly common and even more surprisingly simple.
Most parents will shower or bathe with their children at some point, most likely during the point between being a toddler to primary school age which is around 5. There’s nothing illegal about showering with your son or daughter, but there may comes a time where it may start to feel wrong and you’ll start to question if it should continue.
Showering is another chance at bonding, and it means you can teach them to wash themselves properly, something they won’t be able to do until 5, particularly for boys and girls with long hair.
Why is showering with children a problem in the first place?
We live in a strange society where nudity is seen as taboo and yet partial nudity is used everywhere to sell products and adult websites are the most visited the whole over.
The problem has stemmed from years of over sexualising everything. This has led to any nudity being seen in a sexualised way which has led to some confusing feelings when it comes to children.
This mix leads to adults wondering if nudity in front of their children is wrong because society has suggested that it could be wrong or that it is wrong.
For adults, nudity = sex but for children nudity does not equal that, being naked is completely normal and they probably don’t even think about it.
There’s also the social aspect of it – would you be comfortable with your son telling their teacher or their friends you shower together? Despite the innocence behind it, it can attract unwanted speculation from others, rightly or wrongly.
But, there comes a point where showering with your son clearly has to stop at some point, I mean you wouldn’t shower with an adult child would you? So what age should you stop it?
Have you been showering together up until now?
If your son wants to shower with you and previously this was not a thing then the first port of call is to start a discussion on it as to why?
- Do they want to try something different? (curiosity)
- Do they want to do it because it could be fun?
- Have they not been enjoying showering on their own and want some help?
What age they are when they ask is also important? A 2 year old asking is quite a difference between your 10 year old. However, being asked is completely normal and something which is beneficial.
Benefits of showering with your children
There are clear benefits of showering and bathing with your child at the appropriate ages.
Teaching them how to clean properly
Firstly, showering with your son teaches them how to shower in the first place. You can show them how you clean, what stuff they should use and how to clean everywhere. They will need to do this by themselves at some point and the best way for that is to lead by example.
Showering or bathing together is fun and a chance to have some play and bonding time.
Learn about anatomy
Boys and girls are different, and mums and dads are different to kids. Showering together can show these differences in a safe space and allow kids to feed their curiosity and ask questions. They will have to learn at some point – at around the age of 3 to 4 they begin to understand the concept of genders and this is a good time for them to have a clear understanding, it will help them learn what you are and what they are.
But, they have no concept about sexuality (which we mentioned earlier) so the both of you are free to discuss anatomy without the awkwardness that you may think there is.
If you start to feel awkward, they may associate nudity and showering with being awkward and this is a problem we do not want to happen. We don’t want to raise children who are awkward with their bodies, we want to raise kids who are confident in their own skin and having parents who are will help.
What age should you stop showering with your son
Made for Mums ran a poll and the answers are what you’d expect – there is no one answer. It is a matter of opinion and opinions vary wildly on the this matter. But, the most common selections were in the range of 4-6 AKA primary school age.
Mums felt that school age was appropriate (to stop), and most certainly before puberty. For one, they (the mums) found it uncomfortable or awkward and two they didn’t want OTHERS to think they are inappropriate with their children. There is always the fear of judgement with parenting and in the case of showering, no one wants to be seen as weird or borderline incestuous.
I think this is an important reason why the topic of co-bathing is so tricky – what other people may think or what other people may assume if they were to hear about this.
But, making decisions based on what other people may think or what society may thing collectively is not a good reason to parent differently. For example, some mothers may decide to stop breastfeeding a 1 year old because they think other people might consider that odd. It isn’t odd – it’s society that it odd.
However, there probably is an age where it should definitely stop, and that is puberty (age 8 to 13) for the reason that at that age boys may look at nudity in a different way, with mixed feelings. By that time, it may feel uncomfortable, for both sides.
This might bot be the case for boys showering with their dads, however, but we’ll cover that later on.
So, the most appropriate age to stop showering with your son is between 5 and 8.
Parents should, however, not rush to stop it if there currently are no issues.
There’s a good reason why parents shouldn’t rush to suddenly stop showering or bathing with their sons. A lot of it is to counteract what society will try and make them feel later on – body confidence and normalising anatomies as well as plain old having fun.
A chance to teach them about privacy and boundaries
If you do not want to shower with them or just want to stop, then it is a great opportunity to teach them about respecting others privacy, modesty and boundaries.
It is not good to simply say you want it stop and leave it there.
Explain to them that you do not feel comfortable right now and would prefer to shower privately. Explain that everyone has a choice to do this, including themselves, and it’s super important to respect this decision. But you can be on hand to help them clean themselves.
Let them know about what consent it and what it means and that they have the power to also say no and have some privacy and you would respect that choice.
Equally, it’s important that they understand that this isn’t a family thing but a society thing and that EVERYONE’s privacy and choices when it comes to their body should be respected.
It would be counter productive to make this decision about nudity as children do not see it as we do, but it is very productive to instead focus on the aspects of privacy, consent and boundaries. Everyone has them, and it’s important they know this and that they can impose their own.