I’ve been home teaching two families when the wife began nursing her child right there in front of me. Yes, I accidentally saw some breast. Was she immodest? I don’t think so. If a mother has to hide her breast and even hide in a closet (aka “Mother’s Lounge”) from everyone when engaged in one of the most natural expressions of love, what message is the child being taught about women, breasts, the human body, social conventions, attitudes, and even morals? About “modesty”? It’s not a positive one IMO. Yes, some people have a problem with public breastfeeding. And its THEIR problem. (Forty states now have laws specifically permitting a mother to breastfeed whenever/wherever.)
As an adult, I have had perhaps a dozen occasions to be socially nude, both before and since joining the church. I don’t think I was being immodest. Modesty is as much a state a mind as it is what you wear. I apply this standard at all times: “is my behavior modest and appropriate for the situation?” including when sans clothing.
I persuaded my born-in-the-covenant wife to try social nudity a couple of times at two different hot springs-type resorts/retreats. She was pretty resistant at first, and she adjusted quickly to the fact that there wasn’t anything sexual about being nude in the company of other nude men and women.
Two summers ago our family went to a church-related family campground and took a hike into the back country. It was a steep, hot hike and when we got to a relatively isolated lake, I was the first one to doff my clothes for a skinny dip. The boys all joyfully followed my example, and after a few minutes of swimming in her suit, my wife did the same. Were we immodest? I don’t think so.
Around the home, I set an example of respect for the human body. My four sons (now spanning 8-15) have seen both me and my wife naked “in context” from time to time. We don’t make a big deal of it. She and I cuddle on the couch watching a movie sometimes with the boys and I’ll cup her breast under her clothing. The boys don’t even pay attention. I make it a point to kiss and hug her in front of them. (They say, “Get a room!”) I tell them the human body is a wonderful, God-given gift, and there’s nothing shameful about it. Sexual relations are also a God-given gift, and are reserved for your spouse.
I remember how intrigued I was by my mother’s negative reaction to seeing her naked. As an adult, I once asked her, “How did I learn about sex?” Her answer: “I have no idea.” (Older now, I am able to put her answer in the context of her own upbringing, and I understand why this was true.) But it was an unfortunate experience for me, for my curiosity led me in wrong directions and life detours.
As part of sex education in our home I’ve shown my oldest son famous paintings of the nude female body. I hope to satisfy their natural curiosity in a neutral, loving way. I hope my sons grow up with a healthy attitude about the human body, male and female, not scandalized by nudity, with a desire to live an inwardly and outwardly modest and chaste life.]]>
One of my sons, who wears the crew neck cotton tops refuses to let even the top show when he has an open neck collar shirt on. He wears another T-shirt over the garment because he thinks that is more appropriate. I don’t think that makes either one of prudes but I think we have a conservative viewpoint about nudity around the house – at least more conservative than some of the practices mentioned above. That being said, I think the practices espoused above are all healthy and the more our children are comfortable with their bodies, and the bodies of others, perhaps the less likely they will to experiemnt with sex – behind closed doors – until it is appropriate (like after they get married!)]]>
Immodest? Not in the privacy of my own home.]]>
How many think that this (garment top only on men around the house) is immodest?]]>
Anyway, I think you have good points. I also admire Tracy M for being candid with her kids. It’s a hard business raising self-confident and educated kids in a world full of evil.
I admire your desire to remain ignorant. Now, don’t get me wrong, that was definitely not a back-handed compliment. I totally get what you said. I could delve into stories about my naive mind when it came to sexuality, but then made sure I was educated before I was married, etc. but I won’t. Just know that I get where you are coming from. My chosen prudishness got me to places I’m very happy to be…
Back to body image. Is there something about teaching our children too much? Couldn’t there be something about too much information which could lead to unhealthy fixations? (sorry, Silus, I don’t mean for this to be a threadjack). I just wonder if sometimes people could be too quick to swing the sexuality pendelum so much the other way that our children are learning things that they just don’t need to know yet…]]>
I actually know very little for my age. And I plan to keep it that way unless I get married.]]>
Our home is similar: our bathroom door might as well not be there (except when we have guests or visitors), so they already know what real, average adult human bodies look like (as with tracy, only in the context of showering, etc., not intimacy).
I think it’s vital that they receive correct information about their bodies from us, viewed in the light of the gospel. I have little doubt that they will be exposed to skewed, devilish versions in the future. So it’s a kind of inoculation.
This is why I disagree with both Barb (#9) and Cheryl (#8).
I think people should avoid talking about sex as much as possible.
If it’s about one’s own intimacy, I agree. But in general terms I think we should be talking MORE about sex. I sense that too many LDS kids don’t learn enough about romance, sex or their bodies from the scriptures or their parents, but rather from ill-informed peers, Seventeen magazine, America’s Next Top Model, The O.C., and their equivalents.
I think God’s greatest creation was our bodies. They are amazing! But shouldn’t that then beg for a sense of respect? The utmost respect? Flaunting our bodies ([...]prancing around naked in front of our children –which would be very disturbing, really, I mean, how many of us want to see our own parents naked? Gross!!) doesn’t show any ounce of respect. It says “Ooh! Look at me!”
If my parents’ bodies are so amazing, why would it be gross to behold them? Note that I don’t have any particular desire to do so, but I find the logical contradiction noteworthy, and I think it’s one that relatively few American LDS work through. I think it really is a broken body-image thing, as Silus said, and stems at least partly from Victorian prudishness.
I agree that it’s essential (as Cheryl said a little further on) for our children to be comfortable with their bodies, including how to take care of them. They should also know that they are beautiful, regardless of weight or shape.
I guess all I’m saying is that teaching modesty and self-respect doesn’t have to be a rule-based exercise, but can be principle-based and body-positive.]]>