This part 2 of our series on family nudism and how to raise naturist kids. Part 1 introduces the families we’ve interviewed and discusses dress codes for kids. In this article, we’ll share what these parents have to say about two more common naturism questions.
Question 1: “Do I tell my kids NOT to tell peers / friends / teachers / family members / other adults etc about our family being naturists? What will happen if my kids tell others?”
When it comes to kids and naturism, this question will inevitably come up. Parents often want to avoid a misunderstanding or an awkward situation that may arise from their kids speaking to people who have no knowledge of family naturism. Especially with toddlers and little kids, there’s really no controlling what they may blurt out to others.
Attitudes on this have certainly shifted in the past few decades as nudism has become less stigmatized. In talking about my naked childhood, I’ve often said my parents had told me not to tell anyone about us being nudists. More specifically it was my dad who had imparted this mandate. He also grew up as a nudist at Rock Lodge, but in a different time when people had to be much more secretive. Back then (at least in the 1950’s / 60’s but probably onward as well) it was common for parents to tell their kids to keep it private, as my dad’s parents did with him.
Nudists of older generations were more secretive about nudism.
These days, people are more open. Though not with everyone in their lives. Many people cautiously choose who to tell and who to hide it from (which can include coworkers, friends, family or even their own parents). Though it seems more parents tend to leave it up to their kids to decide who to tell and who not to tell, at least among their own peers as they get older.
Some parents still worry about the repercussions from their kids inadvertently telling teachers or other students in school. One of the common fears is that a young child might talk about how their family goes naked and that an adult will misinterpret the situation and assume there is abuse or something “weird” going on. Or perhaps parents also have a general fear of being outed and, as a result, having an awkward conversation or being judged.
As a young kid (under 10), I can recall not really understanding why I needed to keep our naturism a secret. And my dad’s order didn’t stop me from blabbing about it to some girls in my Girl Scout troop. (Who knows who else I told and just don’t remember!) I guess this could’ve created issues for me / my family but I vaguely recall that the scout leader, who was present, was unfazed and just settled whatever reaction it got by saying something along the lines of, “Yeah some people like to do that.”
Plus my mother was featured in TV news reports about Rock Lodge in the 90’s, so we weren’t exactly keeping a low profile as a family.
As I got older, I definitely understood that what we did was not the norm and that I could be judged for it. By age 12 I actually feared what sort of reaction I’d get from close friends. (As it turns out, I did not get a single negative response when I did reveal it.)
For school settings (or extracurricular clubs), one of the solutions offered these days is for parents to be proactive about it and actually tell the teacher or administrator about what their family does on weekends in order to avoid any future misunderstanding. However, based on my conversations with nudist families, not many actually do this.
Karen and Robert (interviewed in part 1) said they had taken the step of talking to an administrator at the school their kids were attending. The person was surprised, but didn’t respond negatively. But they later left their position, so it didn’t affect them one way or the other. Other parents I spoke to said they hadn’t tried this, but thought it was a good idea.
Things can also get complicated when parents are trying to keep their lifestyle a secret from close family members, like their kids’ grandparents. It’s going to be more difficult to hide it from any family members that spend a lot of time with your kids. I would suggest that unless you truly believe that they’re going to disown you or really freak out, why not just tell them? That said, I do acknowledge it’s easy to say this as an outsider, and there’s no way of knowing about people’s families and / or relationships.
In discussing the general concern of whether kids should / shouldn’t tell others, here’s what the naturist parents had to say:
Aviva: “Although I was a bit worried, I was uncomfortable to tell my daughter to hide an important part of her life. I think it will send her the wrong message (like – nudism is wrong). I gave her the choice if to tell to her friends about Rock Lodge. I also explained to her that she may get some odd unexpected reactions if she chooses to tell. My daughter decided to tell two of her closest friends. Her reasoning was that this is a very important part of her life and if they reject her because of it then it means they are not true friends. … What my daughter chooses to tell is her choice, she has very good judgment, and very close friends that truly love her.”
Aviva also said that in regards to her kids talking to friends, she was more worried about reactions from the friends’ parents. She reported, “One mother actually now wants to visit the place after she found out from my daughter who is very close with the entire family. :)”
(Side note: In part 3, we share what Aviva’s 13 year old daughter had to say about her experiences telling other kids.)
Karen said: “Yes, I worry about them telling others. My husband originally started calling Rock Lodge the ‘naked lake’ four years ago. When we decided to rent a cabin the next year, we had to spend all winter actively renaming it ‘the lake’! That first September, we talked to the two oldest about not telling anyone. Since then, we mention it occasionally that they can call it the lake but not say they are naked. Again, they don’t seem to think anything is weird about this (I always thought they would!)”
Felicity as a child at Rock Lodge
Michael and Laurie: “We are very open about our nudism / naturism. Everyone knows, friends and family. We would never hide it. We think being open and matter of fact about it is the best way to make it normal and more mainstream. We do not worry about them telling others. …Our kids have very loudly yelled out the vehicle window to the neighbors ‘We are going to the naked beach!’ our neighbors just laugh and say have a great weekend.”
There was one other couple I talked to, Lauren and Kirk, who have two boys ages 12 and 19. They said: “When they were younger we did make this request of them, but also at the time we were newer to naturism and were more apprehensive to peoples’ reactions and judgments. Now that our youngest is 12 and our other son is 19, we have not made the request of them and left it up to them individually to make the decision to tell people. However, we have asked that they not tell their grandparents at this point because we know they would worry and assume things that are not true. No, we don’t worry about them telling others now. We just do not care about the reactions of others as we have grown as a family.
Our older son told the grandparents when he was much younger, and that led to assumptions being made, which took a while to straighten out. In the end nothing negative came of it and we think the grandparents just became blissfully ignorant about the whole thing. Other than that, we are not aware of them telling others.”
Question 2: What if your children’s friends want to participate in naturism or go naked at home with your kids?
So your kids are in the business of telling friends, and those little friends decide that naturism sounds like fun and they want to join! (Can you blame them?) Now what?
I’ve learned that a lot of naturist parents are cautious about this, especially about being naked around other people’s children. But if you’re just inviting your children’s friends to your home where they can all skinny dip in the pool or run naked through the backyard sprinkler, then it’s simple enough to just ask the parents for permission. Or invite the parents, too.
If the kids hanging out naked in your own home, and adults are staying clothed, the “nudist” label doesn’t even need to be discussed. It’s just kids doing what they’re naturally prone to do – run around naked.
But if you want to invite your kid’s friend to join the whole family (adults included) for a naked pool day, that’s definitely going to warrant more of a discussion. Talk to the kids’ parents first as you never know how people will react, especially when it comes to matters involving their kids.
And if your children want to invite their friends to the nudist club or nude beach, obviously that’s also going to require some discussion and good judgment. (Also, most nudist clubs require express permission from children’s parents / guardians in order to visit without them.)
On this subject, Aviva said, “Last weekend my daughter sent some pictures to her friend, who expressed interest in visiting, and my daughter told her she will need to feel comfortable to be in the presence of naked people. The friend probably won’t come and I definitely do not want to encourage this, since nudism + kids is so loaded in this country. I am a bit concerned to push it too much with the parents so I am very careful to actually never invite any kid, or even raise the subject with the kids or their parents.”
I also read the following Q & A on the Bare Platypus blog “We Raised 4 Kids As Nudists” mentioned in part 1:
“Q. What about when friends and relatives came to visit?
A. When it came to other people’s kids, we exercised an abundance of caution. We were always fully dressed in their presence. If friends or cousins came over with their parents and our kids wanted to swim in their birthday suits, we would ask said parents if that would be okay. We paid close attention to body language and non-verbal cues. If it was okay, our kids went bare. Sometimes our visitors would follow ‘suit.’ Always with their parents’ permission and direct supervision.”
That concludes part two. To our naturist parent readers — how do you handle these questions in your own family? Did your kids ever tell anyone they shouldn’t have? Share in the comments!
Family nudism questions part 3 — we explore the topic of naturist kids and bullying!
FG_AUTHORS: Felicity Jones