Defending parents' rights to raise children in a nudist family
Below is a quote from an actual person defending adults' right to practice social nudism, but likening parents' inclusion of children in family nudism to "child abuse." The sentiments this author expresses are quite common to those who believe they know what is best for you and your children. Read it several times, and I will then dissect it.
I'm all for an ADULT wanting to run naked in the sun and surf. If this is something you find pleasure in, then this is something you should have every right to do. But when you take children's' clothes off and parade around naked in front of them, then I definitely have a problem with it. As adults, you have the ability to choose and make decisions for yourself. Children do not. There should be many areas set aside for naturists to be able to go and enjoy their freedom sans clothing, and have privacy from curiosity seekers. But then again, I believe if children are involved, it borders on child abuse.
--unknown 'net author
Let's take this statement piece by piece.
I'm all for an ADULT wanting to run naked in the sun and surf. If this is something you find pleasure in, then this is something you should have every right to do.
This looks, on its face, like an innocent statement. In fact, with the exception of the emphasis on the word "adult," the author sounds like a staunch defender of nudism: people have a right to participate in activities which they enjoy, and which do not harm or infringe upon the rights of others. However, the next statement belies the author's bias:
But when you take children's' clothes off and parade around naked in front of them, then I definitely have a problem with it.
Why are nudists always said to "parade" in front of others? Have you ever been in a parade? I have: it is a deliberate act in which people place themselves on display, calling attention to the presentation of themselves, for the express purpose of entertaining the viewer(s). So, I must concede this author's point: if parents "parade" in front of their children for the express purpose of providing "entertainment" for them, I would have a problem with that. However, I do not know of any parents, nudist or textile, who do this. I do know many nudist parents who walk, run, play, sunbathe, garden, swim, do chores, or do any number of other activities with their families. They are not doing so for the purpose of entertaining their children (or anyone else) with their bodies -- they are enjoying activities for which clothing is optional or unnecessary. And I wouldn't have a problem with that. Would you?
As adults, you have the ability to choose and make decisions for yourself. Children do not.
A child, by definition, is not able to make rational and informed decisions on his own -- that's why parents are given broad, almost unlimited, powers to make decisions for the child. Parents engaging in social nudism with their children are no different than parents imparting other personal, ethical, or religious/moral beliefs on their children. Does it violate the child's autonomy to make him take baths? Does this author feel it is "abusive" to "force" a child to urinate and defecate in a toilet (certainly an unnatural act)? It would seem more a violation of this autonomy and natural freedom to force children [who are born naked] to wear clothing -- certainly an unnatural imposition. What parent of a toddler has not chased said toddler [who was naked and squealing with joy] around the house while retrieving discarded items of clothing? What must this author think of parents who "force" children to attend church? Certainly this must also be seen as an overly intrusive subversion of the child's autonomy.
Of course, this author could really feel that nudity per se is "dirty," or evil, or sinful, or otherwise wrong. However, in the absence of such a statement from this author, we can only infer that he believes parental decision-making of this sort is in and of itself wrong -- and, therefore, it would seem that "forcing" a child go to church is as objectively wrong as "forcing" him to go to a clothing-optional recreation area.
Family nudism is a choice to be made by the parents and children of a family. This is no different than the thousands of other parenting choices made in the name of the child's, and the family's, well-being. Research has found that it is the use of force, shame, and coercion which are damaging to children's development, not the simple exposure to, nor participation in, nudity with family or friends.
There should be many areas set aside for naturists to be able to go and enjoy their freedom sans clothing, and have privacy from curiosity seekers.
On this point, I am in full agreement with the author. I would go one step further, though. Curiosity seekers are not bad, in and of themselves. Many avid and dedicated nudists were once curiosity seekers. However, privacy and protection must be offered from those who would "gawk" at nudists. These people are just as dangerous to clothed children as they are to nude children. There are sexual deviants who hide in the bushes near playgrounds and schools to watch clothed children playing. We, as a nudist community, must push for designated public clothing-optional areas with equal facilities and government protection (such as cooperative law enforcement personnel), so that parents are not forced to hide in order to protect their children.
But then again, I believe if children are involved, it borders on child abuse.
The research which has been done nearly universally demonstrates that children raised in nudist families, or "nude-friendly" families, tend to have higher body self-concept, more well-adjusted adulthoods, and more successful interpersonal relationships. What a terrible legacy for parents to want to pass on to their children! Even taking into account the research which is ambivalent (at worst), children's exposure to nude parents, siblings, and friends is benign (at worst). So, this author seems to say that parents engaging in healthy, non-exploitive, consensual nudity are really abusive. It is hard for me to formulate an intelligent, logical response to such an unintelligent, illogical assertion! This statement is akin to the hysteria experienced in the mid-80s, when dozens of child-care providers, now found to be factually innocent, were accused and convicted of wildly spectacular charges of child sexual abuse. It flies in the face of the research done on the subject, not to mention the decades of anecdotal evidence from healthy, happy nudist families.
If you are nudist parents, your choice to include your children in the healthy, body-affirming practice of nude leisure is your prerogative. It is not immoral, nor is it abnormal. It is not harmful to you or your children [as long as participation is not forced or nonconsensual].
And, most importantly: you are not alone.
For some good resources and reading material, you may want to browse through my resource list for parents, educators, and others.
©1997 W.D. Peckenpaugh. All rights reserved.