PARENTS

The Harshest Critics: What Children Think Of Their Parents' Bodies

29/06/2012 18:06 | Updated 22 May 2015
The harshest critics: What children think of their parents' bodiesGetty

Whether you happily walk around the house naked in front of your children or are the type of parent who prefers to cover up around your kids, most of us will find ourselves on the receiving end of some prying questions and provocative comments from our kids about our bodies at some stage.

So how do you respond to probing questions from your children about your body? And what's appropriate when it comes to letting your kids see you without your clothes on? That dilemma presented itself when my sons, aged four and six, developed a sudden fascination with 'boobies'. So far so normal, I thought, until they asked outright if they could see mine.

I was a bit flummoxed because (a) it's not every day that someone asks to see my boobs and (b) I'm not aware of consciously hiding my body from my kids - but I don't tend to flaunt it either (perish the thought).

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But is it really appropriate to show your boobs to your sons on demand, I wondered? Would the sight scar them for life or serve as a memorable (some would say unforgettable) reminder that what they'll witness in magazines and movies in years to come isn't what a real woman (over 30 who has birthed and breastfed babies) looks like? And if I declined their request for a peek at my, er, 'peaks', would their curiosity go underground and turn them into crazed boob obsessives?

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In the end I played it cool and we agreed that they could have a glimpse the next time I took a shower. That seemed to satisfy their curiosity and I forgot all about their calls for my naked debut.

Until the next day when I mentioned I'd be upstairs in the shower while they were watching TV, whereupon they LEAPT up and demanded that I had promised they could see The Boobies.

So, feeling more awkward than I ever have in my life I stood in my birthday suit for a split second longer than was strictly necessary while getting in the shower. Their verdict on The Boobies? "Ooh Mummy, they're just like two little bellies, aren't they," said the six year old tenderly, with the merest hint of pity in his eyes.

The shame. It's safe to say that I am never getting undressed with an audience again but on the upside I don't imagine those boys of mine will be obsessed with breasts much longer.

Fortunately it seems I am not alone in having my body subjected to the cruel scrutiny of my kids. My friend Elsa was in the bathroom one morning with her five-year-old daughter a few weeks ago. En-route to the shower Elsa sat down to answer the call of nature, whereupon her daughter fixed her with a quizzical look and said, "Mummy will my boobies be down to my knees like yours when I grow up?"

Boobs are apparently not the only body part to be vulnerable to harsh little critics, either.

Mum of two Laura was shopping with her three-year-old when they paused for a toilet break, sharing a cubicle. "He had a wee then I had my turn while he stood by the door, " she explains. "As I stood up to pull my jeans up he said in the loudest voice imaginable 'Mummy, why do ladies have fur?' It was just awful - one of those moments where you're trying to 'shush' them but they just keep on going - 'But why, Mummy? Why do ladies have fur? Do men have fur? Will I grow fur when I'm a man?' We stayed in that cubicle for at least five or ten further flushes to ensure that nobody in the surrounding cubicles could see my beetroot face when we came out." Laura adds, "What disturbed me most was that he said fur - let's just say it practically led me to invest in shares in wax!"

Children are famously forthright and lack the tact and diplomacy that comes with age - they speak as they find, which can be quite crushing when what they find is an adult's naked body ravaged by time and transformed by childbirth.

And isn't it ironic that we sacrifice our figures for the benefit of our babies - but all they can do is laugh at the saggy, wobbly shells they leave us with?

What a perfect illustration of what a thankless task parenthood can sometimes be.

Have your children been intrigued by your less than airbrushed bodies?

Are you relaxed about showing some flesh or do you cover up?

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