Young children couldn't care less, so long as they have a good time!
Primary and teenage children become more concerned about
what their peers may think as they get older. Explaining about confidentiality
at this point will both help to reassure them, and also help to make them aware
of the need for discretion. It can be pointed out that it is up to them as to
what they tell their friends, because nobody else will. The presence of other
kids at the swim in their own age group becomes increasingly important to them,
and will also help to reassure them.
The following is the
normal reaction from primary age children, although some will want to wear a
costume, at least to begin with.
... well I don't have
children, so it has never been a problem, however we are god-parents to two
children and they have at times stayed with us. One of the weekends we were
going to a local swim, and asked the parents if they had any problem of us
taking the children along. Both parents had shown some interest in naturism,
but had never gone any further because he was concerned about 'his reaction'
in a naturist environment. We just told the kids, 8 and 10, that we were
going swimming in the evening, but where we swam no-one wore a costume. They
did ask if they could keep theirs on, and we said we would ask. When we got
there we went into the changing room and stripped off and said to the kids,
'come on, get undressed', no mention about wearing their costumes they
stripped off and were soon playing with the other kids. At the end they
asked if they could do it again.
Children and Discretion
Older children know the
difference, but are not keen to tell anyone who won't understand, for their own
reasons. Younger children probably won't even realise there is anything special
to report! However, there is no absolute certainty about this, especially if
there are problems between members of the family, particularly between teenagers
One respondent wrote:
Again, the least said
the better. In conversation with parents it never ceases to amaze me how
quick children appear to be in developing a sixth sense in this matter. You
see the same with bi-lingual kids, they always get it right when it comes to
speaking the appropriate language when in company and they never mix
Peer pressure and
"Street Cred" are of course complicating factors but they usually result in
kids going erring on the side of discretion rather than the other way round.
Bear in mind too that "tan-lines" often loom large on their horizons. How
can you show off a sun tan if you haven't got some white bits in contrast.
and another commented:
... in my opinion
there's absolutely no need to worry about this one. Which doesn't stop
people worrying, but may give some reassurance.
OK, so kids can
really enjoy putting a parent on the spot with an embarrassing remark during
a visit to doting grandparents, and regarding at least some aspects of
parental attitudes and activities as appalling when chatting to one's mates
is essential. But children seem to develop extremely acute sensitivities
about what they can/can't should/shouldn't say in various situations. If
social nudity is frowned on by their peers, they will probably frown on it
to those peers - whether they enjoy it for themselves or not.
A member of the Naturist
Most of the kids at
the Naturist Foundation over about 8 yo have been told that there are places
where it's best not to mention the club, or just to mention that we have
caravans there. AFAIK they were simply told that "not everybody agrees with
naturism, so we don't tell everyone."
Of course, for the "avoid
embarrassment" factor to work, the parent must play their part too, and not
chatter happily to a child's friends (etc) about things the child doesn't want
those folk to know.
Several years ago,
Channel 4 broadcast a shortish play called "The Spy Who Caught A Cold", about a
young girl going on a naturist holiday with her Mum. Both had a good time. Over
the closing credits, the youngster is chatting with a friend about the holiday,
and being emphatic that she certainly hadn't been nude. Which, of
course, she had. It rang very true.
And another contribution
I know of a family
who have two daughters who always used to come to our Tuesday swim. They
also went to many of the other local venues such as Doncaster Dome, the
youngest one (about 12) did seem to tag along with me, and I did have some
misgivings about what her parents might think, however they had no problems,
and I think sometimes were happy to have someone else 'child sitting'
especially in the water race part of the Dome, where this girl was not
allowed without adult supervision.
One time, about a
week or so after a Dome evening she told me she had had to draw a picture of
what she had done at the weekend. She had chosen to draw a picture of us
showering at the end of the evening, but she did say, 'I put swimming
costumes on all of us'. She was fully aware that her lifestyle might not be
understood by others at school, and just altered details slightly so as not
to give herself problems with her peers.
It's possible that a
child who enjoys family naturism, including swim sessions, might suggest that a
friend comes along. At that point it may be necessary to talk about the fact
that some people think naturism isn't a Good Thing at all, and that the friend
and/or the friend's parents might be such people. It's probably best to follow
your instincts on that.
I have heard of one
instance of this happening with older primary children. The friends didn't go to
the swim, but the naturist children were perceived as being braver than them.
CCBN child protection guidelines also suggest
that great care is needed (ideally written permission) if the child is not with
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