At what age is it no longer appropriate for siblings to bathe/sleep together?
Wifey and I have a 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son. We would bathe them together when they were little because it was just easier and limited their water usage. As they are getting older we will occasionally let them shower together or play in the tub, now that they can wash themselves. At what point should we put an end to this practice? They’re obviously old enough to notice each other’s different parts and (as far as we can tell) haven’t done anything inappropriate. I’m thinking the time is coming soon, as our daughter matures. Her birthday is coming up so maybe we’ll just tell her 8 year olds need their privacy when bathing??
Additionally, with the coronavirus distancing and all, they are spending a lot of time together and will occasionally want to have a “sleepover” in each other’s rooms. My son started this by sneaking out of his room and making a bed on his sister’s floor. We stopped that behavior by having “sanctioned sleepovers” so we can know what room he should be in during an emergency.
I’m trying to look at this from the lens of their eyes. My son started the sleepover thing because he said he was scared and lonely in his room. We’ve tried things to make his room less “scary” (added glow in the dark stars on his ceiling, gave him a reading light for his bed, etc) which has helped some. They know things are off with the pandemic and staying home all the time. They went into a store for the first time in 2.5 months and said “This feels so weird!”. Part of me just wants to let it slide and let them figure out how to cope while another part of me is wary of them building unhealthy coping mechanisms or providing opportunity for inappropriate sexual trauma. Thoughts or suggestions??
I don’t think there is a definitive age. But if it was me, I would error on stopping it sooner than leaving it go too long. I’m not saying it would be sin or devastating to them or their future if it continued for a while. Children are curious and need to learn at age-appropriate times about the opposite sex. But as they get older they will become self-conscious about their bodies. That should be noted and they should be taught that their bodies are good but meant to be kept private. In addition as they get older, their curiosity may lead to other things. When that begins to happen, it is time to stop the co-bathing.
This is a very difficult question because it depends on the children themselves. Sharing a bath may be a bit borderline but personally I would not worry too much about a sleepover.
If it helps, one of my school friends (boy) used to share a bed with his cousin (girl) whenever they stayed at the girl’s family (due to bedroom shortages) and I can assure you that both the boy and the girl grew up to be healthy adults. There was never anything inappropriate between them. (I knew both of them very well.)
I have a feeling that in the absolute majority of cases the children themselves would avoid sharing a bath/bedroom if either of them felt uncomfortable about it. It is also definitely a factor that the coronavirus epidemic is creating a lot of anxiety so sharing a room might provide an extra level of comfort. I think if you keep an eye on the situation it will probably be OK.
As NeilE says, your daughter will probably make it apparent when she feels uncomfortable about bathing together. Sleepovers should not be a concern for you IMO. I have two girls (12 and 10) and a boy (8) and they regularly have sleepovers still in the school holidays. I’ve tried to combat the hangups prevalent in some aspects of Western culture that equates nudity with sex as I raise them too, but then I am from the UK lol
All I know, is parenting boys and girls, is a whole different ballgame than having all the same gender. Personally, I think the bathing together would stop sooner than sleeping together. Especially, if they are in their own beds or sleeping bags. I know my daughter would sneak into her brother’s bed (or vice versa) because she was scared to be in her room alone… she thought it was unfair she had her own room, while the boys shared a room. As a child who struggled with fear, and found comfort in sharing a room with a sister, I have compassion on any child who is afraid.
I think your kids are at about that age, but was neilEthere said, when your daughter being the oldest, is uncomfortable with it, she will let you know. I would think that would be any time. They are old enough now to bath alone.
I used to stay at an aunt’s house for a couple of weeks every summer growing up, it was a marvelous time. They had a large farm and lots of things to do there. I had a younger male cousin and we always washed up together and my aunt insisted on helping us wash up, I know we were filthy from being outside all day playing. I never thought any thing about until I ht puberty and didn’t want to wash up with my younger cousin or aunt helping. I can remember the last time she saw me naked I was really uncomfortable and embarrassed. I wasn’t fully through puberty, but I was getting some pubic hair etc. I remember a couple of times we had dirt or mud all over us and she had us strip off outside and washed us with a water hose before coming in the house. I didn’t think anything about that either, until I got too old to be naked in front of her, maybe age 11 or 12.
OWM and Mr Married said it well. We have several children and some of them would have been much too hands on, by that age. They stopped bathing together a lot younger than that.
As for sleeping, ours had their own rooms once they quit sleeping in our room. So no experience there. Except I was always cautious about creating sleeping habits that would need to be broken latet on.
Thanks for everyone’s responses! Instead of commenting on each answer individually, I’ll add more info here.
First, they do really get along quite well and enjoy being together. We’ve handled the sleepover thing so far by allowing them to have planned sleepovers and reiterating to our son that he needs to come to us if he needs something instead of sneaking out of his room. I’m trying to be more emotionally available for them; it’s difficult for me because it wasn’t modeled well in my FOO. I can see the detriment it’s had on me and my relationships and I want to break that generational cycle!
Second, we’re very intentional about positive body image. Wifey suffers from poor self-image from a variety of sources, a big one being the negative comments she heard from the women in her family about their own bodies. We’ve already had some discussions about privacy and private areas of the body always with the explanation that it’s not wrong or dirty, just private. I think the co-bathing thing is probably nearing its end, Wifey and I need to have a discussion about it so we’re on the same page when it comes up.
I think it’s also worth adding that,for some reason, Anglo-Saxon culture is quite uncomfortable about nudity in general. In Scandinavia whole families go to the sauna together and think nothing of being naked. It has no sexual connotations. I have been in some situations in these countries when I accidentally walked in on ladies having a wash and in all honesty, they didn’t think anything of it. They started chatting to me like it was the most natural thing (I felt a bit awkward). So I would not worry about your it too much.
Five and seven? I think you should stop the bathing together right away. They may not know about sex, so the rules about not being in the same room at night won’t make sense to them intuitively, and if someone suggests that as a reason when they are older, they may think of it as gross and strange. You could tell your son if he has a problem, to see his parents at night. But you don’t want your child in your bed all the time either. But it would be better for him to go to his parent’s bedroom than his sister’s, IMO.