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Mom’s viral Instagram post sparks debate about showering with kids

Mom's Instagram post about showering with her kids
journeyofanhonestmum/Instagram

Many parents find themselves eternally strapped for two things: time and money. And the more kids you have, those resources are spread even more thinly.

One mom of four is sharing that she “often” relies on “family showers,” bringing the whole crew into the shower at the same time. In the caption of her post, she explains several reasons why bathing with her kids works for her family. The post went viral, with plenty of people sharing their thoughts about showering with kids.

Bronte Towns, an Australian influencer with four kids under 7, titled the post “Why I shower with my children.” In her caption, she noted that though the practice works for her family, she’s “not implying that every parent should do this.”

Aside from the “practicality” of saving time and water, she calls communal showers a “natural way to teach them biology” that also “helps them have a healthy understanding of different bodily functions & appreciation for their own body.”

“This is a fabulous way to open up discussions on why some ppl might choose to keep body hair, or shave it off, have stripes on their tummy, or where body parts are located without big stigma around it,” she writes. “In this situation questions are great, they’re healthy & they’re necessary for children to ask in order to grow & learn.”

Towns also calls it an “opportunity to educate them on bodily autonomy, personal boundaries & consent,” adding, “So many questions pop up naturally when you shower together.” She describes bathing time as “a supportive environment where innocent, curious questions can be asked & answered age-appropriately.”

The shower time is also useful for modeling good “body hygiene practices,” with Towns adding, “Sometimes we might forget to monitor, or our kids get lazy! Or perhaps they just don’t know, but showering with them regularly offers many opportunities for healthy hygiene habits to form. Things don’t slip through the cracks as much.”

Lastly, Towns hopes to “normalize everyday bodies, not a stigmatized version most of our kids see all over advertising or online. All bodies change, grow, shrink, get stretch marks, veins, body hair, the list goes on. Instead of only seeing the polished versions they see ‘normality.’”

“These things for our children are only normal until we make them not be,” she concludes. She also notes that “whenever they feel uncomfortable or get ‘too curious’ that’s a good indicator that a child has outgrown this routine,” adding, “This no-fuss way of educating must always be lead in an appropriate manner with mutual respect.”

Commenters were divided, with some calling it “disturbing” or likening it to “sexual abuse,” and others pointing out that nudity is far less taboo in other cultures and it’s not viewed as problematic.

Experts at Stop It Now!—an organization that aims to prevent and reduce child sexual abuse—cite parenting and child development experts who agree that “parents bathing with children is normal and healthy up until the child begins to show discomfort or the parent themselves begin to feel concern.” Of course, each child is different, so comfort levels will vary, so there’s no shame if it doesn’t feel right for your family to do the same.

Ultimately, teaching your child about bodily autonomy and boundaries is the most important thing, and what works for one family might not work for another. Like so many parenting related topics, it seems there’s no right or wrong answer, and that’s OK too.