At What Age Do We Need to Dictate More Modesty?

This question came from a parent of a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.  These two siblings have always been close to each other, and are too young to understand the full ramifications of gender differences, especially physical uniqueness.  So, if the kids are oblivious, should we dictate more modesty, or wait until they start to notice?

We are in a similar situation ourselves, with Hannah being about 26 months older than Elijah.  They shared a room until the summer of 2009 (Hannah was almost 8, and Elijah was 5 1/2).  When they were much younger, they took baths together (they had fun, and it saved on water).  And at certain ages, all of our kids has been known to run through the house "streaking."  I say this to let you know that we're not completely conservative with regards to this issue.  We have good friends that we love (and that are so much better parents than we are) who are much more restrictive in this area. 

But, I do think that we needed to be ahead of the curve, to be proactive in what we are teaching and dictating for our children.  At some point, we were the ones who stopped bathing Hannah and Elijah together.  (Occasionally, though Sender, age 4, will bathe with her.  But since she's changed his diapers some when he was younger, she doesn't need to be protected from knowing the male anatomy.  But we will stop this soon, to protect her modesty from him.)  We told Hannah some time ago that she had to dress in private, away from her brothers; it's only since then that she herself feels the need to seek privacy.  Yes, as best we can, we need to be making proactive decisions before our kids really notice and understand.

Like a lot of parenting discussions (including those centered around sexuality, drugs, college, etc), if you wait until you feel like they are completely ready, it's probably too late.  Instead, we need to think of sexuality as one big conversation, broken up into hundreds of portions throughout their childhood and teen years.  In fact, making decisions to enforce more modesty when they are young is definitely a part of this conversation.


  1. I was thinking about asking you a question about this since you have the same birth order as us. Glad to see the post. Do you remember at what age Hannah and Elijah stopped bathing together?

  2. I think Hannah was like 5 or 6, and Elijah was 3 or 4. Probably closer to the older age. They hated being split apart, but we thought it was time.

  3. Thanks. We've been thinking in the next few months when Thompson is old enough to bathe with Foster, that will be a good transition time. I see it being realtively difficult to split them apart too. Maybe we'll make a big deal about it for Sophie like letting her bathe in our Garden Tub :-)

  4. No prob. That was part of our reasoning, too -- when Elijah started bathing with Sender without them drowning each other.

    Good idea about the garden tub. Our kids love ours but we rarely use it anymore. It takes about a thousand gallons of water to fill it up!