Friday, April 20, 2012

We Raised 4 Kids as Nudists

THERE HAS been a lot of discussion over the past several weeks about child admission policies at Desert Sun resort in Palm Springs, California.  We have also been monitoring lots of tweets by fellow nudists and naturists on Twitter.  Most of our fellow tweeters do not identify themselves as part of a “nudist family” (usually it’s couples).  Some have posted articles about nudity and children, including  a mother’s New York Times post about casual nudity around the home after showering, etc.


What about a true “nudist” family? One that practices more than occasional nudity around the home. One that actually makes it a point to visit nude beaches and clubs on its vacation itinerary.  Do such families exist and, if so, how do things work out for them?
As it so happens, some members of the Bare Platypus team ARE parents to a nudist family with four “puggles,” who have grown into healthy well-adjusted adults and young adults.  In this blog post we interview them to get answers to some of those questions that others have.


Q.  When did you decide to raise a family of nudists?
A.  For us the decision first came as a young married couple before we had kids.  We began visiting nudist parks about one year into our marriage and never wore clothes around home much.  When our oldest daughter came along, we simply continued in what was then our family’s way of life.  That continued with a second daughter and two sons!


Q.   Did your kids ever embarrass you by being naked at an inappropriate time?
A.  We’ve been asked that question before and the answer is, “no.”  Not once.  From an early age our children grasped the concept of context easily.  They understood that we put on dressier clothes to go to church, that we got dressed to go outside for shopping, etc.  Appropriate nudity comes down to time and place.  If you have kids who understand when they can go about in their underwear and when they shouldn’t, they will grasp when it’s okay to be au naturel.


Q.  So there were no humorous episodes…
A.  We didn’t say that!  One time we had the luxury of moving into a community only about 5 minutes from a well-known nudist resort that we started visiting almost every weekend after the move.  We also started looking for a church in the community and going to one that proved a good fit.  One particularly sultry day at church our second daughter (about 3 years old) blurted out “It’s HOT. Can we go to _[nudist place]_ afterwards?”  We got smiles from some people who knew what that was, but little else.


Q.  What about when friends and relatives came to visit?
A.  When it came to other people's kids, we exercised an abundance of caution.  We were always fully dressed in their presence.  If friends or cousins came over with their parents and our kids wanted to swim in their birthday suits, we would ask said parents if that would be okay.  We paid close attention to body language and non-verbal cues.  If it was okay, our kids went bare.  Sometimes our visitors would follow “suit.”  Always with their parents’ permission and direct supervision.


Q.  Were those parents usually okay with it?
A.  Often they were okay.  In a few cases it led to conversations where their whole family visited a nudist park with us.  Not often, but sometimes.


Q.  Now that your kids have grown, how do you think they’ve turned out?
A.  We joke to each other that we can’t believe how ultra-normal and ultra-responsible all four have become.  They’re wiser with money than we were at their age, for example.  And they do not seem to suffer from the materialism that many youth do.  They certainly don’t judge people by the clothes they wear.  But they also place less importance on things. 

Q.  Did your “puggles” ever go through the “I don’t want to be naked” phase?
A.  Not ours.  As parents we made a conscious decision that we would never force the issue of nudity.  Maybe our relaxed “they make the decision about clothes” attitude helped avoid any backlash.  Or maybe our apples don’t fall far from the tree. 


Q.  Now that they’re grown, are they still nudists? 
A.  Yes. Our oldest daughter took her boyfriend from college to visit the local nudist club.  (Editor’s note: a report of their trip can be read by clicking here:  A College Student's First-Time Experience.  )


Q.  There are reports about some nudist clubs in California being off limits to families with kids.  What are your thoughts on that subject?
A.  First, we’ll say that there were times when the two of us enjoyed getaways to nudist clubs or bed & breakfasts without the kids.  We took a couple of nude cruises while the kids stayed with grandparents too. 

For us, the issue of whether kids are allowed---or welcomed---at some nudist clubs is less significant than the rhetoric being raised right now about whether kids belong, or can be safe, in ANY nudist club.  On that subject we vehemently believe that our kids were always safe during our family’s bare outings.  We always had them in direct line of sight supervision for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was water safety.

One thing that bothers us is the message that more and more resorts and our national nudist organizations are signaling by mentioning the family aspect of nudism less and less. (One organization is running a national event this summer, for example, and the event policies make it clear that participation is strictly limited to 18+ ) We are NOT suggesting that there should be kids in every club or  8 x 10 pics of little ones splashed across websites.  We do think they could take more steps to let families know they’re welcome… maybe with a tasteful cartoon graphic or something to make the point.

As for clubs, it’s hard to feel welcome as a family if the other guests glare at you when you enter the pool area.  For those clubs who prefer a quiet adult-retirement feel, just say so in your brochures and online.  We’ll know where to avoid bringing the grandkids when they come along in the future.


Q.  That’s a lot of info for now.  Can we visit you with questions at a later time?
A.  Sure.  We think nudism added a positive dimension to our family, along with our Christian faith and keeping close ties to grandparents.  We’re always happy to talk about the subject.



04/25/12 Update: For a different perspective, click The Gloss to read an article written by a woman who grew up with nudist parents.
 
05/03/12  Update: For yet another perspective, click ABC News 20/20 , a story about a nudist family living in Sunsport Gardens that will air this week. 

06/01/12 Update: Our college age nudist couple are "revisited" with another story: Return Visit


01/12/13 Update: College nudists attend family birthday party celebration in birthday suits.

Bare Platypus now offers products with Platypus artwork at the Bare Platypus Souvenir Shop .  You can get a tote bag or a coffee mug, a t-shirt, or all three!  Plus there's more to come.

These designs are one-of-a-kinds that you won't find elsewhere.  Tasteful enough that you can show or serve them to all guests, but unusual enough (and always bare) that they can help you get a conversation going.

You're invited to visit!