I have three children, my younger two are a 13 year old boy and a 12 year old girl.

They are both maturing and going through puberty.

Gone are the days of my little son doing little naked dances, like a cherub.

My son will frequently walk through the house in underpants, but when my daughter does the same in a crop top and underpants, my son reacts and tell her to put clothes on.

I don't want to encourage a sexist environment, nor do I want my children to feel that the human body is something to be ashamed of, yet I want them to have good boundaries when it comes to behavior, and in this instance appropriate sexual boundaries.

There would be varying views about this, I am sure, but am interested in hearing some of them. Any suggestions on how I should manage this?

3 Answers 3


It is funny that you've posted this because my seven year old daughter freaks when her dad takes of his shirt or she sees men shirtless even though we have always had a very open policy about nudity in our house.

I don't know that this answer will work for you and we are only just beginning to think about these types of questions at our house, but we've just had a conversation with her about the society's expectations of men and women and nudity in public. We taught her the word "Taboo" and simply said that for some reason in our society it is taboo for girls and women to be shirtless - in public but not for men. Since she knows about sex and knows the differences in bodies, she understands there is a difference but still said, "Well that is silly! Men should wear shirts too!"

Anyway, I guess I would approach your situation with a similar reaction, have a discussion about sexual perceptions on things common in the culture around you, but that you also want them to know and understand their bodies are natural, beautiful things there is no need to feel shame in. Talk to your daughter and Son about respect for each-other. Your son about the double standard in his remarks that you are pointing ouut in your question, and your daughter about respecting the comfort level of others while also staying true to herself. Then, brainstorm with each-other in a family meeting what THEY think the rules in your house should be to address the situation. It sounds like they are old enough to offer ideas and input too.

Then, let us know how it works out for you :-)

  • Your first line brought a smile to my face. :)) how cute... I think this is really good advice, we often have family meetings, so the brain storming idea is really good.. ty will let you know lol.
    – user21179
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 12:44
  • I would say this is a nice accident for me to came across this question while working on SQL SERVER question/answer :) i will be a dad soon and i think about so many similar questions in my mind and planing by my self that where to start and how to make these things easy and naturally adoptable for kids instead a process that needs to be followed.
    – Anup Shah
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:38

I winced before clicking and was extremely relieved to learn that the problem is sartorial, not sexual.

You need to let your son know that it's none of his darn business what clothes his sister wears. Call him on his hypocrisy and emphasize that he doesn't get to control his sister.

Different households have different standards of modesty. If your son was clearly a very shy, modest boy I'd consider suggesting adjusting yours for the time being, but it sounds like he's not so shy and is just a bit bossy.


My wife and I raised three daughters and two sons, and the situation you describe is normal for that kind of mixed environment.

Both children are old enough to understand the differences between boys & girls, so that particular explanation probably isn't necessary. However, if your son is telling his sister to put some clothes on, it's probably because he feels uncomfortable with how that sight makes him feel. He's at that age where looking at girls becomes a different experience altogether, and you should probably be glad that he's not comfortable feeling that way about his sister.

While the human body may not be anything to be ashamed about, it's also important to teach our children boundaries - what is and isn't accepted by society. It sounds like the days of running around the house in their underwear is probably over, and you should make this clear to BOTH children.

Contrary to what some other answers might indicate, there is nothing sexist or hypocritical about a son going shirtless versus a daughter going shirtless. There are fundamental anatomical differences between the two, and they're old enough now to know that... on more than one level, in fact.

  • 2
    While I did upvote your answer, I take some issue with the last paragraph (there is nothing hypocritical...) I think a boy can be expected to deal with seeing his sister in a bra/crop top, even if it makes him a bit uncomfortable, IF he expects his sister to not take issue with himself waking around just in his underwear. The "anatomical differences" aren't the defining issue - I'd imagine the symmetry of attraction (well-defined male chest vs female breasts) is more important here, and a thirteen-year-old boy is not that far away from having a body that attracts girls. Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 20:54

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