Is it okay for a father to shower with a 21 month old daughter?
Dear Stop It Now!,
When we dropped the grandkids off at home, the kids asked “Where’s dad?”. Their mom replied that dad was taking a shower with their 21 month old sister. We were creeped out to hear this. He's a weird guy. Is this a normal thing?
Dear Concerned Parent,
Overall, a father bathing with his young toddler is not considered inappropriate or even a warning sign an adult might be at risk to harm a child. Of course, every family has its own comfort level with issues like nudity, bathing practices and parenting styles. However, the parenting and child development experts do seem to mostly 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.
Children begin to understand more about gender permanency and related issues as they enter their preschool ages. When children begin asking general, age-appropriate and curious questions regarding their bodies and other's bodies, this may also be a good time to review bathing practices.
However, your comment that you think he is a weird guy prompts me to ask if you are noticing other warning signs? Certainly, our gut feelings about someone are often the best clue that there is something concerning happening. Please look over our warning signs although I would caution you to note that the appearance of a single sign is not necessarily a sign of abuse. Rather, notice if you are seeing repeated signs or patterns.
You may want to consider talking with the parents about your observation and concern. These conversations do not have to sound accusatory or suspicious. Instead, they can help all adults concerned think about safety for children. Speaking out about your question around young children and showering may be a good way to open the conversation about safety and preventioin if it is done in a non-accusatory way.
Possibly, if showering with toddlers is different than what you’ve experienced, you could ask in a way that was more a request to understand a “new” parenting model than what you’re familiar with. You could also note that as a grandparent, you’ve been reading information in the media about child sexual abuse and you are curious about how the family is planning for safety…and then share our materials.
Some information from our Online Help Center and website you may find helpful:
- The Unique Role of Grandparents in Preventing Child Sex Abuse
- Create Your Family Safety Plan
- Don’t Wait: Everyday Actions to Keep Kids Safe
- Resources on Age-Appropriate Sexual Behavior
Your question is a good question. When adults stop to listen to their intuition and ask questions about what is normal and what isn’t, then they are paying greater attention to how to keep children safe.
Stop It Now!
Last edited on: July 23rd, 2018