Social Question

keobooks's avatar

Is it wrong to let your toddler girl run around the yard topless?

Asked by keobooks (14276points) August 21st, 2012

I figure that she doesn’t have anything to show. She’s physically identical to a toddler boy. I think it’s OK to let her run around topless when it’s hot. One of my neighbors acts a bit aghast that I’d do so.

One of her kids told me that someone was going to take my daughter away if I continued to let her go topless in the yard. I don’t know if she meant that a pedophile was going to abduct her or that a social worker was going to come and take her away for endangerment or neglect. It’s obvious that my neighbors have been talking around their kids about their distaste for having a half naked baby girl running in the yard.

So. Am I wrong to let her run around topless? I didn’t wear tops until I was about 4 on a regular basis, but I lived on a farm out in the middle of nowhere. I could be out of date and out of place in my beliefs.

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65 Answers

tedd's avatar


In fact I believe it is mandatory to allow them to do this, take photos of it, and save said photos for when they bring home serious SO’s.

wundayatta's avatar

That is totally pathetic! You should call social services on your neighbors for being too small minded to parent effectively.

What is this country coming to?

Topless? Fine. Nudity? Also totally fine. They should build a fence if they don’t like it.

tups's avatar


janbb's avatar

Fuck no!!

ucme's avatar

Who is this “overlord” dictating what’s right or wrong?
Someone needs to give them a firm slap across the cheek.

LuckyGuy's avatar

No. What the hell is wrong with people?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Add another No to the collection. All five of my nieces were allowed to do this, not only at home, but at the public beach. No one said ‘boo’ about it.

tom_g's avatar


I have to admit that I would be slightly nervous and suspicious of anyone who felt there was something wrong with a little girl going topless. Is there something they are seeing or feeling that I am missing here?

thorninmud's avatar

With or without sunscreen?

gailcalled's avatar

I would speak to this neighbor immediately and firmly. “One of my neighbors acts a bit aghast that I’d do so.

“One of her kids told me that someone was going to take my daughter away if I continued to let her go topless in the yard.”

Having her child repeat irresponsible gossip is bad for you and for her child.

She is bullying you. Confront her today.

keobooks's avatar

They have always been weird about it and I thought “to each his own” on the issue. But I found the daughter mentioning that people would come and take my child away very disturbing. I wondered if they were telling their kids creepy scary stories? Or were they considering calling social services on us? And then I wondered if perhaps rules were different these days in the big city.

Sunscreen is a yes—when I remember to. And she always reminds me because she loves lotion.

I should mention that they are VERY conservative and religious. They managed to find bathing suits that came to the elbows and knees. And the daughter still has to wear a second bathing suit under it because the shirt on the first suit doesn’t quite cover up her belly button. I figured that they were a little off because of the religion, but the daughter’s comments kinda spooked me.

Trillian's avatar

No. I’m not even sure the concept of “topless” can be applied to a toddler. If you can keep any article of clothing on them for any length of time, congratulations.
Hell no.
Topless. Sheesh. What fucking next?

wilma's avatar

Can you plant large bushes or have a fence installed so that you don’t see them and they don’t see you?
I also worry as @tom_g said;
I have to admit that I would be slightly nervous and suspicious of anyone who felt there was something wrong with a little girl going topless. Is there something they are seeing or feeling that I am missing here?

whitenoise's avatar

Definitely no!!!!!

JLeslie's avatar

Through age 3 I wouldn’t think twice about it. I think its fine. We had a neighbor who let her daughter run around topless until she was around 6 uears old I think, and most felt that was definitely too old. The neighbor she was closest too, and from the same country, UK, talked to her.

CWOTUS's avatar

No. It’s your neighbors who are disturbing. Or disturbed.

flutherother's avatar

It would only be wrong if there was snow on the ground.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes. You are a horrible mother for letting your daughter provocatively display her toddler tatas, and you should be carted off to jail to share a cell with a 600 lb hooker named “Mama”. ~

tups's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t see why a 6 year-old can’t run around topless?

Blackberry's avatar

Give me a no for 300, Alex.

JLeslie's avatar

@tups I think mostly just social norms. No one thought she was going to be taken away by a pedophile, the OP’s neighbor is ridiculous. I do think she ran the risk of being teased by other children, but I don’t remember that happening. It was not in her backyard, we kids all played out in the front in the street.

wilma's avatar

I think it’s best for school age girls to have some sort of top covering their breasts, so that socially, they won’t be teased by boys or girls.
Toddlers… no, they can go topless.

Pandora's avatar

No, Toddlers are babies. Now, if your back yard isn’t fenced in and she is running around unsupervised then I would be more inclined to worry about her being out there alone where anyone can snatch her, or she could get hurt.
As long as you are always in her company than I don’t see what the big deal is. If your neighbor is a perve than I would throw a top on her and watch her like a hawk. If it is considered indecent than it should be the same for a toddler boy. I’ve seen plenty of little toddler girls with no shirt at the beach, or their bathing suit tops riding so high it only covers their armpits.
Your neighbors kids probably want to run around topless and mom is having a hard time explaining why they can’t.

tups's avatar

@JLeslie A 6 year-old is just a kid, I can’t believe that is too old to run around topless. Society can have some really weird norms sometimes.

keobooks's avatar

@Pandora I think you explained it in your last sentence better than anything else. I was just baffled why the little girl would say something like that to me. The reason I asked is I wondered if they were thinking of calling CPS on our family for the nudity. And I wanted to make sure that if they did that, there was absolutely no reason CPS would have to say anything to us about making sure our daughter was clothed. I mostly fear this because I’ve heard horror stories about mothers getting arrested for breast feeding their toddlers and ridiculous things like that.

It didn’t occur to me that they may be trying to get their daughter to stop whining about wanting to take her two bathing suits off and run around naked or topless. I don’t think the neighbor is a perve—at least they don’t seem pervy.

They are strange though. They are so nice and generous. They have mowed our lawn and shoveled our driveway just for the heck of it. They have given us hand me down clothing for our daughter. They have frequently invited us over. They get a bit shunned by the other neighbors (possibly because they are more than a bit strange at times) and so I try to stay friendly. I was sad and worried as well as spooked by the girl talking about people taking my daughter away.

Aside from the freakishly modest dress code, they’ve been great neighbors. Now and then there are awkward hiccups in the family dinners we’ve had. Sometimes everything has gone great and suddenly the family has gone strangely silent and someone said something like//

“We don’t believe in dinosaurs.”
“Dr. Pepper is not a cola beverage.”

And a few others I can’t think of off the top of my head, usually having to do with products or companies. Or science.. .or something related to politics ..

And there is an awkward silence but then everything goes back to normal. Every now and then, I think I should research their religion so I can figure out what the heck happened back there, but since they quickly go back to being nice, I ignore it as much as I can.

janbb's avatar

Maybe you need to go over to their house and talk to the mother or the parents about it? Tell them you are concerned about what the kid said and ask about their reasons. And then very firmly state that your standards are different from theirs.

Shippy's avatar

Some people are strange, and say strange things, this person is strange and says strange things. I“d also question this persons tendencies, just saying.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have trouble keeping clothes on my 3 year old grandson. He takes them off and runs outside to play all the time.

JLeslie's avatar

@tups I’m not looking to hijack the thread regarding 6 year olds, but I would guess people on the Q would draw a line at some age. For many I would bet school age. I could be wrong of course.

Again, my concern is not adults, it is other children being mean. A 9 year old neighborhood boy, or some kid who listened to their mom say it is innapropriate and then say something directly to the girl to make her feel bad. I believe it is up to parents to be able to predict a little how other children might be horrible. Similar is teenage girls who might have wild untamed hair that they hate, and their parents don’t let it be coiffed in a way that she feels good about herself in school. I say, let the kid fit in at that age.

Jeruba's avatar

It wouldn’t bother me to see a baby girl clothed only on the bottom. But I know it bothered my mother; she didn’t think it was quite decent. I remember hearing her comment on children she saw in the neighborhood or at the beach. So I guess I have to say it’s possible for an otherwise reasonably sane person to think that way.

Possibly she believed that a girl should be schooled in modesty from the earliest possible age and that it was better to teach it too soon than to try to correct ingrained behavior later on. It’s too late to ask her now, but I can imagine her holding that view.

bewailknot's avatar

I remember running around topless in the summer up until about 4 years old. We moved to a new neighborhood and the other kids were kinda shocked. I didn’t see why it was OK for my older brother but not OK for me, but I gave in to social pressure at that point. .

andreaxjean's avatar

The parents are definitely filling their kids heads with crap. My grandmother’s family was Mennonite and they had similar beliefs about the female body, no matter what age. Hell, I just took my three year old daughter to a public beach where there was an outside shower. So after we were done on the beach, I stripped her naked and washed her hair with shampoo because we only did a day trip and I needed to get the sand out because I knew she’d be passed out by the time we got home. There had to have been at least 50 or 60 people who walked past and no one thought of it as being wrong.

Letting your kid run around buck naked is even fine! My daughter is very modest, though. She prefers to wear at least panties.

Just think, If Adam never ate the forbidden fruit, we would all be nudists. It was only when he took a bite of the fruit that he realized he was naked. Tell them to shove that in their pipe and smoke it.

Pandora's avatar

So it is more of a religious thing. They probably just say it to their kids to scare them into believing that if they engage in this behavior that they will be taken away. Probably wasn’t even meant for you to hear but kids don’t keep a lid on anything. I would ignore it in that case. If they really thought you a bad person or parent and where thinking of turning you in, then they wouldn’t even socialize with you.

linguaphile's avatar

I just stayed at a hotel where there was a pool. In comes a daddy and his daughter. They have French accents and she, at about 5 years old, starts swimming wearing just a bikini bottom. At first I was surprised, only because it is unusual… but not shocked and definitely not upset. She climbed out at least 25 times to jump into her dad’s arms.

I say—let them play! Another vote for no from me. :D

keobooks's avatar

I asked her. She totally denied saying anything to her kids about my daughter, but she did warn me that police might stop and ask questions if they saw naked people outside the house. She told me that she understood that some people in the neighborhood just let that stuff slide, but that her children were very godly and modest – and she didn’t want to mess with the police.

gailcalled's avatar

A toddler (under four, I am assuming) wearing underpants is hardly a naked person outside the house. What odd language and what odd ideas; why would she think that the police would come?

Are there other naked people outside your house?

keobooks's avatar

I forgot to mention – my husband thinks there’s a possibility from some things the husband said to him that they may have had an informal correction (meaning the social worker didn’t see reason to take the kids away but told them to fix something or charges might follow later – most likely a mess or dangerous stuff in the back yard – they are clutterbugs) and that they genuinely fear the police coming and taking their kids away.

gailcalled's avatar

So she is projecting her own issues onto your toddler?

This sounds like a family to avoid, if possible.

How old is your little tyke?

keobooks's avatar

She will be two near the end of September. We’ve been spending less time with them as we get to know the other neighbors more. Mostly because they don’t hang out with the other parents even though we all play out in our cul-de-sac. Their kids stay in the back yard. Their kids are more than a little clingy and whiny and sometimes—I hate to say this—just plain annoying.

They are 6 and 4 and sometimes get really whiny and tattle on my 23 month old when she picks up a toy or touches their stuff. I don’t think the 4 year old is potty trained – as the 6 year old just stopped wearing diapers sometime in the spring (she was still 5 back then)

Ehh… I am probably ragging on them. They are weird and their kids are annoying. Why am I worried about what they think again?

gailcalled's avatar

A four-year old still in diapers? That might be construed as worrisome.

keobooks's avatar

I think he might be delayed. Even though they home school, he goes to a few therapists for speech and some learning things. I think the older one acts babyish to get the extra attention the younger one gets.

Trillian's avatar

@keobooks Your description of the family sends up a red flag for me. Sounds like the kids are parroting, which often means they are being coached. The odd bathroom habits are another red flag, as is the fact that the kids are clingy. Those are often indicators of abuse. The family dynamics sound like classic authoritarian/religious parents with the father most likely doing the abusing and using scripture to justify his actions, and the mother is being a “good Christian wife”; submitting him and allowing him to dominate her and the children.
The chances are good that he will eventually twist them into the same kind of person that he is.

keobooks's avatar

After you said that, I looked at this. I don’t want to derail my own thread, but after reading this, I do think there is cause for concern. I just wouldn’t have imagined because they seem really nice—weird—but generally nice and helpful. I thought their kids extremely annoying clinginess came from a complete lack of discipline, not the opposite.

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Bellatrix's avatar

Is a topless two year old cause for concern? Deary me… NO!

What is of more concern is that people in your vicinity a. feel this is a concern and b. feel they have the right to voice that concern in such a way that it reaches you. They have the problem. Not you or your two year old.

Just use sunscreen.

augustlan's avatar

I would have a very strong urge to walk around outside buck naked. I wouldn’t do it, of course, but… I’d want to. Just to show them what ‘naked people outside the house’ really look like. As you can probably guess, I agree with everyone else. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re doing.

keobooks's avatar

My main reason for asking this was to see if anyone thought there was a chance that social services might take a call from my neighbors seriously. I am a little paranoid about these things because I am a licensed teacher and a charge of child abuse or neglect – especially one that may be considered sexual abuse – may kill any chances of my ever getting hired. Even if the charges were quickly dropped – they would show up on a background check and I’d have explaining to do. But most likely an administrator would just toss my application in the trash once the flag showed up.

I’ve read in the past about moms getting charged for sexual misconduct for silly things like breastfeeding in public, sending pics of their kids in the bathtub to the local photomat, and little things we used to take for granted. I just wanted to make sure that the odds of social services taking a call about a toddler running around without a shirt on wer unlikely.

I don’t really want to talk about the mental state of my neighbors. Yeah they are probably messed up, but I don’t want to get into my speculations about what’s going on with them. So long as they won’t likely call the police or social services, which would ruin my professional life, I don’t really care to discuss much more about it.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@keobooks Gotcha. Is there any way you can check with your contacts or local CPS to get an official answer?

keobooks's avatar

I think I’ll ask a friend of mine who is a social worker and has worked with parents who have had their kids taken away. I’d feel more comfortable asking a person I know than just calling them. I haven’t spoken to her in a while, but I’d trust her to know that I just get anxious about stuff like this sometimes. I probably read too much of the Free Range Kids blog, which frequently posts all these stupid arrest warrants.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

That sounds like a good idea. Until you find out the answer, this will play on your mind. While the situation seems inane, it is understandable how you feel.

janbb's avatar

Sounds like a great idea.

keobooks's avatar

The funny thing is, my husband used to work with parents who had their kids taken away. He told me not to worry. But for some reason I want more than just his opinion. Isn’t that funny. If he weren’t my husband, I’d probably take his word for it. I think sometimes my brain invents things to get paranoid about.

JLeslie's avatar

It would be interesting if CPS would actually worry about a 2 year old running around topless, when from our small fluther sample here no one finds it to be a problem at all, and I think probably society at large doesn’t.

Coloma's avatar

Oh lord, seriously, what nonsense. My daughter was naked all the time as a toddler in the summer. Of course I am all about free spirited, naked babies in nature. It’s the 70’s girl in me. lol This world of ours, insane. I wouldn’t have my child naked in public, but around the house and in their own yard, pffft!

jca's avatar

I hate when people try to project their anxieties onto others. If she is paranoid about a two year old being topless equating to Child Protective coming or the police coming, that’s her problem.

bolwerk's avatar

Definitely a no.

However, you should be concerned about the psychosexual hangups of your neighbors.

JulieAnne's avatar

As long as no one is offended by it, it wouldn’t be wrong. However, perhaps you can just find a very light, see-through shirt to put on your child or perhaps a bikini top.

bolwerk's avatar

Anyone offended by breasts doesn’t deserve to see them.

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