Should fathers bathe with daughters?

By Xi Lu Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-4 18:13:01

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

I still remember the unease and discomfort I felt watching a scene in the well-known Japanese cartoon series Chibi Maruko-chan many years ago, during which the primary school student Momoko Sakura and her father take an innocent bath together, both naked.

Because this country is very culturally conservative, I think many Chinese people had the same reaction as me.

In fact, a lot of Web users are experiencing this sensation now, after watching an episode of the popular TV show Dad Came Back, produced by Zhejiang Satellite Television.

In the TV show, Jia Nailiang, a male celebrity, takes an innocent bath together with his 2-year-old daughter.

The scene sparked controversy, with some arguing that father should not be naked with his daughter, and others claiming such experiences can serve as an early sex education class for children.

Although I understand the more conservative voices, because that is how I myself was raised, I am glad to see some celebrities are spearheading a movement toward being more open about the differences between genders with children.

Years before Jia Nailiang's actions raised controversy, Jacky Cheung, the well-known Hong Kong singer, said in a TV program that he took showers together with his daughter when she was young and explained the difference between men and women, and he even peed in front of her to help her understand "that is what a male looks like."

These behaviors shocked me, but have gradually won my support.

If the world was a utopian place, I would surely feel that a father taking a bath naked with his daughter is unnecessary and weird. But the cruel reality of frequent sex assault cases happening to innocent children in kindergartens has driven me to change my mind and promote early sex education for children.

In many countries, parents taking a bath or shower together with their toddlers is acceptable and considered to be a way to eliminate a child's sense of mystery about gender. Young children are very curious, and as many education experts point out, if parents don't guide them, they will try to satisfy their curiosities through other channels.

For example, try to think back on whether a little girl ever lifts her skirt in front of little boys to check out the differences in their bodies, or whether young children don't understand why it's improper to pee in full view of the public.

In my opinion, the biggest benefit from early sex education is not solving children's curiosity or regulating their improper behaviors, but preventing the risk of sexual assault. If children have no knowledge about the difference between genders and have no sense of protecting their privacy, they will be more vulnerable to predators.

Some traditional Chinese parents may still need some time to move toward early sex education. But better late than never. For these parents, why not treat the "uncomfortable" scene in Dad Came Back as one of your belated sex education classes? Even if awkward, please digest what your have learned, and then create an interesting first sex education class for your child.

And here is an easy and ideal way to start: take a naked bath with him or her, and when enjoying the bubbles, speak naturally of the difference between male and female and teach the child to protect his or her private places, and refuse any strangers who want to touch those areas.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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