What do you do when you’ve found that your love for being nude is not shared by your family? First, clarify your assumptions. Maybe you aren’t giving your family members enough opportunities, or enough information, to decide for themselves. Don’t write them off just yet!
That was my experience. What follows is the story of how I introduced my family to naturism. The story has its moments of tension, but it also has a happy ending.
Some fifteen years ago when my spouse and I lived near the Gulf Coast, we would go to Florida panhandle beaches from time to time. Because of my interest in naturism I had already learned of an unofficial nude “end” of one of the beaches in the area. On one of our trips I arranged for us to visit the textile “end” of the beach, and once we were there I mentioned to my wife what I had heard about a nudist area. She gamely went with me to investigate “if it was for real,” with our three-year-old in tow. Well, it was indeed for real, and it was full of all kinds of people that day wearing birthday-suit attire. Our daughter shed her swimsuit quickly and so did I. My wife kept her bikini bottom on but removed her top. We spent a couple hours there and had a great time. Putting our suits back on felt awful.
I was hooked. I started researching more about nudism and about naturism as a movement. But shortly afterward we moved to the central US, and shortly after that our second daughter was born. It was a new beginning.
I learned of a naturist group in our new city, but when I contacted the leader through email I was told that group members had to be at least 40. My wife and I were in our early thirties! Then I found out about a nearby naturist park. Membership was costly enough to be out of the question, but there were annual 5Ks to run on the grounds! I ran my first nude race that first year after our move.
My wife didn’t understand this. A clothes-free area of a beach had seemed natural to her, but not a park where people went, or even lived, for the purpose of being naked around others. She didn’t get the “social” part of social nudism, and assured me that I was being naive about other people’s intentions. We had a heated, involved conversation about how people with impure motives can sully any kind of social endeavor, and that society by nature isn’t perfect.
Nonetheless I persisted in discussing the issue from time to time, and in running the race when I could–a few more times over the next years. My family always knew about it, and they were by that point used to me being naked around the house when possible. One year, through contacts I had made, I was set to participate as a speaker in a weekend seminar on naturism at the park, but my spouse put her foot down. She said that since it was something that she would be embarrassed to tell our family and friends about, then she was uncomfortable with me doing it. I pointed out that I would not be embarrassed to talk about it with our family and friends, but that made little difference. I decided to respect her feelings and try to adopt a “lose the battle, win the war” approach. I did not attend the seminar.
The following year the park was featured in a favorable front-page article in the local weekly, just a matter of days before the park hosted the national AANR convention. I told my spouse that I wanted to attend the convention, (the one day that I could, given my work schedule), to learn more about what a social movement around nudism could be. I told her what I understood about AANR from their website, and we agreed that it was legitimate and professional.
That day at the convention I met plenty of interesting and friendly folks, among them a couple who live at the park, and whom I later invited to give a presentation for a course I was teaching. When they came to the class, they gave an excellent talk about social nudism in history and in contemporary practice. The students were very polite – some skeptical, but all quite interested by the end of the presentation. I became good friends with this couple, and when they invited my wife and I to their home at the naturist park, my excellent wife accepted the invitation. They welcomed us enthusiastically and took us on a golf-cart grounds tour before we sat down to a wonderful meal. My wife did not undress that evening, but it didn’t matter – what mattered was that she felt comfortable being around them, and that she realized that she felt comfortable at the park.
My friends deserve all the credit here, because that evening a very important threshold was crossed. A few weekends later, my partner and I were back at the park, with both daughters along, for a house-sitting visit while our friends were traveling. My whole family and I hiked nude that day, and generally enjoyed the sun and the breeze as a kind of natural balm. (The only unfortunate circumstance was that the pool was unusable for us as parents with a toddler learning to swim, because the pool was constantly full of folks playing water volleyball!)
Returning to the idea of being nude outdoors as a kind of natural balm: in fact the sun really was a kind of therapy–heliotherapy–for my older daughter especially that day, who had recently had surgery for pilonidal cysts along the cleft of her buttocks (apparently this is a relatively common affliction for teenagers). Being able to expose that area of herself to the sun and air probably played a big role in her remarkably quick postoperative recovery – a week later, her pediatric surgeon was amazed at how quickly and how thoroughly she had healed. No kidding!
The following summer–this past summer–we returned as a family for the 5K race. I thought my wife was just going to accompany me so I could register, but she ended up running the race herself as well! It was a terrific and most welcome surprise. We both won medals, and later we had the winning bid on a basket in the silent auction. And the following month we returned once more as a family to spend an evening with our friends.
Even though the cost of family membership at the park continues to elude us, for two years now we have been enjoying family visits a few times throughout the year. And even though my wife and daughters may not be as dedicated to a naturist lifestyle as I am, they have benefited from learning about naturism and from experiencing it with family and friends. They are now certainly more comfortable with the practice of nudity, and more desirous of opportunities to be nude, whether at home or outdoors. And although my wife still struggles sometimes with understanding how “social” can fit with being nude, she is much more accepting of the possibilities now than she was before.
So what I learned is that sharing information in frank discussion is key, and, more fundamentally, upholding the pact of mutual respect and patience that any long-term loving relationship entails. Of course, this advice applies to just about anything, not just social nudism! Be persistent and be honest about what you see to be the benefits of naturism, and you may yet convince the people you love.