Bathtime and Boundaries: Is Perez Hilton's Parenting Style Unhealthy?

Perez Hilton posts bath time selfies with son and deals with backlash on boundaries.

Love & Relationships

Perez Hilton has found success from sharing the hits and misses of our favorite celebs’ personal lives, but he might have done some over-sharing of his own when recently posting a selfie of bath time with his son, Mario.

The father of two shared this pic with his 338,000 Instagram followers:

The photo resulted in backlash from a few uncomfortable followers who attacked the blogger’s values in relation to boundaries, with some even labeling the scene as “child abuse.” A few referred to the pic as “creepy” and questioned why he was naked with a young boy. Others even took special issue with the blogger’s sexual preference and how it related to his parenting (Hilton is openly homosexual):

“He’s another Michael Jackson. Hopefully his kid won’t turn out gay. Sad sad sad…”

“Kids need a mom and dad period!!!”

“All I’m saying is pops never took a shower with me. Raising little man to be a cupcake.”

Hilton quickly checked his haters, defending his parenting and making it clear that the child had on a swimsuit. But one supportive parent came to his aide defending him and reminding everyone that bath time and nudity don’t always have to be sexual, especially when it comes to parents and children:

“I actually find it strange that you had a bathing suit on. My husband showers with my 3yr old son all the time. My son loves his showers with Daddy and it’s a huge time saver! It’s only weird to those who aren’t parents.”

As a parenting instructor by day, I can testify that there isn’t anything that makes people as uncomfortable as discussing sexuality as it relates to children. It’s one of the reasons I make sure that parents are comfortable with talking about sexuality and regularly examine their own sexual values as well.

I’ll never forget one class when we were talking about nudity and boundaries and I asked a young mother how she felt about her daughter’s father changing diapers. She responded, “Nope that doesn’t happen at my house. I don’t trust any man.” When I asked about how she could be in a relationship with someone, and even further co-parent with someone whom she didn’t trust to change her daughter’s diaper, she responded, “Men don’t know how to NOT be sexual. In my childhood home, there was no reason for kids to be naked around their parents. Point. Blank. Period.”

At the time I didn’t have a daughter of my own and I tried to be sensitive to what I may not have known about the young woman’s upbringing and relationship with her own relatives. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime  1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. This means that in any given classroom of the teens and young adult parents I teach, there’s a good chance that about 4 of them have been victims of child abuse. I can understand how a history of sexual abuse can play a huge part in how a parent relates to their own children. But the last thing I want my daughter to believe is that nudity always has to be sexual. It’s also misleading to imply that men are merely victims of their own anatomy and have no control over their sexual impulses. And we wonder why women struggle to have healthy relationships with men.

My husband and I give my 11-month-old a bath regularly together, and it can be a time to bond and play--no different than what Hilton was capturing with his own son. I’ll also be damned if I’m doing diaper duty solo because of irrational fears about men’s lack of self-control.

So how do you set boundaries and when does bath time with mom and dad go from cute to creepy? Deborah Gilboa, pediatrician and parenting expert tells Yahoo:

“Until the age at which it makes anyone in the house uncomfortable. Nudity is an issue of respect.”

“There are lots of ways we can mess up our kids, and taking a bath with your toddler is not one of them.”

Parenting is about the values that fit your household and there is more than one right way to raise a child. Whether it’s bath time or breastfeeding, it’s no secret that there is a lot of shame in our culture when it comes to sex. The media sends conflicting messages about sexuality every day. Honestly, there isn’t a day that a picture of some celeb’s nipples isn’t going viral, but God forbid you feed your kids with them in public. I’m not surprised it’s a struggle for people to tell the difference between celebrating sexuality and exploiting it.

I think it’s important for parents to check their own issues regarding sexuality before imposing them on others, especially your children.

[Tweet "We have to deal with our own shame before we can teach our children about healthy sexuality."]

In my household we celebrate our bodies and our feelings in an age-appropriate manner. I want my daughter to know her dad loves and respects her as a father should. I'll make sure to teach her about "stranger danger" and her "no-no" spots, but I will not raise her to victimize herself in the belief that people see her sexuality before they see anything else. In a world that continually tries to limit her worth to only her anatomy, I want her to understand that a man can express his affection for her without it being the least bit sexual. So if she happens to crawl in the bathroom while her dad is taking a shower, so be it, but bath time when she’s 12 will be more of a private affair. Additionally, I will not be inviting my Instagram followers or their opinions into my bathroom.

The bigger question is: Would this even be a discussion if Perez Hilton was straight?

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