Written by Doctor G

Explaining Grown-Up Undies to Kids

How can I explain thong underwear to my daughters (ages 4 and 7), and that I wear them when I don’t want my pantyline to show but don’t want them wearing things like this? I don’t think they should have to worry about stuff like this.

Laurie, in Arlington, VA

Tutus, firefighter helmets, monkey ears, often worn all together, are expressions of a child’s excitement to try on new identities. Many parents do their best to foster this sense of self-affirmation, allowing kids to go to the store or the library in anything that won’t give them frostbite or get a parent arrested. It’s a magical time.

We dread watching our children become self-conscious. We smile when kids delight in strangers staring and commenting on their outfits. We want to freeze frame this time, put off (forever) the self-awareness that leads to self-judgment and judgment of others.

It is probably for this reason, Laurie, that you don’t want to draw your daughters’ attention to your own self-awareness about panty lines. If they ask about the thong and you explain fully, you fear they will start to think more critically about their appearance to others rather than about sparkle of their personalities and how their clothes can show that.

In light of all that, I have two suggestions. First the practical, then the philosophical.

Do you wear a bra? Or deodorant? Or makeup? If you use any of these items, your kids probably see them on occasion, and may ask about that as well. So explain (if asked) that your thong is a grown-up underwear that you wear. It is not a complete answer, but it is an age-appropriate one. Without lying to our kids, it is often good parenting to give them part of the story. At least until they ask for more information, and are ready (or nearly) to hear it.

Now the philosophical. Self-awareness, and a sense of how others view us, is a necessary part of development. Think for a moment of the adults you have met who do not possess this sense and you will know you don’t want that for your daughters. You will (I hope) encourage your daughters to bathe more often and perhaps use deodorant when puberty strikes, for example. Letting them see, bit by bit, that you can moderate your own appearance without losing your own sense of self or sparkle is a great life lesson for your girls!

Anyone else struggle with “Mommy/Daddy, why are you wearing that?”

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3 thoughts on “Explaining Grown-Up Undies to Kids”

    1. Exactly Rachel, kids really do ask for info when they are ready to start processing it. The trick for me is to stop talking soon enough!

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