Ask Amy: Dad questions at-home nudity with kids

August 11, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am the father of two boys and a 3-year-old girl. My wife is concerned about my daughter seeing me naked when I change clothes or take a shower.

I grew up in a family with two brothers and it was never an issue to see my brothers, mom or dad nude. My wife has a sister and never remembers seeing her dad naked when she was growing up. My wife has a very bad and negative body image and I don’t want my daughter to be that way.

What age is recommended for a daughter to stop seeing her father naked and vice versa? I want her to grow up healthy mentally. -- Not Bashful Dad

DEAR DAD: Every family is different, as your story illustrates. And while body shame is not a good thing, body privacy is.

There is a real difference. Shame is when you hide your body because you are afraid of or ashamed of it. Privacy is when you keep your body private because it belongs to you and you might not want to share it by having other people look at it.

Generally, 3-year-olds are starting to become aware of their own bodies and their body parts. Your daughter should be taught the correct names for her body parts and for yours, her mom’s and her brothers’.

At around her age, she should also start to learn that her body is her own and that she has a right to keep it private (this is what her mother chooses to do) if she wants to.

Privacy doesn’t translate into a bad body image unless your daughter is taught that her body is something to be ashamed of.

Although I think it’s perfectly okay for your daughter to see her dad and brothers nude, as she grows older you should be aware of and responsive to her own sensitivities. If your nudity embarrasses her — even if it doesn’t embarrass you — then it’s time to wear a towel.

DEAR AMY: I work for a small company and the hourly staff is on the honor system when it comes to filling out their time sheets.

I do the payroll. One employee is overstating her hours in order to get overtime benefits.

I brought this up to the controller who basically said, “If that’s what she wrote, then that’s what we’ll pay her.”

The employee in question has worked for the company for more than 15 years.

I don’t want the woman fired, but at least question her, give her a warning or better yet, install a time clock.

Should I go over the controller’s head and let the owner know that this employee is basically stealing from the company? -- Concerned Employee

DEAR CONCERNED: Because you handle the payroll and have already brought this to the controller’s attention, you could follow up with an e-mail.

Say, “Based on the concerns I raised with you the other day, I suggest we install a time clock to ensure that all employees accurately report their hours.”

You are suggesting a change in the way you do things, so you should copy the company owner on this e-mail, alerting him or her to the issue.

The owner can then follow up with the controller and make a decision about what to do.

DEAR AMY: “Irritated Aunt” was irritated about the fact that her niece always included a particular friend in their family outings. This child was disruptive and obnoxious.

While I completely agree that the girl’s poor behavior must be dealt with, please consider that the sister-in-law may be trying to include her because the child’s own family situation is in some way unsatisfactory.

When I was young, a friend of mine lived with us for several years when her home situation became untenable.

A fragile home situation could be partly to blame for poor behavior, so I hope “Irritated” treats the child firmly, but with kindness. -- Considering the Child

DEAR CONSIDERING: I completely agree. Sometimes, that kid that always seems to be hanging around is actually a child very much in need of a family. Thank you for offering your perspective.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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