Ugh, our parents are walking around nude
Dear Straight Talk: Our dad and mom believe in casual nudity in the home. They think nothing of walking around naked. It didn't bother us when we were younger, and were taught to be casual ourselves.
However, since we've reached puberty (15 and 13), it really bothers me and my sister to see our dad this way. We aren't prudes and don't have a problem with nudity around our mom and other females, but we started locking our door because our dad would think nothing of walking in on us when we were undressed.
We also have a 10-year-old brother, and while it doesn't bother him to see our mom nude now, it probably will pretty soon. We think opposite-sex nudity is not appropriate once you reach puberty. — Cindy, Sacramento
Nicole, 22, Santa Rosa: If you feel uncomfortable, things must change. Express to your parents how you feel. If your father doesn't understand, hopefully your mother will help persuade him to put some clothes on.
Christina, 20, Marysville: I agree with you completely. I would talk to your mom first.
Gregg, 21, Los Angeles: Ha-ha, this sounds like my dad's dream family. He always walked around nude, even in the back yard. For me, it was no big deal, but my sister had a hard time when she hit puberty.
She kept her privacy by locking the door and telling Dad straight up that he should put some clothes on — not that he ever did. I remember he would try to talk to her while he was naked, and she would be like, "You're naked, no way!"
Jessie, 20, Eugene, Ore.: Of course this would be uncomfortable. Ask them bluntly to at least wear basic underwear. Remind them that in eight short years you all will be moved out and they can revert to nudity. While I would think parents would want to keep a family happy, you never know about people's habits. Either way, continue locking your door.
Colin, 18, Sacramento: Essentially the only reason public nudity is looked down on is because of sexual attraction. That's why there are male and female locker rooms. This sexual factor is removed in the case of immediate family. Freud would have a lot to say about this.
Ryann, 15, Tustin: I agree with you and your sister. Opposite sex nudity is inappropriate once you reach a certain age. You should never have to feel like a prisoner in your home. Talk to them. Maybe they don't realize the effect it has on you.
Dear Cindy: Your parents sound innocent but completely forgetful. Did Mom forget what it's like to first get breasts and pubic hair, how it's thrilling and private and you don't want to show men, especially, ugh, your dad?
Did Dad forget that a boy at puberty is hard-wired to be aroused by the naked female form — even (sometimes) if it's his mother or sister? We get lots of mail from boys who suffer horribly from clueless mothers and sisters parading around nude (see our June 19, 2010, column, "Hey, Sis, put some clothes on").
The panel recommends talking to your parents, and frankly, nothing will change if you don't. Unfortunately, most parents won't automatically accommodate your request, they will ask "why" their nakedness bothers you — yes, the dreaded question that makes you not want to bother.
Parents: It's important to inquire about the possibility of abuse, but your teen cannot and should not have to answer "why" questions that tap into the normal feelings of puberty mentioned above.
If this happens to you, just say, "Nothing inappropriate is going on, but we're young women now and would prefer that you wear clothes." Repeat as needed. If it doesn't work, avert your eyes and lock your door.
Note to parents: See that bathrobe? The dream parent automatically starts using it as their kids approach puberty. He or she doesn't wait to be asked to cover up (or not asked, as is most often the case).
If you happen to have brave kids who do ask, do them a favor and just reach for the bathrobe. Don't defend your right to be nude. And don't act like there is something wrong with your kid for not feeling cozy about familial displays of nudity once they hit puberty or pre-puberty. It is quite normal. (I would, however, in a safe and confidential moment, inquire about sexual abuse, just in case.)
If Colin got you wondering what Freud would think, Freud was right: Sex rules our lives. And we want our sex lives to be healthy. Unhealthy sexual acting-out has been exposed among the most apparently upstanding individuals — in our churches, ashrams, clubs, camps, locker rooms and homes. It is a tragedy for the children and adolescents involved.
Many families are relaxed about nudity, and the vast majority of these situations are completely innocent and natural. Nonetheless, there isn't an adult female over 40 who doesn't know multiple women who were sexually abused as children by whoever their father figure was (it takes till about 40 for many of them to tell their friends).
In other words, there is an archetypal instinct in teen girls to "cover up" and avoid older men who aren't, and that instinct is totally healthy and protective. Please support it. — Lauren
Lauren Forcella co-writes Straight Talk TNT with a panel of more than 70 teens and young adults. To ask a question or become a panelist, click StraightTalkTNT.com or write to P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.