Son had an erection, how should I respond? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Last night we pulled into our driveway after DS(11) baseball game. He gets out of the car and says look mom. I look to see him pointing to his obvious erection. He was smiling....proud I think I laughed and told him to show his dad. Dad laughed. I told my son (not shaming) that he should not point that out to girls or boys either. He asked why I laughed then. I said it was because I was surprised.

Surprised is an understatement. I was caught in a parenting moment that I was really unsure how to handle. I told DH that he should discuss this with DS. DS is not modest about his body but he is at the age where some things need to be private and we are gently trying to teach him this. I worry though that he is this relaxed and unihibited when we are not around. How do I teach him appropriateness without shaming?
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#2 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 01:00 PM
 
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I think it's awesome that he was proud and like, "no big deal" about it!

No advice, just for having a confident, open kid.

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#3 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 04:23 PM
 
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I kinda think he can safely show it to his friends though.

Pretty sure they will think it's funny too.
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#4 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 04:56 PM
 
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I think you can tell him that somethings are private, and that it is not appropriate to show people. At 11, it seems that he should have some awareness of social norms, and like it or not walking around and showing off your erection is not a social norm. Granted boys will be boys, no need to make a big deal about it just tell him that "yes, his body is amazing and does lots of neat things, but it's not appropriate to show them to everyone."
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#5 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Jessy! I really like your perspective.

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I kinda think he can safely show it to his friends though.

Pretty sure they will think it's funny too.
You think so? I have no idea. I would think it would be embarrassing for most kids. I don't remember talking about AF or anything sexual with friends at age 11. I really want to make sure he's appropriate and I don't want his innocence to be taken the wrong way. YKWIM?

Also as his mom I think I have to establish some boundaries between us. How do I do that? I do talk with him about the "birds and the bees" but how do I talk about/be open about his sexual development without knowing too much. Gosh I hope I'm being clear. DH is more old fashioned and has a tough time being open with DS. Oh I dont know, maybe I'm overthinking this????
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#6 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 05:53 PM
 
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I wasn't clear from your post. Does he have the background to understand what was happening? Does he know what an erection is, why it might happen and what function it serves? If not, that's where I'd start is making sure he's got plenty of good information about puberty and what is going on with his body.
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#7 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 06:42 PM
 
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Thanks Jessy! I really like your perspective.



You think so? I have no idea. I would think it would be embarrassing for most kids. I don't remember talking about AF or anything sexual with friends at age 11. I really want to make sure he's appropriate and I don't want his innocence to be taken the wrong way. YKWIM?

Also as his mom I think I have to establish some boundaries between us. How do I do that? I do talk with him about the "birds and the bees" but how do I talk about/be open about his sexual development without knowing too much. Gosh I hope I'm being clear. DH is more old fashioned and has a tough time being open with DS. Oh I dont know, maybe I'm overthinking this????
Your son is 11?

There is no such thing as too much. He is about to hit puberty if he hasn't already and should be prepared as much as possible with the truth about puberty, his body, and what will change from his parents.


I might be wrong but it sounds as though you are a little uncomfortable with the subject, but you shouldn't be.

He should know that the erections he is having are normal and not much he can do about them. That when out in public it isn't 'proper' to show off your genetils to anyone who will look, because eventually someone you don't want to look just might look anyways.

And that the changes he is about to experiance is completely normal. Soon he will be having sexual thoughts about the people he is attracted to, if he isn't already, and he should be equipped with information from his parents about them instead of left to his own devices to try to figure them out. Trust me, no matter how much information you give him he is still going to do some experiamentation on his own.



There is no such thing as too much information, but there is such thing as not enough.

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#8 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh my....this came out soo wrong. I do talk to my son about sex, puberty, girls; all that good stuff. He has had a sex ed class this year and also has a couple books on puberty. I am not uncomfortable about discussing the subject but I think a line should be drawn between a mom and son. I explained normal body functions happen but I'm trying to tell him gently that I don't "need" to know when he has an erection, is masterbating, having wet dreams etc. You know "the details".
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#9 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 07:31 PM
 
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Well imo the line you want to set up is superficial, there really isn't a NEED for it in my opinion until he decides to stop telling you stuff.

Trust me when I say your wanting him to stop telling or showing you things will come back to bite you one day.

ETA:
One day when you think there should be a need for him to be open with you about something on his body he may not feel it is appropriate to talk to you about it....

Lets say for instance he contracts an STD as a teenager but has been taught there should be a line?

He will decide one day he doesn't want his mom to see him naked, but I wouldnt push for the day to come any faster than it is.

I think mine started just around 11 or 12. It was 5th grade when I didn't want my mom to come into the bathroom when I was taking a bath.



You don't need to teach him, it will show up all on its own.

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#10 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 07:45 PM
 
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I think instead of teaching/telling him what is socially appropriate (which is arbritary), just tell him that YOU don't want it pointed out, that it makes YOU uncomfortable. You have a right to explain to him your own boundaries, but I do think when you try to enforce these boundaries as social rules, than you may squash his nature exuberance.

I imagine that he may just point it out to one of his friends and they will either say "eww gross" (which, along with your reaction that you aren't comfortable with it, will help him learn the social rules) OR the friend will say "I have them too," and the boys will bond a bit over their body stuff, bonding that will serve him well when he hits puperty and body/sex stuff becomes more taboo.

I guess I feel like he will learn the social rules best from his friends and from TV/culture (and by 14 or so, he will know that in our society bodies tend to be thinsg people are embarassed about, that don't smell right, that do weird things like erections). The best you can do is counteract these cultural rules is to create a safe space in yoru home where bodies are normal (and private does sound like a euphenism for "hide"). That space needs to be safe for you too, which is why you can ask him not to point out his errections to you, but I don't think you need to do more.
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#11 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well imo the line you want to set up is superficial, there really isn't a NEED for it in my opinion until he decides to stop telling you stuff.

Trust me when I say your wanting him to stop telling or showing you things will come back to bite you one day.

ETA:
One day when you think there should be a need for him to be open with you about something on his body he may not feel it is appropriate to talk to you about it....

Lets say for instance he contracts an STD as a teenager but has been taught there should be a line?

He will decide one day he doesn't want his mom to see him naked, but I wouldnt push for the day to come any faster than it is.

I think mine started just around 11 or 12. It was 5th grade when I didn't want my mom to come into the bathroom when I was taking a bath.



You don't need to teach him, it will show up all on its own.
I see what your saying. I want him to know he can come to me. I really do. I think I can maintain an open relationship with him about sex. I just want it to remain healthy. Coming to me about birth control or STD is something I want to encourage. Are you saying you would discuss the details of your childs sex life with them?
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#12 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 08:02 PM
 
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I see what your saying. I want him to know he can come to me. I really do. I think I can maintain an open relationship with him about sex. I just want it to remain healthy. Coming to me about birth control or STD is something I want to encourage. Are you saying you would discuss the details of your childs sex life with them?
Yes and No.

I am saying that I am not going to ask questions about it, but I definately won't turn them away if they have questions or issues with it. Regardless of their age.

For instance if my son or daughter (now that I have both) Decide at 13 years old to become sexually active I am going to do what I can to educate them about the risks but there is not much you can do to control this short of locking them in their bedrooms till they are old enough in your eyes to start experiamenting. And I also want them to be comfortable enough to ask me for birthcontrol BEFORE they are serious about having sex. Not after.

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#13 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 08:04 PM
 
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I see what your saying. I want him to know he can come to me. I really do. I think I can maintain an open relationship with him about sex. I just want it to remain healthy. Coming to me about birth control or STD is something I want to encourage. Are you saying you would discuss the details of your childs sex life with them?
I discussed details of my sex life with my mother when I was a teenager. I hope my children and I have that open of a relationship.

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#14 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think instead of teaching/telling him what is socially appropriate (which is arbritary), just tell him that YOU don't want it pointed out, that it makes YOU uncomfortable. You have a right to explain to him your own boundaries, but I do think when you try to enforce these boundaries as social rules, than you may squash his nature exuberance.

I imagine that he may just point it out to one of his friends and they will either say "eww gross" (which, along with your reaction that you aren't comfortable with it, will help him learn the social rules) OR the friend will say "I have them too," and the boys will bond a bit over their body stuff, bonding that will serve him well when he hits puperty and body/sex stuff becomes more taboo.

I guess I feel like he will learn the social rules best from his friends and from TV/culture (and by 14 or so, he will know that in our society bodies tend to be thinsg people are embarassed about, that don't smell right, that do weird things like erections). The best you can do is counteract these cultural rules is to create a safe space in yoru home where bodies are normal (and private does sound like a euphenism for "hide"). That space needs to be safe for you too, which is why you can ask him not to point out his errections to you, but I don't think you need to do more.
Thanks mamawanabe,

I am still unsure how to parent a preteen boy. I never thought about learning social rules from his friends(that scares me a little). I guess I want to protect him from embarassment. I know I have to start loosening the reigns too. I will try. Talk to me in ten years when my youngest will be 12 and I'll be a pro and know all the answers (if I survive).
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#15 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 08:14 PM
 
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Thanks mamawanabe,

I am still unsure how to parent a preteen boy. I never thought about learning social rules from his friends(that scares me a little). I guess I want to protect him from embarassment. I know I have to start loosening the reigns too. I will try. Talk to me in ten years when my youngest will be 12 and I'll be a pro and know all the answers (if I survive).
Good luck trying to save him from embarassment in jr high. Breathing is embassing when you are 13.

In jr. high, being "normal" is the holy grail (constantly sought after and yet impossible). I don't think we need to help our kids learn what "normal" is because they get a boot camp in "normal" in 7th grade. They learn the rules (or they don't - but mom's explanations aren't gonna make a difference) Better to create a space at home where weird is 100% acceptable.

I swear I spent jr high learning how to be normal and college relearning to be wierd. I think this is a pretty typical trajectory.
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#16 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 09:46 PM
 
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Hmm...am I the only person who finds this situation a little unusual? Every boy that age I have ever known has been very modest and reticent about his body. I can't imagine any young male I have ever known showing off his erection to his mother.

I ran this by dh and he was like "ummm...something is not right there." He says it sounds like a red flag to him, not really normal boy behavior.
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#17 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 10:14 PM
 
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I have to agree with Belgiansheep dog....something doesn't seem/feel right about this situation.

I have a cousin that was very open with his sexuality with his parents...he just got released from prison for crack cocaine, male prostitution, and even though he hasn't been caught by the police he was caught and my grandfather watched him close because he like to peep and tom.

I know my son's penis will get hard because it is stimulate (or at that/this age rubbed the wrong way). I find the announcement is not my business, that it is happening his business. It wouldn't be acceptable for my dh to point out that he has an erection to our kids. Why would the other way be OK? It isn't like your child had an unplanned erection that is inhibiting something. Like him getting ready to take out trash, he hits the corner of the couch and his penis gets hard because stimulation. I could see him pointing out or insinuating it not be the best time to take out trash.

I want to have open conversation and my children come to me but at the same time there are boundaries. Having erection or being sexually aroused isn't something I need to know about in most cases.
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#18 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmm...am I the only person who finds this situation a little unusual? Every boy that age I have ever known has been very modest and reticent about his body. I can't imagine any young male I have ever known showing off his erection to his mother.

I ran this by dh and he was like "ummm...something is not right there." He says it sounds like a red flag to him, not really normal boy behavior.
A red flag in what way?

I will say that my DS is probably a little more immature when it comes to sexuality. My neighbor who's son is best friend with my son could probably teach sex ed. I think they are a little to open with their son (talking about not getting girls pregnant, etc). I haven't gotten to that point with my son and as of right now he doesn't even like girls yet. I know it's coming though.

We have only (in the last year) encouraged him to bathe in private and take his clothes into the bathroom to change. We don't walk around naked but we aren't prudish either. He is a boy that still is very innocent, secure, trusting and very, very loving. That is really the issue. Where do I step in and take away some of that innocence by explaining what is appropriate, and when, where and why.

BSD,
I get a sense of where your coming from but I can assure you that it is nothing more than childhood innocence (although not age appropriate) and I want to encourage him to respond age appropriately.
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#19 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have to agree with Belgiansheep dog....something doesn't seem/feel right about this situation.

I have a cousin that was very open with his sexuality with his parents...he just got released from prison for crack cocaine, male prostitution, and even though he hasn't been caught by the police he was caught and my grandfather watched him close because he like to peep and tom.

I know my son's penis will get hard because it is stimulate (or at that/this age rubbed the wrong way). I find the announcement is not my business, that it is happening his business. It wouldn't be acceptable for my dh to point out that he has an erection to our kids. Why would the other way be OK? It isn't like your child had an unplanned erection that is inhibiting something. Like him getting ready to take out trash, he hits the corner of the couch and his penis gets hard because stimulation. I could see him pointing out or insinuating it not be the best time to take out trash.

I want to have open conversation and my children come to me but at the same time there are boundaries. Having erection or being sexually aroused isn't something I need to know about in most cases.
This is the first time he has ever done this. We were in the car coming home from the ice cream shop after his team won the baseball game. He was asking if he could have more ice cream when we got home. I took a wild guess that it was the promise of more ice cream that got him excited.

Where would he learn that pointing out an erection to his mom is not appropriate? I'm getting the impression that some think he should just know.
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#20 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 11:26 PM
 
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As for red flag for what...hard to say without knowing more. Things that come to my mind as possibilities are some kind of inappropriate media exposure, a friend who has issues, sexual abuse or harrassment (maybe at school), or some kind of issue with understanding social cues (perhaps related to a learning disability or mental illness).

And I am sorry but I don't think this is just a "naive" or "childish" thing. I mean maybe I could see it as normal for a VERY young kid--like a preschooler--to go around showing off like that and not know it was inappropriate, but I'd think any kid from school age on up would usually know better. As for how does a kid know better? Well if everything is going as usual, you pick it up. You notice that adults and your peers don't usually show off their private parts. So it wouldn't occur to you to do so. Socialization, in short.

If a kid hasn't picked up on "it's taboo to show mom my erection" by 11 years of age, I'd say there's another issue. Not sure what issue, but there's an issue.
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#21 of 57 Old 06-12-2007, 11:36 PM
 
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Where do I step in and take away some of that innocence by explaining what is appropriate, and when, where and why.
Why do you feel arming your son with the necessary information about sex and puberty is taking away some of his innocence?

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#22 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 12:08 AM
 
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I will say that my DS is probably a little more immature when it comes to sexuality. My neighbor who's son is best friend with my son could probably teach sex ed. I think they are a little to open with their son (talking about not getting girls pregnant, etc). I haven't gotten to that point with my son and as of right now he doesn't even like girls yet. I know it's coming though.
Are you saying that your neighbor - an adult - is talking to your son about sex?
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#23 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 12:27 AM
 
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I again agree with with Belgiansheep dog about social cues he should be picking up on. If he was 4 doing this I wouldn't think much but at his age there is a difference.

Also, at 11 I doubt the though of ice cream gave him an erections. At that stage of puberty an underwear rub, little breeze, relaxation, the urge to pee can cause them. They are ussually uncontrollable and embarrassing.

I also don't think you have done your child a favor by keeping him ignorant. 12 year olds get pregnant. I realize your ds can't get pregnant but he could daddy. I have worked with boy scouts. I have seen 12 year olds that look like men then others so far from it. In a blink of an eye these changes can happen. His friends are going through changes and some are thinking about sex, masterbation, and sexual pleasures. Others are not. Both are ok.
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#24 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 12:50 AM
 
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Don't boys have erections from birth on?

My only concern is that he needs to understand that pointing out his penis to people, especially while erect, might be considered sexual harrassment in some situations.
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#25 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 01:49 AM
 
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My only concern is that he needs to understand that pointing out his penis to people, especially while erect, might be considered sexual harrassment in some situations.
True. i hadn't thought of that.

As for the red flag stuff. 11 can be really young. I imagine in a family really open with bodies that this could happen and not mean anything. Peer stuff (where most socialization happens) doesn't kick in for some kids till 11 or 12 - espeically if the child has a really secure family life. I definitly think my brother could have joked about it at 8 or so in my family (my parents were super open and uncensoring about sex stuff). By 11, probably not, but he was pretty mature for his age. I know 11 year olds who are still really "young" in many ways.
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#26 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 02:13 AM
 
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Don't boys have erections from birth on?

My only concern is that he needs to understand that pointing out his penis to people, especially while erect, might be considered sexual harrassment in some situations.
:
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#27 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 04:31 AM
 
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I'm gonna have to go with BSD on this one. I'm a little concerned that at 11 he doesn't understand that pointing out an erection is socially unacceptable. I think almost all kids would be embarassed. My first thought was whether or not he had Aspergers or another special need that made social cues difficult to read. But I've never had a preteen boy. So maybe he was just surprised and thought it was funny. I'd watch it pretty closely though.

I would definitely work hard on teaching appropriate social skills/ behavior. True, junior high will be a crash course in normal and teen expectations, but there are rules of social behavior that parents can teach. Not just related to one's body and sex, but just general social living. You teach your kid not to pick their nose in public, that one should say "excuse me" if you burp (although many exceptions with peers apply), close the bathroom door when there is company over, etc. I'd be more conscious than usual about doing this, and I'd watch him for red flags of difficulties socially or emotionally. If he had many, I'd probably get an evaluation. And definitely add safety in regards to sex and adults to my sex ed talks.
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#28 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 05:49 AM
 
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I'm wondering if maybe he figured that his parents would notice the erection, so he decided to address it first and make light of it. It could be that on some level he IS becoming more aware that erections are not always perceived as "socially appropriate," so he was managing it the best way he knew how.

If he's never been taught by his parents that there's anything to be ashamed or embarrassed about when it comes to things like erections, that seems like a really creative, appropriate and direct way to address the situation. It speaks volumes about how much he trusts you guys. Your DS sounds like he's doing just fine to me!
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#29 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 06:57 AM
 
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I have a friend whose sone would have done that (and there is a similar story but he was a little younger) with his mom. They are very close and I don't think inappropriately so. He is socially adept but still loves his mother to pieces. They're the kind of family (and I know many "mainstream" families that do this) where the mom & teenagers & preteens still don't worry about being naked around each other. I don't think social acceptability is at issue when you are alone with your parents. He did not do this with the school bus driver. Home and parents are supposed to be where you are safe to be goofy.
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#30 of 57 Old 06-13-2007, 08:04 AM
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think about the reaction this boy did get from his family. Everyone had a good chuckle about the situation. Why would he feel inhibited. By 11yo, he knows how his mother will react to this kind of situation. He knows how his family veiws this information. I was more surprised at mom's reaction than the child's behavior. "Go show your father" Not sure I would have done that.... Every family has it's own set of social norms and acceptablity. There is no right or wrong. If you wanted to teach him a boundary line, that was the time to do it. Not neccesarily chuckle with him and tell him to go show his father. I'm not sure after the fact is ok. It kind of makes you look decietful. You laughed with me and made me feel ok and now you are telling me you were uncomfortable? Perhaps waiting until the next time the situation appears is more appropriate.

There is no right or wrong within a family unit. There is only the boundaries that each family has. There are some families that are adamantly opposed to co-sleeping and others that will swear by it. Neither is correct or wrong. Just do what is comfortable with you and your husband and it can remain within the confines of your own family.
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