26 answers

Peeping Teen

I am VERY concerned about my 16 y.o. boy. He had been a perfect son until this weekend. He's never been girl crazy, he doesn't look at dirty magazines, or movies. I've never caught him staring at girls or rubber necking to see a girl. I thought he was a late bloomer or just not interested in girls for now. Well, a good friend of mine (female, pretty, nice body) spent the weekend with us and was taking a shower in a bathroom with no curtain on the window. She caught him peeking through the window! I was shocked to say the least and didn't believe her at first, but when I saw scrapes on his hand I had no doubt it was him. The window is high up and he had to step on something to look in. I was very embarrased and I felt bad for my friend. I felt let down and disappointed at my son. I know he is going through a lot of hormonal changes and my husband (my son's step father of three years) says it's normal. But he too is also shocked to see him go from almost not interested in girls to peeking into the shower. My husband is planning on talking to him later today, but I need reassurance that this is "normal" and I shouldn't see my son much differently. I know what he did was bad and had it been anyone else, they would have called the police and he could have gotten into serious trouble. Please, any advice on how to deal with this emotionally. I thought I had raised him to be respectful towards all women, but I guess not?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hate to freak you out, but I don't think this is normal for a 16 year old at all. 9, 10 maybe, but that ship sailed a while ago. I have not read any of the other comments yet, but my guess is those with smaller kids will think it's normal, but trust me, at this age it is not.

If you said he was girl crazy I'd be a bit less worried but whenever we see behavior that is completely out of character that's a red flag. That he has been so repressed about girls and then act's this extremely would have me concerned as well. I have teenager's too, and the key is to not make him feel shame for what he did, rather, ask him why. Tr to do as little talking as possible and as much listening as possible.

If it were my child my first call would be to a reputable therapist's office. This needs to be worked out now. Good luck.

More Answers

Wow, Annette
You sure have a lot of different responses here. Please read them all and take the advice with a grain of salt. I am a licensed clinical social worker and have worked with teens. Let me tell you, that this is normal. Yes, he disrespected your friend and should definitely apologize, but that does not mean he is bad. Just talk to him about respecting other people's privacy and let your husband talk to him about more appropriate ways to satisfy his curiousity. Better yet, let your husband deal with it all, if your son gets along with him.

Good luck. Remember he is 16, totally normal, but maybe what he did was not so smart. Focus on that

1 mom found this helpful

Please take the advice of someone who has been there in the same situation. The scenario...he doesn’t show an interest in girls (normal, acceptable sexual behavior for his age) but he climbs up walls and peers in windows at your naked friends (grown women). This is in no way normal or acceptable behavior and you can not solve the problem by having a talk with him. Trust me, it is not harmless. Run, don’t walk, to therapy with this child. He has a problem and it will only get worse. You don’t know yet what other inappropriate behavior he is taking part in. Don’t wait till you do. Get him the help he needs right away. Believe me, I wish I had when I first saw the signs. I waited and will forever be sorry that I did.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Annette :) ... the first thing that came to my mind was an experience I had when I was around 20 yrs. old. My fiance and I were staying at his parents' house while they were on vacation one summer. I was alone at home, out back in the pool, floating peacefully, tanning my naked backside. Then, I heard some movement. I looked up and finally saw 3 boys (neighbors)sitting up in one of their adjacent backyard trees, looking down staring at me. I sure could tell that they didn't mean to get caught; and I did call the mother of one of the boys I recognized. Now, I know they aren't as old as your son, however, they're boys. They are always curious, I think. Perhaps you and your husband have thought wrong of your son and he has had interests and kept it to himself? Some 16 year olds just DON'T like to share things with their parents. If he feels either of you nit-pick at him, judge him constantly, or his environment doesn't let him express his true feelings- i.e. he thinks he cannot do so comfortably without upsetting you or your husband- then I'm sure he's allowed you to mold him into what he thinks you want him to be. As I sit here and write this, I mean no disrespect toward you and the tone of this response holds nothing against you. My intention is not for this to read that way in any way, shape or form. Anyway, I am very close with a boy just your son's age, whose mother, my best friend, says is perfect, too. That "perfect" perception is too much for a kid to live up to and doesn't leave room for error... however, this boy is more like a "nephew" to me, and at times, another son. He is a wonderful person! I have never seen him do anything wrong and he never gets into trouble. His grades are great and he is just an all-around teriffic kid; however, he doesn't say A LOT to my friend or her husband because of the reactions, criticisms, and the whatevers he thinks he's going to get from both of them, but mainly his Dad. Getting close to this kid is not easy. His emotions are not shared easily. As for your son, he may be completely different, he may not be. As a parent, I believe it is first important to look at ourselves before we see fault in our children. So here, you can simply go back to my statement I made about perceiving him incorrectly. I'm not suggesting you are bad parents~ just don't feel down on your son. He isn't bad because he was watching a woman. His choice in ways in which it was accomplished was absolutely not the best, however, he surely didn't mean to get caught! Think of how embarrassed he must be! It's hard enough to be a teenager nowdays. Don't make him feel abnormal for doing something entirely normal. I grew up with boys and always preferred playing with them. I've heard them say and do so many ridiculous things... just think about all the embarrassing stuff a 16 yr old girl would do to get the attention of a cute guy she sees! I know your situation is more intense in your mind right now, but my point is that I think he's fine. If your gut- NOT YOUR WORRIES- tells you he might have a problem with peeping, and he gets caught again, then get him some help. I hope he doesn't get into trouble again. I think when he's older you'll have a great story to tease him about :); for now just let it rest. And just to touch on your last comment about being disrespectful to all women... I think what he did was just make a mistake. If you don't mind my saying this, here might be a good example of where you could look and rethink about how heavy you're laying on the shame. Again, if he doesn't get acceptance, support, and forgiveness at home for making mistakes, then you could very well be keeping or pushing him away. Through all of your actions, you continuously reiterate to your son how you value him and how he will perceive his own worth; you show your feelings for him which can build him up and make him strong emotionally, or keep knocking him down as he grows. Please never forget that mistakes are wonderful things should we choose to learn and grow from them!!! :) Welcome the mistakes without shame, with an open, Light-filled heart and foresee much laughter. Allow him to have a safe space for self-expression- good and bad. What you think and what he feels might not be the same. Every feeling he has is valid whether you agree with it or not... feelings CANNOT be judged. If you are worried about his respect toward women, you also might want to privately re-examine your relationship with his stepdad in the sense- does your son see the stepdad treating you well and speaking to you nicely/politely??? Are you setting a good example of being well respected?? Does your son have any complaints against your husband? Back to what I said before... just look at yourself first :) You never know how a child or a teen, or even an adult will internalize what has been said. Just be clear and loving and don't worry. He's normal so be happy :)... and the hormones? Between the two of you, it must be quite entertaining at times. :)

Good luck with your new Little One when she arrives!

Blessings,
Jennifer

I think it is COMPLETELY normal behavior. Raging hormones!!!
Maybe you haven't noticed that he has been interested in girls before but little do most parents know about their teenagers. Seriously, how do you know he hasn't looked in dirty magazines or watched a dirty movie? we cant keep track for our kids 24 hours per day....but its only normal. Don't worry about it.

Hi Annette,

I don't have a teenage boy, but I do have 3 younger boys, so I know my day will come when the hormones will hit too. After reading the book "bringing up boys" by Dr. James Dobson, I know that what your son did is NORMAL, though very embarrassing as a parent I'm sure. I STRONGLY SUGGEST you get this book. I'm finding the time to read pages here and there and it is well worth my time investment. Take care.

I must disagree with the majority of these posts that perceive that climbing onto an object for the purposes of peeping at an unsuspecting woman while she is naked and showering is “normal” and that A. N should not be concerned and just let it blow over after a short talk. Developmentally, his interest and curiosity ARE normal, but the task of this stage is to navigate satisfying one’s own curiosity and urges WITHOUT violating the rights and privacy of others. Yes, he has hormones, but the bigger problem is that he was willing to sacrifice the rights of the mother’s friend in order to satisfy his own “curiosity.” I also suspect that there is more to it than mere curiosity, as I think 16 is a bit late for that. I suspect that his interest has been there for some time and that his secrecy about it is more problematic. I agree that professional help should be sought from a Psychologist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or Licensed Clinical Social Worker who (and this is very important) SPECIALIZES in treating adolescent sexual issues and who will work in a family context. This isn’t just HIS problem, but the communication issue is all of yours’. He clearly needs guidance in how to satisfy his own needs without violating others and that is hard to obtain if he doesn't feel that he has someone to talk to about it. With the assistance of a skilled therapist, this can be done without shaming him regarding his sexuality.

As a licensed psychologist, I must add a disclaimer that the foregoing post in no way constitutes professional advice, as I have never met nor evaluated any of the participants.

Let me just say that the fact that your son is 16 and just looking is a miracle. When I was younger and from some of the stories I hear now, 16 year olds are having sex and children so you should be thankful that all he did was look. Not to disregard what he did but just to say that he's a boy and he has a curiosity as any other teen his age would. It's normal for a kid to want to know what a persons naked body is and I don't think you should get defensive or change how you feel or be disappointed if your son decides to look. The only think he did that was wrong was peeping at the young lady but you should not chastise him for being curious. You should be open and honest with your son about sex and about what he's going through and talk to him instead of making him feel like a bad person for doing what he did. If he feels like you are going to get on him about it, then he may feel like he has to hide things from you and he can't talk to you at all. Which will make the situation much worse.

As a parent we have to always have an open mind and remember that we were kids once and had urges just like your son does. It's perfectly normal and you should find ways to be open with your son and discuss sex and help him find ways to express his feelings and not make him feel like having these feelings and urges is wrong because it's not.

Normal, Be glad it's girls. Curiousity gets us all at some point or another.

Simply have your hubby talk to him as he would have wanted to be talked to at this age. Not as a parent who is looking down on him, but a friend he can come back to and ask questions because he trusts him to understand. Have your hubby wait a couple days, to think about his own feelings and this situation so he can be calm and rational. I'm sure he feels ashamed, (probable not that he was looking, but that he got caught). It's a boy thing, when he understands more about the feelings he's dealing with the shame for looking will come. Good luck! Boys will be boys. J.

Your boy is a healthy 16 year old. Don't be too angry with him. He's curious, and though it's hard as his mother, have a sense of humor about it. Hopefully your friend has one too! Remember being 16, and how innocent you are. As long as your friend's okay, try to separate out mom anxiety. He's just trying to get a glimpse of what's ahead. Trust your guts, you know your boy's heart. Believe in him.

I promise you that your beautiful son is normal. I grew up with 5 brothers and raised a son on my own and am well aware of the stage your son is going thru. Try to remember he is still a young person and his reasoning is not yet adult. ( thus the peeping ) His hormones are all of a sudden raging and his body changing and he is not even aware of all of this going on at once in his body, even for him it is weird. I assure you this is a very natural curiosity to see what a woman's body looks like and one way or another he is going to find out. ( typically this is where the playboy magazines come in ) I hope your husband can help with this.
Best wishes gong thru his teenage years with him.

Tell us what happened...

OOps that is a bad one, heres the thing yes he is a young man with a young mans body, and he is seeking his thrill on blue berry hill, but mom what he did is a big no no, and he knew it. I have to say he should be in big trouble, and he needs to write an apoligize letter to your friend. I would ground his butt for a month , this is not only about the talk, this is about being disrepectful , he was caught doing something that could of gone to the police, as a sex offender, he needs to be in big trouble.. then discuss the sex talk, sorry if I was the friend I would of chewed his butt out right then.

I don't have experience with this yet, as my son is only almost 3 years old. But I just want to say that this is not a reflection of bad parenting on your part. I'm sure you did a wonderful job raising your son to be respectful towards women. And I don't think you should look at him differently, either. What a confusing time for young men (and women). And our society sends so many confusing messages to our youth surrounding sexuality. This incident can be used as a good starting point for a dialogue between your husband and your son and maybe you, too. I do think that it is normal for your son to be curious and not know exactly how to deal with his sexuality in a healthy adult way, after all he's half man and half child now. Yikes! But maybe if he senses any shame from you, he'll feel shamed himself, which might cause more strange behavior. You're still a wonderful and responsible mother and he's still a wonderful boy just going through some overwhelming changes. At least that's my opinion.

This is totally normal, and odds are good your son has been passively interested in girls for a while. Talk calmly to your son about respecting people's privacy, and if you're comfortable with it maybe even have his step dad give him some of the less raunchy dirty magazines so he has a safe and appropriate way of checking out women. But it's normal, and you should definately not overreact.

No matter what a male is a male by nature. I am sure you have taught him to respect women but this is just one of those things that is normal and requires a talk from dad. As long as dad doesn't condemn him for it and explains respecting a woman's boundaries, all should be fine. In the mind of a 16 year old boy it's a thrill to have an attractive naked woman taking a shower in his house and hormones make boys do stupid things. You don't have to worry unless it becomes a regular thing and the neighbors are calling. Let some time pass so he doesn't think you are shunning his behavior and consider putting some of those Artscape Window Films from Home Depot on windows like that. Afterall, your typical teenage boy looked through the window so it's an option for anyone. I never understood why they stopped putting opaque glass in those windows in the first place.

hi annette,
i usually don't make the time to respond to postings as i don't have the time, but i made an exception in your case.
(i have a 15 1/2 yr. honors student, goalkeeper on a soccer team and vocalist in the choir & 20 yr. son on the university of oregon football team. so been there, done that.)

first, annette, calm the heck down. i hope your son isn't "perfect" as no child is perfect. does he do well in school? is he respectful? is he responsible? does he have manners? does he avoid drugs? avoid most forms of alcohol? those are the big ticket items.

he was perfect "until this weekend?" i hope he has looked at dirty magazines, movies, staring at girls, etc. that's natural & normal despite if you've never caught him doing any of that. if he hasn't, then i'd be concerned. thank goodness he is acting normal. he's going through a lot of hormonal changes and will for many years. get ready, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

he may or may not be a late bloomer, but regardless, if you overreact w/r/t to this minor situation, he'll likely hold back telling the really important things....which yes, are coming even if you don't know that yet.

seriously, if any boy that age and older had a chance to get a glimpse of a pretty naked gal with a good body, they would do it and so would other gals to. and yes, boys will sometimes climb on or step on something just to quash their curiousity. also, what he did wasn't terribly bad. what made it bad was that he got caught. (did he film her? no. did he take pictures with his camera? no. did he get other friends to come over? no. so, take it easy mom!)

getting a quick and free glimpse of a naked gal doesn't mean he isn't respectful towards "all women." he was curious and normal. you may want to encourage your husband to buy from time to time playboy, etc. and share it with your son. don't be horrified by that; at least you'll know about it and your son will know you're not hiding anything and am open & honest to talk about his feelings, thoughts, curiousity, etc.

finally, he's already 16 yrs and he's just at the beginning of the hormone stage and getting interested in girls. don't overreact but use the opportunity for you both to discuss the subject, with humor, his thoughts and feelings. remember, this is only the beginning of what is yet to come. i know that on my end too!

mom Michele (who gets compliments all the time about her kids)

This is totally normal. He might simply be just beginning to show interest in girls. He could have been curious. He might actually have had an interest in girls for awhile now but been careful to keep it secret because he didn't want to be teased or have you become concerned. This is simply a matter of explaining that the feelings are normal and natural, but that they should be controlled. And reminding your son that a woman is a person with feelings and it is wrong to treat her like an object that can be touched or looked at whenever he desires it. He will learn to control himself, he just needs help understanding his feelings and learning what is appropriate. Don't forget to tell him that you love him after you discuss his peeping activities. He needs to know that even when he makes a mistake, you are going to love him.

I still have very young children, but it sounds very normal to me. After all, he's male. Talk to him about right from wrong and that it's completely inappropriate to watch people in the shower. Tell him that if it was anyone else, they would have called the police and if he does it again, that may be what happens. I'm sure that he is respectful of women and just let curiosity get the best of him.

Hate to freak you out, but I don't think this is normal for a 16 year old at all. 9, 10 maybe, but that ship sailed a while ago. I have not read any of the other comments yet, but my guess is those with smaller kids will think it's normal, but trust me, at this age it is not.

If you said he was girl crazy I'd be a bit less worried but whenever we see behavior that is completely out of character that's a red flag. That he has been so repressed about girls and then act's this extremely would have me concerned as well. I have teenager's too, and the key is to not make him feel shame for what he did, rather, ask him why. Tr to do as little talking as possible and as much listening as possible.

If it were my child my first call would be to a reputable therapist's office. This needs to be worked out now. Good luck.

Annette,
Look at all the teen movies, someone always peeps. He may be respectful but he is also a curious boy.

You are getting the spectrum of advice, aren't you? I have to admit, I fall into the Susan C, Pay A, and Jenn D kind of thinking. I won't repeat what they've already said, but maybe expound. Of course we know that males enjoy the sight of the female body. No one has to be surprised by that. The concern is the "gap" you have observed between his apparent disinterest in girls up until now and the extra measures he took to view your friend.

Just because you seek the assistance of a professional, doesn't mean you're freaking out or making him feel shamed. Talk to him normally. Don't belittle him. Just explain that you feel like this particular incident is more than you know how to handle. It's okay as the mom to not have answers to everything (and this is a big one!) We are all just moms giving you advice as we view it from our perspective. However, a professional who actually works with teenage boys or peepers all day long will ACTUALLY know whether your son needs long term therapy or not. In one session a good therapist can tell you what your course of action should be. In fact, you could even go the first time alone to get a consult.

I also want to point out that just because you don't see any more behavior of this kind doesn't mean your son isn't doing it. He may find ways of perfecting the secrecy so that he doesn't get "caught" again like this time.

It's so hard being a mom, isn't it? I pray for you to have wisdom and discernment to know exactly what is best for your son and your family.

This is normal. Listen to your husband, he's a man.
Your son just got caught, and you are very embarrased.
YOU are ashamed. YOU are disappointed in your kid. It's all about YOU. I understand, I'm a mom of teens and when they do something wrong and especially in public, I feel so ashamed. But it's not about us.
Let it go.
Accept what it is for what it is. Good for you to leave this to your man.
Keep being the sweet Mother and don't make this "HUGE" by getting involved in men's issues. Better yet, let him see how your husband treats you with respect, kisses you, hugs you, and he will learn proper ways. Plus, he may be having girl problems. Look at the bigger picture.
If you go professional, get a "behavioral psych" not just any shrink that will automatically make this a "profound issue" and take it out of proportion.
However, I asked my own 14 year old and he said it is a "discusting" act. Looking, curiosity in movies is normal.

First off, I do believe this is normal for a growing boy and should be expected to a certain extent. You say he wasn't interested before and he doesn't look at dirty magazines etc. Although isn't there a possibility he has been interested, just not apparent to you as of yet? Most people if given the opportunity, would look at a beautiful woman in the shower, it's natural. I don't know about climbing walls to do so, but none the less, he's very hormonal right now. Definitely talk to him but don't judge him too harshly for this. He's still your perfect son, he's just growing into a man now.

Odds are your son has been more interested in girls than you think for quite some time now. While he's a little older, it's not too late to open those lines of communication a bit more. What he did (and so many other boys have done that it's in tons of teen movies-Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, Animal House and even goes back to shows like Little House on the Prairie-peeping at women in the Sear's catalog!) is PERFECTLY NORMAL.
When you talk to him about it, don't shame him for it. Since it seems as though you haven't really had any serious talks with him about sex to begin with, perhaps he's not quite sure how to deal with his hormones right now. Tell him that it's normal for him to be interested in girls and girls bodies, but that the way he went about it was not the right way to do it. Explain to him how it made your friend feel and that while he probably didn't mean any harm, he needs to try and see it from her perspective.
And I really think that once your husband talks to him, you should talk to him too.
It is so important to keep those lines of communication open and it's so much better for him if he can feel comfortable coming to either one of you (and you most importantly since you are the biggest constant in his life) when he has questions.

Hi Annette, it is wrong but it is normal, and you may not want to hear this, but i doubt that that was his first time doing something like that, and I would best my life he has had an interest in girls all along but hid it from you. I have a question why would this woman, take a shower with no curtain knowing a teen age boy lived there, I feel she was irresposible by that. J.

My Stepgrandson did that to me to. I think it's normal, and he did it the same way. And he even had open the curtain a little in the bathroom before he went outside. After I was undressed I noticed the curtain being open and went and shut it scared him fell off the trash can that he had upside down and I started hallering, and he came running to the bathroom door outside and started hallering I'm sorry granny. But just let him know it is'nt right to do that, that it invaded her privacy and I would make him pologize to her.

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