June 14, 2008,
A.N. asks from El Centro, CA on June 09, 2008
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?
J.D. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
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.
M.F. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
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
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P.A. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
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.
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J.W. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
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!
S.H. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
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.
A.M. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
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.
L.Y. answers from Los Angeles on June 14, 2008
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.
D.C. answers from Los Angeles on June 09, 2008
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.
J.P. answers from Los Angeles on June 10, 2008
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.