Ask Amy

Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 10:45pm

DEAR AMY: I often take my 5-year-old son to the public swimming pool.

When we get there, I have him change into his bathing suit in the men's bathroom. I have noticed, however, that a lot of parents let their kids change into their swimwear right in front of everyone.

I never let my son walk around naked at home, and I certainly don't want him to be naked in public.

I was taught that there are certain body parts that must remain covered at all times, and I have raised my son the same way.

He has asked me why girls don't have the same parts as he does, and I hesitate to tell him because I fear that by explaining the facts of life to him at such a young age he may get inappropriate ideas in his head.

I feel that it is a sign of irresponsible parenting to allow one's children to take off their clothes in public, as it makes them easy targets for pedophiles.

You really can't know for sure what kind of creepy people lurk around these seemingly kid-friendly areas.

Am I out of line?

Should I go ahead and tell my son about the facts of life?

— Concerned Parent

DEAR CONCERNED: Because you seem concerned about pedophiles, you should not send your 5-year-old son into the men's room alone.

One reason moms might have their sons change into their suits poolside is if they don't want to send them into the men's room unaccompanied.

Parents can maintain some privacy in public by holding up a towel and having the boy change behind it or by changing in a stall in the women's bathroom.

The "facts of life" include the fact that boys' and girls' bodies are different. At age 5, your son is understandably curious about this.

Young children should be told the proper names for body parts. You don't need to go into detail about the sexual aspects of these differences, but as your son grows up, you should explain sex in a straightforward fashion.

It is your right to maintain whatever modest standards you choose in your own home. If you choose to go to a public pool, where other people have different standards, you should accept their standards, while maintaining your own.


DEAR AMY: My husband and I are close friends with another couple.

We enjoy going out on the weekends for dinner or drinks with them.

Their daughter just had a baby.

Our friends are the primary baby-sitters and watch the baby every evening when the kids are at work.

Our problem is that every time we go out, they bring the baby with them.

The baby does what babies do and requires the care that babies require. It is very distracting, and we cannot carry on a conversation with them.

My husband and I love children, but we also like to go out and enjoy adult company. We are not sure how to handle this. Can you help?

— Dinner Without Diapers

DEAR DINNER: Your friends need a baby-sitter. It may sound strange for a baby-sitter to need a baby-sitter, but every adult raising a baby needs an occasional break. At night, babies should be sleeping, snug in their little beds and not lugged to an adult dinner.

Tell your friends you love and enjoy the baby, but you'd like to spend some time with only them.

You and your friends should plan both baby-friendly and adult-only outings. If they can't find a sitter, perhaps you and your husband could bring dinner and a movie to their house.


DEAR AMY: Thank you for your perspective regarding shared wedding expenses.

As one of five daughters, I remember my father thanking me on my wedding day while he twirled me on the dance floor because I had "snuck" a payment to the reception hall.

I thanked him for all he and my mom did to raise me and for letting me be an adult.

I was educated and working and that money came from my savings.

— Grateful Daughter

DEAR DAUGHTER: I agree with you that adults should be responsible for financing their own parties.


Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles