Dear Annie: I am the father of two sons, 7 and 11. At what point do you stop dressing or being naked in front of your children? I come from a minister’s family, and my wife comes from a somewhat dysfunctional family.
My wife still gets dressed and undressed in front of the boys, and thinks nothing of coming out of the shower naked while the boys are in our bedroom watching TV. I sometimes get dressed in front of them at home or at the changing room at the pool.
What do you think? – Curious in Maryland
Dear Curious: Parents of the opposite sex should not be undressing in front of their children after the age of 4. The 11-year-old will be going through puberty soon and will become plenty confused if he is inadvertently aroused by his mother. Insist that every member of the family have some privacy.
Dear Annie: All the men in our family are big but we have learned to control our weight through physical activity and diet, except for my dad. Over the past 20 years, he has continued to eat more and move less to the point where he now is out of breath walking from one room to another.
My mother tries to feed him healthy, low-fat foods, and we have all tried to be honest with him about his weight, but it doesn’t seem to matter. But I am so angry with his choices that I can barely stand to look at him. Dad is essentially killing himself, and I have lost respect for him. – Want To Love Him
Dear Want: Please stop being angry with your father. He doesn’t want to be overweight, but finds it so difficult to eat properly and exercise sufficiently that he has become depressed and given up. You cannot make him try harder, but you can make sure he understands that his health affects the entire family and you love him, no matter what size he is. Let him know that whenever he is ready, you’ll be happy to go with him for a long walk, bike ride, fishing expedition or trip to the gym. Then try to forgive him for not being what you want him to be.
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