Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our mid-60s. For the past five years, we have been the guardians of my daughter’s 13-year-old son, “Jake.” When I married 12 years ago, I certainly didn’t expect to be raising a teenager at my age.
I know that raising kids today is nothing like it was 30 years ago, but Jake seems well adjusted. He’s a top student, an outstanding athlete and a fine young man with friends we approve of. Here’s the problem: Jake recently asked if he and his friends could sleep in the nude when they stay over. He has been teased about living with “the old folks” and claims we are the only ones who don’t allow it.
I checked with the other parents, and they confirm this. In fact, at “Jay’s” house, the boys remain unclothed all day. Jay’s mother says they are often naked while playing video games, watching TV or snacking in the kitchen. They frequently appear in the nude at breakfast if they are going skinny-dipping in the pool after. She sees no need for them to dress.
Annie, I’m not opposed to nudity. I have no problem with Jake sleeping naked in his room or skinny-dipping — even the coed kind. But somehow, the idea of six teenage boys running around the house naked all day bothers me.
Hubby assures me that it’s a “guy thing” and all teenage boys do it. He remembers fondly how he swam naked at the YMCA through his college years at an all-male school. He says it builds character and is a significant male bonding experience. Indeed, he encourages it.
I don’t have anyone to ask about this. Our best friends are our contemporaries and would be appalled if their grandchildren ran around naked. Have you ever heard of this before? Is it common? How do other parents handle this?
— Not Over the Hill
Dear Not: In certain times and places (swimming pools, overnight camp), group nudity among young men is not unusual. Being naked all day, however, is much less common, and we would not encourage it.
Don’t be badgered into agreeing to something that makes you uncomfortable. You do not have to allow it, nor do you need to apologize. It’s your house, and you get to set the rules.
Dear Annie: Our eldest daughter will be getting married this fall. Naturally, the guest list will need to have a limit. We would like to somehow soothe the ruffled feathers of those who might have expected an invitation, but won’t receive one. How should this be done?
— Father of the Bride
Dear Father: In years past, those who were not invited to the wedding received an engraved wedding announcement. It is also not uncommon to send out invitations for a casual reception several weeks after the wedding for those who could not be included in the main event.
If that is not within your budget, you can mail an invitation (or use Evite) to join the bride and groom for an informal toast or party in celebration of their marriage.
Dear Annie: This is for “Blindsided in Vermont,” whose married brother picks fights with her until she’s in tears.
I have a smart brother who is a fast thinker with a huge vocabulary, and he is my polar opposite politically. He would start an argument and beat me down to the point where I would nearly cry. One day, my husband said, “Don’t let him get to you. When he starts in, say, ‘I hear the swallows are coming back to Capistrano.’”
So I did. It took a while, but it worked. My brother now can’t get a rise out of me and he stopped talking politics. And, we get along much better.
— Greensboro, N.C.
Dear Greensboro: We love it!