I walk around the house braless but with a shirt on, and he was around while I breast-fed his youngest sister. I honestly don’t know how to handle it. I don’t want to make things worse, I don’t want him scarred for life. Based on how he reacted, he obviously knows it was wrong. I just honestly don’t know what to do or say to him. Please help. — Worried About My Son
I’m inclined to agree with your husband – your son is likely just curious and experiencing the prepubescent course of hormones racing through his body. That, coupled with the carelessness of your husband keeping topless photos of you on a phone your son apparently had easy access to, probably triggered his sudden interest in your body. All of his life you were just Mom. And then he stumbled upon sexualized photos of you and now you are also a woman with a woman’s body, and he’s probably really curious about a woman’s body and, lucky you, you’re the one he has ready access to.
Your husband has been an 11-year-old boy before. He better understands the thoughts and curiosities of an 11-year-old boy than you do. If he isn’t too concerned about your son’s behavior, and he knows your son as well as you and there haven’t been any other signs that you have something to worry about, then I wouldn’t worry. What I would do is stop being careless about taking/sending naked/sexual photos of yourself, make sure your son’s phone and all your household media have parental passwords, and enlist the help of either your son’s father and/or your husband to talk to your son about the birds and the bees, how boys and girls bodies change during puberty, and the importance of always respecting women and their bodies and not objectifying them. What also should be discussed with your son is how your love for and relationship with your husband is different than your relationship with anyone else, that there are things that you share with your husband that are meant to be private, and that you need your privacy respected just as you respect your son’s privacy. Some books that may be helpful to give him to read:
Good luck, Mom — you got this!
P.S. As a woman who wears a DDD-cup bra, I find that going completely braless (under a shirt) even around the house sometimes makes me feel too exposed. But I’m always so ready to take off my restrictive underwire bras at the end of the day. The answer? The soft, comfortable nursing bras I wore when my kids where newborns. I highly recommend these for anyone else who wants to be comfortable but also a little more modest, for whatever reason.
I’m not sure if I’m just being shallow, but driving everywhere is exhausting! I have a car (that my parents bought me), and my parents paid for my schooling. He, on the other hand, has to pay for his own classes and tuition, phone bill, and food most of the time, and he even helps his parents when they need some extra money for rent. (It frustrates me how little his parents do for him when mine have given me the world.) I’ve tried to be patient with this car issue, but at this point, what girl doesn’t want to be picked up to go out on a date, or driven home after a long day? I try to be understanding, but sometimes I get so fed up and think, “When will you buy a cheap car already?!”
Do I just sound like a spoiled brat? I would greatly appreciate any advice. — Tired of Driving
Yes, you do sound like a spoiled brat. You have parents who have, in your words, “given you the world,” and you have a loving boyfriend who, in your words, “treats you like a queen,” and you’re still whining because no one is picking you up for a date or driving your ass home after a long day. You asked, and I’m telling you: You sound like a spoiled brat. Your boyfriend sounds like a really loyal, caring, hard-working guy who is doing the best he can balancing the demands of college (that he pays for himself), keeping his girlfriend happy, and even helping out his parents when he can. He’s the kind of guy who, in a few years, is probably going to be very successful — however he defines success — because he has so much practice being responsible, working hard, and delaying instant gratification. (For example, he hasn’t gone out and just “bought a cheap car” because he probably understands the hidden expenses involved in that and prefers to wait until he can truly afford maintaining a car and paying for insurance, gas, and parking.)
Here’s a thought: Maybe you could start paying for some of your dinners out and help ease some of his financial burden since he carries more than you do. If you want to be picked up for a date, call a cab or a Lyft to come get you and then swing by your boyfriend’s place and pick him up. I mean, it’s sweet that your boyfriend is treating you like a queen, but what are you doing for him? I’d be more concerned with hanging on to a guy like this rather than focusing on what else you can get out of him (free rides, literally). Then again, you’re 20 years old and have been together since you were 17 — maybe you’re feeling ready to move on and this is just an excuse to find a reason to leave. In which case, I’ll say: just do it. Rip the bandaid off and move on already. If that isn’t what you’re trying to do, then simmer down, be grateful for what you’ve got, and do more to show your appreciation and reciprocate all the good will you get.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.