Tuesday, November 11, 2008

out on a limb: help

Hi friends.
I'm in need of help.

I am hoping for some advice and aid in the name of Parenting A Nekked Child And What Is Perfectly Normal.
(Please be patient with the code words. Don't want anyone stumbling to my blogs looking for something horrid.)

I think I'm extremely suspicious and fearful when it comes to the well-being of my children.
While I really and truly do not suspect that I was harmed as a child, I was raised with uncommon fears of Kidnappers -- all of my nightmares were of being kidnapped.
My mother's greatest fear... made into my own.

I'm worried that I will, or even worse -am- projecting my own parental fears onto my children.
I do not believe (or really seriously question) that anything untoward has happened. There is nothing of a weird or mature nature going on - just things that I see and freak on.

The very basics I can deal with.
Body manipulation, if you will.
I've no problem with that.
I just say "that's for your bedroom when you're alone - not for anyone else to see." Though I don't think my son is interested at the moment. (with tongue in cheek, and in a tone full of levity, I'll say I'm sure that in a few years, that will change!)

But anytime I see anything new, I freak.
Like last night I hear "I'm gonna poo on you!" and Trev laughed, and soon Maddie had stripped off her drawers, and was sitting buck nekked on Trev. "Mom! Maddie's nakxx!"
I got all weird about it.
"That's not okay...", "Inappropriate".... "Not safe to teach Maddie that sitting on people when she's naked is alright..."
And then today Trev started to call for me (because Madd was, again) and then stopped, as he didn't want Maddie to get in trouble because I freaked so badly last night.

The problem is that I freak first and ask questions later.
And I make a much bigger deal out of it than it needs to be.
Because of my own hang-ups, I know.

I try (afterward, when I take the time to actually think) to ask myself "Would this (behavior) be odd in a village full of naked (or semi) people?"
The answer is always No, that I'm just reading more into it because we live in a clothed (and private and maybe suppressed) society.

The problem is, I have no one to ask.
Except, I will be asking my mother, you can bet.
I have friends and family that I could ask, but most of them have two boys, or two girls, or the circumstances don't seem the same.
Though, I must say that Trev isn't a problem, he seems to have reached a maturity level that is just fondly indulgent with Madeleine, not so immature as to be pulled entirely into her games. (Such as hollering, "Mom! Maddie's nakxx again!!")

So I am in desperate need of your help.
Any "I'm familiar with this, and it's normal...", will do, or any great websites or any books on the subject. (I've actually done a search tonight, and feel better about the whole thing, though I was worried about what I'd come up with with the words I was using to search.. Had to make sure "parent" was in there.)

I am absolutely not open to "teach your kids that they have to be ashamed of their bodies and watch them with suspicion and be frightened with everything they do."
Anyone that wants to say as much can swiftly go to hell. And I wish you Godspeed.

But I'll gladly accept any advice that is given with a tone full of love, understanding, and empathy.
Frankly, it's all I can handle.


Julie said...

Just laughing at the "Would this (behavior) be odd in a village full of naked (or semi) people?" I would also have to say no. Our society is pretty warped when it comes to nakedness in general, and even more so when it comes to children. Not that there's not a reason to be freaked out sometimes with all we hear about child predators and such. Anyway I think what you describe is purely innocent child behavior and nothing else. Hey, how about I call you? As I think this needs to be a two-way conversation.

Call you tomorrow then?

Mike said...

Very interesting. I thought our family was the only one EVER dealing with this sort of thing.

You see, my mind often says to me, "I mean, what parent in their right mind would really think that THIS hasn't been done before? I mean really." Being the parent of 5 kids with another on the way (for those less mathematically astute as I, that makes 6 kids), I run into a lot of things that leave me feeling bewildered, embarrassed, questioning and somewhat alone. I think that my kids are the only one doing this and that others are just normal kids who would never ever dream of EVER doing THIS! THIS! Then I wake up. Whatever my kids have done, someone else has done it too. You know what? My kids have done stuff like this too. We reacted like you. We had talks with our kids like you. We looked for stuff in books, on the web and in peoples' hearts - just like you.

I think when I find my children doing socially less-acceptable things (mind you, I say that realizing that I have been thus socialized and I wish not to judge because I question said socialization), I react, shake my head (both at them and at me) and then question later. I am suspicious in this time when kids are misused for all sorts of things imagined (and not). But I find that on the most part, each human child is solidly somewhere in the "order-in-chaos" zone. Mostly, my kids questionable behavior is my questionable behavior from childhood. It is other kids' questionable behavior.

I grew up going to nudist camps with my parents. [Confession?] Did you know that about me? My parents were very liberal with all things - including birthday suits. I don't partake in that as an adult. It conflicts with who I am now. However, it has left me with a sort of less-freakerish attitude. We do have a very open communication with each child - especially about their bodies. We talk about appropriate body behavior and inappropriate. Times when it is ok and not ok. CMS is the most sensitive about his body, while all the other kids are quite mellow.

It's late, I'm tired. However, I think in my round and round type typing you might see a pattern: 1) my kids have done things I don't like, 2) I react, 3) I think and look around all-embarassed like, hoping no one saw me, 4) I look around for someone to notice me and help me out in my ignorance and current social scarring, 5) my kids are OK - sometimes I am not. 6) I am a recovering socialized kid of the 80's who just hopped off the conveyer-belt, and trying to find my way...I look around and find many others doing the same thing as me.

Does that make sense?

Stephanie S. said...

Mike -
Thanks soooo much for sharing this. All of this is exactly what I needed to hear.
It makes perfect sense, and I so appreciate your candor.

My brother-in-law Mike, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Much loves to You and Yours Mr. S

Sarah said...

Since having a son, I find myself coming to grips with hangups that I knew I had, but hoped I'd never had to face.

With my girls, it's been so easy. All of the exploration of self, running around sans clothing, etc. I anticipate many situations like yours ahead of me...

What's startled me most is my reaction to breastfeeding. What I was taught about human bodies was *so* warped, that while I happily nursed both girls into toddlerhood, I caught myself having "issues" when my son got old enough that he wasn't looking "infant" anymore. That really shook me and it's forced me to have to look closer at stuff inside that I'd rather not look at. *Sigh*

I tell myself that my children will come out better than myself because of this at times painful self-reflection.