If Your Son Lets A Dog Lick Peanut Butter Off His Chest, Remain Calm
Let’s face it — kids do strange things. Don’t you remember being one yourself? We had weird ideas that looking back, weren’t the greatest — but at the time? Probably the most fun we’ll ever have. The key now with raising our own kids is to recognize when something is worth being concerned over and when we might be making a bigger deal out of an event than necessary. A mom wrote in to Dear Prudence concerned over her son letting a dog lick peanut butter off his chest. At first, I was inclined to agree that it was worrisome but after some thought, I decided it’s just not worth bugging out over.
From Dear Prudence, this freaked-out mom tells the tale of her 13-year old son attending a sleepover where he and the other boys decided it would be funny to make the family dog lick peanut butter from their nipples. He told her the story in a cheerful way, just recounting a funny thing that happened at the sleepover, not because he was ashamed. Ok, definitely a little odd, but her reaction is over the top:
I said “Don’t do that again, babe.” He asked, “Why not?” I scrambled around. “I just don’t think it’s a nice thing to do to the dog.” He said, “But Fido LOVES peanut butter!” I said something about it being kind of a sexual thing and I don’t think he should do it anymore and he seemed confused and embarrassed.
At first, I would probably be a bit stunned too, but telling her son this was a “sexual thing” is overboard. He’s a 13-year old boy. I grew up with two younger brothers and believe me — this is not totally unusual as far as the kinds of bright ideas a group of them might come up with. Had it been their genitals, that would be a whole other story. This sounds like a case of one kid thinking it would be hilarious and the others chiming in to agree. Harmless, really. Prudie hints that the only problem is that this mother even knows it happened to begin with:
There has been a well-noted societal shift in the last generation toward parents being way more involved in their children’s lives, and children feeling able to tell way more to their parents. But this episode makes me think there was something to be said for the era in which parents were off at cocktail parties oblivious to what their children were up to.
A thousand times this. My friends and I did so many ill-advised things that were pretty innocent but that may have been badly received had we told our parents. At some point, kids just need to do goofy stuff without their parents knowing about it. It’s part of growing up and can be very valuable life experiences — not to mention, fun. Clearly, there’s not much value in the act of letting a dog lick peanut butter off a group of middle school boys’ nipples but the bonding with friends is pretty important. Prudie says she thinks this mom overreacted but that there could be a lesson about sex in there. She says the mom needs to talk to her son and explain that her reaction was not quite right. This advice is fantastic:
Tell him you reacted the way you did because he’s getting older and sexual exploration is part of getting older—and it’s been on your mind. Acknowledge that this is an awkward subject for parents and kids to discuss. Tell him you want him always to feel safe, and have his boundaries respected and to have him respect those of others.
This mom’s reaction could certainly stay with her son and cause him to question innocent things that he does as though they are somehow sinister. It is normal for kids to experiment and do strange things together. This sleepover silliness is not something to freak out over and I’m glad she got some good advice for repairing any potential damage with her son. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go practice my “relaxed” face for when my kids tell me one day about the weird shit they do with their friends.