Sometimes You Just Have To Tell Your Son That Was You In Those Naked Photos
If you watch enough family dramas, you will see a million young men rifling through their fathers’ personal effects and find old, nude photos of their mothers. It happens so often on television that if you see a man reaching for a shoe box in his father’s closet, you yell at the screen to stop him as though he were a woman in a horror movie walking into a basement. But as much as I like watching actors on TV look surprised and uncomfortable about the realization that mothers are human women who have had sex, if this scene plays out in real life it can be very awkward for everyone involved. Sometimes, though, you just have to deal with the awkwardness and move on because it’s better than the alternative.
A woman who wrote in to Dear Prudence this week had a surprising twist on the theme: Her 14-year-old son found nude Polaroids of his mother that his father had taken when both parents were just 14 years old. The son did not recognize his mother in the photos, and thought his father was keeping a secret stash of child pornography. Horrified, he ran and told his mother. The letter writer did not want to tell her son that he was holding a naked photo of her, so she simply “assured him that his father didn’t look at or keep teenage porn and that I would speak to him about it.”
If you don’t think that seems like quite enough of a response for a boy who thinks his father is keeping child porn in the house, you would not be alone. Even the letter writer thought maybe she should just have owned up to being the nude 14-year-old in the photos.
“But should I be more direct?” she asks. “Which is worse, thinking your father has kiddie porn or knowing that you just saw a 14-year-old version of your mother naked?”
I am going to go out on a limb and say that thinking your father has kiddie porn is much, much, much worse than knowing you just saw your mother naked. Seeing one’s mother nude is maybe awkward and embarrassing, but it definitely beats spending the next 45 years staring at your father across the dinner table and wondering if he’s secretly a pedophile.