The Teen Doctor

Answers to your questions about adolescents

Is Bathing Your Teen Son Okay

I can't believe that this mom bathes her son

Dear Dr. G.,

Now, I can honestly say that I have heard it all. I was reading a question and answer column in a local newspaper and the question was and I kid you not was "Is it okay for a mother to bathe a teenage son who has no physical and/or mental challenges?" I was prepared for a barrage of responses from teens and parents spelling out why this is age-inappropriate behavior.
Instead, the responses were mostly PRO-bathing your teen son. Both parents and teens weighed in and described this as a bonding experience fostering closeness between mothers and sons.

I would like to know if I am living in an alternative universe. I have a teenage son and an 8 year old son and they both take care of their own hygiene which includes showering, bathing, or however else they want to clean their bodies. Please tell me your thoughts. Is bathing a teenage son normal?

A Weirded-Out Mom,

Dear Mom,

As far as I am concerned this is totally inappropriate behavior at least in the culture that we live in. There is no pun intended (due to the soap involved) here when I suggest that this behavior can lead both mother and son down a very slippery slope. Washing and drying your son's body parts can lead to various sensations including sexual arousal and confusion. Now, do we really want teen boys to associate arousal with their mothers? And, we all know that teen boys are quite easily aroused.

What about developmental appropriateness? Shouldn't a boy that age know both how to clean himself and stimulate himself without the assistance of a mother bearing a wash cloth and perhaps a delicately scented soap?

I am in your camp. This is totally inappropriate behavior and I hope that the mother has friends that will tell her this. If not, then I hope that the son will realize that his peers are not being bathed by their mothers and will request that his mother allow him the privacy to shower on his own as most teenage boys do. I have to wonder what the father thinks of this.

Dr.G.

To read more about topics like this take a look at my website:

http://www.talkingteenage.com/

 

Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents.

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