Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR READERS: I’ve stepped away from my column for a week while I put the finishing touches on my new book, which will be published in the fall. Please enjoy these ”Best Of” columns in my absence. I’ll be back with your fresh questions and answers next week.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been married for about a year. We are both 34. We live on five acres. Woods surround us on three sides and we have a 6-foot-tall fence. Our nearest neighbors live half a mile away. My wife knew I was a naturist before we married. She dislikes seeing me in the nude all of the time. I do my share of the housework and all of the yardwork in the nude. When we have people over, I wear clothing. We went to a clothing-optional resort one time. I was nude the whole time, and she wore shorts and a shirt the whole time we were there. She refuses to go again. What can I do to change my wife’s mind about being a naturist?
DEAR BOB: You knew that your wife was a fully-clothed non-naturist when you married her, so why does she have to change to suit you? Why don’t you change?
I understand that as a naturist you are attached to your clothing-optional way of life, but if there’s any activity that I think of as being compatible with wearing clothing, preferably many layers of it, it would be yardwork.
Good God, man, watch that hedge trimmer!
The website for the Naturist Society (naturistsociety.com) offers this very practical and sensitive advice for you: “Typically, women are more wary than men of clothing-optional venues. But everyone, male and female, has ‘body issues.’ For some, the idea of being seen nude — and seeing others nude — is filled with psychological tension. A spouse, friend or partner can help reduce the tension, but only if caution and sensitivity are exercised. . . . There is a line between encouragement and coercion. Don’t cross it if you want to introduce someone to naturism.” (July 2007)
DEAR AMY: My daughter and another girl are good school friends. However, the child’s mother disagrees with the way I parent. Our girls are approaching teenhood, and I have always been very open with my daughter about what is going on with her body (my parents never were). While the two girls were at my house having lunch, they got into a discussion about getting their menstrual periods. My daughter told her that I gave her a sanitary pad to carry in her purse “just in case.” The friend reported back to her mother, and the mother called me, outraged about the conversation and the “ideas” I was putting into her daughter’s head. I explained that I was not a part of the conversation, but the mother replied that she didn’t want her child coming over to our house anymore because she didn’t want the child to end up like me. This is not the first time she has disagreed with my parenting. I was a teenage mother, and there is generally a good 10- to 15-year age difference between myself and the other parents at my daughter’s school. I believe in giving my daughter knowledge and not sheltering her. However, I don’t give knowledge to other children. It upsets me that my daughter is possibly losing friends because of me. At the same time, I know I have raised a good child and am very proud of my life. How can I make this woman understand that I am not trying to parent her child?
DEAR MOM: Your job as a parent is to influence your child and teach her the values you consider important. This other mother is trying to do the same. However, she shouldn’t do this by insulting you and isolating her daughter from your family.
You should speak to your daughter about this. Explain how you feel about being open and honest about matters concerning her body, growth and health. Tell her that this openness made her friend’s mother uncomfortable.
You could try to explain to the other mother that you are not trying to influence or parent her daughter, but ultimately it will be this mother’s choice whether to permit her daughter to be exposed to people who think differently than she does. She doesn’t seem to understand that exposure to other views can strengthen a family’s values rather than dilute them. (April 2007)