Care and Feeding

I Caught My Neighbors’ Child Staring at Me in the Shower

Should I tell his parents?

Woman washing her hair in the shower.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Igor Vershinsky/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group.

Dear Care and Feeding,

I’m a woman in her early 20s renting a home next door to a family with three elementary- and middle school–aged boys. I’m in an architecturally quirky older home, and there’s a window in my shower. It’s behind a tree and has a frosted lower pane, so you really can’t see in from ground level. The other day, I was having a Zen moment in the shower, and looked up to the neighbor’s child staring at me from a second-story window. I have no idea how long he was watching me or if it happens regularly. I’m working on getting an appropriate cover for the window (and will be showering at the gym for a while, to be honest). But how should I approach the parents about this? I’ve literally never talked to these people before. I understand kids are curious, and I’m not angry with the child, but I do think the household adults should probably know.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

—Avert Your Eyes, Child

Dear AYEC,

Elementary to middle school is a somewhat broad age range. Was this a 7-year-old or a 12-year-old? Those two ages would have relatively different levels of understanding about the inappropriate nature of staring into a woman’s bathroom. Either way, as this was something you only observed once and because it doesn’t seem that this young person had to put forth any extra effort to look into your house, I think the right thing to do is to let it slide for now. He saw you, he very well could have been embarrassed himself, and hopefully he doesn’t attempt to do anything like that again. If he does, you tell on him posthaste.

Advertisement

Help us keep giving the advice you crave every week. Sign up for Slate Plus now.

Dear Care and Feeding,

My ex has recently introduced his girlfriend to our 8-year-old daughter. After one meeting she has started staying over when my daughter is there every other weekend. He has let me know she will likely be moving in. I asked to meet her. Since she will be spending a good amount of time with my daughter, I would like to introduce myself. I’m not expecting anything more than an under-five-minute meeting where we could exchange contact info, and my daughter can see us interact positively. My ex refuses to facilitate this and won’t even tell me her last name. Am I wrong to expect at least her name since she will be living with her? My daughter is already not happy that a lot of change was sprung on her so quickly, and I am trying to help her (and myself!) feel more comfortable about visitation.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

—Unsure in NJ

Advertisement
Advertisement

Dear UiNJ,

Either your ex is being unreasonable or there’s some important context missing here. Has your co-parenting relationship been rocky otherwise? Have there been problems with previous partners of his (or yours)? Does this man have any reason to believe that you will behave inappropriately if you are given access to his partner? If so, then you may wish to consider entering mediation so that you can communicate your feelings and get the support of a neutral third party in ensuring that your ex hears them. Even if not, I think the same would apply. If he’s created a scenario in his head in which it’s OK to install a woman in such a significant role in your daughter’s life without allowing you the courtesy of meeting her, it is unlikely that he will be able to come to see the problem with that in dialogue with you alone. It would be best to find someone who does this professionally, as opposed to expecting a friend or family member to be adequately unbiased and able to help navigate the conversation effectively.

Advertisement
Advertisement

You are not at all “wrong” for your concerns, and your little one’s father seems to be making the worst out of an already difficult situation. Sending you all the best.

Advertisement
Advertisement

• If you missed Tuesday’s Care and Feeding column, read it here.

• Discuss this column in the Slate Parenting Facebook group!

Dear Care and Feeding,

My only child is a son who is soon to be 17, and thanks to tae kwon do, he has a large slab of muscle for his rump. This means his pants are tight and his “package” rather visible and eye-catching in the front. Like “a C-cup woman in a low-cut dress not wearing a bra” eye-catching. Hockey players and football players have the same problem. My wife says not to say anything. Meanwhile, I am looking at tailored pants. He currently attends an all-male Catholic school, and he will be distance-learning for the foreseeable future. When “normal” returns, how can I convince them to fix the problem?

Advertisement
Advertisement

—Cover the Package

Dear CtP,

There is a pretty good chance that your son is well aware of how he is built and is enjoying the look and/or the attention. As his dad, and as someone who has owned a penis longer than he has, you should be able to talk to him openly about sex and his body. Let this be the moment in which you make that a reality, even if that means sorting through the last 17 years and recognizing how you got to the point where you didn’t feel right approaching him about something so small. (No pun intended!)

Explain that when it comes to shopping for clothes, the biggest priority is his comfort; however, it is also necessary, more often than not, to ensure that you aren’t flashing your junk to everyone who comes within 6 feet.

Advertisement

Dear Care and Feeding,

My daughter is a curious, independent 3-year-old, and her current favorite pastime is picking flowers. It’s the first thing she thinks about in the morning, and sometimes she goes out to the backyard before I’m even awake to scan for fresh flowers to pick. The backyard I have no problem with, as it is thoroughly fenced in. The front yard, though—hell no. We’ve told her this. It’s not set back from the street very much and not fenced in.

We are urban city-dwellers, one block from a big thoroughfare. We lock the door, of course, but she is now tall enough to unlock it, and this morning (fortunately I woke up in time), I heard the front door click and caught her going out to pick flowers in the front yard. At my wits’ end, I said, “A bad person could take you and I would never see you again!” She didn’t start crying or anything, so I don’t think I traumatized her, but she repeated it to me later, and I explained that we know our neighbors, and they are good people, but not everybody in the world is a good person. If a stranger tries to offer you something or get you close to them, you should yell loudly and run away, etc. Is 3 years old too soon to be talking about this? For now, we will be deadbolting the front door and hiding the key every night.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

—She Just Wants to Pick Flowers

Dear SJWtPF,

Wait, you’re OK with baby girl going outside while you sleep? I’m going to have to disagree with this one. You have to stop allowing her to go in either yard alone. If she’s allowed to ramble unsupervised in the back, why wouldn’t she think the other yard was also available for her fun and folly?

Not only do you need to use the front door deadbolt, you also need to secure whatever other ways she’s exiting unmonitored. You’re correct to worry about Stranger Danger, but there’s also the message that is sent by her having this freedom to wander about on her own. She can’t do that when she’s at someone else’s house or on vacation, or even in the second yard, but she’s getting into the habit of seeing this freedom as a given. What may happen if you’re still sleeping and she finds herself outdoors in some wet weather? Or if she falls and hurts herself?

Advertisement

Your daughter is 3. Three-year-olds don’t need to go anywhere alone that can’t be measured in feet and observed by eyes. Put some flower-picking sessions on the family calendar, along with some time dedicated to explaining to your baby why she isn’t ready to spread her wings and fly solo just yet.

Advertisement

—Jamilah

More Advice From Slate

I’ve been seeing a great guy for about a year. He’s incredibly sweet, constantly giving compliments and gifts. He’s also changed a lot for me: He’s changed his religion, stopped smoking, changed jobs, and gone back to school to be a better provider. He always tells me he loves me, and brought up marriage in the first month. He always says he knew immediately that I was the One, and that he couldn’t imagine living without me. While I want to get married, my feelings don’t match his. I love him, but I’m not head over heels in love. I want someone who will be a good partner and father, which I believe he will be. Is it deceitful to marry him, knowing my feelings aren’t as strong as his?

Advertisement