Keep private matters private

Teaching Your Child

Teaching Your Child

January 16, 2009|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Recently, my family enjoyed an evening out at a restaurant in honor of my husband's birthday. Typically, I cook a nice meal for him on his special day, but with basketball season in full swing and the end of the marking period upon us, we opted to eat out.

The restaurant was busy, which was nice to see with all the restaurant closings that have happened in recent months. I didn't even mind the buzz of noise from those around us. At least, I didn't mind it until tables around us started leaving and one particular conversation could be heard.

A group of women sitting near us started talking about the difference between underwear and swimwear. Actually, their conversation focused on how they couldn't see any difference between what is worn on the beach and what is worn under clothes.

At this point, I was wondering if my 13-year-old and my 10-year-old had tuned in to the conversation and if they would have questions later. I tried to make polite chatter about the day to cover what was being said at the next table, but the women's volume seemed to rise with the intensity of their discussion.


I caught bits and pieces of one woman's tale about the time she forgot a bathing suit and tried to substitute undergarments. She asked her friends if they could believe someone had a problem with her doing that.

At this point I was ready to suggest that the women continue their private conversation in a nonpublic place, but I thought that might draw more attention to what they were saying. My children really would have a lot of questions then.

It was extremely difficult to remain quiet, though, when the next woman quite loudly shared her story. Apparently, she was dressing with her door open as her teenage son walked by. "Mommmm!" she mimicked in an irritated tone. Then she related how she told him her attire wasn't any different from what he saw her wearing by the pool.

So much for modesty and decorum. No wonder kids have trouble knowing what is appropriate.

If for no other reason, that mother should have closed her door because her son was uncomfortable seeing his mother in her underwear. (Wouldn't most teenage boys feel the same way? What was she thinking?)

At our house, the children know that if a door is closed, it is closed for a reason. If they want to enter a closed door, they knock, ask if they can come in, and wait for a reply.

We show them the same respect. If their doors are shut, we don't just barge in on them.

As to the women's conversation about swimwear and underwear, I can understand their frustration. Sometimes it is embarrassing to see what people wear to the beach. Their underwear probably would cover more skin than their swimwear.

However, underwear is designed to wear underneath other garments. That's why it is called "under"-wear. Swimwear is designed to be worn while swimming, or while near a pool, lake or ocean.

That's a concept that most kids get, and parents should follow suit.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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