Family Matters
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Sensitive content


I need a little advice about how to respond to a very sensitive issue.  I have two sons (15 and 17).  Both my sons are very vulnerable: my eldest has Asperger syndrome and mental ill health and my youngest has a serious anxiety disorder.  Currently, my youngest is educated at home on a very part time basis by a tutor provided by the local authority.  Neither boy can fully access activities outside the home and family.  This is something we are working towards with the help of the mental health services.

So, both boys spend a lot of time together.  I have had to give up my work outside the home to look after my children, but I have been fortunate enough to acquire some work that I can carry out at home.  Now, when I am occupied with work related activities, my youngest son will go into my eldest son's room.  I thought this was just to chat and listen to music, but my eldest son has told me something that concerns me.  He said that my youngest is very concerned about the way he is developing and he is convinced he is not maturing quickly enough.  My eldest then added that his brother shows him his private part and asks my eldest to show his so they can compare.  Then, he added that his brother has asked him to touch him on his private part to feel if it is 'normal'.     I have set boundaries and explained to both boys that they should not reveal their private parts or close the bedroom door if they are both in the room.  However, when I have come upstairs, they have both locked themselves in the bathroom.

My concern is: am I overreacting?  Is this more or less normal sibling behaviour in boys this age?  I am concerned because my eldest is very vulnerable and will do anything his brother asks him to do and both boys are completely socially isolated.  My eldest says this is just stuff boys do, but those words sound more like his brother's.  Can anyone advise?


Re: Sensitive content

  • edited March 2016
    This used to be common in much much younger children. Concerns that "My kid is playing 'doctor' with the other kids....what do I do?" were pretty common in the parental circle.

    Playing "doctor" was considered healthy exploration.

    You may have to ask a child study team member. I do not know where your 2 kids are at, in emotional 'age' but they may be operating on a level that is more for very young kids, due to their emotional problem -- your sons may not be "acting their age" more or less.

    If it bothers you, there's got to be some way to stop it. If these were very young children, it might be written off as healthy exploration..

    I do not know what you keep in that medicine cabinet. No more locking themselves in the bathroom --- if possible, go without a lock on that door; ensure that everyone knocks first before entering, to ensure nobody is in there.

    There is nothing that is appropriate for your kids where they can mix with other children?

    Kids still need contact with other kids, just as we adults need adult contact.

    Your kids need a way to keep busy. What about art or music? Drawing something is a great way to keep busy --- it's also a fantastic hobby.

    Can you swing a music lesson? Playing an instrument would be great for them. -- there's no Scout troop they can join, nothing that is suitable for kids their age?
  • I agree with Tarpon, first thing to do is to get any medication out of the bathroom. Even if you remove the lock, since the boys aren't fully mentally developed, having any medications, even just advil, where they can access it is a bad idea.

    Are your boys in any type of counseling for their development? Can you consult with that person or even your medical doctor? You didn't mention anything about their father, is he in the picture? If so, maybe it's time for dad to have a one on one talk with the boys about the birds and the bees and development of a boys body. Of course, explain only what you feel the boys can handle in regards to the birds and the bees. If their father isn't in the picture, if they have a trusted male adult that they trust, who can go, if you have any questions about your bodies or girls that you don't want to talk to your mom about, I'm here. And if they don't have that, see if their medical doctor would be willing to open up the topic to answer any questions & be open to maybe leaving the room to make your boys more comfortable.

    I would say you are doing an amazing job because your one son felt comfortable coming to you with something that made him uncomfortable. I also agree with Tarpon that with how they are developing mentally, the things the youngest is asking may not be normal for his physical age, but for his mental age, it's probably on track. A doctor can probably confirm this for you.

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