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JEROD (12 years old):
My mom is always nagging me about taking a shower on weekends. I shower enough during the week, I think, but I don’t like to on weekends. I like to just relax, sleep late, and play computer games. My mom starts on me on Saturday and doesn’t let up until Sunday night. I don’t even listen to her any more. She tries to get my dad in on it and he just tells her to leave me alone.

My son’s body is changing and frankly he has bad body odor. I go into his room and it smells like a locker room. I try to get him to shower everyday, but he refuses to do it. I take away his computer time and TV time. But he still refuses to bathe. I go into the room with disinfectant spray just to try to help the smell. I told him his body is changing and he needs to shower more and put on deodorant. I honestly don’t know what to do next. And of course my husband is no help.

Dear Jerod’s Mom,
I appreciate your distaste for locker room smells. However, what you are describing sounds like your son growing up. Twelve-year-old boys often don’t value showers and neat rooms. He’s almost an adolescent. Remember that teen-agers are very sensitive and that they begin to rebel and want to decide on personal issues themselves. Your son does bathe when he goes to school and has to conform to hygiene standards. I would suggest that you back off of this argument and that you don’t insult him about his changing body. Besides, having a male (his father) help him in male matters would probably be preferable. Punishing him by denying him TV or computer time will most likely only bring tension, conflict and lack of trust into your relationship. It would be better if you didn’t criticize and let him come to you with questions and concerns.

If you find it so offensive, why not stay out of his room? You won’t believe what social acceptance will do for his habits, especially when it involves girls. Until that happens, how about letting him bond with his Dad on male matters. Real locker rooms are not places we girls generally understand.

To you, Jerod, I would like to suggest that you be somewhat sensitive to your mom’s nose and try to compromise. Being locked in a head-on collision about something as silly as baths is a waste of both of your energies.

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