Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Innocent or Inapproriate?

Another Dear Abby got me thinking:

DEAR ABBY: I need an unbiased opinion. I am the father of a 12-year-old daughter, "Lia." She catches an early morning bus for school, and I leave for work at the same time her bus picks her up, so I'm in charge of getting her ready in the morning. Although we have two bathrooms -- one upstairs and one down -- neither of us wants to use the downstairs bathroom to get ready. All our stuff is upstairs. When I wake Lia up each morning, she heads into the shower and I go feed the dog. I then go into the bathroom and shave while she's in the shower. While I'm shaving we discuss sports and life in general. When I'm finished, I leave until she's done showering and goes back into her room. I then take my shower. Is this wrong? Lia's mother thinks it's inappropriate for me to be in the bathroom at all while she's taking a shower. I think it is efficient because neither of us is willing to use the other bathroom, and I find it's a good time to find out what's going on in her life. Who's right? -- RIGHT OR WRONG IN WISCONSIN
Stop – Think about your answer. Now, here’s what Abby responded:

DEAR RIGHT OR WRONG: Your wife is correct. It's not a matter of "right or wrong." It's a matter of what is appropriate. At 12, your daughter is becoming a young woman. Either you or Lia needs to start using the downstairs bathroom. If you can't agree on who that will be, then draw straws. You can bond with her over breakfast.

This really got me upset. I feel like Abby was shaming the father when really he was doing nothing wrong. I assumed that there was an opaque shower curtain and the daughter didn’t mind. What’s the big deal? It’s an innocent time for the father and daughter to hang out. Her privacy is protected and it’s a good, efficient use of space and time. Studies show that men communicated better side by side versus face to face so it’s a win for father/daughter communication and for timely getting ready in the morning.

What’s your thought – Daddy trying to hang on to his little girl inappropriately or good, efficient use of time and space? Also what do you think is motivating the mother to intervene?


  1. I think it is innocent with this assumption: both parties (father and daughter) are indeed comfortable with the bathroom-sharing situation (opaque shower curtain in place!). I think it is great they have a few minutes a day of chat time. Good communication now means an increased chance of lifelong communication. I am willing to bet the parents are divorced. I am also willing to bet "Lia's" mother is feeling threatened by the close relationship the father has with his daughter. With that being said, as "Lia" gets older she may want to change up the situation and request more privacy in the bathroom but I feel for now it is fine. Many homes these days have numerous bathrooms so this is not as much of an issue but family is family and sometimes you just have to share a bathroom. I have two showers (and two young children) in my house and let me tell you that in the cold winter mornings I have NO interest in skipping downstairs to go to another shower. I think as "Lia" gets older her chat time with her father will evolve into another venue and they are setting the stage for keeping the lines of communication open whenever possible. I think it is ridiculous to think that, in these days when parents and kids struggle to find time and ways to communicate, an innocent effort to squeeze in some quality conversation is a bad idea.

  2. I also would not immediately deem this situation inappropriate, but I would definitely want to do a reality check with "Lia" that she is, in fact, completely comfortable with the situation as it stands, and make sure she feels empowered to do things like announce to Dad when she's finishing up her shower and know that he'll leave the room, or know that's it's 100 percent okay to change the arrangement at any point if she starts to feel differently about it.

  3. This is from Lisa:
    I don't think it inappropriate if both parties are truly comfortable. I think soon enough "Lia" will become a teenager and I'm sure all of this will change...It's so wonderful to see such a great relationship between a father and a daughter. Good for them!

  4. At the age of 12, I'm not sure that's appropriate anymore. While I'm sure it's quite innocent and very cute that they have this bonding time to discuss sports, I think 12 is too old for the dad to be in the bathroom while she's showering. As a teacher, it would have bothered me if one of my 12 year olds told me her dad's in the bathroom when she showers. I guess 12 is sort of on the border for when it's inappropriate...but if it's not now, it's getting there! Let the girl have her privacy and use the breakfast table for sports talk!