Daughter coaches naked dad

Dear Annie: My husband, “Joe,” turned 40 last summer.

Dear Annie: My husband, “Joe,” turned 40 last summer.

His cholesterol, blood pressure and weight are higher than they should be, and his doctor suggested he lose 20 pounds. I try to feed him well, but I know he stops for the occasional doughnut.

Joe has never been much into exercise, but I gave him a rather expensive multifunction machine for Christmas and installed it in the family room so he could watch the big-screen TV while working out. He gave me a reluctant 10 minutes a day on his new “toy.”

When he complained that his jeans were too tight, I made a note to buy him some loose workout clothes. When he continued to mutter about having “nothing to wear,” I frustratingly retorted that he could exercise naked for all I cared. Before I realized it, he did just that — on the machine in his birthday suit and gym shoes. And he exercised for another 30 minutes.

He’s now using the machine, stark naked, each day for 45 minutes without any prodding, and he’s lost some weight. I think part of it is that our 12-year-old daughter has begun to “coach” his sessions, counting his reps and urging him on.

Annie, we’re not prudes. Our daughter has seen both her parents naked and insists it doesn’t bother her to watch Dad exercise in the buff. In fact, they joke about it. She started calling him a “Greek athlete.” Joe does have Greek ancestry, and he now insists the Greeks had it right and has no intention of dressing.

I’m torn. If I make him wear clothes, I worry he’ll stop exercising. Is naked exercise common? Is it dangerous? Is he some sort of closet pervert? Would some busybody consider this child abuse and have him arrested? — Confused in Illinois

Dear Confused: Exercising in the nude is not that uncommon and shouldn’t be dangerous unless sensitive body parts are in close proximity to dropped weights or snapped pulleys. We can’t tell you whether Joe is overly enjoying his daughter’s assistance with his workout. We are not in favour of it and would insist he wear shorts. But nudity within one’s own home is not considered child abuse or indecent exposure. If you are worried about the neighbors, keep the blinds closed.

Dear Annie: My husband and I currently have custody of my eight-year-old grandson, who has a mild form of autism and mental issues. My father tells me all the time what a wonderful job my husband does with him. Why can’t he just tell him himself? What should I do? — Frustrated Grandmother

Dear Frustrated: Parents and in-laws often feel awkward complimenting a child to his face, and we suspect that’s why your father says these things to you instead.

You can sweetly suggest he give the direct approach a try, but please don’t make a big deal out of it. And by all means, tell your husband how much his father-in-law admires him. He should know.

Dear Annie: I was happy that “A Mom in Murrieta” pointed out that parenting is different from babysitting.

I am a happily married father of three.

My wife enjoys nights out with her girlfriends, and I enjoy nights out with my guy friends. I am offended when someone praises me for “babysitting” my own children so my wife can go out for the evening.

I am not their babysitter. I am their dad. No one ever thanks a woman for “babysitting” her children so her husband can enjoy a night out.

Many people misinterpret men spending time with their kids as babysitting, and you didn’t help matters. — Love My Kids in South Dakota

Dear South Dakota: What we have here is a failure to communicate. We are using the word “babysit” to mean “take care of the children.” (Many readers mistakenly believe it refers solely to a paid position held by teenagers.) Just as we would expect a husband to ask his wife to please watch the kids before running out of the house, we expect his wife to do the same.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.