Parent Torn After Discovering 5-Year-Old Neighbor 'Flashed' Kids & Told Them to Keep It a Secret

Yelizaveta Tomashevska/

Little boy in swimsuit
Yelizaveta Tomashevska/

Most parents have dealt with their toddler going through a naked phase. One minute they're obsessed with wearing their favorite costume and the next thing you know, BOOM, you can't get them to keep their pants on. But what to do about a kid who flashes his privates at your child? And worse, how do you make sure your kid does not reciprocate? That's exactly the dilemma one mom faced when she learned that her 5-year-old neighbor had flashed his "junk" at her two sons and then made them swear not to tell. 

  • The mom found out about the little flasher from her babysitter, who told her that the boys had let the secret slip.

    In a letter written to the Care and Feeding advice column, the anonymous parent shared that his or her two sons, ages 9 and 6, had been playing with a neighbor when the boy decided to show off his penis. 

    “Don’t you think Carl’s penis looks weird?” the babysitter overheard one of of the boys asking his older brother over breakfast. The parent said that the sitter then immediately asked the boys how they knew what 5-year-old Carl's penis looked like, to which they told her that not only had Carl whipped it out -- he told them not to tattle about it.

    Concerned, the parent explained that he or she can't be sure that the kids didn't reciprocate and is also worried that this is something to talk to Carl's parents about.

    "I had a talk with my boys reminding them that their privates are private and they don’t take their penises out around other people," the parent continued. "I made sure there was no touching involved. We talked about not keeping secrets, and that if this happens again, they should tell Carl to put his junk away, and tell me or their dad or the sitter what happened. All good."

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  • Now the parent is having a hard time figuring out how to move forward: Can their kids still be friends with Carl?

    Slate Column

    Although the parent knows that kids at Carl's age tend to flash, the parent isn't sure about bringing this up to the boy's parents. Plus, there's also some worry that Carl is going to try this again. "I’m also concerned about my 9-year-old being around when a much younger kid has his penis out," the letter writer added. "Mine knows to keep it in his pants, and says he was uncomfortable and walked away when Carl dropped trou."

  • People wrote in that this type of behavior is completely normal for a 5-year-old. 

    "Little boys and girls have inappropriately displayed their privates for literally all of human history.  They're children," one person wrote. 

    And someone else guessed that this wasn't Carl's first time playing Magic Mike. "The Carl situation could easily go either way. Little kids aren't exactly known for discretion, and it's possible the reason he told the LW's kids not to say anything is he's gotten in trouble before for showing off," the person commented.

    Another person had a guess as to why Carl's penis looked "weird." "Oh, good grief, the penis-shower is perfectly normal," the person wrote. "I just wonder why it looks weird, I'm guessing he's uncut." Or vice versa! 

  • And the advice columnist suggested talking it out with Carl's mom or dad, just to make sure that things don't get weird.

    Columnist Nicole Cliffe agreed that showing off what your mama gave you is pretty standard for a 5-year-old, but that the parent should also be thoughtful about how to address it it with the boy's mom or dad.

    "I do admit that the fact Carl told your sons not to tell their parents gives me pause," she wrote. "That (maybe) sounds like repeating a warning he’s heard before."

    Cliffe wrote that she didn't think the parent needed to go on the offensive here, "but I would definitely call Carl’s parents and relate the very simple course of events: Carl showed our sons his penis, our sons told us about it, we reiterated that we don’t take our genitals out to show people."

    "You can tell them you’re only calling so they can remind Carl about keeping his junk to himself," she wrote, "but also that he did tell your sons to keep it a secret, which you found mildly worrisome, and you would want to be told about it if your situation were reversed."

behavior body boys