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Is this unhealthy attachement to MIL's partner?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
My MIL and her partner live right next door to us, so they get to see our 21mo DD just about everyday. We really want our DD to have a relationship with her grandma (older, with her health not so great), but her partner (who has never had any kids, and is also quite a bit younger) seems to have grown a bit too attached to her, in our opinion.

He will not seek her out, and come to our house to play with her, but when he is in her presence, he will often hold her in his arms or keep her on his laps at times when she should simply be walking around. He'll be blowing kisses at her in a way that creeps me out. This may seem a bit harmless, but when you see it on a regular basis, it just seems too much... A few weeks ago, when we left our DD with him and grandma for 30mins or so, when we got back to pick her up, she was playing on the bed with him laying on the bed, grandma next to the bed (note that they live in a studio, so the bed is in the main room). We felt that was totally inappropriate to have her on a bed next to a grown man (other than her dad, of course!).

Of course, our DD is lapping up the attention from him, and now goes straight for his laps when he shows up... Of course, it makes me cringe. We already no longer leave her alone with them when visiting. Yesterday, my DP told him to not be so physical with her, but that didn't go too well... We haven't spoken to him since then.

Now, I don't want to insinuate that he is a child molester... I haven't seen any indication of that. I think he's just clueless (note that he also gave me a couple books on parenting for Xmas; this from a man who has never had kids!! This wasn't done in a mean way, just in a clueless way, as he is always kind, helpful and well-intended). We simply think that he is a bit too attached to her, in a way that is unhealthy, in our opinion.

Are we overreacting?
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliforniaMommy View Post
My MIL and her partner live right next door to us, so they get to see our 21mo DD just about everyday. We really want our DD to have a relationship with her grandma (older, with her health not so great), but her partner (who has never had any kids, and is also quite a bit younger) seems to have grown a bit too attached to her, in our opinion.

He will not seek her out, and come to our house to play with her, but when he is in her presence, he will often hold her in his arms or keep her on his laps at times when she should simply be walking around. He'll be blowing kisses at her in a way that creeps me out. This may seem a bit harmless, but when you see it on a regular basis, it just seems too much... A few weeks ago, when we left our DD with him and grandma for 30mins or so, when we got back to pick her up, she was playing on the bed with him laying on the bed, grandma next to the bed (note that they live in a studio, so the bed is in the main room). We felt that was totally inappropriate to have her on a bed next to a grown man (other than her dad, of course!).

Of course, our DD is lapping up the attention from him, and now goes straight for his laps when he shows up... Of course, it makes me cringe. We already no longer leave her alone with them when visiting. Yesterday, my DP told him to not be so physical with her, but that didn't go too well... We haven't spoken to him since then.

Now, I don't want to insinuate that he is a child molester... I haven't seen any indication of that. I think he's just clueless (note that he also gave me a couple books on parenting for Xmas; this from a man who has never had kids!! This wasn't done in a mean way, just in a clueless way, as he is always kind, helpful and well-intended). We simply think that he is a bit too attached to her, in a way that is unhealthy, in our opinion.

Are we overreacting?
I don't know 100% unless I see it but it could be because he doesn't have kids or other grandkids, he is trying to do what he thinks a grandpa is suppose to do. Sit down with him and discuss your feelings with him. You never know, if he does have attentions like a pedofile would, he may lighten up if he knows you are keeping a real close eye on him. Like you said, he could also just be clueless too. You never know till you sit down and express your concerns. Make sure your mother is present when you do this so she can keep her eyes open too.
post #3 of 20
If he is always "kind, helpful and well-intended" as you say, then yes, I think you're overreacting.
I don't get why it's a problem for a man to be playing with a toddler on a bed in a main living space with grandma watching? Or why a parenting book is such a weird gift for a parent?
I bet your DD is just utterly adorable and he loves playing with her! It sounds like she's never with him unsupervised so I wouldn't be concerned.
post #4 of 20
I say go with your instincts. Do not second guess yourself to make someone else comfortable. Your job is to protect your child. I would feel uncomfortable as well.
post #5 of 20
Count me as fellow uncomfortable-ant. In this day and age, I feel that grown men should know better than to hold children on their laps for an extended period of time, or to be caught lying in bed with them, particularly when there's no relation. Even if he's just "clueless"...that cluelessness would freak me out, I agree, the answer is easy, err on the side of caution and protect your DD. GL!
post #6 of 20
I'm not one to second guess a mother's gut feelings, but I'm not understanding, from you description,what the problem is.

My first thought is that sexualization is being applied where it does not exist, as in the case of co-sleeping, or kindergarten kisses.

Without knowing the man, feeling the situation, or having anything but your description, I don't see anything wrong.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by trinimommy View Post
I say go with your instincts. Do not second guess yourself to make someone else comfortable. Your job is to protect your child. I would feel uncomfortable as well.


And go to your library and pick up The Gift of Fear by Gavin Debecker.
post #8 of 20
Is the problem that he is not the biological grandfather? Or that you find him kind of creepy in general? His age?

I would not have a problem with my daughter in a similar situation with her grandfather. My father in law blows kisses at my daughter every chance he gets, course it's also one of my daughter's favorite activities! It sounds to me like he's acting like a grandfather. A very affectionate grandfather, but a grandfather, nonetheless. But I'm not there.

If you think he is clueless and does not know how to act appropriately with a toddler, you - or perhaps even better, your husband/partner should sit down with your mother-in-law and her partner and outline what you think is appropriate. I always find that these kinds of awkward or potentially difficult conversations should happen primarily between the children and the parents, rather than the in-laws. I guess your husband already tried this, but perhaps it has to be a more structure conversation, without your daughter present.
post #9 of 20
I say go with your gut. I agree with the other poster who said your job is to protect your DD.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your replies. It helps. It is really hard to describe the situation and what bothers us the most, so the examples I included in my initial post are just some of the issues that concern us. It's the accumulation of those that concerns us, and the fact that he seems to be more and more attached and "obsessed" (I want to use this word very carefully, as this is not meant to be used with a sexual connotation in any way) with her.

In a nutshell, the best way we can describe this is that he is taking on a role, not just of grand-father (that would be just fine), but of father. We feel he is just going too far in the way he is with our DD. And yes, the physical closeness he has developed with her is bothering us, as it is just too much. To us, it is borderline creepy. I can't help but imagine what it will be like in 5-10 years if we don't put a stop to it now. He is a very nice person, but not one that I would want my daughter to be overly attached to.

To answer some of the questions above, he is in his mid-50's (about 20 years younger than my MIL). He has never had kids, and I believe our DD is the first real chance he has had to be close to a growing child for any extended period of time. So, I don't know if our DD is filling a void for him (it sometimes feels that way), but we don't want her to take that role.

I did mention that he is a very kind, gentle and helpful person, and gets passionate about things. To a fault. He tends to overdo it with people, to the point of getting involved in situations/business that he should not. He then gets his feelings hurt when people push back at him for having gone too far. I can think of two specific examples of this, not related to our DD, but other people.

I guess this is partly what is going on here too. It's very easy to fall in love with our DD. She is very cute (we hear that way too many times from people), and has a wonderful personality. So, it's easy to see how he would also have fallen in love with her, but it seems that he can't control his enthusiasm, and just goes too far.

Both my DP and I went over to talk to my MIL and him tonight to clear the air. When we showed up, he didn't say a word, and left... We stayed to talk to my MIL. My DP did a wonderful job at explaining what was bothering us, and she seemed to take it really well. She seemed to understand. She is so wonderful with our DD, it would be shame to ruin that relationship because of this. We didn't get to talk to her partner, but we'll let the air settle a bit, and when he is ready to talk, we will discuss it further with him too.
post #11 of 20
Always trust your gut feeling. It's good that you and your DH are confronting the problem.

From what you described, I would also be feeling quite uncomfortable and concerned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliforniaMommy View Post
I did mention that he is a very kind, gentle and helpful person, and gets passionate about things.
I just want to emphasize that child molesters can also be kind, gentle, and helpful. Many child molesters seem like very nice people--on the outside.

Don't ever leave your DD alone with her grandparents.
post #12 of 20
I agree to trust your instincts. I get a weird vibe from one of dh's brothers and I never let him be alone w/my kids. I don't know what it is, I have no reason to suspect anything but the feeling is enough for me to trust, regardless of the reason that I can't articulate.
post #13 of 20
I don't know this guy, but I do want to speak to the idea that a grown man can't play in bed or be affectionate with a child not realted to him. I think that's bs! We live in a house with several other adults, and many of those "grown men" play in bed with ds, hug and kiss him, roll around with him, and are loving and affectionate with him. I don't think that being a "grown man" means that you can't do those things with a child, or that somehow biology means that you a right to those things, and not biologically related you can't.

So I don't know your mil's partner so I can't speak to him, but I think it is unfair to say that "grown men" should not be allowed to do those things.
post #14 of 20
I have to agree.

I think it's sad that a man [not necessarily in this case, again because I don't know the guy] can't be affectionate, or loving without someone talking about how loving and affectionate are signs of being a pedophile. DD has many loving men in her life, all which pick her up, kiss her cheeks, wrestle with her, snuggle with her and so on, and she's never been abused and I've never thought twice of them being creepy.




Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone_kneegrabber View Post
I don't know this guy, but I do want to speak to the idea that a grown man can't play in bed or be affectionate with a child not realted to him. I think that's bs! We live in a house with several other adults, and many of those "grown men" play in bed with ds, hug and kiss him, roll around with him, and are loving and affectionate with him. I don't think that being a "grown man" means that you can't do those things with a child, or that somehow biology means that you a right to those things, and not biologically related you can't.

So I don't know your mil's partner so I can't speak to him, but I think it is unfair to say that "grown men" should not be allowed to do those things.
post #15 of 20
You need to trust your instincts. Wrong or right I doubt you'll be sorry for protecting your daughter. I'm a huge believer in not ignoring my instincts just to avoid being rude or hurting someone's feelings.

However, I'm also with the pps who pointed out there's nothing inherintly (sp?)wrong with men playing with kids or being affectionate.

Also the idea that the issue is that they're not related doesn't make sense to me-biological family members are equaly capable of commiting a crime against/being innapropriate with a child.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you again for all the feedback. I do want to clarify that I did not insinuate that he has pedofile tendendies. I have not seen any sign of it, so that is not fair to the man to go there. I want to make that clear. I think I stressed that in my postings already.

However, I am uncomfortable with the level of physical closeness he is showing, and the kind of "obsession" he has with her (again not in a sexual way). Other male/female adults will play with her too, and there is no problem with them. The more social interraction she has, the better. We are not trying to shelter her from others, to the contrary. I would hate for her to grow up in an atmosphere of constant fear of other people's intentions. He's is acting differently though. Just a bit too involved, "obsessed" by her. It also comes accross when he talks about her to us or to others.

It's really hard for me to describe the situation in this thread, as we are also somewhat confused about how to understand his behavior. But we do have this gut-feeling that it isn't right. The more we let it go, the more it is gnawing at us in our stomach, so we had to say something. It's really bothering us. The best explanation we come up with is that our DD is filling a void for him, since he never had any kids.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayo de sol View Post
Always trust your gut feeling. It's good that you and your DH are confronting the problem.

From what you described, I would also be feeling quite uncomfortable and concerned.



I just want to emphasize that child molesters can also be kind, gentle, and helpful. Many child molesters seem like very nice people--on the outside.

Don't ever leave your DD alone with her grandparents.
I totally agree. Being overly helpful, gentle and kind IS a sign of a sexual predator. That coupled with his "obsession" and being too physical with her, I'd say he needs to stay far away from your daughter, OP.

OP, you have done the right thing! I get what you're saying and your MIL's partner seems creepy to me, too. Now, just stick to your decision. Don't let guilt (of hurting his feelings, for example) cause you to go back on your decision.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliforniaMommy View Post
Thank you again for all the feedback. I do want to clarify that I did not insinuate that he has pedofile tendendies. I have not seen any sign of it, so that is not fair to the man to go there. I want to make that clear. I think I stressed that in my postings already.

However, I am uncomfortable with the level of physical closeness he is showing, and the kind of "obsession" he has with her (again not in a sexual way). Other male/female adults will play with her too, and there is no problem with them. The more social interraction she has, the better. We are not trying to shelter her from others, to the contrary. I would hate for her to grow up in an atmosphere of constant fear of other people's intentions. He's is acting differently though. Just a bit too involved, "obsessed" by her. It also comes accross when he talks about her to us or to others.

It's really hard for me to describe the situation in this thread, as we are also somewhat confused about how to understand his behavior. But we do have this gut-feeling that it isn't right. The more we let it go, the more it is gnawing at us in our stomach, so we had to say something. It's really bothering us. The best explanation we come up with is that our DD is filling a void for him, since he never had any kids.
Although there's nothing on the surface that sets off bells for me, you do need to trust your gut, especially since your DP has the same gut feeling. I know people who have never done anything outwardly inappropriate, but whom I would never in a million years leave alone around my kids anyway. You guys are doing an awesome job by confronting the issue directly. I'm glad that your MIL seems receptive to your feedback, and that you're interested in preserving her relationship with your DD.
post #19 of 20

re

I would err on the side of caution. Perhaps seeing her everyday is too much? To me it sounds like he is prone to becoming "enmeshed" with others. You might want to establish some boundaries.
post #20 of 20
Trust your mother's intuition, I think you are on to something here.
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