I am not in either of the camps you identified.
Here is where I am coming from. Many years ago I became "mother" (foster mother in a placement designed to be "permanent") to a child with multiple disabilities including a cognitive disability and several behavioral and emotional disorders. He was also "sexually reactive," which is the term used for a minor who has a history that makes them act out sexually...after someone becomes an adult, if they act out sexually, they are in a legal sense a predator or an abuser...the only person for whom "motive" is relevant is a treating therapist. Anyway, part of my agreement in becoming his parent was line-of-sight supervision at all times. Parenting him required exhausting vigilance, and an ability to try to keep things as normal as possible for him while silmultaneously having an acute awareness of all things at all times.
My brother-in-law (dw's brother) and his wife (our sister-in-law), who were are only family in the area, without knowing any of dfs' history, met our dfs once and got uncomfortable with his look (saw him as a potential perv immediately without any obvious signs) and walked right out of our lives.
We lost all contact with BIL and SIL's three children at that time, and it was incredibly, incredibly painful. Without sharing any of dfs' story, we told them we would have dfs in line-of-sight at all times, and that they were free to do so with their own children as well, and that we could get together at restaurants, etc. and not at one another's homes. But they did not care. Even with four adults (them and us) on total alert in public places, they didn't feel safe. And dfs had done *nothing,* I mean *nothing* to them or their children. He had met them once and spent all of ten minutes in their house.
So I am sensitive to the need to account for the humanity of people with disabilities who have struggles in this area. I am sensitive to how hard this must be for your MIL. And I am very aware of your BIL's human dignity.
That said, I don't think your BIL is served in any way, shape, or form by people infantalizing him (especially given how "high functioning" he is) and making excuses rather than holding him accountable.
He can learn. He can mature. That is a capacity of all human beings no matter their starting abilities. It made me insane when people didn't account for dfs' special needs and work to guide him, but it made me equally insane when people didn't have high expectations of him. Nothing held him back more than the low expectations people had.
Originally Posted by GoBecGo
WRT BIL - he isn't a predator. Or he is, but only in the way a toddler or child could be seen to be one - you told him not to do something, he tried repeatedly to do it. I have a 3 year old here who cannot STOP trying to climb up to the cookies and the more she hears "no" the more she schemes to get to them.
Infantalizing this near-adult does nothing but harm. It sets him up for near certain failure. And at what cost? He was preparing to sexually abuse this child. How long will it be before he finds a child with whom he *can* be alone?
|Because of your boundaries you have a big flashing "OMG NO!!!" alarm when it comes to sexual contact - he doesn't. He really really doesn't.
How could anyone online here possibly know that? It *is* discrimination to act based on the notion that if you have met one person with the disability, you have met them all.
This is a human being, not a disability. We don't know any more about him than what was posted, and we certainly can't see into his brain and decipher the nuances from these posts.
Despite severe cognitive delays, my dfs did
know his impulses were wrong. He could even tell you why if pushed in therapy (heck, even now my three and four year olds could tell you exactly who is allowed to touch whose privates and in what circumstances, and the basic reasons why). dfs' issues were around impulse control. His job was to learn to control his impulses, and everyone else's job was to teach him in part by holding him to that standard
. And until he could learn to control himself, our job as his parents so long as he was a minor in our home, was to make sure he never, ever had the chance to harm someone.
|He has the body of an adult man, but it's very likely he feels he's playing with an equal when he's with your DD.
This is the part of this particular post where I start agreeing with the pp.
Actually, some therapists who treat adults who sexually abuse children say that this is true for most who sexually abuse. Often, people who sexually abuse children don't differentiate between themselves and the child, between their needs and the child's needs. They tend to relate to younger people on more of a peer-to-peer level. The door that closes for the rest of us as we get older, that door that sets us apart from younger people and prevents sexual interest in younger people doesn't close for people who abuse.
That's why the rest of us need to set those boundaries in a major way and then hold folks accountable to them. "[dd] is four. You are seventeen. Seventeen year olds should never do anything sexual with four year olds. Seventeen year olds should be with people their own age. Who are some people your own age?"
If he gets in trouble legally because he actually succeeds in harming a child in this way, he can still go to jail for it, he can still be forced to register as a sexual offender.
Here are my other thoughts, from the perspective of what I would be thinking if this was my dd...
Number 1: Every child has a right not to be put in knowing contact with someone who has tried to abuse them.
Number 2: Even if you are able to supervise and keep your dd from harm, you are exposing her to someone who tried to abuse her.
Number 3: Your dd should never, ever be alone with your BIL, just as you've always known. You are not discriminating, you are responding to an actual event that actually occurred.
Number 4: I would be much more comfortable about the situation if MIL took it seriously and was willing to get a team involved in helping to teach your BIL appropriate behavior. Even so, I'd never let dd alone with him nor would I let MIL supervise.
Number 5: If FIL has issues and BIL idolizes him, chances are, BIL has the same issues. That alone makes me especially uncomfortable about this situation.
I'll also second these posts:
Originally Posted by betsyj
Child sexual abuse is so serious and has such devestating consequences for all involved that I could not allow this relationship to continue if I were in your shoes.
|I would not at all have him stay in your house or stay in his house. If you are able to keep up contact with him, you need to ensure that he is not alone with her, but also not touching her inappropriately under the guise of play or affection, and not talking inappropriately with her, etc. And it isn't fair to teach her what to do and place that responsibility on her shoulders. She's just a little girl.
Originally Posted by Cetan Luta
I personally would not be able to deal with the only thing keeping my daughter safe being me not having my back turned for even a second. Too much risk and guilt for me. If BIL is still actively trying to sneak DD off by himself, I would not allow them to be around each other. To me, no amount of affectionate relationship is worth the damages of sexual abuse.
And I would say that there is often affection between abusers and the children they abuse. Abusers can easily be the most beloved soccer coach in town, the teacher every child thinks is the coolest, the dad whose children adore him...etc.
In the end, I would have your husband have a long heart-to-heart with his mother insisting that BIL needs explicit instructions about sexual development and appropriate sexual behavior. In fact, beyond instructions, if you feel confident he knew what he did was wrong, I would insist that he enters treatment. He could really benefit from that.
I would speak with BIL and make clear boundaries and set basic rules. No hugs, kissing, or lap sitting. Handshakes and hive fives okay if your dd wants to do it. That kind of thing.
I would visit infrequently and cut the length of visits even if they do live far away and travel is long. I would stay in a hotel and I would not do things that involved hanging out at MIL's house. I would make sure that we eat out as much as possible and that we went to museums, etc. during the day. I would encourage your husband to really buddy up with BIL, be a pal to BIL so that BIL's focus was redirected off dd and onto the two of them. I would likewise keep dd occuppied and engaged with other stuff so that visiting didn't inherently encompass a lot of contact with BIL.
I would reassure dd that I would keep her safe. I would be honest with her about BIL's disabilities, and their nature, but I would be very careful not to make her feel responsible for keeping herself safe with him. And I wouldn't do visits at all if I had any inkling dd was uncomfortable with visiting BIL.
Originally Posted by trinity6232000
His disability and upbringing aren't his fault.
This is true but eventually his behavior becomes his fault. If you lay out the rules and reaffirm boundaries, you've done your part. If he can't follow the rules, then he can't be around your dd.