I sympathize. It's hard not to have complete control over everything in your 2-year-old's life. Toddlers are so vulnerable and dependent and you know it would be unbearable if something happened to yours. Plus, it is logical and feels "right" when there's a balance between responsibility and control. However, you feel completely responsible for your daughter, but you don't have control when she's with her dad.
Try to concentrate on balancing your need for control, with HER need to develop a healthy relationship with her Dad - which can't happen if you exert total control over it. He has to be able to be a parent, not just someone you allow to visit with her, completely on your terms.
If there are concrete reasons why it's not safe for her to be with him, then intervene. For example, if you find out he refuses to put her in a proper car seat; or you learn that he has a string of DUI's; then it would be reasonable to try to keep her from driving with him. But if you simply fear that he's a worse driver than you are; or you come across statistics showing kids are more likely to be in car crashes when driven by non-custodial fathers than by their mothers...that would not give reasonable justification for keeping him from driving her places. KWIM?
To me, the issue of this pool would be huge. I would want to know they had one of those retractable covers you can safely walk on - and that it was closed whenever it wasn't in use - or at least that they used one of those electronic alarms that go off if something breaks the surface of the water when no one's out there; or I would not want my 2-year-old there, period. It is easy - even for people who are around toddlers all the time, much less those who aren't - to get talking and suddenly say, "Oh no! Where is she? She was underfoot 2 minutes ago!" and it turns out she's hiding in the laundry basket in the next room. But with an unfenced pool, the answer to "Where's the baby?" can be SO much worse. That, to me, is a reasonable concern.
But one reasonable response to it is to get your daughter in some serious swimming lessons, stat. Even if you manage to avoid this visit, clearly your ex wants to be able to take his daughter to his Mom's. You can't avoid it forever. And simply being afraid of what might happen doesn't accomplish anything. Most babies I've met who live in Florida swim like fish by the time they're at least 3. And it's purely because their parents know there will be so many situations where they might accidentally fall in water that they want to give them the best possible chance of surviving it. So, be proactive.
However, in your post you focused a lot more on the Step-Dad than the pool. I'm not sure how reasonable that is. I question the validity of your 1 in 4 statistic, simply based on the number of females I've known, in almost 40 years of life. Unless someone is using unreasonable definitions of "molested" (like a teenage boy trying to feel your breasts on a date, when you're not ready to move past kissing) I do not believe a quarter of all women have been sexually abused. You can find statistics to support almost anything. For example: if 1 in 4 females HAVE been molested - and most of them, by only one man in their life - then when any given girl meets any given man, there is only 1 chance in (the total # of men she will ever meet in her life x 3) that he will molest her. Those are pretty safe odds. The logic you're using could keep your daughter from ever spending the night at a friend's house, if the friend has a father, stepfather or brother; ever having a male teacher or coach...
If there is nothing concrete to make you suspect such a heinous, awful thing about this guy (you've witnessed or heard about clearly inappropriate behavior; he has some record of past abuse; his kids from his 1st marriage have cut off contact with him; he has changed his name and no one knows what it used to be, so you can't find out if he's on the sex offender registry...), then I think you almost have to accept that he's part of the package, with your daughter's grandmother. They're married.
I understand about "having a bad feeling" about someone. But you need to make a concerted effort to identify why you have it and how reasonable it is, to act on it? How much of it is tied up in your general discomfort about the situation? You'd sound very unreasonable, if you didn't want your daughter to have a relationship with her father, or her paternal grandmother, so there's pressure on you to suppress those thoughts. But it's safer to acknowledge you don't want her to have a relationship with some guy who's not a blood relative. Is putting your foot down about him - with no hard-and-fast reason - partly a back-door way to keep your daughter away from his wife and step-son? I'm not criticizing you. We all have irrational or unexplained fears. It's just best to figure them out, before acting on them.
Edited by VocalMinority - 6/22/11 at 10:50am