I'm being crazy, right? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 04-04-2013, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I need some perspective here.  My father is kind of an odd bird.  I don't want to flat out call him stupid (which is what I think in my head a lot of the time), but he has NO sense of personal space/boundaries, and no sense of how others may perceive him.  He's prone to anger and contagious grouchiness, and has the capacity to make people feel just awful when he's in a bad mood.  He LOVES to help other people, almost to a fault, and he also likes everyone to know how much he likes to help other people.  Anyway - just trying to set the scene by describing my dad as I see him now.  Not quite right, not fully capable, a little bit off his rocker :) 

 

Here's the issue:  I have somehow made it to my adult life being not quite sure that my father did not abuse me in my childhood.  Now, I have NO clear memories or evidence of abuse.  I do not know why I am left with this sense of mistrust.  But...there it is.  I started to fear him at some point in my early adolescence, right around the time that I started to become aware of sex stuff and see those scary videos at school about sexual predators.  The fear turned into loathing in my teenage years.  Nowadays, it's just sort of a mix of annoyance and acceptance.  Of course, at the time I expected him to be a "normal" adult.  I didn't understand his chronic flaws the same way I do now.  It is fully possible that he did something stupid that I misperceived or associated with the scary stuff I was learning.  I was a very fearful child in general, so it's possible. 

 

BUT, now I have a 3 year old daughter, and it is often suggested that my dad should watch her, and I just harbor this worry that he will abuse her.  It's getting very hard to continue deflecting suggestions that he should watch her alone, and I'm not even sure I have a real foundation for this worry.  I let my parents watch her when they're both there, and I don't think there's been an issue. 

 

So I guess I'm just wondering what I should do.  I can't very well tell them that I don't want him to watch DD because I'm afraid he might molest her, when I have absolutely no foundation for that fear, you know?  It's just a confusing situation.

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#2 of 26 Old 04-04-2013, 10:19 PM
 
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That is a hard situation~ Of course my advice is to absolutely follow your instinct and not let your dd alone with him. there are different levels of inappropriateness so perhaps his is more subtle. but it is still a strong feeling for you. I assume you can't talk to your mom about it? I would suggest just saying no if he wants to watch her alone- and just say- thanks for your offer but I am not comfortable with it. Can you be vague like that or will he press for why? Either way trust your gut feeling even if it is unclear.

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#3 of 26 Old 04-04-2013, 10:22 PM
 
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That is a hard situation~ Of course my advice is to absolutely follow your instinct and not let your dd alone with her. there are different levels of inappropriateness so perhaps his is more subtle. but it is still a strong feeling for you. I assume you can't talk to your mom about it? I would suggest just saying no if he wants to watch her alone- and just say- thanks for your offer but I am not comfortable with it. Can you be vague like that or will he press for why? Either way trust your gut feeling even if it is unclear.

 

 

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#4 of 26 Old 04-06-2013, 05:40 AM
 
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exactly what Snapdragon wrote

trust your instincts

don't offer many explanations why it won't work for you (unless you want to)

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#5 of 26 Old 04-06-2013, 09:46 AM
 
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Trust your instincts.  It might have been something you witnessed him doing, not that was done to you that you just can not remember.  It could also just be an innate feeling.  I feel that way about a member of DH's family.  He has never been inappropriate, but he just makes me very uncomfortable, so we never leave the kids alone around him (even if other cousins are there).  I think of it this way.  I probably will not regret never leaving my kids with him.  I could never forgive myself if I did and something happened.


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#6 of 26 Old 04-06-2013, 02:56 PM
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Run, don't walk, to the bookstore or library and get the book Protecting the Gift by Gavin De Becker.  

 

Instincts, especially about the safety of our children, are evolutionary.  In other words, listen to them.

 

Also, the hippocampus processes memories (as we think of them), and the amygdala processes feelings about memories.  It's entirely possible to lose a memory but retain the feeling about that memory.  So your amygdala might be remembering something about your childhood, even if your hippocampus can't. 

 

Personally, I wouldn't let your parents watch your dd at all, even together.  Your mom might run to the store, or a neighbor's house, or whatever, and leave your dad alone with your dd, which you don't want.


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#7 of 26 Old 04-06-2013, 03:25 PM
 
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BUT, now I have a 3 year old daughter, and it is often suggested that my dad should watch her, and I just harbor this worry that he will abuse her.  It's getting very hard to continue deflecting suggestions that he should watch her alone, and I'm not even sure I have a real foundation for this worry.  I let my parents watch her when they're both there, and I don't think there's been an issue. 

 

So I guess I'm just wondering what I should do.  I can't very well tell them that I don't want him to watch DD because I'm afraid he might molest her, when I have absolutely no foundation for that fear, you know?  It's just a confusing situation.

Who's making the suggestion that your dad should be watching your 3 year old alone?  If it's your mother, are you certain that she wouldn't leave them alone together when it's supposed to be both of them watching her?  (I'm asking because I've had some issues in my family along those lines, so if it doesn't apply in your situation, please ignore.)

 

You have first hand experience of what your dad is like around kids, making you far more of an expert on this very specialised subject than pretty near anybody else, so please respect your own feelings about his suitability as a babysitter, because you're quite likely right.

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#8 of 26 Old 04-06-2013, 10:18 PM
 
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No you're not. I wouldn't let someone I didn't completely trust watch a child, if I harbored any suspicion or doubt. You're not being crazy. You're harboring those doubts and suspicions. If something did occur you could never take it back and probably feel pretty awful about it, that's IF you found out about it at all.

Is it worth wasting energy worrying about it when she is there?

I would probably go as far as not even letting unsupervised visits unless its yourself or partner if they know what to look out for. I'm not really a sucker for instinct but based on 2 solid parts of what you presented. 

1. You don't know whether or not you were abused.

2. He has a history of not being 'quite right.' Could be possible he doesn't realize whatever he is doing is inappropriate.

It just doesn't sound right.

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#9 of 26 Old 04-07-2013, 02:02 PM
 
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Nope, not crazy and you don't have to feel bad about it or even offer explanations. "No thanks, we don't need you to watch her" is enough!
FWIW I have similar reservations with my MIL and she's never watched my kids alone...been repeating that line for 12 years.wink1.gif
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#10 of 26 Old 04-07-2013, 04:41 PM
 
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What you describe reminds me very much of what i felt and perceived before the memories resurfaced of being molested by my brother.
The abuse happened when i was very young, i had buried them way down, so far down that they didnt resurface until i was 19. When i was a child i feared him, when i was an adolescent i hated him, as a young adult i felt a lot of rage and hate and now at the age of 31 i feel a mixture of disgust and disdain. If those memories hadnt resurfaced i probably also would wonder where my feelings and perceptions are coming from because its only natural for the logical mind to try to figure out the whys and whats. My feelings were not wrong and they were persistent enough, just like yours are, to tell me that i shouldn't ignore them. My brother also has no respect for boundaries, i dont think he even understands them and he is often "too much" for people to handle. I encourage you to trust your feelings and instincts, why would they be there if they didnt mean anything? Nobody would "make up" feelings like this, especially about a close family member, it has no benefit. Dont worry about what your parents think, you're an adult, you have every right to set your dominance and tell them no. I wouldnt let either of them babysit because like a PP said, your mom could leave him alone with your daughter (better to be safe than sorry). I recommend you see a good therapist who specializes in childhood trauma, he/she will probably help you uncover the memories. It may take some time so dont expect overnight results.

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#11 of 26 Old 04-07-2013, 05:03 PM
 
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Trust your gut. Always. BIG yes to everything A&A said.
 


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#12 of 26 Old 04-07-2013, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ouch. Guess it's unamimous, then. I'm a little disconcerted by some of these posts, actually. I generally do assume I'm being crazy about this, so it seem more real to have my worries taken seriously. I wish....well, I really wish you all thought I was nuts. I don't have a lot of close people in my life these days, and I really rely on my parents for help. They're actually the only people we have to look after DD. To lose them as caregivers would be a huge blow to me. And yet, as I know y'all will say, what if the worst was to happen? I just wish there was a way that I could know for sure.
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#13 of 26 Old 04-07-2013, 08:28 PM
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Ouch. Guess it's unamimous, then. I'm a little disconcerted by some of these posts, actually. I generally do assume I'm being crazy about this, so it seem more real to have my worries taken seriously. I wish....well, I really wish you all thought I was nuts. I don't have a lot of close people in my life these days, and I really rely on my parents for help. They're actually the only people we have to look after DD. To lose them as caregivers would be a huge blow to me. And yet, as I know y'all will say, what if the worst was to happen? I just wish there was a way that I could know for sure.

 

I know it's disconcerting, and hard to lose them as caregivers.  But that's what parenting involves........making the hard choices to keep our kids safe.  

 

You don't have to know for sure what happened in your childhood.  (Although I do understand that desire.)  You know for sure how you feel now.  That's what matters.  And please, again, pick up the book Protecting the Gift.


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#14 of 26 Old 04-08-2013, 05:09 PM
 
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the thing is you know better than we do. We are just responding to a post- we don't know your parents. you have to do what feels right for you. Sounds like you are comfortable with both your parents watching her- so do things have to change, can you just keep having them both watch her?

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#15 of 26 Old 04-08-2013, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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the thing is you know better than we do. We are just responding to a post- we don't know your parents. you have to do what feels right for you. Sounds like you are comfortable with both your parents watching her- so do things have to change, can you just keep having them both watch her?

 

I'm not sure.  I guess it's one of those things where I feel like there's a a 99% chance that everything will be fine, but the 1% possibility is unthinkable.  It's doubly difficult because my DD brings such joy to my mom, and she really needs that.  So, if I'm wrong about this, it seems like it could really cause a lot of hurt all around.  Also, assuming that there WAS no abuse, but I still just harbor difficult feelings about my dad, I'm not sure there's a need to shield DD from him for that.  He's her grandchild and he clearly treasures her, and is generally cognizant of the fact that he has to behave around her.  Actually, one day he was in a bad mood and my DD said "Pepere's not using his nice voice today," and it really resonated with my Dad, who generally just thinks than any criticism is an accusation.  When I was a kid, my Dad's anger issues were unaddressed and unacknowledged, and he was in the thick of all the work stress that made things worse.  So there are many possible reasons why I might have grown up with negative feelings towards him, and it's very likely that my DD will never see those aspects of him.  There's just that nagging mystery that I don't understand...

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#16 of 26 Old 04-08-2013, 09:58 PM
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Read this sentence again:  " I have somehow made it to my adult life being not quite sure that my father did not abuse me in my childhood. "   (You wrote it.)  

 

And ask yourself again if this is the guy you want watching your dd.


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#17 of 26 Old 04-08-2013, 10:37 PM
 
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I can understand wanting to bring joy into your parents' lives. One thing you could ask yourself is: how does DD react to him? Kids are naturally intuitive so if she shies away from him or runs to see him, this would help you see his intentions. Of course some kids are always shy at first or whatever--just notice if she acts unusually to him. This isnt a 100% fool proof thing but it will give you a good sense of what she is picking up on, if anything. My grandfather was abusive towards my mom when she was a kid and i remember at the age of 4 feeling gross around him--i wanted to get away from him but i didnt know why.

The bottom line is: dont let the need to please them keep you from honoring your feelings and instincts. If your gut says dont do it then dont. It sounds like your parents didnt encourage that much so you'll need to step out of your emotional comfort zone to really listen to yourself. Your job isnt to please them--its to do whats best for your daughter.

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#18 of 26 Old 04-08-2013, 11:35 PM
 
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The bottom line is: dont let the need to please them keep you from honoring your feelings and instincts. If your gut says dont do it then dont. It sounds like your parents didnt encourage that much so you'll need to step out of your emotional comfort zone to really listen to yourself. Your job isnt to please them--its to do whats best for your daughter.

 

Agreed. As a kid who was abused I wish that my mother had done more to protect me. ANd even now she is nevr allowed to be alone with my son and some weird behavior from my partners parents have pretty much made it so they cannot be either. Trust your self. Hurt feelings are nothing compared to the safety and well being of your daughter.

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#19 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 09:22 AM
 
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Ouch. Guess it's unanimous, then. I'm a little disconcerted by some of these posts, actually. I generally do assume I'm being crazy about this, so it seem more real to have my worries taken seriously. I wish....well, I really wish you all thought I was nuts. I don't have a lot of close people in my life these days, and I really rely on my parents for help. They're actually the only people we have to look after DD. To lose them as caregivers would be a huge blow to me. And yet, as I know y'all will say, what if the worst was to happen? I just wish there was a way that I could know for sure.

 

That really stinks!  I feel for you.  I would be very disappointed to discover I needed to give up my caregivers; being able to drop my kids off when I go to the doctor, go to the grocery store, go on a date, heck, just go to the library and chill --that was so important.  It made a difference in the quality of my life. 

 

Is that the kind of help you're referring to? 

 

Let's look closely at this Huge Blow. Remember that this is a temporary inconvenience (unless you're going to homeschool). She's 3 years old. Maybe next year she will go to preschool?  Kindergarten is coming up.  It's hard to remember when you're in the thick of it, but your daughter is growing and developing, and your situation inevitably changes with it.  It can help when you're inconvenienced and stressed out and would like to have a caregiver  -there is an end to this.

 

See if there is a baby-sitting service in town. Those can be expensive but it might be worth it when you have scheduled needs, like a doctor appointment or date night. 


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#20 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 09:30 AM
 
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Another vote for "not crazy."

 

Also, I'd add that you don't have to tell your dad you're "not comfortable" with having him babysit. Just "no thanks, we're fine," is enough. Tell him you enjoy spending time with you and your DD together. I am not comfortable having either grandfather watch my kids- not because of worries about abuse, but just because I don't think they're capable for various reasons. It really doesn't come up much. If he presses the issue, you could also say something like, "DD is SO active, she really wears me out. When we have a sitter we like to have a teenager who can get her good and tired and keep up with her energy. But we'd love to have you over for lunch on Saturday." Does your mom watch her? If so, you may have to stop that, as it could be hard explaining why grandma can watch her and grandpa can't.

 

I feel for you. It's hard when things aren't clear cut. But it's always better to err on the side of safety.
 


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#21 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 11:03 AM
 
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Read this sentence again:  " I have somehow made it to my adult life being not quite sure that my father did not abuse me in my childhood. "   (You wrote it.)  

 

And ask yourself again if this is the guy you want watching your dd.


Yep.

I was never abused by my father but I know he has no boundaries and convince himself ANYTHING he does is okay and right. He's not in my life to much of a degree anymore but even if he were, he would never be allowed alone with my sons. I'd rather be inconvenienced and drag my kiddos with me anywhere than leave them with him or other family members I don't completely trust.

And someone above mentioned reading "The Gift of Fear" or "Protecting the Gift", both by Gavin Debecker. I highly recommend those books to you. Very helpful and informative for me!

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#22 of 26 Old 04-10-2013, 07:07 PM
 
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yes I agree- you don't have to say the I'm not comfortable wording I used in the other post. you can juist say no thanks and keep your reasons to yourself.

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#23 of 26 Old 04-11-2013, 08:42 AM
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I agree with people about not leaving your dd alone with her grandpa.  However, I did want to share a story.  My mom's dad is similar to how you describe your dad.  Quite frankly, he can be a jerk.  Apparently, he had quite the temper when he raised my mom and how he treated her would now be considered abusive.  Nothing sexual. . . purely violent discipline.  My mom still struggles with her relationship with her parents.  However, they have been fantastic grandparents.  My grandfather has been nothing but gentle with me.  He has been nothing but gentle with my kids.  Once, when I was a kid, he got very grumpy and yelled in the car at us.  My younger sister said to him that she couldn't be his "sugar" anymore because he was yelling.  That ended up being the first & last time I heard him yell in anger at any of us.  We all have theories.  We know, for example, that once he retired, he was much easier to be around.  He didn't handle stress well and we think life got overwhelming for him.  I also think that he suffered a bit from depression.  It runs in our family.  When my kids were small, I let them watch my kids.  They did it together; not because I worried about any treatment, but because they were getting older.  My grandpa never did diapers, and my grandma didn't have the arm strength for other tasks.  Together, my kids were safe and happy.  I must admit that while I completely believe my mom regarding her childhood, it is really hard for me to imagine.

 

On the other hand, my mil never got to watch my kids by herself until my kids could speak well.  I had no fear of abuse, but she was the type that would just let a baby cry.  There was no way I would allow that version of getting the baby down for a nap.  So, dh and I would respond to helpful offers with, "thank you for your offer, we will let you know if we ever need the help"  and then we just didn't need her help.

 

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#24 of 26 Old 04-12-2013, 06:59 PM
 
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Regardless of what may or may not have happened to you as a child, if you are not comfortable with putting your child in a particular situation you should not do it. And you are under no obligation to justify that decision to others. All you need to say is "I'm not comfortable with my father babysitting my child" and leave it at that. Focus on fostering the level of relationship you are comfortable with between the two of them, but in my opinion caregiving is a personal decision. There are certain family members that are allowed to watch my son unsupervised (and it's a very small number) and there are others that are not. I think it's perfectly reasonable for parents to be selective about who cares for their child - and their reasons for those decisions are private and not up for family discussion. 


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#25 of 26 Old 04-13-2013, 08:30 AM
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Regardless of what may or may not have happened to you as a child, if you are not comfortable with putting your child in a particular situation you should not do it. And you are under no obligation to justify that decision to others. All you need to say is "I'm not comfortable with my father babysitting my child" and leave it at that. Focus on fostering the level of relationship you are comfortable with between the two of them, but in my opinion caregiving is a personal decision. There are certain family members that are allowed to watch my son unsupervised (and it's a very small number) and there are others that are not. I think it's perfectly reasonable for parents to be selective about who cares for their child - and their reasons for those decisions are private and not up for family discussion. 

 

 Very well said!  


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#26 of 26 Old 04-13-2013, 03:30 PM
 
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Honestly I would really think twice about any male babysitter since men can be such sexually impulsive creatures (of course, not that women can't abuse too). Please trust your instincts!
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