Overly zealous relative - how to approach inappropriate behaviour??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 02-20-2007, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, so short intro to the situation, dh is Algerian, I'm scottish = 2 kids dd 4.5yo, ds18 months. We live just outside of Paris, France. Dh has loads of sort of relatives, you know the cousin of my cousin type of thing, I have no-one. He has a half cousin (the mother is dh's mother's half sister), the cousin (just abit of background on her, she is an exceptionally immature 21 year old, who has just encountered bf#1, doesn't really know anything about the birds and bees, she wasn't allowed to take part in sex education etc at school and was two years behind and is as I say immature) she just LOVES my ds to the point that I worry about it, she never leaves him alone kisses him constantly, hugs, cuddles, he can never just be left alone to do what he wants when we visit them, when she kisses him it's smack on the mouth - he has managed to bite her a couple of times , I have talked to dh about how uncomfortable I feel about this situation, he's going to talk to her tonight!

However, we were at a family reunion (they seem to be practically every weekend sometimes!!) anyway this cousin asked dh if she could change Kian dh of course was delighted to be asked this and promptly gave ds over to her, she LOCKED herself in the bathroom with my son for over 20 minutes, whilst I was really worried outside, I kept saying that I would come in and change him seeing as she was taking so long but she just ignored me - ie. she didn't answer and said that she couldn't hear me when she came out, I was just outside the door for goodness sake : . The last time I was there and changed his nappy all the women decided to come and have or try to have a look at his uncircumcised penis, most of them have never seen one, thank goodness I am quite adept at keeping his modesty!

Now then, nothing untoward has seemed to come up since then, but I am really concerned as to WHAT she was doing with ds for all that time, his nappy wasnt even a dirty one as he uses the toilet now, so it was just pee - I am asking what you would do in this situation so that I can relay it to dh, I have told him that under no circumstances is she to change, look after or anything else our kids - he does agree with me thank heavens but doesn't want to cause family rifts etc , he is intending to tell her that we are uncomfortable with her behaviour around ds, but I just cant help wondering what she was doing ..... am I seeing spooks in the cupboard?

Thank you in advance for your advice/help/support.

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#2 of 15 Old 02-20-2007, 02:27 PM
 
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I think your concerns are valid and warranted.

I think she is just beginning to understand/explore her sexuality, and trying to figure out what feels good and what doesn't, etc, and is using your son to help her learn. It doesn't sound like she has any concerns for your son's feelings; its all about HER needs at this time.

That is scary to me. I wouldn't let her be around him unsupervised.
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#3 of 15 Old 02-20-2007, 02:33 PM
 
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You have every right to feel as you do... she locked you away from your son? No way in the world would she even get to hold my child again... at least not for a very very long time.
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#4 of 15 Old 02-20-2007, 03:40 PM
 
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Ewe. Although it seems unlikely, I imagine there might be a "logical" explanation for the 20 minute diaper change. You'll never know what happened in there, though, so I think it's wise to play it safe. I agree with the pp that her "affection" towards him seems more about her needs than his. My mom does this a lot ... she's totally oblivious to what dd needs/wants, and just forces her own agenda on her (picking dd up when she's in the middle of something, always demanding kisses, etc.). So between the mystery diaper change and her inappropriate behavior, I think some caution is in order. I'm glad your dh is on board with this too, and although I understand about not wanting to cause rifts, his first priority is towards his ds. That said, I have chosen not to have a "talk" with my mother, because I know it won't make a difference (she's too messed up to understand). Instead I just monitor really closely, never leave dd alone with her (not even alone in the same room), etc. I don't necessarily stop her when I think she's not respecting dd -- e.g., picking dd up when she's in the middle of something -- because dd often handles it just fine herself ... by screaming her head off . But it does result in some things that bug me (like the constant demanding of kisses), but I don't think they're detrimental enough to dd that I have to intervene.

I guess I'm just saying that if you or dh fear that a discussion with this woman will result in a confrontation and lots of problems, then it might be possible to take a less obvious approach, or maybe think of something you can say in the moment when she's being to physically aggressive with him (e.g., pointing out ds's discomfort, etc.).

OTOH, if you think she'll be receptive to the discussion, then maybe that is the best thing to do. Either way, this is a tough situation to be in. Many s, and I hope things work out!

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#5 of 15 Old 02-20-2007, 04:18 PM
 
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Trust your instincts. She had no reason to lock herself in the bathroom just to change his diaper.

Personally, I would do the talking with her. Figure out exactly what it is that bothers you, make a list and then have the conversation with her. If it is just a feeling and you can't put it into words then just address things as they come up.

For example, if you don't kiss him on the mouth or if it is just a thing that your immediate family does but isn't for extended family next time she does it just tell her to kiss him on the cheek, that mouth kisses are for mommy and daddy only. My dh's family like to kiss on the mouth - not something we do with our son so whenever the moment comes for goodbye kisses we've just always said "Charlie, kiss grandma on the cheek" or "Charlie, give grandma your cheek for a kiss." They got the message pretty quickly.

Also, ask her what took her so long to change his diaper. Then listen. Her reaction will tell you a lot about what really happened in there. She may have felt it was innocent (if she was just looking at his anatomy) but babies aren't for science class.

Sorry your having to deal with this.
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#6 of 15 Old 02-20-2007, 07:52 PM
 
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hi Ewe, I'm so sorry that you and your family are going through this. I come from a large extended family and know that some of them think that they can just take over and do things because they are family.

If I were in your situation I would trust my instincts and not allow your children to be alone with this cousin. It may be an over-reaction to do that, as maybe she was just real slow at changing the diaper and possibly didn't hear you BUT I always believe it is better to be safe than sorry and always trust your instincts.

If there is no proof of any funny goings on and if you don't want a confrontation if she were to ever want to do things like change his nappy/diaper again I'd just say lightheartedly "That's kind of your for offering but I'll do it".

During our big family Christmas re-union last year, DH and myself took turns in keeping a vigilant eye on DS to make sure that no-one fed him anything (because he shouldn't eat gluten). It was a good move that we did as DH stopped an aunt from feeding DS some dessert even though we had told them all not to feed him and the reason why.

I think that Cheshire's suggestion of "Charlie, kiss grandma on the cheek" or "Charlie, give grandma your cheek for a kiss." is fabulous. Indirectly letting her know.

I'm not one for confrontations. If ever I get someone who is nasty to me, I just can't think fast enough on my feet for a suitable retort until after the situation is over. However you are a great mother and I know that no matter what the outcome, you will put your children's safety first.

to you. I hope this gets resolved for you.
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#7 of 15 Old 02-22-2007, 04:58 PM
 
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If this cousin was a guy, and/or if your child was a girl, I wonder if you would second guess yourself like this.

What on earth would be the reason to lock a bathroom door for a diaper change?

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#8 of 15 Old 02-22-2007, 05:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheshire View Post
For example, if you don't kiss him on the mouth or if it is just a thing that your immediate family does but isn't for extended family next time she does it just tell her to kiss him on the cheek, that mouth kisses are for mommy and daddy only. My dh's family like to kiss on the mouth - not something we do with our son so whenever the moment comes for goodbye kisses we've just always said "Charlie, kiss grandma on the cheek" or "Charlie, give grandma your cheek for a kiss." They got the message pretty quickly.
This is a really great idea and something we can put into practice as well.

Like others have said trust your instincts. You are responsible for keeping your child safe and if you even suspect something it warrents you monitoring her very closely w/ DS.

DH and I are the ones who take care of diaper changes, baths etc. We just say "We're the parents and its our job to take care of *fill in the blank*. And you get to be the grandparents (or whatever) and do fun stuff like playing w/ child."

It is a difficult situation. We're there too. Hope things get better.

-Pam
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#9 of 15 Old 02-22-2007, 08:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
If this cousin was a guy, and/or if your child was a girl, I wonder if you would second guess yourself like this.

What on earth would be the reason to lock a bathroom door for a diaper change?
Seriously...

No way, uh-uh, totally NOT ok. And if this girl is as immature as u say, then she may have NO IDEA what is inappropriate and what is ok. The talk ought to come from you. In a serious but calm mama-bear tone. This little girl (for that is what she is) needs to know what's up. PP was right, you will never know what happened behind that locked door, but you can SURE as User Agreement Violation EDUCATE HER re; the fact that one NEVER takes another's child behind a locked door. You can be very PC about it, "I know you love ds dearly and would never do anything to hurt him. You need to know that it made me very uncomfortable the other day when you went to change his diaper and locked the door. (Don't let her get defensive, just keep plugging on, you have no obligation to hear justifications...) I'm sure it was nothing, and I'm sure you didn't know, but generally speaking, let's not let anything like that ever happen again, because ds loves you and we/I do too, and we would hate for there to be any reason for us to feel uncomfortable about you. So no more locked door-diaper changes, ok? We appreciate your help, just leave the diapering to us."
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#10 of 15 Old 02-23-2007, 05:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Firstly, thank you all for your advice and support on this one - it's not been easy! However we have sorted a few things out.

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Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
If this cousin was a guy, and/or if your child was a girl, I wonder if you would second guess yourself like this.
You're completely correct, I mentioned this to dh before he spoke to her the other day.

PrennaMama - I let dh speak to her because the family either speaks french or arabic and although I am OK at french it's not great and not good enough to not get frustrated and angry when they say they don't understand which is often the case because they generally think I'm nuts! so I didn't want to give the opportunity of saying that they didn't understand.

Cheshire - we're going to implement the kissing on the cheek - which is very french anyway!! thanks for that I think it is a great solution.

Shana - yes the situation was very much about HER and getting what SHE wanted from the affection with no consideration to ds's feelings at all, you would have thought that the biting (to blood) might have given it away slightly, but no she just thought it funny - anyway we really need to be on guard about the selfish over affection!

Ange - it's awful not to be able to trust our folks with the kids even when we give them explicite instructions and the whys and wherefores - choose your friends not your family - how true!! I'm also like you in that I think of all these wonderful witty things to retort but about 5 hours after the event!!

First of all, we have established that no one changes ds but us or with our supervision, the kissing is only when arriving or leaving and on the cheek, ds and dd are to be in our sight at all times, however we've also decided to let dd in on the act as well, so that she can watch out for her little brother, we just asked her that if she ever sees anything that she feels is too much then she can protect her brother or come and get either mummy or daddy - although I'm hoping that will never come up as I want to be able to be with him at all times, but just in case ....

On the bathing front no-one has ever bathed our children apart from us, I taught the kids at a very early age how to wash themselves and use soap and then wash it off by themselves so that it NEVER gives anyone the opportunity should the occasion ever arise that we aren't with them.

Anyway - the conversation went ok and dh asked for her mother to be present so that they could try and 'talk' about things, he explained that we were very concerned that she locked the door and said that she hadn't heard me when I tried to 1) go into the bathroom 2) when i tried to talk to her. She said that she didn't hear me at all : , he said that he didn't understand how she couldn't hear and did she feel guilty about anything, she said no, so he explained about the kissing, changing and not taking either child away by themselves (there are brothers too). He also tried to impress on his aunt that she should educate her daughter in sex education which didn't go down too well, so he said that if the cousin wanted to know anything she was to ask him or me. He looked up the internet and gave her a few sites to look up so that she would be able to do some research.

Generally the talk went well-ish but we are not going to visit this weekend - I think that leaving some time for this family to digest what we have said maybe a good thing, we'll see how we feel about visiting again - quite honestly I'm not too keen in going back at all, but then that'll just make things worse

DH has handled this well in the circumstances and I'm really pleased that we have really worked together on this one, normally he leaves most parenting decisions to me.

ewe + dh = our little lambs + we and have many just : and : life .
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#11 of 15 Old 02-23-2007, 12:57 PM
 
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DH has handled this well in the circumstances and I'm really pleased that we have really worked together on this one, normally he leaves most parenting decisions to me.
Ewe, it sounds like your dh was a CHAMP!! Very assertive and making sure your and his wishes were known. A big thumb's up for both of you ! I hope his family responds well to his comments .

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#12 of 15 Old 02-23-2007, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a horrible feeling that this may have backfired on us, someone from their phone number just phoned and hung up when I replied - maybe they only want to deal with dh now - oh dear I wonder what they are thinking now??????

ewe + dh = our little lambs + we and have many just : and : life .
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#13 of 15 Old 02-23-2007, 02:35 PM
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I have a horrible feeling that this may have backfired on us, someone from their phone number just phoned and hung up when I replied - maybe they only want to deal with dh now - oh dear I wonder what they are thinking now??????
It really does not matter what they are thinking now.

My sil has a boyfriend/now her fiance that was always trying to snuggle dd and asking for kisses. My dd has always been stingy with her kisses, which is kind of nice because when she offers one it is truly because she wants to be affectionate...and this "Uncle"'s push of affection always bothered me. I approached it with my dh, and while he truly feels that this uncle is not meaning our dd any harm or does not mean anything inappropriate by it, he understands my concerns and agrees that we'd rathe be wrong with our suspicions than be right with them and have something happen. So now, even though my sil is probably not going to like it (she is quite used to being able to take my dss on her own for outings, and expects to be able to do the same with dd and the baby I am carrying) they as a couple will never be alone with our kids (he goes where she goes). This means no babysitting, no outings...if we are not there then neither are our kids. So far I've been able to make excuses for why dss can't go to whereever, but if it comes down to it I will tell her my reasons. As far as I am concerned, my kids' well-being comes WAY before his feelings.
(Oddly enough, before I made this decision my mom told me that "there is just something about that guy I don't like", I never told her my concerns. And when I mentioned the concerns to my best friend, she said "You know, he gives me the creeps." So I don't think I'm far off here)

I do hope that you can resolve this so that you and your family can continue to have a good relationship with extended family, but there is no way on this green earth that you should ever let this cousin near your son again.
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#14 of 15 Old 02-23-2007, 05:59 PM
 
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ewe+lamb,

I am glad you and your dh took action! You are protecting your son/making sure he has the best chances of staying safe, and regardless of what anyone thinks, that is your most important job and you did it well.

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I think that Cheshire's suggestion of "Charlie, kiss grandma on the cheek" or "Charlie, give grandma your cheek for a kiss." is fabulous. Indirectly letting her know.
Right, but I would phrase it differently. I would say, "Would you like to give ____(insert name) a kiss on the cheek?" It still specifies the type of kissing you feel is appropriate...but children should never be commanded to give a person physical affection. The choice to be physically affectionate with someone is a personal decision, and honoring that right from early on is an important part of the foundation for healthy body attitudes.

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I approached it with my dh, and while he truly feels that this uncle is not meaning our dd any harm or does not mean anything inappropriate by it, he understands my concerns and agrees that we'd rather be wrong with our suspicions than be right with them and have something happen.
Absolutely. The thing is, adults who sexually abuse children are usually the people you trust. They are people who *need* you to be able to brush off concerns in order for you to give them access to your children. Some abusers actually are the most beloved in their communities. They are the most trusted ballet teachers, loved and adored by parents and children alike. Etc. Etc. It is sad, but we need to be alert at all times to that possibility, even with family who do not seem ill-intentioned.

I am not advocating for cultivating fear, but rather a realistic sense and a willingness to advocate for our children even when it comes to family and close friends.

Quote:
(Oddly enough, before I made this decision my mom told me that "there is just something about that guy I don't like", I never told her my concerns. And when I mentioned the concerns to my best friend, she said "You know, he gives me the creeps." So I don't think I'm far off here)
On the rare occassion that there is a sign ahead of something bad happening, it is often nothing more than that: a "funny feeling."

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#15 of 15 Old 02-23-2007, 08:59 PM
 
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Oy, and to have a language barrier while you're asserting your preferences, culturally, as a parent! Your husband rocks!! Sounds like you guys made a point!

Just sit back, now, and be secure in knowing you guys did the right thing.
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