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#1 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 02:02 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm a single mama to my 14 mo old DD. We share a room in a co-op house with nine other adult housemates. It's been a fantastic experience, and as my aunt said to me the other day, "so do you love it here, or do you love it here, or what!!!". I was like, "I know, I love it here."

Which is why this current situation is so difficult. There is one housemate, M, he's the odd duck of the group (there's always at least one, right?) When DD and I first moved in I was very impressed with our housemates for the way they tried to get to know her, even the ones w/no previous experience with children. M is really the one that has come the furthest, from being very very unsure of how to talk, distract, play, just be around her, to entertaining her very well and enjoying her company. Enjoying her company TOO much, I'm starting to think.

It is accepted in the house that M has some personality issues. He has very few social skills. He's kinda a conspiracy nut. He doesn't let go of topics very well, will bring up someone's dirty dishes many many times, but rarely to the dirtydish-er him/herself. Very passive aggressive.

His attention paying to DD has escalated in the past month or so. He can barely speak to the other housemates if DD is in the room, he gravitates to her immediately upon entrance. During a house meeting last week DD was sitting on the floor next to me just absently tapping her hand against a hand drum. He sat on the floor next to her and began playing on the drum with her, encouraging her and praising her. I had to ask him to stop playing with her since we were having a meeting.

He seats himself next to her (on the other side of her is where I'm sitting) at all meals. He raves about her to housemates and visitors alike, "she really likes to feed me," as dd pushes something towards him, etc. He sounds like a proud parent. He has begun, it seems, to think that he knows her as well as, if not better than, I do. When she is pointing and saying "dat", I may or may not know what she wants, but many times it's not something that she can play with (you know, like my vitamin bottle) and M will say (in a very indignant voice) "I think she wants the vitamins." The unspoken is "so why aren't you giving her what she wants, you meanie, you"

Now any of this could really just be misunderstanding, except a housemate who has lived with him for more than a few months told me about a house cat that he became obsessed with. The cat did belong to another housemate, and when he (sadly) got run over by a bus, M berated the entire house, particularly the cat's direct owner, for not taking good enough care of the pet. The housemate that informed me of this story sees the same obsessiveness for DD as M had for the cat, and I do too. The cat loved M, and I feel like M was so desperate for unconditional love that he began to feel that he and the cat had a special relationship. DD likes M a great deal, and it's obvious to everyone, including him.

This could still all be nothing really, I could possibly let it go. But just recently M has been increasing his physical affection of DD. He picks her up and says "hi, give me a hug". He pets her head and hair and back when they're sitting next to each other at the table - literally, petting, stroking, her hair. Two nights ago he did this and I had to restrain myself from pushing him away from DD and grabbing her out of the booster seat. My stomach literally turns when he touches her. It's pure mama instinct.

I can barely stand the sight of him interacting with her, and handle only slightly better being in his presence at all, due to the creepy-crawlies that I get. As I said, we live in a co-op, everything is decided by group. We have meetings multiple times a week, we eat and do chores and grocery shop together.

I have spoken with three of the other women here, and they respect my feelings on the issue, in fact, feel exactly the same way. M has actually done nothing wrong. I just feel like there is a sickness just waiting to thrive in his affection for DD, and I can't just sit around waiting for him to do something wrong, kwim?

So my plan is to speak with each house member individually (except M) and explain that I never ever ever want M and DD to be left alone together. I would like all of them to subtly intervene whenever they see M 1-obsessing over DD or 2-physically interacting with her.

I know that at some point I need to confront M, and am not sure how to do it. I am not a confront-y type person, in fact, I usually burst into tears within the first couple of sentences. But of course, being a protective mama bear makes me stronger.

So if you made it all the way through this, and have any advice, please let me know. Am I being too cautious? Not cautious enough? Should I just grab my DD and get the hell out of here? Other than this one housemate, it's a perfect environment for us. But is is realistic to think that I can NOT go crazy feeling creeped out at every moment and worrying about my DD? Am I putting my DD at risk by staying here? Do I have grounds for trying to get M ousted from the collective, or would I have to wait for him to act upon his creepiness in order to have "proof"?

I am so confused, and scared, and kinda pissed off. Help!!
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#2 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 02:14 AM
 
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While I feel like I should reflect a bit, I say to follow your instincts. You can NEVER go wrong. Sure, you *might* come off overprotective or neurotic (although I think that you are neither) but better safe than sorry.

This is much easier said than done, but have you considered tellinghim to back off? I know this would need to be approached very delicately, but at the same time with all the firmness in the world. M needs to know that this behavior is NOT okay with you. You are your daughter's only advocate (which I KNOW you already know...) and this dude needs to back off.

I would still talk to the others about you not wanting your dd to be alone with M, but I also think you should tell him his limits as well. It helps me to put the blame on myself, like degrade myself to spare others' feelings but still get my point across. Like, "Hey M, I know I am going to sound sooo stupid and overprotective, but I am really uneasy about how much time/interacting/attention/etc. you focus on dd."
Even that's kinda lame, but like I said-easier said than done, though I believe it should be done.

I wouldn't pack your bags yet. Considering his state of mind, do you think that maybe you could get him a kitten? Seriously.

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#3 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 02:45 AM
 
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A few thoughts:

I wouldn't try and get him kicked out of the co-op because he gives you the creeps. That doesn't seem fair at all.

When you first met M, what did you think of him? What was your gut reaction? I ask because I wonder if you always thought of him as creepy or if this is an increasing thing as his attention to your dd increases. Before he physically interacted with her, did he creep you out?

If the guy is a social misfit, and got super attached to a cat, then he could be doing the same thing to your dd, much easier to bond with a small child who will give unconditional love than adults, who are much more difficult to get to know.

Now, even if M is totally harmless, that doesn't mean he should be touching your daughter when you don't want him to, and there isn't any reason for him to be alone with her.........so, I don't see why those two issues can't be managed. Just don't leave him alone w/her; and address the touching issue. Hopefully that will solve the problem.

Have you read Gavin De Beckers books? I recommend them. "The Gift of Fear" and "Protecting the Gift".

HTH

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#4 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 02:52 AM
 
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Should I just grab my DD and get the hell out of here
Honestly, while reading your post everything inside me screamed, YES!

That being said, I have never lived in your kind of environment. Please trust your insincts above all else! Your daughter seriously could be at risk.

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#5 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 03:03 AM - Thread Starter
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*sigh* well thanks a bunch, ladies. LOL. I have one "he seems creepy but maybe it can be fixed - buy him a kitten", one "you might be overreacting, deal with the two dealable issues and go from there" and one "run, run, RUN!".

So I'm right where I began. Keep 'em coming (I should do a poll!!).

Oh actually, I wanted to address something:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bex80
M needs to know that this behavior is NOT okay with you. You are your daughter's only advocate (which I KNOW you already know...) and this dude needs to back off.

I would still talk to the others about you not wanting your dd to be alone with M, but I also think you should tell him his limits as well. "Hey M, I am really uneasy about how much time/interacting/attention/etc. you focus on dd."
Ok, so this is kinda where I am, too. But how do I tell him that he's interacting with DD too much when other ppl in the house interact with her even more (babysitting while I'm at work, bathing her, changing her diaper, etc)? And I wish I could blame it on the male/female thing and make it seem like I'm just more comfortable with only females being physical with DD, but there are two males in the house who are fanTASTic with DD and I don't want to put an end to that.

So how do I tell him his limits without making him feel like he's doing something wrong? (if he feels "put out" by our talk, it's going to make for a very long year in the house....)

thanks for your advice ladies!!
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#6 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 03:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grisandole
When you first met M, what did you think of him? What was your gut reaction? I ask because I wonder if you always thought of him as creepy or if this is an increasing thing as his attention to your dd increases. Before he physically interacted with her, did he creep you out?
I got kinda creeped out, but in general felt that he was harmless. That was before he glommed onto DD - now I'm not as sure if he's harmless, so the creepiness factor has shot up. I'm not saying that I know he's a pedophile or anything - the not-harmless aspect might just be on his side, actually, as in, it's not healthy for him to have this attachment to my DD.

Quote:
If the guy is a social misfit, and got super attached to a cat, then he could be doing the same thing to your dd, much easier to bond with a small child who will give unconditional love than adults, who are much more difficult to get to know.
This is exactly what he is doing.
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#7 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 03:55 AM
 
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My gut instinct from reading your post is he's creepy and its not worth risking your daughter's well being to stay in an otherwise great situation.

Just the fact that you came here with your concern shows that you are concerned. I may very well be off base, but he sounds possibly dangerous to me. With my kids, I'm not one to give a person the benefit of the doubt.

Its easy for me to say better safe than sorry and you should move or talk with the other housemates and see about having him move. You sound like a resourceful enough person to make the right decision - what ever that ends up being.

Good Luck Mama, I'm sorry you are in a challenging situation.
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#8 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 04:00 AM
 
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Personally, I'd listen to my instinct and move out. I dont think I'd feel comfortable anyway with that many adults around, it would just be too difficult to monitor and keep tabs on, especially if you are leaving her when going to work etc. I'm rather cautious about such things. I'd worry about what happens if you leave her with someone else, they get called out, and M takes over, or someone else's friend/boyfriend/whatever. The whole situation just screams potential danger to me. But then, I'm probably very conservative about these things. I'd just feel safer in a more limited environment where I had more control over who interaceted with my child.

I second the recommendation for reading Gavin De Becker's books and trusting your instincts.
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#9 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 04:12 AM
 
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I am absolutely NOT trying to fan flames here, but his behavior toward your daughter and his social misfitness has potential "abduction scenario" written all over it. If your housemates and/or houserules don't support you getting him out TODAY (and I'd throw in a restraining order to keep him away from you and the house), I'd move immediately. He has no concept of appropriate social boundaries and his obsession with your daughter is escalating.

And if you have housemates who don't appreciate the level of creepiness about the situation, how can they be trusted to keep him away from your daughter when you're not there?

Don't confront him either alone or in a house meeting. From what you've described, he won't get it.

Best thoughts to you in this difficult situation.

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#10 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 04:27 AM
 
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Not that I'm making this any easier, 'cause I'm gonna throw *another* opinion into the pot...

Being somewhat social-skills-challenged myself, I chose the direct route.

I was in a very "democratic" although also very imformal household with several adults and children in residence at varying times, so during one of the occasional, informal group-gatherings (with the problem-person not present) I just said "X gives me the creeps. Is there somethign I should know about him? I'm asking because at this stage, I'm creeped out enough that it's him or me. *I* would obviously like to stay, but the creep-factor is just way beyond my comfort level."

Some of the housemates made excuses for Mr. Creep, some voiced support for me.
I was the newby, so I figured the decision would be in his favor.

Ultimately, it came out that most of the others thought he was a creep too, but no one had had the balls to SAY so, and everyone thought that everyone else liked him, so no one had said anything. Not really a health situation in the long term.

He was asked to leave, which he did with poor grace, and we changed the locks, and stayed a bit nervous until we heard he'd moved out of state.

If it was my *kid* in question, I'd act a lot more quickly, and probably less tactfully. Something along the lines of screaming "Get away, you freak!"

Not saying that's a *good* idea, you understand... just that it's how I am.
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#11 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 04:31 AM
 
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What a yucky situation. No real advice just my thoughts. He sounds like my brother who has mental illness. He lives a 1000 miles away but goes through phases of obsessing about my dd who is 22 months. He will call at least twice a day to talk to her on the phone and if she is not interested in talking he grills me as to why she won't talk to him. When he is with her in person he will constantly want to hold her and my stomach turns. I feel sorry for him but yet my mama radar is on high when he visits and I dread seeing him at Christmas this year only because of the way he acts with my dd. I know I could not live in the same space with him.

I agree with the poster who said that he probably finds it easier to relate to a child rather than to adults.

I hope some of the other mamas here can/did give you some valuable advice. Good luck to you.
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#12 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 05:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happyhippiemama
So how do I tell him his limits without making him feel like he's doing something wrong? (if he feels "put out" by our talk, it's going to make for a [i
very [/i] long year in the house....)

He is doing something wrong! I wouldn't worry about hurting the guy's feelings...alot more than feelings are at stake here considering your daughter.

I have lived in many group housing situations and am currently living in one right now, though with extended family. In my experiences, the creepiness only gets worse and your distaste for the person will grow like a cancer. Sure, his obsession might be caused by some sort of mild disability or social ineptness, whatever, it is still no excuse.

Absolutely, either get you and your child to a safer home, or confront person and the house and try to have him kicked out of the co-op. Honestly, why would anyone there want to live with him? Do they do it because they feel sorry for him? This is not an option for you. You need to take care of yourself and your dd.

Mother to one wild and crazy boy 12/29/2002.
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#13 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 05:46 AM
 
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I would move.
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#14 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 07:46 AM
 
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Normally I would say to try and get him kicked out but he seems like such a nutty nut that I would kinda be afraid to do that, so if I were you I would start looking for another place to live.

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#15 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 08:36 AM
 
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Only you know what is right for you. Trust your instincts!

(Now if it were me, I'd be gone in a wink).
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#16 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 09:00 AM
 
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I would move as well. I was molested as a child and I can guarantee you that if it does escalate to that point your daughter will be damaged forever. I honestly don't understand why you would continue staying in a situation when your instincts are telling you its not safe. NOTHING is more important than your daughter's safety. I agree with the other poster as well who said this could be a potential kidnapping situation as well. If you stay in the house but confront M on his behaviour he might react by taking your daughter. If he is that creepy, you never know. Would you rather say, "Well I might have overreacted," or "I wish I'd listened to my instincts and this would never have happened." In my personal experience mother instincts are never wrong.

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#17 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 09:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happyhippiemama
M has actually done nothing wrong.
Do you really believe that? Because you just wrote a very long post listing EXACTLY what he has done wrong.

Have you read _Protecting the Gift_ by Gavin DeBecker? If not, READ IT! His whole book is about what you have talked about here: knowing that something is wrong but not being willing to admit it. She is your daughter, you know if she is in danger, pay attention to the signs (your intuition, which DeBecker says is our strongest defense). If you don't protect her, no one else will.

I don't say these things to make you feel bad. I say them because that is what _Protecting the Gift_ is about, and I believe that the author is right.

Heed you intuition and get your daughter away from him!

Namaste!
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#18 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 10:31 AM
 
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I agree with the majority of the moms here who would move out if it were them. I got a horrible feeling from reading your posts about this guy. I would never, ever want him to touch my child again. I think it's unfair that you should have to move because of someone else's creepiness, but I agree that it might make the situation worse if you stay and he leaves.

Not an easy thing to deal with, but I encourage you to listen to that voice that is not just whispering that there's something wrong - it's screaming at you. There's a reason that you are getting such a strong reaction from seeing this man with your child.
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#19 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 10:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happyhippiemama
I have one "he seems creepy but maybe it can be fixed - buy him a kitten"
Uh-oh, I really hope that didn't come across as a flippant response. I didn't mean get him a cat, it'll resolve itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by happyhippiemama
Ok, so this is kinda where I am, too. But how do I tell him that he's interacting with DD too much when other ppl in the house interact with her even more (babysitting while I'm at work, bathing her, changing her diaper, etc)?
I didn't realize that! That changes a lot in my mind. I am not very experienced in any of this and it seems like some other posters are. I was just trying to find some sort of compromise so you wpuldn't have to leave because you said you really liked it there.

It sounds like, though, either you or M need to leave? I'm so sorry this has been happening to you. As much as it sucks, I would most likely leave and be deemed an overprotective mom than live with possible regret.

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#20 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 10:49 AM
 
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I have lived in a co-op where, before my time, there was a situation similar to the one Silliest described. It sounds like M is creepy enough that other housemates might be picking up on his creepy vibes. Discuss it with them. Always better to be honest with the housemates than worry about who's creeped out by who and who's hanging out with your DD when you're not there. Maybe plan a covert housemeeting for when M will be away?

I'd hate to see you feeling like you have to move out, as it sounds like a perfect environment aside from the M factor.

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#21 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 11:08 AM
 
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I would definitely follow your instincts and do something. This is not the kind of situation where you want to look back and say, "if only I had done something."

I also think that asking others to help will give you a false sense of security. No one will care about or watch over your little girl like you. Sometimes something simple, like a phone call for them, will be enough to distract them & for them to forget what they agreed to do. I would not trust that others will keep M and your child separate.
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#22 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 11:42 AM
 
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If I were you, I would listen to my instincts and move ASAP. I agree with other posters that your other housemates, even though they may be wonderful with your daughter, aren't able to provide the same level of protection to your daughter as you are. In this situation the stakes are too high to take any chances, IMO. M has too much access to her. I fourth the recommendation for Gavin De Becker's book.

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.
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#23 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you mamas for all your support and validation.n I've never been a mom before, I don't have any friends IRL who are moms, and I wasn't sure if I was just being overly-over-protective about the situation.

*sigh* I really really want to stay here, as it truly is ideal. We eat only organic food, have no toxic chemicals in the house, recycle like mad, have a compost pile, are politically active and active in the community as a whole, support organizations that are eco/human-rights/animal friendly, practice primarily holistic & homeopathic treatments, etc etc etc. If we do not live here, I will not be able to afford (time-wise and financially both) to continue many of these living philosophies.

Before moving here, DD and I lived alone outside of town, and the isolation was not good for my mental health. I am combatting severe depression and if I am not directly involved, drawn out, if you will, I tend to spiral downward quickly and just sleep all day.

So I guess what I'm doing now is a bunch of wishful-thinking that the whole negative situation simply didn't exist. And in the meantime, I'm having a confidential meeting with the collective president in order to discuss what rights I have to instigate getting M removed from the house. We decide everything collectively, which means that if one person (other than M) blocks the proposal, we go into mediation, etc, in order to resolve the conflict.

I can't move ASAP anyways, due to lack of funds, so this will at least get the ball rolling to possibly be able to stay here and buy me some time to look somewhere else as well.

On the upside, the national co-op meeting is the first weekend in November (in Michigan - fun!) and one of the workshops I'm participating in is parenting in the co-ops. So hopefully there will be other mama coopers there to offer advice as well.

Thanks sooooo much again!
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#24 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 04:30 PM
 
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If we do not live here, I will not be able to afford (time-wise and financially both) to continue many of these living philosophies.
That is a major drag, along with the loss of outside stimulation for you and your depression. But...I'm sure you agree that your daughter's mental and physical well-being are very important (In fact, I don't even have to write that sentence. I know it's the top priority for you!) Perhaps there's some way you can have a check-and-balance system for your depression. A 12-step group? Of course, getting a babysitter might be a problem. I've heard there are good on line meetings though. Maybe something like Al-Anon would be good for you. My mom's not a child/wife, etc. of an addict, but she still gets a lot from Al-Anon meetings.

Maybe do some praying/meditation/creative visualizaton about this matter. Imagine M getting a wonderful job transfer to another state that is effective immediately, and a great hippie-mom with a wonderful child taking his place in the co-op. Keep imagining positive things for M, mental health for him, happiness and be very specific about imagining him moving out of the co-op and onto better things. I've been amazed at how powerful this sort of thing is.

You're doing the right thing here by listening to your maternal instincts here, even though it is difficult. I admire your ability to face this unpleasant situation. A lot of moms can't face it and that's when kids get into trouble. My heart breaks for those mothers who were too afraid to face the reality.
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#25 of 116 Old 10-25-2004, 04:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by happyhippiemama

This could still all be nothing really, I could possibly let it go. But just recently M has been increasing his physical affection of DD. He picks her up and says "hi, give me a hug". He pets her head and hair and back when they're sitting next to each other at the table - literally, petting, stroking, her hair. Two nights ago he did this and I had to restrain myself from pushing him away from DD and grabbing her out of the booster seat. My stomach literally turns when he touches her. It's pure mama instinct.
I haven't read all the replies yet, but I just wanted to say that this is something straight out of Protecting the Gift. It doesn't matter that he hasn't done anything wrong. Your instincts are telling you that you need to keep DD away from M. And do you really feel comfortable about abdicting that responsibility to the others in the co-op? And yes, you might very well be wrong. But in which direction would you like to err? I don't know how co-ops work, but if he doesn't leave, then I would be considering leaving myself.

I don't want to freak you out unnecessarily, but I saw an Oprah where a convicted and self admitted child molestor was on the show talking about what he had done. When asked why, he said that it was a sickness, an attempt at finding love somewhere, and feeling like he was able to find that love by molesting his stepdaughters.

Baby's crying so I gotta go. If you do nothing else, pick up a copy of Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker today. I do believe you need to act on this feeling that you have. We have instincts for a reason.
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#26 of 116 Old 10-26-2004, 01:03 AM
 
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...what the majority of the moms said...

Reading your post from an objective, removed POV had me screaming 'Take your baby and run!'. I know that actually LIVING in the situation has many checks and counterbalances to the intuitions you posted that keep you from actually doing that.

I do agree that maternal danger radar is one of the most potent senses in the world, and that your subconscious is colouring in a picture for you. Now, whether or not this person will actually DO something is besides the point, really. The fact is that in life, as a parent, you do whatever you need to do to protect your child, regardless of hurting someone's feelings, looking like a paranoid/overprotective mom, etc. etc. That includes proactivity and prevention.

What's troubling to me are the personality traits you mentioned and his history of becoming obsessive about the cat. It's sad that he's socially challenged, but that's NOT *your* problem - it's his, and don't let him play out his neuroses on your child.

I'm a child protection social worker and putting on my clinical hat...I'd be highly suspicious and trust your gut.

HTH

Dee
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#27 of 116 Old 10-26-2004, 01:42 AM
 
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"Don't let him play out his neuroses on your child."

Yep.

I hope the group meeting works out for you and he gets booted. If not, I urge you to leave as soon as you have the resources. Perhaps live in town? Make a plan for social situations and stimulation for your depression?

I've lived most of my dd's life as a single mom. I know it's hard. We've had to make a lot of concessions and not live as naturally as we would like. It sucks. But, as I don't really have to say, your daughter safety is the most important thing in the world.

I'd also like to seventh (or eigth, or whatever) reading Protecting the Gift. It is a very important book, and I believe that every parent should read it. And I don't say that about any other book!
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#28 of 116 Old 10-26-2004, 02:04 AM
 
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Get

your

baby

away

from

him.

For sure. Fast.
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#29 of 116 Old 10-26-2004, 12:40 PM
 
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I would leave. ASAP. Is an all-woman collective living situation an option?
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#30 of 116 Old 10-26-2004, 12:56 PM
 
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I have to agree with everyone else:
trust your instinct.
you should not be living in same house with M. You leave or see what you can do about ousting M.

to be honest, when I first read your story, I did not think "yuck, M is a pedophile." I DID think "he's going to abduct her DD so they can "be together". I don't tell you that to freak you out, but as justification that your instincts might not be wrong - if we feel like that just reading about M.....

Maybe you'll find another fabulous living situation at the co-op convention! Good luck to you!
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