How do I deal with this?

(45 Posts)
Bumpinthenight1 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:32:05

Can I have some advice please?
My son is in Reception and is very friendly with another little boy already. They get on brilliantly.
My problem is the little boys Dad. He is a stay at home Dad, he seems a great guy, friendly with all the mums and messes around with all the kids. All the kids think he is great. He is however very tactile with some of the children, and because my boy is best friend's with his son, my boy gets touched a lot. Everyday, morning and afternoon.
Now mostly this is a rub of the head or sometimes just a high 5, but he has picked him up, he has grabbed the back of his neck in a kind of massage thing, lots of under arm tickles. I have been trying to get used to it but the frequency of touching and the fact that NO-ONE else (non-family) touches my children like this in this kind of frequency it is now starting to upset me.
I have talked to my husband and friends about it and they think I should ask him to stop touching, but how do I do this without creating a situation??! I have now started trying to avoid him by getting to school late so he has already dropped off and trying to keep my children away from him but my Son just wants to be with his boy.
My gut feeling is that if it makes me feel uncomfortable I need to stop it or am I just being over sensitive??

Joysmum Sun 10-Nov-13 09:35:59

Oh dear.

I don't know what to say, you have every right to parent how you see fit but I feel so sorry for this guy and that society is moving this way. We're a very touchy feely family.

I don't think there is a way to say anything without coming across as if you think he's a pedo. I'll be following this thread with interest and hope somebody cleverer than me can come up with a solution.

Tee2072 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:38:50

So you're objecting to someone being more affectionate with your son than your own family is?

I'd be more worried about the lack of affection from your family then some other adult tickling and playing with my young son. Especially as he is obviously doing it in front of you, so nothing nefarious about it.

What a world.

DoJo Sun 10-Nov-13 09:39:10

What is it about him tickling/high fiving/ruffling your son's hair that actually bothers you? Does your son not like it? I think that his feelings should be a factor in your decision as to how to handle it as it doesn't sound as though he has a problem with any of it from your OP, but if he doesn't like it then you need to put a stop to it immediately.

There is nothing in what you describe that is inappropriate touching. My dh would do this with my sons friends. He also wouldn't be offended if you asked him to stop but it would make him a bit more hands of generally I think for fear that his playing with the kids was misinterpreted by anyone else.

However obviously everyone had different tolerances regarding touching and it is never ok to be touched in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

Think about why you are uncomfortable. If it is all about you and what you are used to then perhaps the best way of dealing with it is to talk to your son about inappropriate touching and how to deal with it. And ask if it has ever happened. Then decide whether you need to say anything or not depending on his reactions. Because if your son is uncomfortable it would be important to speak up but if he's happy then maybe not.

If however you feel instinctively that there is something not right about this (and although I have said there isn't I haven't seen it so I could be wrong) then I think the awkwardness is secondary and you need to speak to him.

Bloody hell, really? This is why I worry about DH being a SAHD. I've given my friend's children hugs and kisses before and so has DH. What you describe doesn't sound sinister at all.

Bumpinthenight1 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:43:59

"NO-ONE else (non-family) touches my children like this in this kind of frequency"

We are a very affectionate family but I don't do it to other peoples children.....

Cross posted with everyone and yes I think its sad that (probably) completely innocent rough and tumble, which my boys love, can be misinterpreted a something sinister

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 10-Nov-13 09:46:54

Try doing an advanced search - there was a thread exactly like this not very long ago.

CoffeeTea103 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:49:15

Your poor DS, at least he's getting affection!
Really you are being ridiculous. If it was the boys mother would you feel different?

Screamqueen Sun 10-Nov-13 09:49:17

Just ask yourself one simple question - would you feel the same if it was the little boys Mum? Another one here desperately sad at your post.

Bumpinthenight1 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:49:58

I never mentioned it as being sinister, more over-stepping the mark of my children's personal space.
If he did those things to me in that frequency it would be seen as unacceptable so why allow that frequency of touching on my children?

If it was now and then it would be fine but it is everyday. I just think it is a bit much....

Bumpinthenight1 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:50:35

Yes i would feel exactly the same if it was a woman

Screamqueen Sun 10-Nov-13 09:50:51

As the wife of a male childminder thankfully the parents of his mindees don't think like this, as hes very hands on with them.

Tee2072 Sun 10-Nov-13 09:51:49

Because children need more physical affection than adults and because you have been through puberty and have sexual feelings and desires.

Feel free to ask the man to stop. You'll also look like an over reactive loon.

MrsSteptoe Sun 10-Nov-13 09:51:54

Oh, poor you, OP - it's awful when you end up trying to avoid someone because their behaviour makes you uncomfortable. It's even worse when you know that a lot of people wouldn't mind the way the SAHD behaves.
If this is making you so uncomfortable that you're running your timetable around it, then you really don't want to live with this for any longer than you have to. I'm also sure you want your boy to be able to play with his friend freely, not be kept away from him by your reaction to the SAHD's approach to kids.
My first reaction is that you can't "learn" not to be sensitive to this fellow's actions. A decision to say nothing is likely to be a decision to continue to feel uncomfortable.
Which leaves you talking with him quietly, but I'm not sure it needs to create a situation - do you think you can manage to write a script in your head for explaining that you are used to only family being so physically engaged with your child and asking him if he could accommodate you by modifying his behaviour?
I'm afraid I do tend to deploy the "I know I sound a little irrational, but...." tactic in these circumstances; I don't like saying it, because I know I'm effectively apologising for my personality and I shouldn't, really - but it does often disarm people, so it's slightly the lesser of two evils if it means that I do manage to say what I want to say.

YDdraigGoch Sun 10-Nov-13 09:57:00

I too think you're being ridiculous for all of the reasons outlined above. The chap obviously likes your DS and unless DS has complained, he obviously likes the attention too.
Maybe you and his father should do more of that kind of thing yourselves

shushpenfold Sun 10-Nov-13 09:58:47

I think that there are some very good opinions on here....justified, sensible and rational.

This still doesn't get past the fact that as the mother of a reception aged child, YOU'RE not uncomfortable with this man's physical interaction with your son and hence that is your answer in itself - you need to say something. Do be aware that if it were me on the receiving end, I would then run a mile from your son and would be VERY 'stand-back' and curt from now on.

shushpenfold Sun 10-Nov-13 09:59:56

...but doesn't mean that you shouldn't say something. Your ds, not his or ours!

Agree completely with those above, poor man.

MrsSteptoe Sun 10-Nov-13 10:03:08

shushpenfold, that's a really good point - OP does need to consider that her DS will not understand why the SAHD's behaviour will change towards him, and only towards him, and that could be confusing. I think it's a shame that she's being told to ignore her own feelings so much, though, while being very clear that children's feelings take reasonable precedence.

MrsSteptoe Sun 10-Nov-13 10:04:42

*sorry, not very clear... what I mean is, our desire to make sure our children's feelings come first is quite right, but I'd like to think we can aim to not ignore our own feelings in the process. *messy English crisis

Raddy Sun 10-Nov-13 10:08:02

How depressing.

In answer to your OP, I think you are being over sensitive, yes.

I am reminded of the parent who complained about the lollipop man high fiving the kids.

Bowlersarm Sun 10-Nov-13 10:08:22

Yes, you are being over sensitive about it.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 10-Nov-13 10:11:48

Mrs Steptoe, quite, and you also need to acknowledge it might be the end of DS friendship with this boy. The dad might not feel comfy minding them on his own and if the mum is not around to supervise play dates they may not be able to see one another.

I think you should do what makes you feel right, but a) realise you may be perceived as a loon or even making nasty accusations, and that this may spread beyond this family as they may tell other mums what you've said and b) it may harm your DS if he loses a friendship over it.

If you think your discomfort is more important than those factors then say something.

Hyperhelpmum Sun 10-Nov-13 10:13:35

I have a friend who is uncomfortable if a man just looks at her kids the wrong way. I think it's so very sad they way we have become as a society. If its not about him being a man then just accept he has a different personality / way of expressing himself and let it be. What harm is it doing? Unless you are worried deep down that it is sinister.

KerwhizzedMyself Sun 10-Nov-13 10:13:38

Does it make your DS feel uncomfortable?

WilsonFrickett Sun 10-Nov-13 10:16:08

What does your DS think? That has to be the overriding factor here. It's part of teaching him that he has autonomy over his body - not you, not his friend's dad, him. You need to take your cues from him, I think.

If he is uncertain about it then yes, you do have to say something. I agree it will curtail the friendship though, if I were in that situation and someone had said something like that about my DH I wouldn't let him be alone with that particular child again, for my DH's own protection. Mud sticks and rumours fly. The school gate is not the most rational place.

CSIJanner Sun 10-Nov-13 10:18:24

Surely if his invasion of you're DS's space unsettles your DS, he would either say or seem uncomfortable? Have you noticed either?

MrsSteptoe Sun 10-Nov-13 10:19:36

Hmmm, that uncomfortable moment when I start to agree with the other posters and change my mind... blush

Bumpinthenight1 Sun 10-Nov-13 10:22:24

It's nothing to do with him being a man at all, just a bit in my face for my liking, and as no stranger has been so hands on with them everyday before.

My DS doesn't see any harm in it as we are a very affectionate family and he can't distinguish family affection from stranger affection

Perhaps I may start to cuddle and pick up his children, if you can't beat them, join them....

ICameOnTheJitney Sun 10-Nov-13 10:25:13

The million dollar question OP is does it make your son uncomfortable? does he shy away or look awkward when this happens?

ICameOnTheJitney Sun 10-Nov-13 10:26:32

Op it is one of the things that's hardest about being a parent....we let our children go to other people's homes...we leave them in the care of others...we have to judge situations appropriately whilst still letting go of our kids....you seem only to be rather

ICameOnTheJitney Sun 10-Nov-13 10:27:10

posted too soon....you seem to be rather possessive more than uncomfortable about your son and this man

MrsSteptoe Sun 10-Nov-13 10:29:27

Bump, you may have hit on your own solution! Half an hour on MN and the results speak for themselves! Miraculous!

LimitedEditionLady Sun 10-Nov-13 10:34:26

This is a hard situation.i completely understand what you feel uncomfortable with but if you dont think its sinister then you might have to let it go.If you say something to the dad then he will definately be offended,i mean would you be cos i would?If you dont think you trust him then dont let him go there.Not being funny but if it was a woman would you feel the same?if no then youre being unreasonable but if yes then act.

Jengnr Sun 10-Nov-13 10:36:38

My brother is great with kids. He's always on the floor throwing them around (his own, my son, all their friends' children), messing about with them, picking them up etc. the kids love him.

The thought that someone might feel like he's overstepping boundaries is terrible. I really feel for this man.

I know you can't help how you feel but this seems more possessive than anything. If it really makes you uncomfortable you're going to have to say something but I think really it would be better for everyone if you could get over it.

ICameOnTheJitney Sun 10-Nov-13 10:50:57

OP you have not said if your son is upset by the man's behaviour...that's the key. Your instinct DOES count too though.

shushpenfold Sun 10-Nov-13 11:40:27

Bump - possibly the best course of action.....as long as you're happy with it though. x

QTPie Sun 10-Nov-13 16:49:52

Assuming there is absolutely nothing inappropriate about the touching (which I assume, from what the OP has written, there isn't), then I think that the actions of this SAHD are really lovely: he seems to be genuinely taking a caring, affectionate interest in the OP's son. In a world that is becoming ever increasingly not very community based, this is sadly quite rare... I would think long and hard about interfering.

Also, having read "bringing up boys", there is a belief that "non-familial male role models" (like friends dads, male teachers etc) are VERY important to boys. This man is showing genuine care and interest in a boy who he has no actual "need" to.

Assuming this guy is genuine, the your DS isn't uncomfortable with his behaviour etc, then it could be a good influence. Plus you never know when you might need help with DS (emergency etc) - sounds like this SAHD would be there for your DS and you too.

Nanny0gg Sun 10-Nov-13 16:56:57

Thing is, he isn't a stranger to your child, is he? He's the father of your son's best mate.

If the touching is in no way inappropriate and your son (and the other children) don't mind then I think you should leave well alone.

I have to say, it was pretty much the norm when I was growing up (with no sexual connotations at all). I did hate being tickled too much (very sensitive about that) but otherwise I didn't mind at all.

Nanny0gg Sun 10-Nov-13 16:58:26

Meant to add, and we were a very non touchy-feely, demonstrative kind of family too, so it was parents friends. No problem at all.

Ifcatshadthumbs Sun 10-Nov-13 17:01:36

But he's not a stranger is he? He's your ds's best mates dad.

Sounds as though most of it is play type things high fives, tickles etc I could understand it more if it was cuddles and kisses.

Mouthfulofquiz Sun 10-Nov-13 17:30:28

The workers at my ds's nursery quite often give him a kiss as he is very 'kissy' - I think it's nice!

Booboostoo Sun 10-Nov-13 18:33:04

I really don't understand your reasoning OP. A child's personal space is nothing like an adults. Children need and like more hand holding, hugging, sitting on someone's knee, rough and tumble play, tickling, chasing/catching, etc. than adults do so you can't really extrapolate from what you would not enjoy to what your DS might not enjoy. Does your son seem uncomfortable or unhappy with the interaction? If not that let him be and don't sour your relationship with the other dad (I am sure the other dad would reduce/end the physical contact with your DS at your request but you would make him feel bad as he would assume you suspect his motives and your relationship would not be comfortable anymore).

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