Becoming concerned about DD's contact with her dad

(21 Posts)
UnbridledPositivity Sun 20-Jan-13 19:31:53

Not sure if this makes me too identifiable. Ex and I separated over 2 years ago when I found out he'd been doing webcam chats and contacting escorts. He had a bit of a breakdown when he acknowledged he'd been abused as a child. Since his medication has been sorted out, he's been sort of stable, but never very nice to me. (You see, it's all my fault...)

He lives in a bedsit and DD (3) visits him there some evenings and half of each weekend day. Ex has been working full time in a demanding job throughout all of this.

Occasionally I have some concerns about his mental health and care of DD. Of course he feeds her etc, and because she never stays overnight, she's probably not exposed to much.
Since Christmas, ex seems to have been deteriorating slightly, but it's difficult to put my finger on exactly what's worrying me, and probably none of it is stuff that would mean anything in court (which we have avoided thus far).

Perhaps if I list everything that worries me, you could tell me your views?

When DD comes back from his house, she smells - her hair and clothes smell so strongly of stale grease that I need to wash everything.

Ex is quite messy. Today DD told me that she could only play on his bed. Apparently ex was under the duvet doing work on his laptop while she did some drawing. For 4 hours. He did take her out to play in the snow before that for 20 mins or so. Apparently drawing is all she did for those 4 hours though.

Ex is quite 'grabby' with DD - he often moves her/picks her up by her waist or hips, slides his hands up/down her legs imo unnecessarily while putting on shoes etc, rests his hands on her when he doesn't need to. The other day he was here at bedtime and I caught him staring at a certain bodypart in a weird way. This probably makes me sound mental. But he has a kind of fixation with a particular bodypart when it comes to women, so I kind of look out for any signs iyswim.

I know these are all tiny things, and DD is obviously not at risk of immediate harm. It just niggles a bit, and when I'm creeped out by him anyway, the way he kind of stares at DD with his mouth half open without blinking takes on significance which it otherwise wouldn't have! Basically, I'm majorly uncomfortable! What should I do? Is there anyone I could talk to?

PignutSalamander Sun 20-Jan-13 20:16:15

Oh dear. You can talk me I cmt promise I can help but I feel for you.
I can see why your worried but can also see that I could all be innocent. I regularly stroke my daughter affectionately on legs or whatever, her skin is so baby soft. So it doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Two things that really ring alarm bells for me he should be tidying up before she comes or taking her out, more importantly your worried and describe him as creepy. Listen to your instincts, that's what they are there for.
You can use a contact centre without going through court.
Also is there someone in rl who can give you a second opinion re creepy

UnbridledPositivity Sun 20-Jan-13 22:30:33

Thanks. I know, I do stroke DD too, but with the purpose of comforting her or giving her attention rather than subtly doing it when I can.

There's no one who can give me an opinion really as ex only ever has DD on his own, he doesn't spend any of his time with her with other people...

Convert Sun 20-Jan-13 22:37:36

I don't wish to go all 'nethuns' here but I kind of think that if your intuition is telling you there is something creepy about this then maybe there is.
I don't think that it's ok for her to spend hours drawing while he is in bed on his laptop or whatever.
I don't think it's ok that his house is a state.
It's not ok for her to smell of grease or dirt.
You must know him well if you have had a relationship and a child together and if you think there is something wrong with his behaviour it is more damaging to let it continue and there be something wrong than you take gentle steps to safeguard your dd when there is nothing wrong.

Selks Sun 20-Jan-13 22:54:14

"Ex is quite 'grabby' with DD - he often moves her/picks her up by her waist or hips, slides his hands up/down her legs imo unnecessarily while putting on shoes etc, rests his hands on her when he doesn't need to. The other day he was here at bedtime and I caught him staring at a certain bodypart in a weird way. This probably makes me sound mental. But he has a kind of fixation with a particular bodypart when it comes to women, so I kind of look out for any signs iyswim. "

What on earth? Massive alarm bells ringing here. What 'certain body part' do you mean.....her genitals? You need to tell us the proper details for us to know how to advise you, but this all sounds highly worrying, and you've clearly had previous concerns for you to 'look out for signs'....signs of what exactly? Please explain.

DoctorAnge Sun 20-Jan-13 22:59:39

Oh dear doesn't sound good sad

cestlavielife Sun 20-Jan-13 23:36:45

You can't rely solely on what she says. Are you able to ask him what they did? Three year olds don't have good concept of time. That they spent the time indoors drawing while it was cold outside ? Not a big deal really...

However, trust your instincts. Talk to someone if you don't have access to his mh team talk to your own gp.

Record it some where. At the end of the day she is too young to really know if he is ok or not. How do you hand over? Do you get time to see how he is?

Ultimately it is your call. That is what you will be told. You have to make a decision here eg move to supervised contact.

And really thinking that not staying overnight means she is not at risk is naive....bit like the parents telling the teens t be home by midnight because it is only after midnight they goIng to have sex..!

If there is any chance she is at risk it could happen any time of day. Either she at risk or she isn't.

Speak to nspcc.

Speak to organisations who support survivors of abuse. While that is crap thing to deal with, without it being properly addressed then maybe s dd is at risk... ??? Ask them....

Ask him how he is tho if anything like my ex will say he is fine even if about to go into mega downturn..,

UnbridledPositivity Sun 20-Jan-13 23:44:29

He usually picks her up and drops her off, so I get a vague impression of how he is. He would say either 'of course I'm not ok, I'm really struggling' but not accept that this could affect DD, or that he's fine.

Of course drawing indoors when it's cold is fine. It's just that usually DD tells me more, and it's never been mentioned by either of them that he was under the duvet.

Don't want to go into too much detail about which bodypart he's fixated on. It's not genitals as such, but also not something like arm/foot etc.

That's the problem, it's not that anything really obvious is not right, it's just a really vague feeling. And that means nothing to other people, as far as I'm aware.

MagicHouse Sun 20-Jan-13 23:53:31

I think the advice about speaking to your GP/ NSPCC is great.

For the moment I would focus on the things that you know, that concern you, like the mess, the smell, the fact that he is on medication following a breakdown, and use this to state that you want to change contact to supervised, or in your home.

Other than that I would continue to be vigilant, and write things down. Don't question her directly, but do record any comments she makes that concern you in any way. (and if she ever did, speak to SS) I wouldn't be dismissive of your concerns (you say "these are tiny things and obviously she isn't at risk of serious harm" - but somewhere inside, you are obviously quite worried about this situation, so don't ignore it.)

cestlavielife Mon 21-Jan-13 00:04:51

Is there anyone who knows him like a mutual friend? Ask them to give honest opinion.
Would they leave their child with him?

What was he like with her before separating?
What kind of breakdown what level of mh team was involved ie you don't need to say but at the time were ss involved or anyone talking to you? If yes then talk t them.Or was it just he went to gp? Is it same gp practice as you ie can you raise your concerns to your go so gps can talk ? They wont tell you anything but you can legitimately flag your concerns.

Eg is him being messy his usual state or is it new ?

Piemother Mon 21-Jan-13 00:11:55

So there's 2 issues here....
Re the quality of care. Yanbu that her sitting in his bed drawing while he's under the duvet on his laptop is a bit rubbish. Though the hidibg under the duvet is textbook depressed behaviour. Does he want this level of contact? Sometimes separated dads struggle with ideas for how to entertain their dc during contact - though the snow is enough ATM iyswim.
If things are somewhat amicable between you and ex I would suggest you approach him about it in a roundabout way. You could give him ideas for activities etc and see how he resounds.
If this was me I'd want to see the inside of his property for myself too. The grease smell is no crime but you would not be out of order to ask him to sort himself out a bit.

Re the other issue. Firstly ss advice will be that since she lives with you that she's not at risk as you can withhold contact if you have welfare concerns. You can do this irrespective of a court order. If you did this and he sought a contact order then cafcass would have to investigate your concerns for their report.
Furthermore thi k about whether your dd has any other indicators. Has her reaction to contact changed? nything else weird?

whethergirl Mon 21-Jan-13 00:40:54

Gosh OP, your ex sounds just like my ex dp! Weirdly enough, I do know he had a daughter about 3 yrs ago!

I felt exactly like you did, never sure if I was over reading things or if my instincts were right. I followed my instincts in the end.

The thing is, now that you have an element of doubt, it's going to be really difficult not to feel suspicious, you'll be questioning dd about every visit and this feeling of discomfort won't just go away. So something needs to change, don't you think?

I just kept it simple with ex, rather than giving a whole list of reasons why I felt uneasy, saying I didn't want ds to go to his house on account of him being addicted to porn, and that I didn't trust that he would keep ds safe from this. When ex was a child, he was exposed to porn via his parents, so I told him history had a habit of repeating itself. I said I would re-consider when ds was a bit older.

Of course he was opposed to it all, labeling me as 'ridiculous'. However, he then stopped contact altogether soon afterwards and we haven't heard from him in about 4 years. However, presuming your ex will not decide that fatherhood is no longer for him, your situation will be tricky, possibly messy.

But what is at stake here? Personally, I would rather over react and make sure my child is completely safe. I know there is also your dd's relationship with her dad to consider, and the upheaval this may cause her.

I recently went to a child protection seminar. The following quote sticks in my mind: "Don't think - what if I'm wrong, think - what if I'm right?"

RedHelenB Mon 21-Jan-13 11:27:43

A 3 year old doesn't have any concept of time. Would she sit & draw for 4 hours with you? None of my 3 children would have stayed still for that long at that age!!

NicknameTaken Mon 21-Jan-13 11:44:55

A hard situation.

I wouldn't worry about her spending her time colouring while he is under the duvet, or the smell. They're not really child protection issues and not reasons to stop contact by themselves.

However, to be blunt, if you think there is a hint of something pervy in his behaviour to your DD, I do think it is time to look for external advice. As others have said, a chat with your GP or NSPCC might help clarify things in your own mind and help you know what to look for. I do sympathize - it is really hard to know when the tipping point is, and nobody wants to make a false allegation.

I also suggest keeping a diary of events - if you do get to the stage of stopping contact for welfare reasons, it's much more powerful to have a record of ongoing concerns rather than point to single incident that might look incredibly minor by itself.

UnbridledPositivity Mon 21-Jan-13 19:56:06

No as involvement - ex started private counselling which is still going on, and went to GP who let him try a variety of anti-depressants until they settled on the current combination of anti-ds and anti-psychotics. He would never give up on seeing DD and has become a bit better at finding interesting things for her to do since we separated.

Of course DD didn't say 'I did colouring for 4 hours today mummy' - I asked her what she'd been doing as I usually do, and she insisted that colouring was it.

Ex has always been messy (his parents' house is a hoarders type nightmare), occasionally he makes a big effort to sort things out. I offered to bring DD to his yesterday, but he wanted to play in the park near my house so came here. Will do it some other time to discreetly check out the state of his floors.

I do keep a loose diary of things that happen, but none of these things are really really bad, just not what I had hopes for in DD's life. As for the touching - it makes me uncomfortable and I've told ex so, but he gets angry and defensive and keeps doing it - the whole 'what exactly are you accusing me of?!' spiel. What if he has inappropriate thoughts but wouldn't act on them - would this harm DD?

As I said, he never sees other people with DD, and he presents a specific persona to work colleagues. I keep thinking though, when I think about DD having playdates or when she's bigger and friends might need lifts home - I'd want to warn the parents about what he's done. Yet I have to let my own DD spend several hours alone with him every week. sad

UnbridledPositivity Mon 21-Jan-13 19:56:28

*No SS involvement that was meant to say.

LittleChimneyDroppings Mon 21-Jan-13 20:02:12

I'd trust your instincts on this and look at getting supervised visits. Would his parents or yours step in and supervise?

balia Mon 21-Jan-13 20:23:47

Well, from another perspective, DSS's mum is a hoarder and he would regularly be grey with dirt & smell when he came to ours (of urine, when he was younger) but Cafcass and later psych reports said she could give him adequate care when supported by family (thank god for her mother).

Also, transitioning between homes is very difficult for kids, so it might be better if you didn't ask her about what she has been doing at Dad's. There's no way a 3 year old can accurately judge the amounts of time they spend doing particular activities (20 minutes out in the snow, 4 hours colouring) this is much more likely to be a reflection of how much she enjoyed the activities. I've overheard DSS, on the phone to his Mum, tell her he spent all day playing computer games - no way! But he knows this is a 'safe answer' that she is happy with.

The bit I'm not getting is that you'd need to tell other parents what he had done? What has he done?

UnbridledPositivity Mon 21-Jan-13 22:34:47

I wouldn't necessarily tell other parents unless something happened that made me think I should. I just wouldn't feel comfortable if my DD was looked after by someone else who had previously contacted escorts, but as he's her dad, there's not a lot I can do unless she seems to be at risk of immediate harm.

Of course DD can't judge time yet, I just happen to know that they were at the park for about 20 mins (fine, because it was cold) and that she was at his flat for 4 hours after that. I don't grill her about exactly what she's been up to, I just make conversation.

cestlavielife Mon 21-Jan-13 22:37:22

Well exactly. What has he done ?

And. No you don't have to let dd go there unsupervised.
There is no court order.
So you choose to do this.

I know what you mean about feeling obliged but in the absence of a court order (which would be made after due consideration of all issues as was said above) then it is entirely your choice and decision as dd.s parent.

You need to spell ut to scene like nspcc exactly what the touching involves and get proper advice.m

As was said...what if your instincts are correct ?

Not about spending hours colouring or even state of his floors but something far more worrying.,,

cestlavielife Mon 21-Jan-13 22:38:53

Arggh. Auto spelling ... Call nspcc and tell them exactly what you are not telling us. SPell it out to them and get their advice.

And remember that without a court order you can stop dd going to his tomorrow ..change to supervised contact ina public place...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now