Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

WWYD - about respecting dc's personal space

(41 Posts)
PassTheSherry Fri 22-Nov-13 12:59:13

Two things:

a) A friend of mine, who is lovely, and generous, often gives my 4yo dd treats, in return for kisses and cuddles. It's very light-hearted. "Where's my kiss then? And a cuddle please!" She does it out of affection for my dd as she thinks she's really cute. Dd looks to me, and I say "Go on then" - because it's polite, and I don't want to hurt my friend who means no harm. BUT I also kick myself and feel like why should she, because if she wanted to hug my friend she does it spontaneously anyway - not because she is offering her sweets and demanding it.

Am I taking it all a bit seriously? I KNOW my friend doesn't mean anything - I just feel a bit confused because if a man did this I would be rather creeped out, but really it should be the same for any adult, right? It's not quite the message I want dd to learn, but don't know what to do about it.

2) This is FIL - dd2 has mentioned a few times in the last couple of weeks that "Grandad tickles my toes, but I don't like it because he doesn't stop when I tell him to." I think what happens is, he tickles her, she laughs, and he carries on, but then it goes on a bit too long, and when she's had enough and says "Stooooooppppp!" he carries on because she's still laughing. Without realising it's starting to stress her out.

I've talked to her and told her she must say it with a serious face and tell him to stop. She says he doesn't listen. She has brought this up about 3 separate occasions now, unprompted, so I know she is genuinely a bit bothered. Last night she mentioned it and DP was there too, and 6yo dd1 was there backing her up - saying that she asked FIL to stop "about thirteen times and he didn't listen."

For those of you who are familiar with another thread - we already have issues with ILs over favouritism - MIL favouring dd1, but FIL is supposed to be more of an ally for dd2 if anything, but seems there are issues there too! Argh.

onetiredmummy Fri 22-Nov-13 13:06:47

2) You need to talk to your fil. If your DD has mentioned it on separate occasions with a witness backing her up then you need to intervene.

a)I'm not sure why your dd is looking towards you, is it just for your permission in case she's not allowed or does she not want to hug your friend?

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 22-Nov-13 13:08:27

Regarding the first one my opinion would be that you can explain to your friend that you are now teaching your DD about personal space both hers and others and that you are a bit concerned that your DD is learning to trade 'treats' for kisses/hugs which is fine with friend but not with others.

Regarding the second then your DP does need to explain to FiL that when he is told to stop he must stop.

We had this with FiL who would keep on tickling then decide that he had had enough because his back hurt and then get cross with DCs for carrying on. FiL got told firmly that it was his own fault that DCs cannot be turned on and off like a tap.

So I would be gentle with friend but firmer with FiL

ChippingInLovesAutumn Fri 22-Nov-13 13:16:27

I don't think your friend is doing anything that countless grandparents/aunts/uncles/friends haven't done since time began - but if it bothers you then you have to say something. What 'worrysigh' said will probably do the job.

FIL - you or DH need to tell him that he has to listen to the children. I remember being tickled like that by my cousins, I loved the game and the chasing and the tickling etc, but I wanted them to stop when I'd had enough - it gets to the point where it actually hurts being tickled... but of course they enjoyed 'torturing' me grin I think though, unless you have been through that yourself it's probably not something you think of and just think it's all a bit of fun for them to shout 'no no no stop tickling'...iyswim. Explain it to your FIL and hopefully he will listen in future.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Fri 22-Nov-13 13:17:48

I disagree with 'worrysigh' about FIL having to carry on when he's had enough though - children too have to learn 'enough is enough' and that another child or adult is allowed to say they want to stop playing that game.

Vivacia Fri 22-Nov-13 13:24:41

I will now go back and read the rest of your first post, but I had to type in respect of this bit, I say "Go on then" - because it's polite Please, please, please don't do this any more. In this situation I say out loud to my child something along the lines of, "That's silly isn't it? You only have to give kisses if you want to. We know that".

kistanbul Fri 22-Nov-13 13:30:46

I know that some people think it's "normal" for adults to bribe or encourage children to give them hugs and kisses that the children don't want to give, but I think it's sending a very wrong message.

It's really, really not impolite to say that you don't want to give someone affection. I think it's really important that children learn that.

Children should be taught that if they feel uncomfortable being touched, it's perfectly acceptable for them so say so.

Tell your friend that you're trying to teach your daughter about touching. It should be obvious that telling a four year old that she has to kiss an adult if they give her sweets or treats is pretty weird.

Cabrinha Fri 22-Nov-13 13:33:57

Re your FIL and tickles...
My sister did this to my 4yo, wouldn't stop when she asked her too.
I politely explained to my sister that we were currently doing some gentle work on bodies, and being allowed to say no. Frankly, I don't care if it seemed OTT as it's an important issue.
I phrased it as my sister helping us, by reinforcing the message that it's OK to say no, by responding to the know.

I think it's also fair to say "FIL, she doesn't like it, she has said stop, so please listen to her."

Cabrinha Fri 22-Nov-13 13:35:51

And actually, tbh I'd take the same approach with your friend. Tell her you need to teach your daughter about boundaries, and her right not to be touched, and that you always expect her to say thank you - but please don't ask for cuddles in return as it is harder for you when you talk to her about strangers / sweets / cuddles.

SharpLily Fri 22-Nov-13 13:42:45

I feel quite strongly about the first one - we had a family friend when I was a child, a nice old man who was unfortunately challenged in the teeth and breath department. My father used to insist I had to hug and kiss this man when we met, which used to give me nightmares, it was absolutely horrible.

Even now he tells me off and says I was very rude to make it clear I hated it, but my aunt spoke up for me once and really told him off. She pointed out that the last thing we should be teaching children is that it's not only OK, but expected that they should kiss and hug adults they hardly know and when they don't want to. It normalises physical contact of that kind in a way that makes abusers' lives much easier. I would point this out to your friend who, although obviously with the best of intentions, hasn't seen it that way.

DIYapprentice Fri 22-Nov-13 17:46:32

The evil me says to tell her to kick him between the legs, he'll learn to stop quickly enough.wink

But the saner me says that you or your DH have to have a firm word with him, and tell him how much it is upsetting your DD2. So sad that your DD2's ally at her grandmother's is actually causing her so much stress.

Vivacia Fri 22-Nov-13 17:58:57

Yep, this bit is your husband's responsibility in the first instance.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 22-Nov-13 22:43:53

ChippingIn just to clarify, the thing with my FiL was that he would tickle etc the DCs and then quite suddenly say 'stop, my back is hurting'. I would have had no issue if he had gently wound down the play. It was that he would suddenly decide he had had enough and would then get cross.

PassTheSherry Sat 23-Nov-13 00:06:51

Thanks for your replies.

onetiredmummy

a)I'm not sure why your dd is looking towards you, is it just for your permission in case she's not allowed or does she not want to hug your friend?

I'm not too sure myself actually. Perhaps it's a bit of both? I don't always let her have treats - depends on what else she's eaten, and whether it's too near a meal time etc. Also, although she is a very affectionate child (will spontaneously run up to friends/family for hugs etc., including this friend) - she doesn't like being obligated to do it.

Will just mention to friend casually as suggested, that I'm trying to teach dd about personal space and not accepting treats in exchange for cuddles etc. It shouldn't be too hard.

DIYapprentice grin Evil! Would be quite funny... wink
But yes...I need to have a quiet word with FIL.

Don't think DP will do it -he hears what he wants to hear and switches off the rest. Like dd2 has mentioned this 3 or 4 times to me now, yet DP has been completely unaware. Even with the latest instance, he only heard because I said "Did you just hear what dd2 said?" (No). And then asked dd2 to repeat what she had just said, even though he was in the room when she said it a minute before. I very rarely hear him criticise his parents - just don't think he can bring himself to do it. He will minimise the over-tickling into something hardly worth mentioning. He says that FIL teases small children and animals until they get wound up "but they love him."

And actually dd2 does love him - she told FIL over the phone "I'm missing you" unprompted. I agree it's a shame that her 'ally' in the favouritism situation is also causing her a bit of stress over this issue. On the whole they do get on well though - which is why I could do with some ideas on how to tackle it without making it seem like she's having a right old moan, and alienating him iykwim.

TwoStepsBeyond Sat 23-Nov-13 00:43:38

Dd tries to hug ds1, who is 6 years older than her and really doesn't enjoy physical contact with anyone hmm. DP (not their dad btw) laughs and encourages her to chase him for cuddles and he thinks I'm mad for telling her that if he doesn't want a. Dudley she shouldn't try to give him one. Glad I'm not the only one trying to instil some boundaries to teach about personal space!

TwoStepsBeyond Sat 23-Nov-13 00:44:29

A Dudley?! A cuddle obviously.

Funnily enough DM used to call DB cuddly Dudley grin

Lavenderhoney Sat 23-Nov-13 05:12:15

I think perhaps your friend doesn't mean any harm, but your dd looking at you tells me that she doesn't want to. You could say " if you don't want to dd, just say thank you" She needs to know she doesn't have to kiss and cuddle anyone she doesn't want to. If your friend say " you can't have the sweets then" then you will have back your dd up. I don't like anyone wanting kisses and hugs in exchange for sweets from my dc, whoever they are. Saying that, no one I know has ever done that to them.

Fil- that's cruel, as your dd has asked him to stop. Tell her to not allow it to start and just walk away. And tell him not to tickle her anymore as she doesn't like it. He will say she does and he is just playing. Say she would rather her didnt and can he respect her wishes, she may be a child but is not a toy.

How old is she? If he won't stop, she should be supervised when seeing him so he is asked by an adult to stop. Some people think its funny to use their strength and power over dc for their own amusement.

Alwayscheerful Sat 23-Nov-13 05:31:12

I can remember being tickled until I cried. I try and supervise any tickling and we have a code - ticking stops as soon as child says StOP or can you stop please. Adults must agree to stop if it gets too much.

First one is a little delicate, again I hated kissing to order as a child. I just give nieces and nephews a hug especially as they get older. Perhaps you could do as others have suggested and talk about personal space and exchanging treats for kisses.

Ursula8 Sat 23-Nov-13 08:48:05

Both these issues relate to your DD being allowed to have personal physical boundaries OP. Why should she have to kiss and hug anyone she doesn't want to "because it is polite" as other posters have said this is probably number one on the Abusers Charter.
And the second one.............. again, she is asking for him to stop and he won't. What is this teaching her? And what the fuck is wrong with him that he carries on doing it when she has raised it thirteen times?

quietlysuggests Sat 23-Nov-13 09:51:39

I really think you should re-post this in feminism.
I am struggling to understand your dilemma here.
You are teaching your dd that it is rude for her to expect full control over what happens to her.
She looks at you to ask you for help in scenario 1) and you effectively say "I don't care if you are uncomfortable if the adult wants to touch you then they are allowed" and then again in scenario 2) she actually tells you over and over that she doesn't like whats happening to her and you tell her to suck it up/ its her fault for not saying Stop loud enough - so its all on her.
You might as well tell her now that a boyfriend is allowed have sex with when ever he likes and that a husband is allowed to hit you if you really deserve it.
Honestly, repost over in feminism.

PeppermintBark Sat 23-Nov-13 15:17:40

Re the tickling: I hate being tickled, but especially on my feet, it drives me crazy. As a child I was very clear that i hated it happening and if someone did it to me, my automatic response was to kick. One of my parents' more overbearing friends decided to to grab my foot and tickle it while I was lying on the floor. My defence, as always, was to try and kick and as I was on the floor, my kick action caught her straight in the face. My parents told her it was her own fault, no comeback on me.

She never attempted to tickle me again.

Children know what they don't like, and thirty odd years later I still cannot stand my feet being tickled. I don't understand why someone who loves you would continue to do something they know you don't like. One of my grandmothers would try and tickle me too, even though she knew i hated it and i have to say i got to the point where i would consciously avoid her. Being a child doesn't make your views less valid.

A non official vow my DH made in private was to never tickle my feet and he's kept it for over twenty years.

TwoStepsBeyond Sat 23-Nov-13 18:39:10

I loved my grandad to bits, he was a proper 'early morning walk to the newsagents, light the fire in the front room, nap in the afternoon' grandad. But I didn't want to kiss him and my mum and dad would always get cross with me and say "Give your grandad a kiss before you go, stop being silly/rude". Bless him, he'd say "she doesn't have to if she doesn't want to" and blow me a kiss.

I agree that your DD is looking to you to help her to assert herself and yet you're allowing your friend to cross her comfort boundaries and allowing FIL to make her feel out of control and uncomfortable. You need to step up and get DH to join you.

annhathaway Sat 23-Nov-13 20:21:38

You need to stop your friend asking for kisses. They should come spontaneously, not as a reward for giving sweets or anything.
Talk to her.

Re. the FIL. I feel quite strongly over this. Please accept I am not saying there is anything sinister going on , or will, but I had an uncle who was a 'tickler'. He tickled me until I was almost sick with laughing or giggling from being about 7 years old. It was a form of power I think as I used to shriek and ask him to stop. It always took my mum to intervene ( it was her brother.) When I was older he still tickled and this time it was under my sweater. I posted on here some years back about this because when I became a teenager I felt it almost became abuse- certainly inappropriate behaviour along with his 'bear hugs' and 'knee patting' when alone in his car with him.

I don't want to alarm you but it's better that any physical contact which you or your DCs are not happy with- and which they think they cannot control- is stopped and boundaries are put in place by you if need be.

PassTheSherry Sun 24-Nov-13 17:39:16

Thanks again for your replies

lavenderhoney
How old is she? If he won't stop, she should be supervised when seeing him so he is asked by an adult to stop. Some people think its funny to use their strength and power over dc for their own amusement. Dd2 is 4yrs. Yes we are going to supervise more - will make sure I'm with dc's when they visit until further notice. FIL is quite kind in many ways, it's a shame he is has this wind-up streak.

Ursula8 I fully agree with you about the dodgy messages it sends, which is why I was uncomfortable with letting it slide. However, as someone else said it's nothing that countless grandparents/aunts/uncles/friends haven't done. I don't think it's right, but am aware that not everyone thinks as I do. I can't just go around pissing everyone off that I disagree with or there won't be that many people left! grin Oh, re the 'thirteen times' - I suspect dd1 (6yo) may have said that for effect - as I doubt she was counting from the word go. However, for her to say "thirteen times" I think it's reasonable to surmise that it was more than just once or twice, but was quite a few.

quietlysuggests
Not sure how it will help to post this in feminism. I already know that it's giving dd2 the wrong message and teaching her that her rights over her personal space, matters less than the wishes of an adult in authority. I think it might just make me feel like an awful mother for not instantly tackling my friend, and coming down like a tonne of bricks on FIL! Or weak for not being able to assert myself better in the first place (I'm quite introverted, and the type to think about, and mull over things first, see things from every perspective and weigh up the course of action etc).

Spoken to DP about it - he was quite unhelpful and sarcastic, said "maybe we should stop her seeing anyone, just keep her at home all the time." hmm Grrr. Obviously this is NOT the answer. He just thinks that it's a case of having to shrug it off because we can't do anything about it, as people DO come in all guises, and if we 'tackle' every situation that makes us cringe, we risk alienating a lot of people. Sigh. To be honest, in some ways I do think he has a point (though I wish he wasn't so useless in regards to speaking to his parents).

My DD (4 in a few weeks) looks to me when she doesn't want to but isn't sure if she can say no as it is an adult asking her. I always say to her "you don't have to if you don't want to" and suggest she blows a kiss instead. This usually works. I know exactly the feeling you mean when you let it slide and feel much better not making her. I feel a little like making her do things for kisses etc might possibly blur the boundaries later in life for her. I think the suggestions above about saying you are teaching her about personal space are useful if you find you need them.

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