Does this sound like grooming? Please help- step uncle(571 Posts)
Posting for traffic/I’m not sure where else this belongs..
Background if it helps: I’m a mum of a nearly 4 year old. She is very bright, happy, outgoing, completely normal development wise and attends nursery full time. I met dh when she was 2 and they have a great relationship, which has grown over time, i can honestly say I really trust him and she has started to call him daddy which feels natural for us all. Her dad has never been in the picture and we have no contact with him.
I have recently begun to have real worries about her relationship with my dh’s brother. He is 31, unmarried, no kids. Generally quite an immature guy (loves gaming, works minimum wage job and lives in a flat share) but seems pleasant enough since I’ve known him. However, since he met dd at a family gathering probably a year ago, alarm bells are ringing for me more and more and I don’t know if it’s instinct or paranoia. Every time he sees her he picks her ups lot, tickles her, cuddles her, he addresses her as “friend” (seems odd for a 3 year old), he always buys her extravagant presents whenever we see him. She is a trusting kid and I’m beginning to think, too trusting- because of all the positive attention he gives her (and maybe because she lacked a “dad figure” the first couple years of her life?) she absolutely loves him, talks about him loads, nowadays whenever he is there at a family gathering she just wants to go to him and has a tantrum if I say no or keep her next to me. It seems really excessive that she is so into him and that he had instigated this type of relationship with her- dh’s sister, who has kids, has what I would consider a more normal relationship with my dd and is lovely to her but definitely doesn’t push the boundaries. He has now offered to babysit a few times and I refuse point blank each time which I think dh is a little upset by (dh idolises his brother and I can’t talk to him about ANY of this). It happened again yesterday with lots of cuddling, sitting on his knee. My own brothers don’t do this with my dd and I feel like I can’t put a stop to it, but she is so trusting and I don’t know how to protect her. Whenever she needs a male figure she seems to get overly attached anyway, but for me this is going too far. She doesn’t want to be near me or dh when his brother is around, the amount of presents makes me uncomfortable and I feel like the physical stuff in public is a possible first step of grooming. Can anyone please help me understand what to do, it’s a really sensitive situation. Does this sound odd? I would appreciate anyone who knows about signs of grooming etc to weigh in. Do I sound crazy?
Fwiw my mum and sister are both teachers and having witnessed the interactions said that their own instincts were kicking in too and that the developing relationship wasn’t necessarily appropriate/he seemed a little over interested in kids.
Please help, this is stressing me out so much whenever we are around family.
Also people just say that he “is good with kids” and “broody” which may be so, he is a family minded guy but surely this isn’t normal single 30something guy behaviour or is it?
Please, please, please trust your instincts on this one.
I've been there and didn't trust my instincts................
I think if your instincts are pinging you have no choice but to talk to DH who will hopefully agree to talk to his brother and ask him to cut back on the presents and physical contact.
You don’t sound crazy for a start OP. I think you should listen to that inner voice that’s telling you not to ignore this situation.
How often do you see him? Can you cut the amount of contact down for a while?
It might not necessarily be grooming, but I think it is always good to be cautious about who babysits your kids, and a single man would not be my first choice for this.
Absolutely trust your instincts.
You may get posters tell you that you are being paranoid or sexist etc etc but if something doesn’t feel right then it usually isn’t.
It isn't just you, is it? Your mother and sister both thought the same. I think you need to speak seriously to your DH about this.
Your spidey senses are tingling. Don't ignore them.
I think the additional emphasis provided by your mum and sister is very significant. You should trust your instincts.
@Gomyownway I agree parents should trust their instincts but I wouldn't be tarring all single men not able to baby sit. Absolutely absurd.
Trust your instincts, you'll never ever regret it.
Trust your instincts and make sure your DD knows the PANTS rule/no keeping secrets etc, just in case.
I’ve said to dh that I personally don’t let anyone except my mum and sister look after dd and that I wouldn’t leave her with a single man which he scoffed at but tbh it’s not his child and I know a little about safeguarding through my work and my family’s teaching background, I’d rather be paranoid than sorry. I know I’m never going to leave her with anyone like dh brother but it’s just the way it is during family stuff that bothers me. It seems too close for comfort even though I’m there. The whole “he loves kids and they love him” thing feels like the kind of excuses saville etc used to hide behind.
I have just done pants rule and talked about safety things for the first time with dd. She’s smart, and I’ll alwahs be there to protect her but i wish he would back off. Would other parents feel this way too? I don’t know any other mums irl who have navigated this.
She is your child and you must do what is best for her, regardless of offending an adult. It's a difficult situation but if he makes you uneasy your maternal instinct is your friend here. Never let him babysit. Tell him you don't want any more presents. Limit your time with him, never let him be alone with her, even if it is just the next room. Watch him like a hawk. Not all men are predators but you cannot take the risk of him grooming her in plain sight.
Your partner might be offended by your stance on this which I suppose is understandable but it’s tough, she’s your child and you decide who babysits.
It’s not that I am worried I will be forced to let him babysit (my sister lives much closer and would always be my default, anyway) and dh and I had the conversation about me being in charge of babysitting ages ago. It’s just that I don’t know if my perception of this situation is crazy or what..I keep getting people going “oh but X is so great with kids!” I also feel like my dd is getting too attached proportionate to the time they spend together.
1st and easiest thing, put a stop to the presents even if you have to say that she is starting to expect things, becoming spoilt. Tell him it's only special occasions. 4year olds can be quite mercenary without realising it and some of the attraction to him may wear off if he isn't giving her presents.
Also contact the police to see if he has any record.
Then it's down to being direct. Say you don't like her being too cuddly with men because it may leave her vulnerable in future.
Would your DH understand the pants rules and how having healthy boundaries with family is really important so that your DD can understand that she’s fully entitled to ask for someone to stop tickling or that she doesn’t want to hug at that time? So the rules of consent but at a level appropriate for her age? If so you could use that to explain how the brother’s behaviour may confuse DD and that brother needs to behave within more appropriate boundaries for DD’s understanding and learning the rules.
I think a first step would be to limit presents absolutely to birthday and Christmas. This you can insist straight away on the grounds that you don’t want to encourage acquisitiveness - you don’t have to explain your underlying concerns yet. Asserting control over this aspect could help you move on to change the other behaviours.
I do feel some guilt about dd’s lack of male role models in her early life and whether there is anything I can do to make her a bit more on her guard. She is intelligent, she can understand a lot, and I don’t want to scare her or anything but honestly I’d rather she be a little more reticent around adult men, which seems to be who she flocks to. It’s one aspect of being a single mum I never thought of and it’s worrying me a lot. She only has male friends at nursery who she also gets a little obsessed with. I don’t know what’s normal.
Thanks all— I do think the presents are a good step but dh family all do it really, his mum buys so much for her which has always made me v uncomfortable. Tbh the way dh mum is around dd isn’t too dissimilar, but she’s an older woman with 4 kids of her own so I guess I am less sceptical of her motives.
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