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Does this sound like grooming? Please help- step uncle

(571 Posts)
Lam23 Mon 04-Mar-19 14:27:06

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.

Rainbowshine Mon 04-Mar-19 14:50:31

Sorry I don’t think I was clear that you could use the pants rules for talking about this with your DH, I should have made that more apparent in my post

BumbleBeee69 Mon 04-Mar-19 14:51:19

I with everyone else lady.. Trust your instincts flowers

Lam23 Mon 04-Mar-19 14:52:08

Also- not to drip feed, but I was groomed when I was 15 by an older man which left me with some lasting trauma in relationships. I guess that’s why I find it hard to trust my instincts at times but I am lucky to have my mum and sister to sense check me, who are very black and white about safeguarding due to their work.

lerrimknowyouretheyir Mon 04-Mar-19 14:52:41

Do not ignore your instincts.
You don’t have to accuse your BIL of grooming your DD to your DH, more that you’re not comfortable with any men being too close to her.

But whatever you do, don’t allow the fear of offending someone become more important than protecting your DD.

Kismetjayn Mon 04-Mar-19 14:52:42

Yes, I would feel this way too. It's really tough!

My dad is similar and he is an abuser. My mum once joked that he was like the pied Piper, children and animals gravitate to him. The analogy was so true, it makes me feel sick. Considering the pied Piper didn't exactly have the children's best interests in mind...

As long as you make things fun for your DD, she won't be stressed out but will know how to keep her boundaries firm. My DD3 made me laugh recently when we had another chat about secrets Vs surprises (surprises are okay because Mummy will know eventually and they make you feel happy- secrets are not okay and if a grown up says it's a secret you mustn't tell Mummy, it's a trick because you can tell mummy anything) and she said 'if anyone says to me I have to keep a bad secret, I will tell them it's not fair and they will go to jail!'

I just thought, any would-be attacker having this tiny belligerent child shouting they would go to jail, would know to back off swiftly 😂

All you can really do is be careful, and know that you will be there if anything does happen. Keep a very, very close eye and create the avenue for her to talk about anything that bothers her.

Cheeeeislifenow Mon 04-Mar-19 14:53:38

This could be totally innocent and yes you have to trust your instincts, but if this man has innocent intentions then I feel bad for hm. But obviously trust your gut.

NWQM Mon 04-Mar-19 14:54:39

As others have said trust your instincts and do what you can to mitigate. If you are right you’ll have safeguarded your daughter. If you are ‘wrong’ you’d have limited situations that make you uncomfortable which still is appropriate.

If he is only giving your DD presents and this is anywhere / when his nieces are are there you have the perfect in as this is definitely not appropriate.

Limit contact and try and make it in situations where physical contact can be limited.

It’s easy really though but your DH and brother need it respect your boundaries. If you say ‘please tone down x then he should.’ Work out how to articulate these perhaps with the help of your Mum & sister. The - to coin a Mumsnet phrase - ‘rinse and repeat’.

If you can try not to get your daughter to act differently. She can / should be able to run to her uncle for attention. She’s the child. He is the adult who needs to be appropriate and tone it down.

Ultimately if he won’t he wouldn’t be seeing my daughter very much if at all.

Gomyownway Mon 04-Mar-19 14:54:41

@mrs2468 it’s not about tarring all single men with the same brush, but is about being realistic in terms of who most women would feel comfortable with when babysitting their child.

GummyGoddess Mon 04-Mar-19 14:55:46

I assume you've known him less than 2 years (if only met DH 2 yearsish ago)? Can you not just say you don't know him well enough?

bordellosboheme Mon 04-Mar-19 14:56:40

I read a Facebook linked article recently with all of these red flags you mention. This is definitely grooming. Trust your instincts.

crochetmonkey74 Mon 04-Mar-19 14:58:15

OP you MUST trust your instincts on this, and rely on the fact that you cannot shrug it off as others have felt the same about him.

I wouldn’t leave her with a single man which he scoffed at

This I find concerning as well- why does he scoff at you wanting to protect your daughter the best you can? You are in a position where your caregivers are all trusted females, so any single man you left her with would by the nature be a step removed- perfectly normal in my opinion to not want that- don't let him make you think otherwise

ElizabethMountbatten Mon 04-Mar-19 14:58:32

My ex's brother was like this with all his nieces in the family. I had no children but it set massive alarm bells and flashing neon signs off for me. Towards the end of our relationship, his "lovely, friendly, trying to be a good uncle" brother was arrested, charged and subsequently sentenced to several years in prison for many counts of grooming, inciting sexual activity with a minor, rape of a minor, indecent assault.....on 8/10 of those lovely little nieces that he was so very keen to babysit for. If the alarm bells are ringing, I'm not saying he's a paedophile, but if you listen, you stand 100% chance of keeping your daughter safe from him if he is.

YorkshireLass81 Mon 04-Mar-19 15:00:12

Go with your gut instinct. I had a similar sense about 12 years ago about someone and made my (now) ex promise that our dd would never be left alone with him which he thankfully respected. Not overly tactile with dd but quite dysfunctional in his relationships and I felt uncomfortable (as a youngish woman) around him. Found out recently after many years NC that he's recently been in prison for grooming underage girls. Listen to your feelings and don't give him any opportunties to prove you right!

Lam23 Mon 04-Mar-19 15:02:18

Elizabeth that’s absolutely shocking. Very sobering to read so thank you.
Dh’s brother is actually in law enforcement so I think he also is seen as very trustworthy by everyone. I think he’s alright in an adult situation but I’ve always found him oddly fake in a way so never really trusted him.
I just worry that in his own family at least they all think he’s so cute with kids and so it kind of normalises how he is acting -which to a relative outsider (me/my family) seems off.

YogaWannabe Mon 04-Mar-19 15:02:39

What 31 year old man asks to babysit!?
That’s weird!
Definitely trust your gut, I’d give him a wide birth with your DD and I wouldn’t be encouraging or allowing the tickling/sitting in lap/holding/lifting up etc.
He should have a bit more self awareness that it’s not really the done thing either.

Ceebs85 Mon 04-Mar-19 15:02:39

In terms of the preferring males my daughter is the same. Waves at men while we're out, prefers the male staff at her childminders and plays more with boys but she's got a daddy and always has. Try not to blame yourself for this natural preference

ChuckleBuckles Mon 04-Mar-19 15:04:07

OP please trust your instincts. When you are doubting yourself remember that your mum and sister sense something is off too.

I had an uncle like this, always bought me sweets and little treats, the tickling and teasing, knee sitting the lot, all fun and games until he started abusing me. I was like your little girl with no dad on the scene, I just gravitated towards him. Everyone said he was great with kids, had no worries about him, decent popular bloke by all accounts unless you were a young girl.

It took until I was an adult to realise that none of what he did was my fault, that the sweets and games were designed to draw me towards him so that I felt complicit in my own abuse, it was to keep me silent about what he did.

Please be vigilant for you little girl flowers

aintnothinbutagstring Mon 04-Mar-19 15:05:06

No, doesn't sound normal. My BIL is really good with my kids (ds and DD), plays with them with their toys, runs around with them but he doesn't touch them at all unless it's a high five or brotherly hug. And definitely doesn't buy them gifts, my sister is in charge of that.

crochetmonkey74 Mon 04-Mar-19 15:05:38

I’ve always found him oddly fake

I know exactly the feeling! I have a colleague at the moment who is a very affable chap- everyone likes him but I have this feeling about him (not grooming- his is sort of barely concealed rage to women) I saw his mask slip ever so slightly once and I have never forgotten it!

IHateUncleJamie Mon 04-Mar-19 15:07:12

Trust your gut instinct, OP. I understand what you mean about feeling extra sensitive because of your own trauma but as your DM and DSis are also wary then it sounds as if your instinct is correct.

Definitely limit the presents on the basis that you don’t want dd to become spoiled. At some point you may have to say to your DH that the amount of physical contact is not appropriate in your opinion and that it makes you uncomfortable. Your child, your rules.

Ahardmanisgoodtofind Mon 04-Mar-19 15:08:00

Trust your gut. A family member was the same with my DD (similar age). 5months ago i thought it was all fine and normal, no alarm bells nothing. Until it wasn't "nothing" and my DD told us he had touched her inappropriately. (I have a thread on here actually).
Trust your instincts, you're her mother you set the rules, and it's not worth the risk.it may all be innocent, but if it isn't you'll never forgive yourself.

Sparkles07 Mon 04-Mar-19 15:08:09

My daughter was groomed by her grandad on my DH's side.
This could be totally normal! But you've gotta trust your instinct. Mum knows best, always.

Lam23 Mon 04-Mar-19 15:08:15

My brother in law has a son my dd’s age and he is good with my dd but I’ve never questioned his boundaries with her as he just seems to act natural, not OTT— and though she sees him a lot more than my dh brother she doesn’t particularly gravitate to him. Which in context makes the step uncle thing seem odder to me. For me grooming was about getting positive attention I was t getting at home during my parents divorce, so I am very wary of the positive attention and gift giving around my dd.

KirstyJC Mon 04-Mar-19 15:14:12

Why on earth would a single man want to babysit anyone's kids? What a strange request - actually I can't imagine any single person wanting to babysit someone else's kids. Saying in passing that if you are stuck for a babysitter any time then give me a call, yes. Asking to have them overnnight? No!

I would speak to DH to say you are not comfortable with him being so hands on and constantly touching her. That you are not from such a touchy-feeling background and it feels odd, so you want him to stop.

I would also ask BIL in front of his family, with a slightly bemused look, why he is so keen to spend time alone with a small girl as he must realise it makes him look odd and you can reassure him that it will never be happening. And see what he says to that. But then I am a cow and don't care if I piss people off so appreciate you might not want to do that!

You are right to be worried - instincts are there for a reason.

FizzyGreenWater Mon 04-Mar-19 15:15:27

The big worry here is that you feel you can't talk to your DH.

If that's the case, you just have to totally limit contact.

And yes, another one sayign trust your instincts. Absolutely.

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