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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.

PassTheSherry Mon 25-Nov-13 22:46:11

I do understand what you say about it being to do with control and a tiny element of bullying - I don't get why an adult would use their strength to overpower a small child, even in tickling. Thanks for your input even though we sort of disagreed about how to go about tackling it - I appreciate that you're posting because you want to help. smile

annhathaway Mon 25-Nov-13 22:22:02

I didn't say there was a sexual motive or even the likelihood of it but I did say that's what happened to me. It's just unpleasant being touched in a non sexual way by an older ( male) person / relative when they won't stop when you say so- it's about control and a tiny bit of bullying perhaps. I hope you find a way to mention it and the same with the kissing- again, my parents 'instructed me' to kiss relatives before saying goodbye etc and it was awful!

PassTheSherry Mon 25-Nov-13 22:13:25

annhathaway I'm sorry about what happened to you. It must be difficult for you if you think my dd is potentially another victim. Thank you for your concern, but I truly, honestly don't believe there is a sexual motive going on. You're right that unwanted physical contact is enough to warrant challenging, and I will.

zipzap Mon 25-Nov-13 16:59:36

Could you also prime dd1 so that if she is around when this happens again, she could say something along the lines of oh gdad if dd2 says stop then you'd better stop - if you carry on tickling her, her feet start to kick out and she can't help it - you don't want to be kicked do you! And then to come get you/dh/even gmum to come and get him to stop.

Hearing this might also help dd2 to kick out which might get FIL to stop too...

Lavenderhoney Mon 25-Nov-13 16:41:55

Passthesherrysmile that's ok- but it is important that your dd learns how to say no and is supported by you and your dp.

She too might learn when someone says no you keep right on going, which may cause problems at school.

I teach both my dc, boy and girl, around the same age range, if someone says no, you stop. That's it. So they should be afforded the same respect.

I wouldn't go in guns blazing but I would certainly say something and if it happens when you aren't there, again, you have to step in. Yes, it would be great if you don't have to. But you might. Being grandad doesn't give you carte Blanche.

annhathaway Mon 25-Nov-13 15:48:07

you're very defensive OP just because you don't happen to agree confused

why are you taking things to extreme in your replies? No, of course you don't ring up up out of the blue- did I say that?

But you must be able to say to him that you'd like a word about something when you visit him next time?

Have you read my earlier posts? I was that child tickled by an uncle. I know exactly how it feels and it's horrible. My mum used to arrive on the scene and when I was screaming and ask my uncle to stop. He knew he'd gone too far but it didn't stop him the next time, or the next....and I used to dread him visiting. And as I said, it didn't stop at tickling but carried on to something more sinister when I was a teenager. I'm not saying this will of course, no, but it's still unwanted physical contact and no amount of baking , gardening or having other fun excuses that.

Cat98 Mon 25-Nov-13 14:52:35

Similar issues here with fil and tickling sometimes. Like your dd, ds enjoys it - until he wants him to stop.
I also appreciate its hard just to bring it up and you (or dh preferably) need to call him on it at the time. Could you show dh this thread and ask him to keep an eye out next time you're round there?

PassTheSherry Mon 25-Nov-13 14:41:36

Oops oh no, I meant annhathaway! Sorry lavenderhoney - that'll teach me to type in a rush! LOL

PassTheSherry Mon 25-Nov-13 14:30:30


That was for lavenderhoney - also he is not MY dad. He is DP's dad. If it were my own dad, I would just spit it out, but the relationship I have with FIL is more distant. I feel it's really DP who should be speaking to FIL about it, but he won't, which puts me in a more awkward position. Yes I could just say it, but it's more likely to be taken as criticism coming from me, so I have to tread carefully. You disagree, clearly, but that's your opinion. Thanks, but I disagree.

GwendolineMaryLacey Mon 25-Nov-13 14:27:21

I've never made dd1 (5) kiss or cuddle anyone that she doesn't want to, even my parents. It hurts me and them when she won't kiss them goodbye (she always says goodbye nicely) but I feel very strongly that her rights over her own personal space is more important.

PassTheSherry Mon 25-Nov-13 14:24:58

If that's what you want to believe it's up to you.

According to you I'm either in the wrong for "attempting to police the situation by always being in the room or whatever." or in the wrong for NOT being in the room and letting her tell me "once it's all over...poor little mite." Which I don't find particularly constructive or helpful. hmm

Do you think I should ring him up, seemingly out of the blue, have a go at him on the phone, about something, that may or may not have happened exactly as dd2 said? How is that going to be a good idea?

No thanks. I think I'll check out the situation first.

DistanceCall Mon 25-Nov-13 14:19:58

You husband has a point that there's all kinds of people and your daughter is going to have to deal with them. It's OK if you talk to your friend and FIL, but I think that essentially you need to teach your daughter that she needs to make her wishes clear and act of them - she is looking for you for support. So let her know you support her, and encourage her to act for herself.

annhathaway Mon 25-Nov-13 13:50:27

I still think you are giving yourself too much work and overthinking it.

Would it not be easier to grab your dad at a good moment and just say' look dad, I know you love to play those tickling games with DD but sometimes it gets out of hand and she gets upset. Can you not do it please?'

I can't for the life of me see how having her ask 13 times and him not stop is acceptable- yet you'd put her through it and talk about it after it's happened again rather than take the initiative now.

But if I'm in the vicinity, dd2 can come to me if FIL is over-doing the tickling and tell me

Yes she'll tell you once it's over...poor little mite. Having suffered it.

You sound scared of talking to your family and friends, tbh.

PassTheSherry Mon 25-Nov-13 13:30:15

lavenderhoney My dc have an uncle who is like this. I can't bear him. The dc dislike him intensely and he doesn't care they dislike him and he makes a point of grabbing them, wanting a kiss, tickling - as he knows it annoys them and me. I never leave him alone with the dc and avoid him when possible. " its just his way" they say but its not an excuse for being a twat.

But this is not the situation with dd2 at all - she loves FIL and says so. Gravitates towards him on visits. Tells him she misses him on the phone. Initiates play with him (even the tickling), loves it when he reads them stories. It's not black and white! If either dc's disliked him intensely then of course it would be very clear, what to do. He isn't mean to them generally - he interacts with them, engages them in his gardening, bakes with them, they LIKE him, especially dd2. It's just this thing with the teasing/tickling which dd2 has mentioned that isn't so good, but as she has mentioned it a few times, I do know I need to say something. Not denying that. I think I will say something along the lines as you suggested.

I just don't see why the choice is either to put up and shut up, OR to alienate. Why can't there be a middle ground? That's where I struggle.

annhathaway I think you misunderstand. I'm not going to police the situation by staying in the room all the time with them as that's just silly. Am I going to follow them everywhere even if they're playing? Course not. But if I'm in the vicinity, dd2 can come to me if FIL is over-doing the tickling and tell me, and then I will have a word with FIL and sort it out. You may have a point about being careful not to give dd2 the idea that mum has to be there to protect her, but she is only 4 and I want her to know that I have her back. I'm not going to follow her around like her personal bodyguard, but I WILL be around to intervene if need be. Not catching up later, when someone decides to bring it up after the event. I will also have a better idea about what happened, rather than just hearing it from dd2 who sometimes may feign being wronged without seeing her own part. (I've been with her in the school playground, and she's come to me about being chased too much by a friend, when I saw with my own eyes her 'tagging' them and running off).

Yes I am worried about offending people... But I would disagree that I worry MORE about it, than about dd2's well-being. This is our/their family - they bring a lot of positive things to the dc's lives, they do stuff with them that we don't do so much at home - grandparenty treat type of things that are actually really nice, and relieves the pressure off us to be all-providing, socially, financially, educationally. They have a valuable role and are important people in dc's lives. I think they are part of the dc's network of support. As parents, we are the main support of course, but to be completely honest, they get more opportunities and a variety of experiences through having contact with their grandparents than if it was just myself and DP alone. We COULD limit contact if need be, but it would be a major loss (for them) and I'm not sure the negatives of that outweigh the positives either.

So...I think I probably got all I needed from this thread (clarification that the treats-for-cuddles, and over-tickling is wrong. I need to sort it somehow! And I have a few assertive phrases that hopefully will get the point across, but not too agressively either). I'm happy with that for now. Thanks again all.

annhathaway Mon 25-Nov-13 08:19:25

You need to talk to the people involved rather than attempting to police the situation by always being in the room or whatever.

You aren't taking control of this at all- you seem more worried about offending people.

Think about the messages you are giving to your daughter- that mum always has to be there to protect her, but in a very passive aggressive way- rather than mum being assertive on her behalf and calling other people on their behaviour.

Lavenderhoney Mon 25-Nov-13 08:07:25

I would rather alienate people than insist my dd have to kiss them and accept hugs they don't want. I don't think anyone would mind if you said " you don't have to kiss anyone dd, just a thank you is lovely"

Because if they were giving sweets just to get a kiss and cuddle that would be wrong as well.

Your fil- he is being cruel so yy to stopping that. If your dc have asked you to intervene and you don't and expect them to put up with it because of a quiet life, that's wrong as well. Just say " fil, they don't like it, can you stop?"

My dc have an uncle who is like this. I can't bear him. The dc dislike him intensely and he doesn't care they dislike him and he makes a point of grabbing them, wanting a kiss, tickling - as he knows it annoys them and me. I never leave him alone with the dc and avoid him when possible. " its just his way" they say but its not an excuse for being a twat.

Your do is not being helpful and supportive - the norm is not to be expected to kiss people who bring sweets or be expected to submit to tickling etc which makes them unhappy and uncomfortable.

MrsHerculePoirot Sun 24-Nov-13 17:47:59

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.

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

Thanks again for your replies

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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?

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.

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.

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