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Creepy Cousins

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I’ll bet you’re swamped with questions for your column, but if you need another one, I’d love your advice on a tricky issue. Please don’t publish my real name though, I don’t want family to find this (for reasons which should become obvious). I need to be anonymous.

I married into a small family, my husband is an only child, and has two first cousins. There are also my husband’s parents, one uncle, and us. We always, without fail, have to spend Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc with his family for the day. There is no getting around this. My issue is that I don’t like the way one cousin (let’s call him Creepy Carl) treats my child (let’s call her Gracie).

Creepy Carl is 45. He lives with his father, works at low-end job, and spends his spare time online or watching horror movies. The rest of the family treats him with affectionate tolerance, like he’s just a big teenager, despite his advanced age. They think it’s so cute that he likes to play with the kids, especially my daughter. I don’t think it’s cute at all, I think it’s creepy. He brings her candies and presents, and if she won’t kiss him and say thank-you, threatens to take the presents back. At Christmas, when we arrived and were kissing everyone hello, he kissed Gracie on the mouth. On. The. Mouth. My 3 year old! His sister told him that was inappropriate, but it was treated as kind of a joke, like he didn’t know better. He won’t leave her alone for 5 minutes, but is always picking her up, asking her to sit on his knee, tickling her, carrying her around, poking her, teasing her and just generally horsing around. The last time we were together I could hear him inviting her to tickle him, saying “Now it’s your turn to tickle me!” My husband was in the room with them, but HELLO!! No 45 year old man should be asking my 3 year old to tickle him. This is not normal behavior. He also takes pictures of her on his little digital camera all the time.

The problem is that my husband thinks I’m overreacting. I mean, nobody wants to think their cousin is the creepy child molester, but his behavior is very weird. More often than not child abuse is done by someone the child knows, not that random stranger behind the mall. If this was someone at church or a neighbor, my husband would be much more concerned, I’m sure. But he just keeps insisting that Creepy Carl “means well” and just doesn’t know how to play with kids because he’s never been around small children before my daughter was born. He agrees that Creepy Carl shouldn’t be tickling Gracie, but he won’t step in or say anything, because he doesn’t want to cause trouble or imply that something wrong is going on. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to cause a family feud either, but I can’t just look the other way and hope for the best.

I try to always stay in the same room as my daughter, but I have a newborn and sometimes have to go into another room to feed or change her. It is also difficult because Gracie is the most outgoing kid ever, and likes Creepy Carl because he brings her treats and plays these silly chasing/tickling games with her. And being such a small family, there is no one else for her to play with on these occasions. I have asked my husband to watch her while I feed the baby, but he just doesn’t have that mother’s knack of tracking a toddler. If he gets talking, he has no idea where she is or what she’s doing, and as he isn’t concerned about Creepy Carl, he “forgets” to track her.

Case in point, the last time we were together, I went to a bedroom to feed the baby, and I heard Gracie and my mother-in-law going into the next bedroom. Next thing I know, I hear Creepy Carl in there too, and then my mother-in-law left the room. I quickly stopped nursing, went in, and Gracie was jumping on the bed, and Creepy Carl was taking pictures of her. Not a criminal offense, my husband says, and he’s right.

Then I feel like I’m totally overreacting and looking for trouble. I’m just nervous about the whole situation, I don’t want Carl and Gracie hanging out on a bed together, you know?

Sorry this is so rambly: I guess my real question is, how do I make my husband see my concern is valid without outright accusing his cousin of ulterior motives? I need my husband to be “on my team” when Creepy Carl is around, and even better, I’d like my husband to speak up and say “no tickling, no kissing”. Has anyone been in a similar situation, with relatives you don’t feel comfortable around? How did you set limits and protect your children without making accusations or even implications of child abuse? Maybe Creepy Carl does mean well, but his behavior is inappropriate, and I don’t want Gracie thinking she has to kiss or tickle ANYONE that tells her to, even if they’re family.

I hope you or your readers will have some insights for me, I feel like I’m between the proverbial rock and the hard place.
Thank you so much, Amy.

Take care,
A Concerned Mom

DING DING DING DING DING.

That’s the sound of alarm bells, going off in my head, in perfect harmony with your own alarm bells of mother’s intuition. Which should never, ever be ignored. Especially in this case.

Your husband’s family keep returning the the excuse that Carl “means well” and “doesn’t know what he’s doing.” I am going to say the straight-up opposite: I think he knows EXACTLY what he’s doing.

Since I personally had SUCH a strong reaction to Carl’s behavior, I consulted a friend of mine for a second opinion. Jodi is an attorney who works in child abuse and I asked her if she saw as many red flags as I did.

I’m a big believer in Mom intuition, and if you have a voice in your head that is going off and says danger alert!!!! then I think you need to listen to it. The truth is that abusers do groom their victims and their parents by some of the behaviors you have discussed, the candy giving, the kissing, the tickling, or, it all could be innocent and he could just be overly affectionate. This is a good article on grooming. But, if it makes you, or YOUR DAUGHTER uncomfortable, it needs to stop. This article includes warning signs of sexual abuse and some of the behavior you have discussed is listed. I hope this reinforces that you are not crazy for warning bells to be going off.

Have you tried to talk to your husband rationally? Not when you’re upset or when something has just happened, but before a visit and when everyone is calm? Just tried to say: I’ve noticed this behavior and it makes me very uncomfortable. Ask your husband how he would feel if something did happen to Gracie? Child sexual abuse devastates a family and repercussions lasts for years. Sparing a relative’s feelings is nothing compared to your daughter’s safety and welfare. And you were right when you said that most children are abused by someone they know. Once again I am not saying he is an abuser but obviously you are very concerned about this behavior.

If for some reason you suspect, or begin to suspect, that something has already occurred, please do not hesitate to reach out to your local police and child welfare, call the ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-422-4453. It may not be a bad idea just to call the hotline to get their opinion on the behavior you are concerned about. All calls are anonymous.

(Disclaimer: this is not legal advice)

Just to repeat: MANY of the behaviors you mentioned are specifically, explicitly mentioned as classic “grooming” behaviors. You are not imagining things. The gifts, the candy, the eschewing adult company and paying attention exclusively to the child. Nonsexual touching. The threats of consequences when Gracie tries to refuse or avoid physical contact (“I’ll take your present away unless you play our tickle game!”). The slow testing of the waters (sitting on laps, kissing on the mouth, following her into bedrooms) to see what Gracie (AND YOU) will tolerate.

OF COURSE it’s possible that Carl is just a clueless, well-meaning guy who simply relates to children better than adults. Maybe he’s a lonely man who always wanted children and his little cousins are filling an innocent emotional void. But dude: I’m really not 100% sure about that, and you aren’t either, so you absolutely must proceed accordingly. Like Jodi said, sparing family feelings and the keeping the status quo are soooo less important than your daughter’s safety.

Call that hotline. Send your husband the articles. Talk to him when you can be as calm as possible and lay out the rules that you want — nay, DEMAND — to be enforced around Carl, including CONSTANT PARENTAL SUPERVISION.

And talk to your daughter. Predators count on children to be innocent and naive on the whole good touch/bad touch/abuse touch thing. They count on us as parents to put off any conversation about sex for as long as possible. And it’s probably true — I’ve had more talks with my son about strangers and fewer about the swimsuit parts and who is allowed to see or touch them. We like to think that we know and trust everyone in our young children’s lives and that our protection is enough. But as you saw with the bed-jumping/photo-taking incident, it’s frighteningly easy for someone we don’t 100% trust to slip through our defenses and gain access.

ChildHelp has an entire website
dedicated to talking to children abuse and molestation. You probably sat through some of this curriculum back in elementary school. Talk to Gracie about what’s okay and what’s not using these guidelines. Even if Carl is perfectly innocent and nothing ever happens (and of course that’s our most fervent hope), knowing your daughter has the power of discernment and saying NO! and the words to TELL YOU might make future family visits a little less unnerving and…uh…creepy.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Spring
Guest

I just want to reinforce that you are not crazy! Of course Carl may just be a socially awkward, well-intentioned, but sort of clueless guy. But maybe not. I was frequently molested by an uncle whose behaviors started out much like Carl’s, and all the family dismissed his behavior as just being his eccentric and innocent “way” until someone finally actually caught him in the act of molesting another cousin. I know you don’t want to cause a family rift, and that’s right, I think. But I really believe you need to have a hard and fast rule that Gracie… Read more »

laura512
Guest
laura512

I only got halfway through the letter and I had to stop and comment. Trust your gut. I won’t go into my (possibly triggering) personal history, but just…trust your gut. Now I’ll go back and read the rest and probably see that Amalah has given you the same advice, but with like….constructive stuff as well.

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

Stories like this make me nuts. Here is how the husband and I look at things: If one partner raises a concern, then the other partner is concerned too. The end. Family issues are really, really hard and often ugly. But these are your kids. YOUR KIDS. There have been times, I’m sure when the husband thought I was overreacting/hysterical/in need of some [email protected] but he sides me with me unless there is abundant evidence to the contrary because we’re a team. Ask your husband if your demands are really that unreasonable in light of the worst-case scenario. Of course… Read more »

the grumbles
Guest

AHHHHHHH! The “mom” alarm bells in my head are going off too. Please at the very least have your husband read this, even though I know you wanted to be anonymous. There is too much at stake to pansy around with people’s feelings. If it’s nothing then GREAT, but why risk it?

bethany
Guest
bethany

LISTEN TO THOSE WARNING BELLS. My mom and dad got into a huge fight when my brother and I were little because my mom heard those same bells about one of my uncles, and she REFUSED to let my brother or me be alone in the room with him. My dad was enraged that my mom was “practically accusing” that uncle of being a pervert, but my mom, a victim of sexual abuse as a child herself at the hands of an older brother, did not back down, God bless her. She just refused to budge on this issue, no… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Ugh, I felt nauseous just reading this. Even before reading Amy’s reply, my first thought was women’s intuition. If you even think something is off, that’s because it is. To reiterate what has been said, your daughter’s safety goes above and beyond starting a family fight. Don’t dismiss your feelings, because they are real.

Jenny
Guest
Jenny

One of my best friends was molested/raped repeatedly by her step-father for YEARS, and even after her mother walked in on them “wrestling” (his terms) at 2 a.m. she refused to believe anything was going on. Some people are hard-headed about what they will admit they see/know, and it sounds like for whatever reason your husband is in denial about what may be going on with Creepy Carl. You need to set rules as the other posters have described, with your husband that Gracie is never alone with him, and also take the opportunity now to teach your daughter about… Read more »

Erin
Guest

I’m going to say trust your instincts…and I’m going to take it even further. I really hope I don’t offend anyone here, but I feel very strongly about this subject. We have to operate under the assumption that his motives are pure until proven impure…but here’s the thing: that’s not a gamble that you can take with your daughter’s life and emotional and physical well being. That doesn’t mean you have to full out confront him in front of family or anything, but it DOES mean that you assume that he is a predator and you NEVER, EVER leave your… Read more »

Amy B
Guest
Amy B

I know you don’t NEED another comment, but PLEASE OH PLEASE put your foot down on this issue. The risk of causing a family rift is NOT WORTH SACRIFICING YOUR DAUGHTER. I am sorry because I am sure this must be difficult for your husband, but TO BAD, his nuclear family, his wife and kids, come before his extended family.

EB
Guest
EB

Wow. So hard with the family issues, but at the end of the day, your husband needs to be your partner. You and your children need to be his number one concern; you should be the most important people in his life. He grew up with this guy, and the small family definitely makes one want to close ranks, but he married you, and that daughter is his flesh and blood. His cousin doesn’t need protecting – he is a grown man. But your daughter does. I think Melissa makes an excellent point, and I wish to second it. YOU… Read more »

jenn
Guest
jenn

I will echo everyone else – you have instinct for a reason. Trust it. My stomach was in knots halfway through the second paragraph. That man knows exactly what he is doing, his giving consequences such as threatening to take things away when she doesn’t respond to what he wants is clear evidence he is completely aware of his actions and they are intentional. As Amy and her attorney friend mentioned, he is testing her and you to see what will be tolerated and how far he can go with it, until the time is right. This is such a… Read more »

Beth
Guest
Beth

No, sorry. End this. I cannot possibly imagine this as well meaning. If this were another child? Yes. A 45 year old man KNOWS. This is gross. For the love of god.
My apologies if this is overly emotional–gut reaction.

Debbie
Guest
Debbie

Maggie at Mighty Girl made a really good point a while back on the topic of teaching your young child about child abusers. She said that her son was probably too young for explicit good touch/bad touch talks about private parts, but that she and her husband have taught their son that his no means no. This means that if he doesn’t want to hug someone, or kiss them, or any other kind of nonsexual touching, he doesn’t have to, ever, and they just tell the person “okay, well he’s not interested in that right now, and that’s okay”. They… Read more »

Dawn
Guest

Alarm bells all over the place. DO NOT ALLOW THIS PERSON ANY CONTACT WITH YOUR DAUGHTER. EVER. Screw the family. You protect your children at all costs. If your husband can’t back you on it then maybe you should send him to the family events alone. Your first obligation is to your kids who don’t know the boundaries and are counting on you to provide them. Listen to your instincts and protect your children. Please, please please do the right thing and insist on contstant supervision! It’s not worth the risk. Ever.

Tracy H.
Guest
Tracy H.

On a recent episode of Oprah, she had admitted/convicted child sex offenders on her show giving advice to parents (sounds awfully creepy, but “straight from the horses mouth” I guess) on how to protect your children and one piece of advice was what Amy mentioned about talking to your daughter about good touch/bad touch and teaching her to say “No” if she feels uncomfortable…the offenders all agreed if it wasn’t easy, they would usually stop and move on, that if a child said No or called them out on their behavior, they would just seek out another victim. Empower your… Read more »

Rachel
Guest

Wow, yes yes yes trust your instincts, PLEASE! For your daughters sake. And if you husband won’t speak up, then YOU do it. She is your daughter, you can speak up, too, even if he won’t. Your daughter has no voice, you have to be her voice in this, please speak up for her.
And in the mean time, here is a book that may help you trust those instincts. It is called “Protecting the Gift”. I think it is really important that every parent read this, it has such great information!
Please speak up!

jenn
Guest
jenn

I just wanted to add, with regard to having a frank conversation with your daughter, that you can come up with creative ways for getting her to understand the urgency and importance of her trusting her own instinct and feeling ok to say “no” to him, by saying something like “He is sick, his head doesn’t work right and he does and says things other grown ups don’t do. If you don’t want to do something he asks you to, it’s ok to say no. I believe you, I trust you, you are a strong, smart girl and I love… Read more »

Sara
Guest

No no no no no no nonononono. I agree with all the other commenters. Listen to your instincts. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel comfortable with the situation. If that means setting “rules” with Creepy Carl that upsets the family, then too bad for them. If that means not seeing them as often (off-topic, but do you not get to see your side of the family on these holidays?), then perhaps that’s what needs to happen. Definitely educate your daughter. Kids like the attention, and don’t necessarily always know when it’s approaching dangerous territory. You are… Read more »

Lisa M
Guest
Lisa M

This guy is not a potential abuser…he is one. I absolutely believe 100% from the behaviors you describe that he is working a definite progression. Keep away from him. Yes, his family will be upset…too fucking bad. I don’t even think there should be ANY contact unless your husband understands exactly how critical the situation is. NO CONTACT. The things you are describing are NEVER appropriate. No 45 year old man thinks about taking pictures of a girl jumping on a bed. Sorry, he’s not just creepy, he’s a pedophile. And he sounds pretty practiced, too. I would not be… Read more »

Muirnait
Guest

Oh.my. This question definitely set off big alarm bells for me too. It is very, very good that you, as the mother, see these warning signs and want to act on them. I agree with what Jodi said, that Carl’s feelings are simply not as important as your child’s welfare. Perhaps, in the interesting of avoiding hurt feelings, there could be some rules set out for all family members? Like, no non-immediate family alone in the room with her? Extreme, I know, but…I’m just trying to think of a way to frame it that would involve the least hurt feelings.… Read more »

Lisa M
Guest
Lisa M

I’m sorry, I had to get the first comment out of the way. Some of the other commentors have had some great suggestions. One of the most important things you can teach Gracie is the power of the word “NO”. Start by using it in front of her 2nd cousin. Often. As in “No, Creep Carl, I don’t want you to play with Gracie where I can’t see you.” “No, Gracie, you don’t have to play with Creepy Carl if you don’t want to.” “No, Gracie, you don’t have to kiss/hug if you don’t want to.” “No, Creepy Carl, I… Read more »

Meadow
Guest
Meadow

I saw that Oprah, too. It was creepy, but very interesting to see what the offenders said about how they built up to their molestation and what they understood before vs after therapy while incarcerated. I’m just putting this out there, but what about speaking directly to Creepy Carl? If you could discuss with your husband ahead of time and just one of you talk to him about it, being calm and rational? Not necessarily accusatory but saying that his behavior makes you uncomfortable and where resources are for help if he is having urges to behave inappropriately? Maybe talking… Read more »

Christina
Guest

My fiance and I have a situation that is the same coin but other side. My fiance’s father is a social moron. He means well but he is incredibly inappropriate socially and regularly steps over the line verbally. My future father-in-law makes me incredibly uncomfortable on a regular basis. I don’t have any reason to believe that is a child abuser. (I do however think he knows exactly what he is doing and why the things he says are not acceptable. His children excuse this behavior, I do not. Also, he knows it. He doesn’t act nearly as poorly towards… Read more »

Amy in StL
Guest
Amy in StL

I grew up with a lot of uncles around and a lot of older neighbors looking out for me. There weren’t many kids in the neighborhood; so I usually spent my time “playing” with the older retired folks. I know that sounds odd but almost all of them were really harmless and just didn’t have kids around anymore. One of them even raked his leaves into piles for me to play in. Even as a preschooler I knew which ones were creepy and which ones were okay. I can remember one neighbor who exposed himself to me and reading the… Read more »

lolismum
Guest
lolismum

I am sorry, but this is one of the situations where you do not need to wait for your partner to come around. My children’s safety come first. I will disown family and divorce partners who underestimate such serious concerns. Your husband is being an idiot. Sorry to be blunt, but he’s being a complete idiot. You cannot undo abuse, there is no happy medium here. Don’t visit, take your child somewhere safe and fun for the holidays or stay at home. Nothing, nothing should come in the way of ensuring the safety of your darling 3-year old. Your job… Read more »

Pamela
Guest
Pamela

Concerned, I am not a mom, I don’t have mother’s intuition, and I’m not an abuse survivor. If it’s helpful at all to get some advice from someone who has no personal experience with any of this, then take it: You are NOT crazy. I have the chills from reading this letter. I am 100% sure that Creepy Carl will hurt your daughter if given the opportunity. You do WHATEVER you have to do to make sure that never happens. He never leaves her alone? He kisses her on the mouth? He follows her around taking pictures? NOT OKAY. Most… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

I’d completely agree with the rest of the posters – trust your instincts! I would also start immediately calling him on any of the behavior that you feel in innappropriate, and not in any sort of a gentle, joking way. Firm, clear, and unyielding “That is innappropriate, please stop NOW.” whenever something occurs that you are uncomfortable with may get you the reputation as the family prude, but so be it. It’s even a reputation you may want to cultivate if you find it useful! Draw a line in the sand, don’t let him cross it, and model how to… Read more »

Leslie
Guest
Leslie

So many great points, here—the most important being to keep trusting your gut and to start talking to your daughter in an age appropriate way about sexual assault. One amazing nonprofit in my area, the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, has lots of fantastic free resources for parents: http://www.kcsarc.org/nInformation/Publications.php

Abby
Guest
Abby

You may want to try this approach with your husband. Let him know that your daughter needs to know what is appropriate and non-appropriate behavior from grown-up men. While you guys might be able to tell the difference between innocent and not innocent, it is asking your daughter to draw too fine a distinction to accept that behavior from her uncle and somehow not accept it from other men that will be in her life (teachers, coaches, etc.). If your husband sees this as a learning opportunity for her, rather than an accusation about Carl, maybe he won’t get defensive.… Read more »

Bethany
Guest

Just agreeing with the others that this is seriously creepy behavior and whether or not it is likely to go further (though I feel like it is) it’s wrong at its current level and needs to stop. If a little kid doesn’t learn when she’s young that it’s wrong for people to try and bribe kisses and physical contact, when will she learn that?
You’re in my prayers/non-creepy thoughts.

J.S.
Guest
J.S.

I wanted to agree with Erin above. It can happen so fast, even in a crowded house with tons of people around–maybe especially in a crowded house with tons of people around, because parents are so distracted. Please don’t leave your daughter with anyone who would make excuses for Carl or leave her with him (i.e., all or any of your in-laws, sad to say). She will thank you for it later. If you’re a book-reading type of person, may I suggest Protecting the Gift by Gavin De Becker? It is the very best resource I’ve ever had to reassure… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

You are not crazy. Listen to your instincts and help your daughter listen to hers. This set off more alarm bells than I even want to think about, for very personal reasons. Let’s leave it at that. Please do not leave your child alone with this man. I like what Julie said: draw a line in the sand, enforce it, and model how to say No. Teaching children how to trust and act on their instincts is one of the most valuable things we can do as parents. As an aside, I absolutely loathe the expectation that children — particularly… Read more »

Valerie
Guest

Even if Carl is clueless and doesn’t realize that this behavior is inappropriate, it is high time he learn. Looks like a family sit-down is in order.
I know it’s scary, but you CANNOT be afraid to ruffle some feathers here.
You can do this! Don’t ignore those Mama Bear instincts!

incognito
Guest
incognito

I have no new advice to add, except to say I’m so sorry the OP feels so alone on this. I hope the advice and these comments reassure her that she is completely in the right. Maybe it’s easier for us to see it laid out in black and white and harder for her husband who has so much family history, but like someone said, yours is the family he chose and where his loyalties need to lie. I also agree with the suggestions that you guys speak to Creepy Carl directly, unless an expert recommends otherwise. At a minimum… Read more »

incognito
Guest
incognito

And every time you catch him taking a picture of your daughter, ‘accidentally’ break his camera. Yes, he and Gracie need to know the picture TAKING is weird, but the camera/phone also needs to fall in the trash compactor/in the toilet/under the wheel of your car. God knows what he’s doing with the photos.

beanery
Guest
beanery

One more person to support your gut feelings. I feel sick to my stomach after reading this. I clicked all of the included links so I could get more info about how to talk to my 4 year old about this. I’ve wanted to have that talk with him (especially after a male teacher was dismissed at his school for suspicions of misconduct with a child), but I just didn’t know how to approach it in a way he can understand and retain. I think teaching him the power of “No” is a wonderful idea. I really hate when adults… Read more »

Lisa M
Guest
Lisa M

I’m sorry for the multiple comments, but I just keep coming back to your husband’s reaction (or lack thereof). I hate to add more stress to your situation, but is his cousin much older than him? Is there any way that your husband was abused by his cousin when they were younger? The complete denial of a problem when there’s such evidence makes me wonder if his denial comes from a place he’s not ready to confront. Maybe he had issues talking to his family about it (if it happened…just hypothesizing) and they dismissed him the way they are dismissing… Read more »

kelly
Guest
kelly

I’m echoing others, but I wanted to add to the chorus so that the OP — and her partner, if he reads this — knows that so many readers feel the same way. Please, OP, please trust your instincts. Your letter set off many, many, many alarm bells for me. Please do not leave your child alone with this man.
I like what Julie said: draw a line, enforce it, and model how to say No. Teaching our children how to trust and follow their intuition is one of the best things we can do as parents.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

I agree with everyone’s previous comments, but wanted to add my perspective on how hard it is to convince your partner (my husband) that you just have a bad feeling about someone who is thought of as family. Our nextdoor neighbors are really great people, but when the husband drinks too much, which seems to happen on a regular basis, he gets close to crossing the line. When I was pregnant, we were next door, and the neighbor had had quite a few. He just lifted up my shirt to “see the belly.” No asking, nothing! I was very uncomfortable… Read more »

J
Guest
J

i got a gross dirty feeling after reading this. this is such a nightmare of a sticky situation to navigate. you can take so many bits and pieces from the comments above and form your own plan of attack so to say. yes, an accusation of that magnitude can ruin a person if it’s untrue and he really is just a weirdo, but NO you should NEVER EVER squash that bad feeling in your gut because your children’s lives are a million times more important than his or anyone else’s. it’s sad to know there are some moms who don’t… Read more »

Kim
Guest
Kim

Oh My God. So many warning bells are going off right now. Your letter has me all freaked out. Never, and I mean NEVER, is it ok for that kind of behavior, or the condoning that the family is doing. That’s just a ripe environment for molestation to occur. I am all sorts of uncomfortable right now after reading this. I think all of us know that this is completely inappropriate and is an inch away from becoming a tragedy. Please confront your husband, and the family, and whoever else you need to. This is not just “oh, he doesnt’… Read more »

Suzy Q
Guest
Suzy Q

Oh, my holy hell, GET HER AWAY FROM HIM! I haven’t even read the other comments yet, but I can tell you this, Concerned Mom: This is almost EXACTLY my story. Only now, I’m a completely fucked-up adult who has been incapable of maintaining a good, intimate relationship (not to mention making really poor choices in men). I survived 9 years of being abused by a trusted family friend whom we saw on holidays and special occasions. It started with the tickling and touching, and escalated from there. That shit, those memories, they do NOT go away, even with counseling.… Read more »

Erin
Guest

I think its also important to point out that Gracie can say no to any kind of physical touching that she wants to. For a while I was forcing my son to give hugs and kisses to grandma and grandpa (and me, to be honest) just to be polite or nice. The fact is, if he doesn’t feel like hugging someone he shouldn’t have to. Teach Gracie that she is in charge of her body and has the right to say no to kissing or hugging or tickling even if that means she doesn’t get the toy. I’ve also addressed… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I agree with absolutely everybody. Even if it never goes beyond what has already happened this little girl will remember these moments and their creepy vibe when she is older.
OP, please email Amy with an update. We’ll all be thinking of you and your daughter.

cagey (Kelli Oliver George)
Guest

UGH. I want to chime in and reiterate what everyone is saying. I had a creepy uncle and he did try to groom my sister and I. Fortunately, my mother had already talked to us about these sorts of situations and from the get-go, we were able to talk to her about the situation so that it never progressed to anything beyond his attempts at grooming. And listen – my own husband is a very affectionate Uncle, but he is out in the open with the family when he is affectionate or wrestling. Come on, hanging out with a 3… Read more »

miriam
Guest
miriam

Part of the problem is that your husband has only one person saying NO, while everyone else is saying “oh, it’s nothing! You don’t want to embarrass him, do you?” So he’s also feeling icky about it, but all his family aren’t supporting him… so he just goes along with it. Like a little kid creeped out by a relative, but no one will listen. Of course you doesn’t count– since you don’t “know” carl and must be overreacting. OTOH, being a family outsider can work wonders– you can be the unreasonable daughter in law who “just doesn’t understand” and… Read more »

beth
Guest
beth

I just want to echo all of the statements already made. It IS inappropriate. You are NOT crazy. You cannot undo abuse. You HAVE to put your foot down. I particularly liked Debbie’s thoughts of using Carl’s “ignorance” to your advantage. And keeping Gracie with you at ALL times.
Please visit http://www.darkness2light.org for support.

beth
Guest
beth

I just want to echo all of the statements already made. It IS inappropriate. You are NOT crazy. You cannot undo abuse. You HAVE to put your foot down. I particularly liked Debbie’s thoughts of using Carl’s “ignorance” to your advantage. And keeping Gracie with you at ALL times.
Please visit http://www.darkness2light.org for support.

beth
Guest
beth

Everyone, not just Concerned, please visit
http://www.darkness2light.org

Emily
Guest
Emily

I don’t have anything more to add to some wonderful suggestions above other than another person to let this mom know: you are not crazy! My alarm bells are ringing just reading about this guy’s actions. I also agree with others who pointed out that, even if Carl is not a predator (but I would have to say, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…) it’s about time for him to get an education about how to interact with kids in a way that’s appropriate. I feel like if there was some reason like an intellectual… Read more »