What is normal and healthy affection between a granddaughter and her grandfather?

What the thread title says…

In my family during my childhood, there was child sexual abuse and incest occurring between people I loved. So now, I am very careful with my children. I am starting to have anxiety attacks when my FIL visits because of his level and type of affection with my oldest daughter. He doesn’t act that way with my other children (at least not yet). I am losing my ability to trust this man, and start to get afraid whenever he takes her off on an errand. My internal alarms are sounding off ALL THE TIME now. I am also angry at him for setting the alarms off, and feeling resentful that he is casually petting my daughter in front of me. My husband had never noticed it, because he is usually occupied with the other children out of sight.
He reaches up under the back of her shirt, and up the legs of her pants, rubs her feet, etc. I am freaking out. She seems to like it, which disturbs me even more.

Is this normal/healthy? Please help.:frowning:

How old is your daughter?

I think you need to trust your feelings. FIL does seem like he is over the line with your daughter. Keep your daughter away from him. Honestly, I wouldn’t want him near your other children, either. This is very creepy.

The alarms in your mind are going off because they should! This IS alarming behavior.

Neither my FIL or my father put their hands under my daughters clothes like that in play. It isn’t appropriate and I would have been freaked out by that.

When my daughter was little, I would make a point of correcting her in little things in the company of others such as sitting in an unlady like pose or exposing too much skin either accidentally or unconsciously. I’m a great believer in honing a little girls own radar for what is inappropriate, to arm her against the sicknesses of some men in this world. Also saying things like that in front of the FIL will let him know that you are alert to your daughters well being in this regard. You don’t want to fill them with anxiety and fear about men, but you want them to have trustworthy gut feelings for their own safety.

No!This is not normal behavior.I would confront him privately,make him aware that you are uncomfortable with his behavior.If nothing else,he will know you are watching him.I would not allow your daughter any time alone with him.

On the one hand your previous history may be clouding your vision, or your sense in this area is heightened. Either way, you must act on your feelings to protect your child. We all know of the prolonged psychological problems this abuse, if real, causes. Don’t worry about your child’s reaction. All kids like attention. Bring your husband into the reality of your concerns and demand he warns off his father in a blokey fashion. Men are better at that. You can prescribe the social situation better than anyone. Do so without harming the family connections. Women are better at that. Don’t freak out but be attentive to your child at all times. You are her protector. Demand this also of your husband. Good Luck!

How old is your daughter?

On general principles, I’d say this was abnormal. But context changes everything. Be prudent, but don’t panic. :slight_smile:

My husband is now exasperated with me over this. He disagrees with me. He says it is not his favorite thing that his father does, but he doesn’t think his dad would ever do anything wrong. I am telling him that just what we have already witnessed is WRONG! He is not happy with me about this. I also recalled that last time we were together, my FIL got himself caught absent-mindedly pulling on the back of her pants and panties to look down her pants. Almost like a parent might check a diaper. Only she was already 8 years old by that point! I looked at him after he did it, and he looked like he had surprised himself at such a breech of propriety and boundaries. I asked my husband soon after to talk to his father, which he never did. I am so upset right now.
And with the responses I have received here, my alarms are even louder. I do not know how to deal with this. I have been told my past is clouding my judgement, but I wanted to vomit at his behavior. My husband is upset with me, but my thoughts are all about my daughter, MY BABY GIRL, possibly in the arms of a pedophile.
I do not want to cause a breach in the family, but this behavior seems objectively wrong and I am afraid of what might already have happened to my daughter.

She is 8 and a half.

Then I’d say it’s quite disturbing. Doesn’t your husband realize this too? :frowning: Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of older men try this (and get away with it, unless someone is looking), as well. You need to set limits and boundaries, because right now, things seem to be “on the border”. Don’t let your child slip over that slope.

He winced as I described the behavior to him. He has never witnessed it, as my FIL has never done it in his presence. But to me it seems to be a blatant challenge to me as her mother about what I will allow or not. I have to admit I am intimidated and also afraid of being wrong. My instincts were to grab her off of his lap and tell him not to ever touch my children that way again. But I left the room to try to calm down and avoid either screaming or vomiting, because my husband was ignoring the issue and tells me I have no reason to NOT trust his father. I feel like his father’s behavior gives me EVERY reason to NOT trust him!

That’s natural. Of course, nowadays, many of us are painfully aware of the realities of child abuse, and that makes us cautious. Knowledge can bring pain.

My instincts were to grab her off of his lap and tell him not to ever touch my children that way again. But I left the room to try to calm down and avoid either screaming or vomiting, because my husband was ignoring the issue and tells me I have no reason to NOT trust his father. I feel like his father’s behavior gives me EVERY reason to NOT trust him!

Good for you. Take whatever steps you need to protect your child, but try (as far as is humanly possible!) to stay calm. I’m praying for you all. :gopray:

A couple of things here: First, you are probably more sensitive to it because of the experience in your family’s past and you do not want to accuse anyone of something, especially since it probably is innocent. However, you do have to protect your daughter and if you are uncomfortable and don’t do anything and something DID happen, then you would feel like it was your fault. He is doing this IN FRONT of you, not hiding, so it makes it much more likely that it is innocent.

I think it is perfectly normal for grandparents to rub their grandkids feet, backs, tickle them, etc. My grandmother ‘scratched my back’ for me for years, and my kids still ask for me to scratch their backs. I sat on my grandfather’s lap for years and he would rub my leg or back while he sang to me. It was all perfectly innocent.

That being said, I think your daughter is getting to the age where she is too old to have anyone put their hand up her shirt, even if it is in the back. Girls start puberty as early as 8 or 9, and you don’t want her to become comfortable with grandpa doing it and then she doesn’t know how to react when someone else does it.

I think when talking to your father in law, you should present it that way. “Sally is getting older, and we want to make sure that she knows what is okay and what is not okay coming from adults. We had a talk with her about appropriate ‘touching,’ and it would help if you would make sure you don’t do that any more so she is not confused.” Or, if your husband is close enough to his dad, and you don’t think it would cause trouble, have him just be honest: “My wife is a little uncomfortable with how affectionate you are to Sally now that she is getting older. Could you please not put your hand in her clothes?”

Either way, it is important for you to have open dialogue with your daughter. She needs to know that an adult should never touch her on any part of her body that a bathing suit covers, and that they should never show her theirs. Of course, I also tell my kids that anytime someone tells them “you shouldn’t tell your parents,” that is a sign to tell the parents right away!

You aren’t being unreasonable.

I think 1) no more one-on-one time with grandpa and 2) it’s time for a chat with grandpa about how DD is growing up now and it’s time to be more respectful of her body and her privacy. You can say something like, “Suzie is getting to be a big girl now and we need to treat her with more respect.” And then you give a series of talks to DD (without mentioning grandpa) where you talk about how her body is hers and nobody gets to touch her without her say so (except for medical emergencies, etc.). And you tell her that if anybody touches her in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable, that she has the right to say no and to tell you immediately. If your FIL ever does anything marginal in front of you, you can always invite your daughter to come sit with you while you braid her hair or you can ask her to help you.

I don’t know what to tell you about dealing with your husband.

I am right in taking my gut feelings for the Holy Spirit most times (because our instincts are usually Accurate) and think the same for you. And I do not approve of the touching you have described. Please stick to your gut while still being firm yet polite. You are in my prayers. God bless you.

It sounds strange however I have always tickled my 16year old brother so have gone up the back of his shirt or trouser leg…however it’s obvious I’m tickling him (he usually laughs and curls up into a ball plus he is 6ft 6 and stronger than me do could stop me if he wanted)…so it’s difficult to say without seeing it…how does your daughter feel? Does she laugh when he does it? Does he say things like “I’m coming to get you” - this will all give it a play feel as opposed to no laughter, no talking and him stroking/feeling her which is wrong…

Do you see what I mean, you could be sensitive from your past but it depends on which one of the above is actually occurring?

Abundant said:

“I think when talking to your father in law, you should present it that way. “Sally is getting older, and we want to make sure that she knows what is okay and what is not okay coming from adults. We had a talk with her about appropriate ‘touching,’ and it would help if you would make sure you don’t do that any more so she is not confused.” Or, if your husband is close enough to his dad, and you don’t think it would cause trouble, have him just be honest: “My wife is a little uncomfortable with how affectionate you are to Sally now that she is getting older. Could you please not put your hand in her clothes?””

Yes! I would probably add, have her sit on your lap, or any other stuff that is bothering you.

A year or so ago, my FIL wanted to host our then 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son one at a time at his hotel room while he was in town without grandma. That was not my comfort zone, so my husband told FIL that DD is growing up, blah, blah, blah, blah, and we didn’t think it would be appropriate. Also, DD would be upset if her brother got to stay but she didn’t. FIL immediately understood and backed off. And that’s one reason I know he’s a safe person for the kids to be around–because he doesn’t push the boundaries. A safe person will not insist on this stuff and will understand the responsibility to protect children.

The damage of this type of thing, if it goes further, or if it is what you suspect, is lifelong. This is not normal affection IMHO. I work with kids who have emotional behavior disorders, some of which have been molested. Please consider continuing this dialog with professionals. Your daughter is worth it. Prayfully consider setting boundaries at once. This may be grooming. Disclaimer: While I work with these kids, I am not a licensed professional, please view my remarks through that lense.

trust your instincts…that’s why we have them…and protect your child at all costs…as it won’t be easy…blood is thicker than water…prayers to you

This seems like an excellent approach. You can sidestep direct confrontation for a while, but the fact that he does this in front of you is meaningless to me. Pedophiles, [and I am not saying your FIL is one] groom parents as well. Tickling is fine, up the pants leg and the panties coming down is not, IMHO.

Your Husband’s reactions are understandable. Who wants to believe their Dad is a pedophile? Using the approach above is a brilliant idea for starters, but I would strongly consider the advice given, do not leave her alone with him. **

Talk to your daughter about boundaries, talk to her about what is right and wrong, encourage her to speak to you. Buy an age related book on the subject; and read it through with her. Encourage your daughter to speak to you, and that you trust her

Speak to her teacher, they may well have someone in the school who can talk with her.

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