My daughter's mom
Who has gone, in the past 5 years, from having Sarah live with her, to letting me just take her after a 5-minute conversation and visiting her 3 nights a week, to visiting her one night a week, and who basically just treats her kid as a fashion accessory to make rounds with on Saturday evenings and soak in the attention... got all that?
Has now a new beau that she wants me to meet "because he'll be spending a lot of time with Sarah and I."
Seems like more than accomodating, right?
Yeah, well, you don't know this woman. I met her long long ago when I was young and stupid, with a fragile ego and certain I'd never be with any woman, ever. Needless to say, I was not very choosy. She is somewhat... slow (not retarded, but you'd think she was). She's a "survivor" of childhood abuse and sexual molestation, and has a tendency to sort of relive that abuse in the partners that she chooses. 4 or 5 years ago when Sarah was in the hospital, and she had a falling out with her father-figure 50 year old married boyfriend of the time, her response was to take a bottle of Tylenol and get herself committed for two weeks, leaving me to take two weeks' leave from my job and more or less live at the Childrens' Hospital.
Too bad she didn't take TWO bottles.
Anyway, she knows that I'm very leery of her having any male companions around Sarah, and she knows why, and she even seems to agree that it's justified, as she's admitted as much herself. She took me aside yesterday when dropping Sarah off and told me she wants to do things right and get a new start and be on the right foot and all that shit, so she wants me to meet this guy so that my "fears can be allayed" and so that everything can be all right with the world.
So I asked a perfectly natural question:
"Has Sarah met this guy yet?"
"No, that's why I'm talking to you first."
So I said let's plan on doing lunch this week sometime or something, and we can all shake hands or whatever she wants to do and I can assess this new threat to Sarah's childhood. (of course I didn't use these words). It may seem like I'm overly critical and you may have already decided upon some stereotypical explanations for why, but really, truly, It's not that way. There is a long and sordid history.
So anyway she leaves and Sarah and I do some work out in the yard together. I casually ask "have you met Mommy's new friend yet?" (note that she still calls this woman 'Mommy' even though she long ago started calling her step-mom "mommy" of her own volition as her step-mom does all the "Mommy" things in her life and her real mother does none. The "Mommy" used for her biological mom is an honorific, and an undeserved one really. I think Sarah just doesn't know what else to call her.
"Yeah, he tickles a lot. I don't like it."
You can see where this is going.
There's no formal custody arrangement. I sat down with the mom years ago and told her, basically, that she was drowning trying to keep up with being a mother and couldn't afford it (she couldn't) nor was she mentally stable enough to deal with it (she wasn't) and I would not ask for any child support but I thought that it would be best for Sarah to live with me. She agreed without resistance, or even any thought, apparently, and it has been that way since, for five or more years.
Connecticut law favors the mother in all but the most terrible of circumstances. About my only recourse is to get her on the phone and put the fear of God into her. I don't know what else to do. She's already lied about whether this guy has met Sarah, and the physical contact shit is not going to fly, and who the fuck knows what ELSE she's lying about.
I have a good kid, and my fiance and I make it a priority to give her a functional, supportive, and SAFE environment at home and in life in general. Her biological mother is a wild card, prone to bouts of near-competence but tending more toward outright loss of control, and she's a real risk to my daughter. The trouble is documenting it clearly enough for a legal case.
Not to mention that affording lawyers is so far out of our reach it's ridiculous.
She tends to listen to me, for whatever reason, but not always. Sometimes she makes an effort to agree overtly but then does shit on the sly when she thinks it won't be found out. Sarah has already been exposed to God-knows-what over there, and the law makes it very difficult to do anything about it.
This is more a rant than a solicitation for advice, because there really is very little to do, short of calling "mom" up on the phone and making her piss herself for fear of doing anything harmful to my kid.
April 3rd, 2006 11:53am
>"Yeah, he tickles a lot. I don't like it."
>You can see where this is going.
Can you explain it to me in simple terms, I don't see where it is going. Not asking this to be a dick, I just don't want to jump to conclusions.
April 3rd, 2006 11:58am
The implication is that maybe something sinister is going on. There's no real proof of course, just a suspicion. At any rate, given the mom's history, this guy is likely to be on drugs, is likely to have emotional and mental stability issues of his own, is likely to be a victim or a perpetrator of childhood abuse...
It's just not good. Yes I'm in a position where I can't be relied upon to be objective but I know how she is and I know the sorts that she tends to end up with. I stayed with her for as long as I did (almost 4 years) partially out of fear of who she'd end up with once I was gone.
April 3rd, 2006 12:02pm
Are you stupid? The mother claimed that the suspicious new guy hadn't met the daughter, but on asking muppet discovered that the new guy had indeed met his daughter, and was aggressively tickling her.
Tickling is a pretty big warning site of molesters and pedophiles (because it opens up the domain of physical touching under the auspices of "having fun"). No, all tickling isn't suspicious, but tickling before you really even know the person, especially in young girls, is extremely suspicious behaviour.
April 3rd, 2006 12:04pm
Tickling in itself can be abusive. I would start with telling your daughter not to allow him to do it, and confront the guy yourself. It just isn't safe, in my opinion, to pussyfoot around with this sort of thing.
I'm going to have a word with the mom this afternoon. I'm not pulling any punches anymore with this woman.
I'll make it clear to her that the best thing she could ever do for my little girl is to get the fuck out of her life.
April 3rd, 2006 12:09pm
You might have to dig up the money to file for sole custody. With any luck "mommy" won't contest it, since she's so lazy. Since you've been providing custody and support and a stable loving environment for all these years, you have an excellent chance of winning (especially with her history of suicide attempts, etc.).
When you meet this skeevo boyfriend, take him aside and basically let him know which bodily part he will lose if he so much as touches your daughter. That includes tickling.
Good luck and keep us posted.
April 3rd, 2006 12:14pm
The lying doesn't ring alarm bells as it could be standard CYA. The tickling, however, does. Big ones.
a cynic writes...
April 3rd, 2006 12:16pm
The trouble is that "Mommy" has many many contacts in the state welfare offices, having been a ward of the state for years and years, and there's a very good chance that she could get family lawyers on the state's dime to defend herself while I hemmorhage money making the claims.
I won't make much of a case with Sarah's stable home environment if I lose it.
Obviously money is the LAST consideration but there's a real chance of making things much worse.
April 3rd, 2006 12:19pm
Not to pee on your righteous rage (honestly) but contemplate for a second that your daughter may have been trying to spare your feelings. They will do that sometimes you know.
April 3rd, 2006 12:23pm
Things you can do without a lawyer ...
Keep meticulous records. Judges will favor an organized, stable parent over a disheveled one.
Ask the mother for child support. Even a nominal amount. Her failure to make small, regular payments will speak negatively of her stability in court. If she does pay, you're in effect formalizing your current oral contract.
Consider going out of your way to help the mother. What adult victims of child abuse need is a way out. Has she been to counseling? You can go and find free services for such women. Does she understand why she's attracted to molesters? Is she actively involved in her own treatment? Make child visitation contingent on her progress. Helping her may seem like more charity than you're willing to undertake, but it's really a selfish way to shield your daughter from her mother's demons.
In the end, spending money on a lawyer may be the most efficient way to keep your daughter safe. It may be that all else being equal, mothers have the presumption of custody in CT. But all else isn't equal.
Brine Da Puma
April 3rd, 2006 12:37pm
Really stupid question - are you sure that your daughter and her mom are talking about the same guy? Maybe "tickle guy" was the *last* boyfriend?
I'd also warn everyone to take a deep breath before assuming that "tickles a lot" automagically infers "pedophile." What if he's a fairly normal guy that tickles a lot? He may think that's a good way to integrate with the family (yeah, he's wrong, so tell the daughter to let him know if she doesn't like something - that's a good lesson to teach *anyway*). The bad part about tickling is that the involuntary reflex is laughter, so you get mixed signals. (I used to try to "cheer up" a girlfriend by tickling her until she finally told me in a sober moment she didn't like it. Then I stopped)
Muppet, my #1 piece of advice to you - see a family lawyer NOW. Pay for a few hours of counsel time to prep her - if something goes south, that's not the time you want to be hunting around for referrals. Ask around work to see who's fought a vicious custody battle and won - use their lawyer. (if they ask why you're looking, say your wife is thinking about adopting your daughter and you just want some background info)
Best of luck.
There's also a bit of self-indictment when someone says, "My ex-girlfriend goes out with child molestors."
Brine Da Puma
April 3rd, 2006 12:43pm
Even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then, Puma.
April 3rd, 2006 12:50pm
It's definitely the same guy. I'm looking for family lawyers now, but beyond Google or the yellow pages I've no way to find a decent one. All of the referrals I have from friends are negative.
April 3rd, 2006 12:51pm
I don't know why adults like tickling a child so much.
It's not a nice thing to do, not even from a parent.
April 3rd, 2006 12:57pm
Honestly, I couldn't tell you.
Thinking about it, I can't remember the last time I tickled my kids - it's been years (maybe more than ten)
However, I *do* like tickling my wife, and I'll grant that may be *because* she doesn't like it. But I think we'll agree that's a different situation. :-)
Thanks for clarifying muppet, good luck with sorting it out. I'd say an earlier poster was on the money with making sure your daughter feels she can assert her boundaries and report back, though I'm sure you've done that already.
o_o: I simply wanted to make sure he was implying what I thought. Thanks for the put-down though!
April 3rd, 2006 1:10pm
Rick, I suspect it is a control thing. From the ticker's viewpoint: "I can control what you feel, and I am in charge." I still remember one abusive uncle, 35+ years later, who would stand on my feet when tickling me so that I could not escape. He'd continue until I pissed in my pants, and wouldn't stop when it was painful enough to induce crying. He thought it was *fun* to make a 10 year old wet his pants. Even bleeding from my feet because he had gravel in the sole-pattern of his shoes was insufficient to get an apology out of him, for him to stop, or for him to recognize that he was doing wrong.
>However, I *do* like tickling my wife, and I'll grant that may be *because* she doesn't like it. But I think we'll agree that's a different situation.
That sounds about right: it's done because it feels good to the perp. And *only* the perp's feelings matter.
"Yeah, he tickles a lot. I don't like it."
Big danger sign to me. Sorry. While tickling can be a bonding experience, if the kid is uncomfortable about it, then it has crossed the line.
April 3rd, 2006 1:27pm
Great. Now my responses make no sense. I was talking about Michael B in my asshole comment.
April 3rd, 2006 1:32pm
That's ok, your asshole response is gone, too.
Good moderating! I didn't even bother reading that guy's comments and now they're out of my way.
April 3rd, 2006 1:33pm
I don't know anyone who actually likes being tickled.
April 3rd, 2006 3:22pm
It's kind of funny between consenting adults or consenting children.
Just not an adult to a child.
April 3rd, 2006 3:28pm
I've noticed a lot of cases where an adult (sorry to stereotype, but in my experience it's always a man) tortures a little kid either by verbally teasing them or playing some kind of power game that the kid can't win. Even when the child becomes distressed, the adult refuses to stop, and when challenged by another adult, always says, "Oh, I'm just kidding around."
If this is you, please cut it out. It's not funny and the kid is not enjoying it.
April 3rd, 2006 3:40pm
My point is that I think a lot of adults don't realize how much kids don't like it.
Here's a thought - for those who think tickling a kid for a minute (when the kid doesn't like it) is "wrong", how about taking a kid shopping for three hours? Taking a kid to the opera? etc, etc, etc.
I'm not trying to say that tickling is okay - it's not. My point is more about how, as a society, we seem to be okay with running roughshod over the feelings of children without even *thinking* about how they may care.
I put my foot down early on when we had kids about forcing them to do stuff they don't want to do. The classic is asking a talented child to perform for an audience - when I see them squirming I'm the first (and usually only) one to say "hey, let them go - they obviously don't want to".
I could argue that some of this attitude may be what's generated the systemic problem we have with "date rape" - we teach kids not to say "no", but rather to go along when something is socially expected (like putting out after an expensive dinner?)
My point (finally) - don't automatically indict the guy when there is nothing in his world to indicate what he is doing is "wrong." Instead, focus on teaching the daughter to say "no." (then you get to *really* hammer him if he doesn't knock if off)
Oh, Muppet, I forgot to tell you - I have several friends who are Connecticut DCF social workers, so if you need some help with this situation, let me know ... not all of the welfare people will be on "mommy's" side.
(DCF: For you out-of-staters, that's Department of Children and Families).
April 3rd, 2006 3:48pm
Steel: if a kid is screaming and crying, I think that's proof enough that they don't like what's being done to them. How boneheaded does a guy have to be to not see that, especially when other adults try to intervene?
April 3rd, 2006 3:50pm
He may think: "I was tickled and I turned out all right."
It's sort of related to woman having sex with teenage boys...
April 3rd, 2006 3:57pm
Some people were in concentration camps and they "turned out all right."
Doesn't mean it was OK to put them there.
April 3rd, 2006 3:59pm
tickling = concentration camps
April 3rd, 2006 4:01pm
GODWIN'S LAW INVOKED.
THIS THREAD IS NOW CLOSED.
NO FURTHER REPLIES WILL BE ACCEPTED.
April 3rd, 2006 4:03pm
Dana, we don't know that muppet's daughter was screaming and crying. This isn't about the dickhead uncle that stood on a kid's feet - this is about the kid who said "he tickles me, I don't like it" (and we don't even know the tone she said it in).
If she had said "he takes me to baseball games, I don't like it" we wouldn't be having this discussion. And to some people, they may consider being tickled less evil than sitting through a baseball game.
This is the EXACT same situation as the sexual harassment crap - there are cases that are blatantly abusive ("Blow me or you're fired") and cases that it's hard to believe people got upset over ("He called me a 'chick'"). And there's a vast grey area in the middle that's he said/she said land; and IMHO the major factor that's often missing in the equation is that we don't have a social norm to tell people when you don't like something.
Getting preachy, sorry.
No, tickling does not = concentration camps, but I'm making the point that it's not OK to do something bad to someone just because it doesn't do OBVIOUS harm.
Look at Peter's posting about the nasty uncle who stood on his feet and tickled him until he wet himself. Maybe Peter is ok, but he still has to live with that memory for the rest of his life, not to mention unabiding hatred for that uncle.
April 3rd, 2006 4:05pm
Tickling a little girl to the point of discomfort on the DAY YOU MEET HER blows past more than one social boundary. Period.
Well, this was a great lesson about tickling. I never thought tickling had that kind of implication, but now I know. And no, I don't run around tickling people.
Muppet, keep us posted. I want to hear you say he stopped doing it.
April 3rd, 2006 4:09pm
See, Muppet gets it.
April 3rd, 2006 4:09pm
Muppet, that is scary. Way beyond scary.
April 3rd, 2006 4:10pm
Teach Sarah where to kick the guy if he pisses her off.
April 3rd, 2006 4:10pm
I am going to be _such_ an overprotective dad... anyone tickles my daughter and she doesn't like it, I'll KEEEEEEL HEEEEM! Ok, maybe not that overprotective, but close.
I know you can't tell at 2 how she'll behave when she's older, but she's currently pretty darn quick to say "no" when she doesn't want something done to her around her.
April 3rd, 2006 4:11pm
I am not saying that it's ok.
As boys, we were told a lot of stuff.
"Men shred blood but not tears."
"Men should play sports."
"Men should endure pain and not complain"
Yes, I have an evil uncle too. But I am very sure he did not try to harm me and he absolutely saw nothing wrong with tickling.
Thank God for all the research in the seventies/eighties so now we know one being able to control or protect his/her body is very important.
But not everyone know.
April 3rd, 2006 4:14pm
Just how do think Tickle-boy is going to react when he gets a kick in the nuts?
Laugh it off? I doubt it. That is dangerous advice.
April 3rd, 2006 4:15pm
Of course, muppet is absolutely right about the current situation.
I am pretty sure muppet would be equally upset if he had a boy instead.
April 3rd, 2006 4:18pm
"Tickling is defined by many child physiologists as an integral bonding activity between parents and children. In the parent-child concept, tickling establishes at an early age the pleasure associated with being touched by a parent with a trust-bond developed so that parents may touch a child, in an unpleasant way, should circumstances develop such as the need to treat a painful injury or prevent harm from danger. This tickling relationship continues throughout childhood and often into the early to mid teenage years."
From the link by Peter.
April 3rd, 2006 4:26pm
is it cos I'm kind of new around here that I'm wondering why noone has asked how old Sarah is?
(hi everyone ... so this is where you all go ...)
Pretty much. About same as our youngest so about 7.
a cynic writes...
April 3rd, 2006 5:49pm
slightly older than my oldest.
I definitely wouldn't advise her to kick someone in the nuts, but I would try to teach her, from as early as possible, not to take to shit from people, and to know how to say "no" very firmly.
I have two daughters, and they are both gonna be very pretty young women. (OK, I know all parenst say that, but it's true.) I know for a fact that they are going to get all kinds of unwelcome attention as they grow up, and they will definitely need skills to deal with it. Skill #1 is assertiveness (not violence, because that shit can backfire big time.) Skill #2 is damage limitation - ie getting the fuck out of there and getting to a safe env ASAP.
Dude, noone who does not know the peopel involved can tell you what to do from your description, unless they actually know you. But you can't always be there to protect, and you won't always be.
The only other thing I want to say is, I hope you never, ever make remarks like "shame she didn't take 2 bottles" anywhere near your kid, and it would be better you didn't say that at all. Because whatever kind of a bitch she is to you, she is still "mom" to your kid, anad always will be. (I had two parents that seriously didn't get on, and even though one is gone now, it's still an issue.) Tryt o be big enogh to spare your offspring your bad feelings about the person you chose to mingle genes with, because there's no going back, and your daughter IS the result of that union. She has to deal with that.
Sorry to be brutal, but wtf this is a public forum and you asked. I know nothing about you or the peopel involved, and don't mean to pass any judgement - but I had to hear my parents ripping shit about each other for the first 30 years of my life, and you have no idea how destructive it is. Everything you say about your ex-wife you say about your daughter - remember that.
April 3rd, 2006 6:18pm
I've given you a hard time on multiple occasions before, but I seriously hope you get custody of your daughter. I'd be freaked out too if some stranger started tickling my kid. The guy might be ok, but no point in taking any chances. Not in this day and age.
April 3rd, 2006 6:18pm
[nod] to revert
"I am going to be _such_ an overprotective dad... anyone tickles my daughter and she doesn't like it, I'll KEEEEEEL HEEEEM!"
What if he puts his hands over her eyes and says "Guess who?" and she doesn't like *that*? Gonna kill that guy, too?
Look - a lot of people don't get that other people have social boundaries, and/or may not even be able to map their boundaries to other people. Don't go yelling "child molester" or "evil freak" or "I'll maim the guy" just because he steps over YOUR boundary (disclaimer - yes, there are certain boundaries that should NOT be crossed, but here we're talking tickling)
You teach your daughter to say "No" firmly, you teach her to leave the area of interaction (making it clear why she's leaving), and you tell her to come to you if he doesn't stop. At that point you confront the guy and you tell him firmly "Listen, my daughter told me she really doesn't like it when you tickle her, so you need to knock it off, okay?"
It's possible to have a slow, civil progression on this while keeping her safe and managing the situation.
Specific history and experience also play a role, and coaching her only to send her into an environment where she's cornered, where much worse could happen with very little recourse for her (ie, at her mom's house with the boyfriend and no reasonable adult around) is not a bright idea.
And I don't badmouth her mom in her hearing. Ever.
I'm not a complete idiot.
fair enough muppet.
April 3rd, 2006 6:46pm
Im with muppet. the guy has done nothing wrong, and is most likely innocent. but given the history of his ex muppet would have to be insane not to be concerned enough to ensure that nothing does happen.
The trouble with giving people the benefit of the doubt on this kind of thing is that if yo uare wrong its not you who is hurt.
That doesn't mean muppet has to be rude, or aggressiev toward anyone, it just means that he should take steps to ensure that the necessary conditions for abuse to occur are never met.....never have the girl left alone with this guy.
I know of parents who never let their kids alone with *any* stranger, ever....even if they are known by others....muppets approach is way more realistic and entirely reasonable.
April 3rd, 2006 6:47pm
fact is, there is no clear answer to what you're talking about on this forum. It's a tough one. There are situations where the other parent is just bad news, and if that's what you really think it is than maybe you have to protect her from that.
i don't think pussy footing around will get you any place though. If you really feel that this is sinister, maybe you have to say that to your ex. But then, oh shit, that will blow up in your face too. Which means you have to get serious, legal, etc.
But you have to be pretty fucking certain and clear in your mind that this is really what you think it is before you go that route, because once you start there is no return path, and the consequences, for all of you, last years.
So I would really suggest you talk to a third party - a mutal friend you both trust if you still have any, or a good counsellor (emphasis on good) of some nature. My personal opinion is that it's a big decision for anyone to make alone. It affects too many people too deeply and for too long, and there's too much history.
And to be honest, an internet board is not gonna help you. You need people who know you all personally or at least have some ability to keep some objectivity. Because there is no way that you can expect yourself to maintain that objectivity in this situation.
April 3rd, 2006 6:53pm
Please read again where I said I'm not looking for advice. :-)
This thread was for venting. Period.
The situation has already been dealt with.
ah, I missed that - silly me.
April 3rd, 2006 6:57pm
What a mess.
Can you wear the cost of a mobile phone and possibly some personal defence equipment or training? This creep is not the only one your daughter is likely to encounter in life.
I recommend martial arts self-defence classes but there are alternatives.
April 3rd, 2006 8:12pm
If there was really something fishy going on I don't know if I would be able to go through the proper procedures if I were in the situation. I might just go with ski mask and lead pipe.
April 3rd, 2006 8:35pm
I think most people would. The idea is to try to stop shit before it gets to that ...
hey muppet, that was a bit over the top of me yesterday. Sorry - I must remember not to overdo the oxygen mask before bedtime ...
April 4th, 2006 3:37am
The important thing to remember is to do things properly ...so once you've arranged your alibi..
Seriously, supervised contact (which is what you set up in effect) is certainly the best way forward. It might be worth keeping a diary in case it does all end up in court but other than that I'd say you appear to have things under control.
a cynic writes...
April 4th, 2006 5:24am
FNR said: "the guy has done nothing wrong"
Tickling a little girl you barely know isn't doing anything wrong? I beg to differ. That guy shouldn't even be laying a finger on her. Even if his motives are "innocent", it shows lousy boundaries and judgement.
April 4th, 2006 10:05am
That's the whole thing about it. It could indeed be showing lousy boundaries and judgement, and nothing more. That's not a good thing to have, but it doesn't make him a "bad guy". If that's the case, a firm but gentle "don't do that please, she doesn't like it" is probably fine, if the guy is ignoring the child's own request to stop.
April 4th, 2006 12:54pm