Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ask Hot Dads - What's A Dad To Do?

Today I am asking the question.

I am very interested in knowing how the rest of you would react/respond to the following situation.

I think that I am considered by most of the kids’ friends as a pretty cool dad/step-dad and I like to play with the kids, rough house, joke with them etc. This has never been a problem until this year. Our 13 year old daughter has a friend who comes over from time to time. She has recently become very clingy with me. She always runs up to me yelling that she needs a hug. At first I was OK with it and many of our kids’ friends come up and give me hugs or fist pounds….or whatever else is cool in said time period.

The thing that is strange is that this girl is very aggressive and will hug then try to put her arm around me or make the hug a lingering one. I just feel uncomfortable with it all. I have tried to back away and say that she can have a group hug with everyone around but that does not seem to satisfy her…she always wants more. She has never been outwardly sexual but I still feel a bit ‘wronged’ when around her.

I have talked about this with Mariah and nudged her when it was going on….so she knows exactly what I am talking about. She and I have been closely watching the situation and I have been very careful as to not ever be alone with this girl and when she rushes me for a hug…I am always around many other people.

So now…the other day I was with my two boys, our 10 year old daughter and her friend…(the sister of the above mentioned girl.) While we were at the ice skating rink, this ‘younger sister’ of the original girl, started the same shit. She kept asking me for hugs…and when I would not concede , she began to chase me around the outskirts of the rink trying to hug me. Above and beyond that, this girl seemed to do everything in her power to touch me. She put her hand around our daughter in a way that would have put her hand in contact with my…’manhood’ ...I almost jumped across the rink to avoid that one...and then she just leaned up against me …like a new love would...even while I was hugging Mariah.

I don’t know if it is something with the family or if the kids are just fucked…. I don’t know if I should talk to their parents or just keep my distance.

I think the girls are nice and sweet kids, but I don’t want anything to do with misconduct or have anyone think that I condone their actions…what would you do?


Single parent Dad's House responds: a girl in my son's grade was just like this with me. When I volunteered in the classroom, she would always ask me for help. If a mom was nearby and ready to assist, she'd say no, she wanted me. She tried hugging me, but I wouldn't allow it. She tried sitting in my lap, and I definitely wouldn't allow that. She tried touching me a lot. For this particular girl, her mom had remarried, so she was dealing with a step-dad. And her step-dad was almost never home. He traveled extensively for work. Her mom was from another country, and she was only here because of the marriage so she put up with a lot. I think the girl just really needed male attention and affection and approval. But it didn't seem right for me to give that to her through physical touch. My advice to you - stay far away from these girls in terms of physical contact.

Daddy Geek Boy says: As I was reading this, I could imagine this turning into some horrible Lifetime movie where you have been wrongly accused of some misdoings with this girl and the whole thing turns into a media circus and trial...but clearly I watch too much TV.

Seriously, chances are good that this girl doesn't have an agenda but is looking for something. Either it's lack of a male parental figure at home as Dad's House implied, or she's got a crush. I'm guessing it's the latter. I would also guess that she's told her little sister about her crush and her little sister has a crush by proxy. If this is the case, I think you need to talk to her, but you need to tread lightly. Discuss how you are not comfortable with the hugging. But know, she will most likely take this as a form of rejection. Feelings will be hurt, etc. You may want to talk to Mariah to go over the best approach. I would also cut off all physical contact. Good luck, man. This is a difficult one.

Sage Says:
Knowing the girls home life would help with the cause of her need for affection. Either way though if it were me I'd definately not allow much affection, nothing more than a quick hug if that. I can see that ending up being a visit with police or a fist fight with her mom or dad if she has one. Tough situation though. If you shun her and she just needs innocent affection that would be bad but if you give her innocent attention and she has some malicious intent then that would surely be bad. All that being said it surely isn't your responsibility to give her affection or attention. I'd go with no hugging policy from now on with kids that aren't yours.

Russ Says:
While this maybe innocent, you really have to err on the side of caution. I think that a discussion with the parent(s) of the children are in order. It may be a simple case of needing a father figure, or it could be a case (as you put it) the kids might be fucked.

Speaking of parents, where are they during all this? Do they act the same way when they are around?

Canadian Bald Guy says:
Wow...quite the creepy situation. I would probably tell them flat-out that I'm not much of a hugger anymore or just tell them to stop fucking touching me. I mean, if it's creepy and uncomfortable then I wouldn't worry about hurting their feelings, especially in a world that would see that and immediately want to make it something that it's not.

Seriously...if both kids are making you uncomfortable and even Mariah knows that it's really awkward, then don't worry about telling them to simply NOT HUG YOU.

Hubman says: I'll echo what Russ said- talk to the parents, perhaps you and Mariah together and let them know what is happening and why it's making you uncomfortable. I can appreciate the desire not to hurt the feelings of a (possibly vulnerable) girl, but you need to look out for yourself first, so if the parents don't take you seriously, perhaps you just need to be blunt with the girls. Good luck!


ShellSpann said...

Ohh that's a tough one. WOW. I can't even begin to think about what I might do. But I hope I never have to deal with a situation like that!

WannabeVirginia W. said...

Well said Gentlemen! The little girl may also just need a male figure in her life. As a mom, I would want to hear from your wife what is happening in a very nonchalant way. If your wife has contact with the parents, she may say something like "your daughter is very affectionate girl" and this will peak mom's curiosity and start asking you questions like "what do you mean" and that can open up the dialogue. Hoping mom is not completely out to lunch. The little girl might also just need the "what is appropriate and inappropriate touch at her age" talk from her parents. Also, the conversation with your wife, will remove some of the sexual component of it.

As a social worker: BE CAREFUL, I agree with what D Geek Boy said, it can turn ugly, since teens have some interesting interpretations of physical contact. Maintain your no hug policy as well as not being alone with her for now until your wife can have a dialogue with her mom. I am questioning the behaviour or the little sister too. That needs to be explored. :)

Good Luck.

singlemomma_cc said...

Um what the shit?! So, you have like a teenage stalker posse. Fun

My assumation would be that perhaps there are home issues...but what the her parents not notice shes trying to molest you? Is it just you or guys in general? I know when the PIT gets clingy to my guy friends its because she obviously wants a male figure in her life, but still, at some point I just have to tell her to back off. "Look kid, he is not a jungle gym. Get off of Zeph" or "Knock it off! The hippie is old and breakable" and the classic "keep your hands to yourself!!" Im hoping that teaching her limits, boundaries and respect of personal space will help her as a teenager...I would also hope that if the PIT were acting like said girl, the parents would talk to me. At least make them aware of your concern. Or...have find the teenage mean girl bully posse and have her beat up....just an idea

Tracy DeLuca said...

Seriously, talk to the parents. With Mariah there to back you up and without the kids there. Just lay it out for them like you did here and tell them you want the girls to be able to visit but you are concerned with the amount of physical contact they are seeking, etc. There may be a problem at home that is causing this. Or it may be a crush. But, the parents need to know so that they can discuss with their daughters the correct way to show affection.

This could get you in trouble. You know that. Best to nip it in the bud and be open with the parents so that they know from the get go what is up on your end. If it was my daughter acting this way, I would want to know. Wouldn't you?

My concern is that if the girl feels rejected, she could lash out by telling her parents that you touched her inappropriately. Etc.

Good luck. I hate that this is even an issue.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Okay first of all I wouldn't talk to her parents! If they are the defensive type they will think it is suspicious.

In one of my psychology classes they showed a video of "reformed" molesters and they said that they used the technique of warning their parents that the child was doing the same things you are actually experiencing so that when the child went to the parents the parents didn't believe them...

Like you said Mariah has seen this take place so is a witness.

I would involve Mariah in the way that SHE talk with the girls and tell them that them hugging you makes her uncomfortable and then admit to them that it makes you uncomfortable and she just won't allow it any longer. You know what I mean?

TentCamper said...

Since a lot of you are questioning the 'home situation' I'll leave you with this: We are friends with their parents...and have been for years. They both seem great and 'dad' is there and involved. Neither child does anything like what I laid out while their parents are around....but they do it in front of Mariah and our daughters.

Keith Wilcox said...

The last thing I'd do is talk to her parents. They're probably the reason these girls are like that in the first place. They'll also get defensive and probably accuse you of being a dirty old man. We all know that won't end well. I'd just stay as far away as possible. Perhaps outright tell them that you aren't into hugging or being too close.

Danielle said...

Now that I have seen TC's comment about the parents, my thought has changed.
If you are good friends with both of them and feel comfortable with how they are as parents, I would say something to them. I would include Mariah in the conversation too.
You never know, maybe someone else has been inapropriate with the girls and this is there way of dealing with it. Maybe you could actually help bring it to life and get them help.
That is a really hard one.

T said...

Yikes TC!!!

Yeah, if you're friends with the parents, I'd definitely say something. You might even start with the kids first. Say something to them first.

Sounds like a crush for sure. And yeah, you are pretty crushable TC! :)

Good luck with that. Wow.

Nonflammable said...

Yikes. Whether it's an innocent crush or somthething else (doesn't matter) I would set them down with Mariah and explain that these actions could get everyone into trouble. They are smart enough to understand exactly what you are talking about. It's a (touchy) and scary subject since you haven't observed these behaviors with their parents which could imply something more sinister.

My kids are younger and know that this would be unacceptable behavior. These girls actions towards are disrespectful.

Missty said...

Oh wow. I would not talk to the parents. I wouldn't want them reading more into it then what there is. Or feeding the girls "did he touch you ever? Did he...."

I would do the no hugging policy. Sorry girls I have a cold coming on, no hugs today. Could be a simple way to back out of hugging for a few days. Then maybe something else. I worry about the harsh no policy - might upset them and they might feel rejected and cause them to lie, or make up stuff. kwim? You will be guilty till proven innocient, not the other way around.

Good luck and never be alone with these kids. And keep us posted.

Missty said...

Hey and another thought as I just hit the sent button. I would document each time they are over, and who has been around they have tried to hug you, etc. It can't hurt to have a few quick notes. Something as simple as 1/6 sally and sue are over, mariah and dd are here, both girls kept trying to hug me, told them I had a cold. Then back document. 12/27 girls came over to watch tv, sally was very flirty, Mariah was in the room and witnessed her behavior.

good luck.

♥Georgie♥ said...

wow I agree tough situation to be in...I say stop being so cool ;-)

Daddy Geek Boy said...

A follow up to those who have suggested a "no hugging policy". Does TC owe an explanation as to why...even if the explication isn't completely the truth? Would it be weird if he suddenly said "no more hugging" and left it at that? Or is that exactly the point?

Missty said...

DGB - the reason I stated no hugging and then make something up is - some pre teen girls and teen girls can be mean and hateful. I would hate TC to take a firm stand on no hugging, and these girls get their panties in a wad and do something hateful that could cause a bunch of problems for TC. He will be guilty. We had a friend a very long time ago have a similar situation. Even though he had people around who witnessed the back scratching this 14 yr old asked him to give her as she was standing there at the church campground. By the end of the week she kept asking for hugs, etc. other adults put her in her place because he was feeling uncomfortable. She went home, made up crap, the parents had him arrested, sued the church where the camp was held, etc. He pleaded to a lower charge, as going to trial, etc was going to be costly. BUT he is now registered as a sex offender. He has a wonderful wife and kids of his own. So very sad.

I say tread litely. You may think you know these parents, but it could all change in a moments notice.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Missty...Yeah, I was thinking the same kinds of things. I gotta imagine that your friend's story is the exception rather than the rule in these types of situations, but you never know.

I think you're right, "no hugging" with a white lie reason is probably the best.

staceyO said...

Being the mother of two girls I find this behavior very odd and bizarre. I personally believe that someone has reacted this way with them and made them believe it is okay to act like that. My best friend was molested for 10 years by an uncle and no one questioned her odd behavior. This could be those little girls cry for help.

TentCamper said...

Now I am all confused......tell her folks or don't....tell her/them no more hugs...and how?...investigate as to why - somehow...

someone do me a favor and read all of the comments, organize it and then tell me what the F to do. :)

I'll call you Doctor from now on if you do!!!

Missty said...

TC you will have to figure it all out yourself. Great advice here, but you know the girls and the parents, do the best you can for you and your family.

Let us know how it goes.

WeaselMomma said...

I would talk to the girls about what's appropriate and what is not and how you feel uncomfortable. Their behavior is not the norm, although girls that age can be strange, but their behavior sends up red flags to me. Maybe possible abuse happening. Be sure to make yourself a safe person for them to talk to.
I would also talk to their parents and let them know what is going on.
I would also keep a close eye on those girls and my antennae up for their well being.

dadshouse said...

I agree with Shelle - don't talk to the parents! It will just send up creepy flares with them, or they'll get all defensive. Just avoid the touching with this girl. Tell her firmly no, and she'll get the point.

Carol T said...

I am a female junior high teacher, and I encounter this a lot -- with boys! Esp the geeky ones, who don't get a lot of physical contact with girls. Many times, I've had to just directly say, "You're making me uncomfortable." Yes, it's embarrassing for both of us, but it gets it out in the open. They stammer and splutter, and I say, "I know you don't mean anything by it, but you're growing up and we need to make sure we maintain boundaries." And it's done.

Susan said...

Since you guys are friends, definately talk to their parents... if Mariah is more comfortable to do it, then have her initiate the conversation. But just be casual... letting them know you are just a little uncomfortable and wasn't sure how to handle it because the last thing you would want to do is hurt the little girls' feelings.

If all else fails, I totally go with Canadian Bald Guy who says he'd just say "Stop Fucking Hugging Me!" Classic response!

PS... you always hear that little kids' actions are "learned" and they tend to "repeat" what is done to them... hmmmmm...

TentCamper said...

Carol T - These girls are NOT the geeky type. The older one is much more physically mature than most of the other 7th graders.

The funny thing is that I have never heard of or seen either of these girls do anything similar to any other men.

I am stumped!!

ChurchPunkMom said...

I agree with Hubman and Russ. If that doesn't help, put your foot down with the girls. They obviously lack boundaries, which could point to them being abused. So, talking with parents may not be what's best. Just tell the girls, straight up, that if they don't lay off, then you'll have to have a no hugging rule. Let them know what they can expect, and that they can't expect more because it's not appropriate. Make sure that you emphasize that you think they are wonderful people, but that it's not ok for grown men to have that much physical contact with a young girl. It's ok for you to be uncomfortable, whether it's really warranted or not, and it's ok for you to express that. Everyone has their own personal comfort zone.

My Bottle's Up! said...

good christ, this sucks. and you're obviously being given conflicting responses which can't help your situation either.

here's my shpeel... i taught 8th grade english right out of grad school. i was 24, newly married, etc, etc. the boys were horny as hell and would purposely NOT hug me because of their goddamn boner. i was entirely creeped out but eventually got over it and after a few early mornings in homeroom with me having no makeup on, their "crush" dissipated, as did the boners.

that being said, i never involved parents and would suggest that you do not.

you can simply nip this in the bud now by setting your own boundaries with these little girlies. but you need to do it now.

1) never, if you can help it, be around either of these girls without your wife present. that way she can back you up should the girls get creative and manipulative and make shit up like "mommy, TC likes to hug me A LOT."

2) when approached, take a step back and go with the no hugging policy. if you start it because you "have a cold" or whatever the excuse is, then fine, just continue with it and stay consistent.

3) should you be challenged with the boundaries you set, have a sit down with mariah with the girl and address it. make sure the girl knows that you're glad she's friends with your family but that she cannot consider herself a personal friend of yours, therefore she cannot hug you.

good luck.

cindy w said...

Ok, I haven't read every comment here, but my gut reaction is this: You're the adult, she's a child. I think a firm, "Stop it, you're being inappropriate," should be sufficient. And if it doesn't stop the huggy/grabby thing, then let her know she's not going to be welcome at your home if she keeps acting like that.

Does it make you look like a jerk? Well, yeah, kinda. But you're supposed to be a dad-type figure in this scenario, not a buddy. And it sounds like this girl (and her sister) are in dire need of some serious boundary-setting.

Jacqueline said...

I think this child is looking for attention. Is there a father figure at home? is he an appropriate father figure? i think you have to wonder why the child seeks attention...

I would approach the child and say that your happy to have her play etc, but if the behavior continues than this will stop. is it possible that you can speak with her teachers etc other adults that also have dealing with this child?

This is NOT normal behavior from a child who comes from a 'normal' loving home environment.

Again think why this child is seeking such attention and with a male adult not other peers or women.

badassdadblog said...

I think your fellow hot dads are on the right track. I suspect the girl is seeking affection she isn't getting elsewhere, and at 13 is definitely going through changes that she's not sure what to do with yet. Some of that energy is currently directed at you, her friends hot dad. I'd probably start by letting the girl know what you are and aren't OK with her doing. Be gentle, but clear and direct. She's old enough to hear the truth. And then I would definitely talk to her parents and let them know what's going on and what you told her. Talk to them first if that seems more appropriate. Likely this is no big deal, but if you stay silent it could become a REALLY big deal, which you definitely do not want.

Good luck, dude.

Nonflammable said...

No easy resolution here. You indicate you know the parents but do you 'really know' the parents. I did read through most of the comments and a general consensus is this behavior is not the norm.

It very well could be an innocent girl crush but to be 'safe' I would talk with the girls 'candidly' and with Mariah in the room too. I would not get their parents involved at this time. This discussion might create an opportunity for them to share with you any concerns.

Kids learn about inappropriate touches/boundaries etc.. in school nowadays and are old enough to understand they are crossing them. Imagine if they acted in this manner with someone who might take advantage; where are they learning that these actions are okay with an adult. This is not the way a young girl seeks attention/affection from a 'fatherly' figure and especially if they do not act affectionate towards their own father.

JENIE said...

if i were in your shoes, i may have thought the same way as you...that MAYBE this and MAYBE that.

But when you mentioned of her "almost" touching you there, it is getting a lot more serious...and like Russ, I will definitely tell the parents. Being a parent myself, I believe that the kid needs guidance. that there is a need for more attention. and it is somehow a responsibility on your part to be the one to tell them. what if she's doing that to other dads that's not as straight as you and give in to such temptation?!

JENIE said...

BTW...i'm missing your visits dear! come see also my newly constructed earthy me

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Holy schmoly! This sucks. I also think it's a crush/looking for attention thing, not necessarily abuse but of course could be. I would just make sure not to ever be alone with them and stop allowing them to hug or touch you. Period. If they insist and it becomes a bigger problem, have Mariah talk to the parents and say it's something SHE has noticed, NOT JUST YOU. First and foremost just draw the line and stay firm. That's my advice.

Good luck!

Swirl Girl said...

I agree with Russ. You need to address this with the parents.
She may simply have a crush on you (and having met you , I can see why) and need to have a lesson about 'personal space' at the same time. If you approach the parents in that light, perhaps they won't take offense thinking you are accusing their daughter of anything more.

Ask your daughter if she acts this way around anyone else to see if this is a pattern of her behavior or if she's "just that into you".

Anonymous said...

This made me even uncomfortable to READ. The thing that no one seems to be picking up on is that these girls may already have been interfered with by their stepfather and thus the aggressive physical behaviour. Having a talk with the parents may not do much if the stepfather wants to hide what's happening and the mother is in complete denial that anything awry is happening. I think bringing this to the attention of the mother needs to happen for sure and perhaps the teachers in the school so they can report when an incident gets out of hand. A girl as young as 10 won't necessarily act 'sexually' unless that's already been introduced to her by an adult. I would even recommend saying to the girls, "no. this isn't proper behaviour." or something along those lines so they understand it shouldn't be happening. But I would be very suspect of a possible situation at home. It's very disturbing.

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