I am a fourteen year old female who lives with a single father and a younger ten year old brother. My father has been evaluated psychologically and has protracted identity issues, adjustment difficulties, and it takes him longer than most to comprehend things. He is fifty six years old and is still trying to find himself in the same sense as an adolescent boy.
In public, my father has always stopped and stared at every young female that goes by him (sometimes I recognize them as my very own peers). In the car he goes out of his way to eye down women walking down the street. In stores, my father sometimes stares for a long time at posters or magazines of females. The other night I was in the living room and he came in and turned on the television, he started watching a show with woman in bikinis posing sexually, I stomped out of the room in disgust and he said “come on Amber, let me look at this”. I have recently caught my father masturbating one night when I went downstairs to get a drink.
Whenever I wear a shirt that is a bit low cut or tight, my father stairs at my breast. Sometimes he scoffs, “are your breasts really that big?”. I get annoyed sometimes when I am talking to him and he is staring at my chest like that. This makes me uncomfortable. A lot of times he will tell me “those pants really look nice on you” or “I am really glad you wore that dress last night”. I always thought when he says those things it is harmless and that he is just trying to be nice, but my little brother says that my father does not compliment him on his clothing the way he does me, which makes me wonder.
Last night when I gave my father a hug goodnight, he began staring at my lower body, I (assuming he had spotted some defect on me )self consciously asked what was wrong, he replied “I’m just looking at your pretty shorts, they really are nice” than he said “give me another big tight hug, let your whole body on me…” I hesitated at first and he said “it’s okay” so I gave him a “big” hug. When he left, I realized that the dim lighting in my room made my basketball shorts “see through” at the ends.
About a week ago I was sitting with my brother and my father started tickling my lower body, but not my brother’s. I did not think anything of it, but after what occurred last night, I now see him in a completely different perspective.
I have no women to talk to and I am ambivalent about what I should do. After last night, I feel really anxious and it is preventing me from working on my schoolwork. Could I possibly be interpreting this in the wrong light? Mabye my father was just being nice, what if I am over reacting? I would really like some advice on this, it is causing me quite a bit of anxiety.
A: I understand why your dad’s behavior makes you uncomfortable. From what you said, your dad doesn’t seem to have good enough boundaries. Hugging, tickling, and staring at his adolescent daughter is simply not appropriate. Since there isn’t another adult in the house, it looks like it falls to you to tell him so. This doesn’t need to be a big confrontation. Just gently tell him that you are too big now for body hugs and tickle games. If he protests or tells you you are misinterpreting things, simply tell him that it may be harmless to him but it makes you too uncomfortable.
Although you seem to be handling your dad’s limitations pretty well, it could get more complicated. If this doesn’t stop, you’re going to need someone to back you up. Another issue is that your little brother may not be getting an appropriate model for how an adult male manages his sexuality. I hope you will think hard about whether there is an adult you can take into your confidence. Maybe you can get closer to a relative or your school guidance counselor or the mom of one of your friends. You shouldn’t have to deal with this alone.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Sep 2009
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). I think my father is physically attracted to me. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/09/16/i-think-my-father-is-physically-attracted-to-me/