I am a single mother of three boys and one daughter. My daughter will soon be 16 and I have been dating a man for two years. I feel that sometimes the behavior between my daughter and boyfriend is inappropriate. They will snuggle up on the couch and he puts his hand on her thigh, he holds her down and sits on top of her tickling her, he pulls her onto his lap, he gets on her case and tries to “tease” make her feel bad if she doesn’t sit next to him on the couch. I saw her at the kitchen sink and he came up behind her and put his hands on her waist. Things like that. Recently she had a crush on a boy and there was teenage drama for about a week all of which my boyfriend didn’t even really speak to my daughter. I almost felt like it was jealousy? On one hand I do not think he would ever harm my daughter. I tried to talk to him about behavior I feel is inappropriate and he thinks I am calling him a pedophile. Am I being unreasonable? What kind of behavior is ok and not ok? The kind of relationship I’ve always had with my father is completely opposite and I wonder if maybe that’s why I am feeling this way. It was hard for my dad to hug me and I never sat on his lap. My daughters dad left when she was 4 and is not in the picture and she has always tried to seek male approval. (age 32, from US)Inappropriate Behavior Between My Daughter and My Boyfriend
Inappropriate Behavior Between My Daughter and My Boyfriend
Even though the bond between your daughter and boyfriend may be purely innocent, I think you are right to be concerned. As a therapist who specializes in trauma, I have heard way too many stories of sexual abuse. Some affection is normal, but I must admit that what you are describing here sends red flags up for me. I’m also curious how he relates to your boys. Does he also demonstrate physical affection toward them? This may be your best guide, in that he shouldn’t be treating them differently, and if he does there may be a problem.
Like you said, your comfort level may have been affected by your own upbringing. If your father wasn’t physically affectionate you may have a low threshold. However, a teenage girl seeking male attention and a fairly new “father figure” who seems eager to give it, could be a recipe for disaster.
I think it is best to speak to your boyfriend again, but be much more firm in what you expect and what you are comfortable with. I also think it’s a good idea to speak to your daughter and ask her if his affection and attention ever make her uncomfortable. I can’t tell you how many times a client told me that she felt that her mother should have “seen the signs.” You may end up offending them both, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts