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Daughter's alarming behavior

dootoodootoo Registered User new member
My elementary school aged daughter (younger than ten years) had last Friday off and since her cousin (a boy, same age) was in town my wife took her over to her grandmother's place to visit . While they were there my wife noticed she hadn't heard from them in ten minutes or so and went around calling for them. My daughter came down stairs and my wife noticed her shirt was on backwards so she asked her about it. She said she and her cousin took off all their clothing and were kissing on the lips. Apparently she claims that he wanted to see her naked, though he says she started it because she said she was "hot" and wanted to take off her shirt. There's no telling who was telling the truth here: he had an incident a few months ago where he was playing "doctor" with some friend of his, likewise she had an incident where she was trying to kiss a friend at school even when the friend asked her not to.

To make matters worse, he got mad at her because she told her mom. He said that she told him not to tell his mom, so he felt it was unfair that she told her mom. She replied she only told her mom because her shirt was on backwards. So she was never planning on telling us???

1. What do I do now? Since then and at different times my wife and I explained to her that nobody can touch her or see her naked because that's private. Grownups who are married may kiss on the lips, but it's not appropriate for kids. We also explained that she can't keep secrets because secrets are how people get hurt; hurt feelings, or hurt bodies.
2. Is this a sign that she has seen something (between my wife and I perhaps) or worse, that someone has done something to her that she's afraid of telling us?
3. I don't want to flip out and punish her really hard because if someone ever does touch her inappropriately I want her to feel safe telling me about it. So my wife and I also explained to her what safe touching was: from her doctor or by herself when she is dressing or in the bathroom, but no one else can touch her and she should never touch anyone else's private parts.
4. Should we seek out a child psychiatrist? We're already thinking of asking her doctor if this is at all typical and if our talk with her was correct.
4. My wife and I are both full time workers so my daughter is in school and an after-care program for up to ten hours every day. Is this just not the best environment for her when so many of her peers have stay-at-home parents who pick their kids up after only six hours? Are we totally fucking up this parenting thing?
6. Am I blowing this way out of proportion? Is this normal? Neither my wife nor I could ever recall experimenting or even expressing any curiosity of our sexuality prior to puberty. Naturally, I don't want my daughter to have ANY sexual feelings until she 26 years old, but... yeah... that'll never happen. :weary:

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    V1mV1m Registered User regular
    I did something not wholly dissimilar to this when I was 10? or so.

    Come to think of it, I was "playing doctor" with a female friend of mine when I was 6 or 7.

    Girls were pretty mysterious and exciting to me for some reason.

    No crimes were committed subsequently.

    I'm not trying to tell you that this IS OK. Only that it's not definitely terribad perversion horrible.

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    streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    Yea--I did this and a little more when I was like, 7. It is pretty normal. I'm married to a minister, and not considered a pervert or creep or weirdo, so I think it isn't that unusual.

    I would recommend a therapist for you, honestly; I know you are being a bit silly on purpose when you say 'naturally I don't want my daughter to have any sexual feelings until she is 26 years old", but she already has them, and is already acting on them. I don't mean to imply "you're crazy!". I just think you're having a hard time with this and could really benefit from working with a professional to learn how to approach your daughter. I think all families are different, so a professional is going to be able to bring a wide-range of experience and knowledge to advise you on how to handle this. Look for someone who specializes in family therapy and children.

    I think you're doing her a real disservice by teaching her that she can only kiss someone when she is married. Even under 10, she knows that isn't true already, and she is going to be told something very different by nearly every single person she speaks to and by nearly every bit of information she obtains in the media.

    Abstinence only education has a very poor track record; I highly recommend having a more normal/less restrictive version of "the talk". Have you not told her about human reproduction?

    streever on
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    _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    dootoo wrote: »
    3. I don't want to flip out and punish her really hard because if someone ever does touch her inappropriately I want her to feel safe telling me about it.

    This mentality seems best. Punishment, in this case, would likely do more harm that good.

    I would talk to her doctor about whether or not this is normal for kids her age, and how to deal with it. Curiosity about other people's bodies seems normal.

    Encouraging her to tell you about these sorts of incidents, and ensuring that she is comfortable talking with you, is likely the most important thing.

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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    dootoo wrote: »
    6. Am I blowing this way out of proportion? Is this normal? Neither my wife nor I could ever recall experimenting or even expressing any curiosity of our sexuality prior to puberty.

    Eh maybe you just don't recall it or it really never was a thing for you but it's actually completely normal for kids.

    Wikipedia has a bunch of information about sexuality with regards to children.

    None of what you've described is abnormal. Children are curious and so they are curious about their bodies and other bodies. I second streever's suggestion of seeing a professional, you seem to be overreacting a bit and a professional may be able to advise you on the best course of action.

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    flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    It sounds like you're going through the correct steps already! Especially what @_J_ said, you want her to be as comfortable as possible telling you things and not worry that you're going to be mad.

    This happened to me when I was maybe 6, I went over to a male friend's house (we were about the same age) and he wanted to play doctor. My mom came in while we were playing and I had my shirt off and she was definitely upset.. My parents told me that I could only take my clothes off and be touched by adult doctors. I think this is a pretty common experience!

    She's still a kid and I seriously doubt she has real sexual interest, this was way more likely to be regular curiosity between two kids. As for the kissing, a lot of young kids see tons of kissing in real life and on TV are curious. It might be a better idea to tell your daughter that kissing on the lips isn't appropriate between family members lol.

    Maybe you don't need to go so far as to seek a therapist. But this might be a really good opportunity to prepare yourself for much more difficult situations down the line. I can understand wanting to protect your daughter from a sexual world, its a really tough thing for parents to accept that their child is eventually going to be a sexual being.



    flowerhoney on
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    CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    I can remember playing around with kissing a boy at that age, though my parents didn't find out. It does seem to be common based on the anecdotal experience given in this thread, anyway.

    "If you divide the whole world into just enemies and friends, you'll end up destroying everything" --Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    It's one of those sad, squicky aspects of parenthood that nobody has yet really worked out an elegant way to deal with. Exploratory sexual play is something a lot of kids at one point or another, for what should be some pretty obvious reasons. Punishment at all, other than a serious discussion (which you already seem to have handled fairly well) would be highly inappropriate, and it shouldn't be a concern unless it becomes a repeated or persistent issue.

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    dootoodootoo Registered User new member
    Thanks all. It's hard when talking to my wife and she's in tears because she feels she failed somehow, it makes me wonder if I failed too. I think your thoughts gave me some good perspective. I think I'll just double check with her Ped just to be sure there isn't something else I should be aware of (especially if abuse is involved somewhere) but I'm pretty sure my parenting is not the problem here.
    streever wrote: »
    Yea--I did this and a little more when I was like, 7. It is pretty normal. I'm married to a minister, and not considered a pervert or creep or weirdo, so I think it isn't that unusual.

    I would recommend a therapist for you, honestly; I know you are being a bit silly on purpose when you say 'naturally I don't want my daughter to have any sexual feelings until she is 26 years old", but she already has them, and is already acting on them. I don't mean to imply "you're crazy!". I just think you're having a hard time with this and could really benefit from working with a professional to learn how to approach your daughter. I think all families are different, so a professional is going to be able to bring a wide-range of experience and knowledge to advise you on how to handle this. Look for someone who specializes in family therapy and children.

    Yeah, that's sort of what I'm thinking, not really therapist for her, but more of a family-type therapist who can identify what's normal and what may be caused by some other adult's misbehavior.
    streever wrote: »
    I think you're doing her a real disservice by teaching her that she can only kiss someone when she is married. Even under 10, she knows that isn't true already, and she is going to be told something very different by nearly every single person she speaks to and by nearly every bit of information she obtains in the media.

    Abstinence only education has a very poor track record; I highly recommend having a more normal/less restrictive version of "the talk". Have you not told her about human reproduction?

    Well this one seems a little tricky to me. I agree with you, and in fact we got her It's Not the Stork which we shared with her when she was fourish. My biggest fear though is that she may go back to school thinking that kissing is okay for young children and word gets back to more conservative parents who then raise hell with me or the school teacher. After all it's not like one can expect a kid her age to understand the concept of "consent." Of course I don't expect her to live an ascetic life before she's even hit puberty, but I don't want acting in a way that might be upsetting to others in our community (after all, I do hope to live here until she's old enough for college at the least.)

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    InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    I don't see why a kid her age can not understand the concept of "consent"

    Not kissing people that don't want to be kissed really isn't any different than say, not punching someone who doesn't want to be punched. You don't do things to people that they don't want done to them, it seems a concept that should not be too hard for someone her age to grasp.

    Inquisitor on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    dootoo wrote: »
    3. I don't want to flip out and punish her really hard

    For playing with her cousin, I don't think so. Kissing is a natural thing that humans do (they probably see it in movies all the time) and while she is a very small human, it might be better not to get started with punishing her for doing things it is natural for her to begin to explore, feeling comfortable with telling you things wholly aside. Either way, punishment for the game with her cousin does not seem an appropriate reaction to me.

    As for what's normal, I don't know the answer to that. My cousin and I (about the same age) didn't see each other very often, but we got up to some strip games pretty early on (no kissing or touching, just looking). I don't think our parents were completely unaware, because a) they used to bathe us together, and b) we weren't exactly hiding. When I was in kindergarten he said he was going to marry me, because at that age all we knew was that boys and girls who were friends got married (very few people question the sexuality of a six-year-old, especially in the 80's). Nobody freaked out and that's probably for the best, because we were kids and nothing was meant by it on either side. We were just curious.
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I don't see why a kid her age can not understand the concept of "consent"

    Not kissing people that don't want to be kissed really isn't any different than say, not punching someone who doesn't want to be punched. You don't do things to people that they don't want done to them, it seems a concept that should not be too hard for someone her age to grasp.

    Thisssssss

    I also chased boys around trying to kiss them twice when I was little (different boys). I wasn't terribly serious about it and I don't think I really succeeded either time, but these days it probably would have landed me as a 7-year-old on some watch list or something. Nobody really sat me down or said anything about it that I can recall. That said, as far as trying to kiss someone who didn't want to be kissed, that is definitely a problem and deserves a talking-about at the very least.

    I would spend your time and energy emphasizing propriety and consent. By propriety I mean what is appropriate for total strangers to do (maybe nothing), trusted strangers (maybe a police officer or store employee can hold her hand if she is lost?), doctors (what an exam entails and what might be excessive to an exam (they aren't all saints or anything), her parents (bathing, hugging, kissing, etc.), friends at school, and so on. By consent I mean, regardless of the rest of it, is she okay with being touched? What to do if she isn't, etc.

    She did the right thing by telling her mother when asked, and that deserves a reward especially if she promised she wouldn't and is seeing some conflict for her decision.

    This is all just my opinion, but I don't think there's likely a compelling reason to freak out here unless there are suspicions of nonconsent on either side. Some kids just get to "that age" a little sooner. My younger sister started to hit puberty when he was like 9, where I was around 12 when I started. We were two years apart and no one was really expecting her to go first. THAT was a huge disaster.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    dootoodootoo Registered User new member
    I guess a little perspective is in order too. My wife has had significant sexual abuse in her family history, which is part of the reason why she's hyper sensitive about any indication of it in her daughter (either as the recipient of abuse or the instigator of abuse).

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    _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2014
    dootoo wrote: »
    Thanks all. It's hard when talking to my wife and she's in tears because she feels she failed somehow, it makes me wonder if I failed too. I think your thoughts gave me some good perspective.

    I don't know if it will make you and your wife feel better, but, you really can't tell if you've failed as a parent until the kid is at least 23.

    Edit: I hope that did not come across as flippant. Your daughter is < 10 years old. There is no need to be so self-critical, and invoke "failure" language.

    _J_ on
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    _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I don't see why a kid her age can not understand the concept of "consent"

    Not kissing people that don't want to be kissed really isn't any different than say, not punching someone who doesn't want to be punched. You don't do things to people that they don't want done to them, it seems a concept that should not be too hard for someone her age to grasp.

    If I understand correctly, the issue is less "consent" and more "nuance".

    Kids can understand consent in terms of "Don't do X to player-Y unless player-Y says it is acceptable."

    The issue in the OP is more, "Don't let a person do X to you, unless the person meets these 3 criteria, except in these two situations."

    Many of the social nuances we take for granted as common sense are, in fact, incredibly complicated.

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    cabsycabsy the fattest rainbow unicorn Registered User regular
    dootoo wrote: »
    I guess a little perspective is in order too. My wife has had significant sexual abuse in her family history, which is part of the reason why she's hyper sensitive about any indication of it in her daughter (either as the recipient of abuse or the instigator of abuse).

    Then I definitely don't think a therapist for the family or even for you guys individually (not necessarily your daughter) is out of line, if nothing else so she can vent her concerns and talk over what is healthy concern and what is anxiety caused by past trauma. I think it's normal to be hypervigilant in that case but it's going to build and build and cause tons of anxiety if it isn't handled

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    DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    dootoo wrote: »
    Thanks all. It's hard when talking to my wife and she's in tears because she feels she failed somehow, it makes me wonder if I failed too. I think your thoughts gave me some good perspective. I think I'll just double check with her Ped just to be sure there isn't something else I should be aware of (especially if abuse is involved somewhere) but I'm pretty sure my parenting is not the problem here.
    streever wrote: »
    Yea--I did this and a little more when I was like, 7. It is pretty normal. I'm married to a minister, and not considered a pervert or creep or weirdo, so I think it isn't that unusual.

    I would recommend a therapist for you, honestly; I know you are being a bit silly on purpose when you say 'naturally I don't want my daughter to have any sexual feelings until she is 26 years old", but she already has them, and is already acting on them. I don't mean to imply "you're crazy!". I just think you're having a hard time with this and could really benefit from working with a professional to learn how to approach your daughter. I think all families are different, so a professional is going to be able to bring a wide-range of experience and knowledge to advise you on how to handle this. Look for someone who specializes in family therapy and children.

    Yeah, that's sort of what I'm thinking, not really therapist for her, but more of a family-type therapist who can identify what's normal and what may be caused by some other adult's misbehavior.

    Streever is recommending a therapist for you, not for your daughter.

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    GonmunGonmun He keeps kickin' me in the dickRegistered User regular
    Yeah, gonna pipe in here as a parent who's gone through something somewhat similar.

    My son when he was 7 was talking with a girl and she dared him to show her his private parts. In class under his desk no less. We got a call from the principal and it was explained to us that this sort of thing is normal for kids at this age but that it was best to just sort of reinforce that it's the type of things kids shouldn't do until they are much older as there are things that can be unsafe for them.

    In this case I think it would not so much be a matter of getting after your child but rather trying to explain in a way that would be easy for her to understand that while kissing on cheeks and that sort of thing is common, kissing on lips is meant to be special between two people and being naked isn't something you should do until you are older and like someone very much.

    With regards to my own son, it's been pretty good since then (8 years later). Only now we have had those lovely and awkward "birds and the bees" talks so yeah. I wish you luck on this OP and hope things work out for the best.

    desc wrote: »
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