My sister’s son, who is fourteen, occasionally babysits my five-year-old daughter. Recently I’ve noticed that my daughter doesn’t like being around him. If he enters a room she’s in, she immediately leaves; in fact, whenever he’s at our house, she sticks close by me and can hardly look at or talk to him. She’s told me she doesn’t want him babysitting her anymore, but when I ask her why she won’t say, other than that she’d prefer a girl to babysit. She won’t tell me, though I’ve asked several times, if my nephew did anything wrong. I worry because my daughter seems scared and depressed and I’ve caught her crying. I don’t know how to address this issue with my sister (in her opinion, her son can do no wrong) but I’m quite sure her son molested my little girl and I don’t know what to do about it. Can you please advise me?
Fears of Incest & Molestation
Yours is a complicated and difficult situation. It sounds to me, from what you’ve described, as if your nephew behaved badly in one way or another toward your daughter. Touched her inappropriately. Asked her to touch him. Said things that scared her. Forced himself upon her in ways she was too small and young to fend off. You should start by talking to your daughter as openly and honestly and gently as you can, asking her if anything happened with her cousin that made her uncomfortable. Keep it simple. “I’ve noticed you seem nervous around your cousin. Did he do something to hurt you? It’s ok to talk to me about it.” Start with words like that. If she answers in the affirmative, go to your sister, telling her there’s something very sensitive that needs to be discussed. If your daughter seems really disturbed, she will need professional help and you should seek out a qualified licensed therapist. Know in advance that a therapist is duty-bound to call CPS in cases involving sex abuse and molestation, so your nephew will face consequences once you’ve sought professional help. This is something you and your sister and your whole family will have to deal with. Remember: it is your daughter’s emotional and physical health at stake here, and that is your first (and really your only) priority. I wish you luck.
REACTIONS TO EXASPERATED MOM
I so totally know the feeling. Honestly, I thought I was going to murder my daughter until she got through that awful period where she was making demands on me every other second. Believe me, it gets better, so hang in there.
Whitney J., Houston, TX
You’re the adult who brought your daughter into this world and so you should learn to love and take care of her no matter how difficult she may be at times. That’s your job way before writing a book, and do you know how lucky you are? Some people aren’t blessed with children and go through life sad and lonely without anyone to love. I suggest you stop complaining.
Kevin J., Abilene, TX
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.