How to address a touchy-feely friend?
February 24, 2014 10:56 AM Subscribe
We have a close family friend who seems to have a problem keeping his hands to himself around my 8-year-old. We've spoken to him about it generally, but he doesn't seem to understand what we consider to be inappropriate.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I admit that I may have higher standards than most with regards to touching children. Unless you're the parent, I don't think you should touch a child (including hugging) without their permission. I don't think tickling is ever appropriate (because most kids actually hate it but can't usually articulate that, especially when they're being tickled). There may be exceptions to this once you get to know a child really well, but this is sort of baseline.
So we've recently moved closer to some old friends of my husband's, whom I also really like. We visit maybe once a month or so. I noticed the first time that he would pull my daughter in for a big hug, sort of like a jolly old uncle, but she's only met him once before. I could see that she was uncomfortable, but she didn't say anything. I asked my husband to talk to his friend about asking before he gives hugs and the like. He came to visit this week-end, and he hugged and gave kisses on the head without asking, and tickled, and was touchy-feely in a way that I think is really inappropriate. He doesn't seem to notice that my daughter doesn't like it, which I think is critical in developing a relationship with a kid that involves touching.
The guy has his own kids, who adore him. They probably don't mind the tickles and hugs and whatnot. He's about 40, which I think is too young for the oblivious touching of children. He does NOT do any of this with adults. We hug hello and good-bye but other than this he does not touch me or my husband much.
I don't know what else to do now. I don't want to visit with him again until we've talked about it, but the first chat apparently didn't sink in. I admit that when it happens I don't say anything, mostly because I would feel mortified if someone pointed out that their kid didn't like me touching them. There's probably a more neutral way to put it, but I'm struggling with the "script". One thing I would like is for my daughter to see me talk directly to him about his touching. I feel like a coward for not saying something in that moment, and there have been other times that I wish I had spoken up for her when I could see that she didn't like some well-meaning person's touching. Any advice on the problem in general or tips for speaking up in the moment are much appreciated.