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Husband abused as a child by his father - his parents now want time with grandchildren

May 2006

I have a dilemma regarding my mother-in law. My husband in a sexual abuse survivor. He is the youngest of 4 boys. The oldest and second boy were molested by their father for over 5 years; maybe more. The boys then molested the other brothers, causing a horrible chain of molestation and incest for over 10 years. This all remained a family secret until my husband went through therapy and came forward. His mother claims she didn't know. I personally don't believe her, as she was a stay-at-home mother. Even if she worked, I wouldn't believe her. You'd have to be utterly disconnected with your children not to notice SOMETHING in a 10 year period, especially when it occurred between all four boys and her husband. Furthermore, she has decided to stay with this man. She is no doubt a weak woman in complete denial about her life and family.

That being said, we've decided not to let our twins (10 months old) have anything to do with their grandfather. My husband still has a small relationship with him, but our children will never be around him. We've repeatedly invited his mother to visit. She refuses to see us without her husband. She states that, ''it was 20 years ago, so move on.''

The dilemma is this. She wants to continue sending gifts to the babies and wants us to continue sending her pictures and DVD's, etc. My husband's therapists believes there is no harm in this, especially because they live far away.

Is this harmless? Is some grandma better than none? I think she's made the choice not to see her grandchildren. She's decided to stay with a child-molester and stand by him at all costs; even her own son and grandchildren. I am wondering if as years go by my children will say, ''why does grandma send presents but not visit?'' We plan on being perfectly honest with our kids, giving them age appropriate information. I just wonder if they'll form a long-distance bond with someone who'll never come see them, and therefore be hurt and disapointed


I think Grandma's past behavior has cost her the privilege of developing a relationship with your children. Grandma is - whether we name it or not - a package deal with Grandpa, and he sounds like a sick and evil man. So no, I would not confuse my kids with trying to navigate these waters. They are better off with ''nothing'' than with a confused, dysfunctional, and potentially hazardous relationship with their grandmother. A sad but necessary loss, IMO been through something similar, protecting my kids first and foremost

Please don't let your children anywhere near this man--he has irrevocably injured his own children and will, given any opportunity, repeat his crimes. As for the ''grandma'' in question, what would she possibly have to offer your twins? She failed to protect her own boys from the most soul destroying crimes--the theft and betrayal of their trust and innocence, yet you consider that she might have anything to offer besides entree by her husband--the predator--to your children? She not only is in ''denial'' (a polite term that absolves her of any responsibility and complicity) but she is pushing to gain entrance for this man to prey, once more, on innocent victims. Without castigating you for your indecision, what in the world is your dilemma? Whether or not to let your children fall victim (even peripherally, through contact with ''grandma'', they are pulled into the cycle of abuse) to this man? What, in God's name, is the obsession with ''family'' when all it realizes is pain, and abuse? Until people, such as yourselves, are strong enough to question the unchecked mythology of family priviledge, children will continue to be be raped, tortured, and forced to endure a ''legacy'' of silent shame. Family is what you make, what you create based on the real values it implies: love, safety, kindness, and compassion--please offer these to your children and protect them before it's too late.

Perhaps your husband is unable and unequipped to recognize and respond to the dangers this man--his ''father''-- presents to his children. It sounds as though--if he is still talking at all to his victimizer-- he hasn't yet come to terms with all the ramifications of his experience(s). Again, as their mother, protect your children above all else more than concerned

Since the grandmother is so far away, she can be just a vague presence(and source of presents) in the children's life. When other kids talk about their grandparents, your kids can say ''I got x from my grandmother.'' I think it is important to separate your (and your husband's) anger from what the children need. Obviously, you'd never leave them with her alone. It also makes sense that your husband has cut off contact with his father. But, I wonder about what is age-appropriate in discussing a parent's childhood. I have struggled with this issue myself, and have concluded that it is enough to tell my pre-teen that my father (who died before I had a child) was ''mean'' without going into the details. I also have a tenuous relationship with my mother, though lately I've been thinking about the fact that my relationship with her is going to be my child's model of adult relationships between parents and children. I'm not sure what the impact is on a child of seeing their parents as so vulnerable, when clearly they want to idealize their parents. I know this is kind of rambling, and I'm interested in what other people have to say on the topic anon

Why not let your children have the long distance relationship? Tell them grandma isn't well enough to travel or have visitors. (It is pretty much the truth~She's asking her children to ''get over'' being abused and staying with the abuser! She's not well mentally in my book.) They can learn the truth when they are grown, if ever. Let it be your husband's choice to tell or not only one grandparent, but a sane one

Some acts are and will always be unforgiveable. What the grandma allowed her own children to go through is unthinkable. Cut her off completely-she deserves no contact with children. She could not even spare her own babies the agony of being horribly abused by their own father. Sure, to forgive for your own growth and ability to move on is one thing but...as I see it she gave up the right to ever be a parent or grandparent when she not only allowed the abuse to go on but chose that monster over her own children. anon

First of all, I am impressed with how well you are both handling something so horrible. I don't have personal experience with such a situation, but as a mother I think you are doing the right thing. There is obviously something very wrong with your husband's mother. You can't just push something like this under the rug and ''get over it''. She didn't deal with it then and obviously isn't dealing with it now.

In my opinion it is better to not have any contact. My parents are in Europe and my children see them every so often. They love it when they are around their grandparents, but their life doesn't revolve around them at all. Out of sight is still out of mind. We have wonderful older friends who act like grandparents to my children and that is a great substitute for us.

My kids have never questioned why they don't see their grandparents more than they do. Their lives are way too busy with other activities. My bet is that your kids will grow up in their own community with their own friends and lots of distraction. If their grandparents were never really present in their lives (beside the occasional gift, etc.), then they probably won't expect anything from it either. JOJ

You are right. She probably did know, on some level. However, being in that position is extremely hard to admit to yourself. I imagine that she kept making excuses (Oh, that was an accident, he's exaggerating, they were only playing, etc.) to keep herself from having to face the pain and guilt of realizing that the man she loved is hurting your children. It probably was something that she was never sure of, or she was afraid to admit it to herself, must less anyone else. She says ''it's been 20 years, so get over it''. Well, obviously you shouldn't, but when a ''family secret'' is revealed, it takes many family members years to even admit that it happened. Admitting that it did is important.

It is a very hard decision, but I think that you should allow her to send gifts and cards (but never, never, EVER let grandfather have ANY contact!), and if she changes her mind about coming out alone, then let her. Whether or not you do this, eventually you will have to tell your children the truth (not for many years, of course). I think that eventually grandmother's longing for grandchildren will overpower her pride and she will want to see them. My Two Cents, Anonymous

First of all, let up on your mother in law. Don't you think she wishes she noticed and had done something 20 years ago? Remember, it was another time, before there was CSI ''Special Victims Unit'' and all the trash talk shows that keep molestation on our minds all the time. As for her decision to stay married to her husband, what would leaving him accomplish now? Punish him while punishing herself at the same time?

As for the continuing cards, photos, and presents, yes that should continue. There are lots of kids who rarely see their grandparents for a variety of reasons. Who knows, she may change her mind and decide to come visit one day. Old creepy grandpa could die, who knows. Keep those cards and letters coming

We have a 15 month old son & I am a sexual abuse survivor - abused by father & uncle. uncle is divorced from aunt I am closest to (major therapy for her). confronted my father & mother and they said it was me. cut them out for about 3 or 4 years. decided if I felt safe with them I could be around them with my child. my husband supports whatever I decide. rules are we decide when they visit, no staying in our home, no being with our child w/o one of us. Baby, by the way, loves his grandfather -- which was a little hard to take but I let it go. they are east coast so we have maybe two visits a year. also will not stay in their home. have tremendous support from my aunt at setting boundries. that and decades of therapy make it possible to do this. BUT it is not for everyone. If your husband does have a relationship with his father & mother, I'd say have them visit (being on home turf works for us) and see how you & he *feel*. if its ok, see them again. if its not, you have the information you need. My parents are very, very careful - they know everything is on my say -- oddly, it has given me more power over them than I have ever had -- which has been an interesting & surprising piece of my recovery. Oh, and we did not have them meet our child unitl he was 5 months or so when I was feeling ready & better rested good luck

It sounds like you are doing your best to protect your children, despite your mother in law's attempts to minimize the abuse. As a survivor, I know that many survivors detach from the abuse in order to survive it - your mother in law's denial/minimization is a coping mechanism. I strongly recommend a website where you will get a lot of answers: isurvive.org You will be able to ask questions and get feedback from others who have been in your shoes. As you scroll through the posts, you'll also notice the non-judgmental, caring tone of the posters. It's a great site for people like me and you. Your husband and your children are lucky to have you survivor

You have many valid points-my mom swears to this day she had no idea my stepfather was sleeping with me. I stopped talking, read constantly, wouldn't touch anyone(physically clenched up when someone tried to hug or kiss me)Failed math which was the subject my father taught etc. She is nurse and my dad was a teacher. Clueless both of them so give your mother in law the benefit of the doubt...that said child molesters almost never reform so steer clear of gramps FOREVER and if grandma doesn't want to come without him so be it. Take her gifts so your children don't feel forgotten. Include her by sending pictures, can you imagine how lonely she must be if all of her children are not visiting her/grandpa? She is of a generation that is not trained to be voluntarily single so even though she is not stomping out the door and is defending him which is hideous to you(and most other women) it is what it is.You will find as a new mother that mistakes in your marriage and your parenting will be made. at some point you will make trade-offs for the sake of family/children/husband. I'm sure you will not make any mistakes as serious as your mother in law but there will come a day that you think, ''what if i had done it differently'' and only then will you realize what your mil is doing. Probably if she got into the healing she would die of guilt, my mother still tries to make up for her ''bad parenting'', I'm forty next month(I was 12 then)so guilt is forever. don't burden yourself with guilt by excluding her completely. Good luck to your husband and yourself, it is a long journey but sometimes having kids makes it all the more clear sydney_s

It sounds like your kids won't really be ''developing a relationship'' with a grandma who just sends presents and wants pictures. My personal reaction would be to feel uncomfortable with what's essentially a monetary relationship, though I'm not sure it does much good to sen dthe gifts back either. Maybe grandma is doing the best she can to show she cares. I'd probably ask if Grandma can send letters or pictures herself. But you've made a choice, and Grandma has made a choice, and Grandpa made some choices, and if it's set in stone that the kids aren't actually goign to have a relationship with the grandparents, you should ask yourself who is benefiting. Possibly, you're benefiting grandma by sending pictures. And maybe that's the best you can do to reach out in a very difficult situation. The other choice if you really want a ''relationship'' to come out of it, is to consider having both grandparents but only under carefully supervised conditions: i.e., very short visits, neutral ground like a park, kids ALWAYS supervised by a parent. In the end, everybody makes choices from what they have, and if that just sounds too darned creepy, don't do it. And if your bottom line is that grandpa can't visit, then grandpa can't visit. Obviously neither he nor grandma has any interest in healing or therapy or making amends, so what are you really missing? How does your husband feel about all this? (it's interesting that you decline to say). The most important things are to protect your kids physically and emotionally, and to let them know that you won't put them in compromising situations. maybe you can just think about some time in the kids' future when you tell them straight out what happened and why you've made the choices you have, and if your parents are still alive, you can ask the kid then if she or he would like to visit-when you know they are capable of protecting themselves, or with their father accompanying them. Most likely they won't be inclined to worry about someone who really hasn't been there for them, but they may get curious about their larger family

As a survivor myself, I think it is crucial for your husband to be the one calling the shots (with your consideration, of course) and not his mother. What ''she'' wants in terms of a relationship with your twins should not be the determinative factor. You and your husband should have complete control as to when, how, if, and what degree of relationship the twins have with their grandmother. Her denial is her choice and she must live with the consequence, including the possibility of not being involved in her grandchildren's lives. I would only send pictures and DVDs if that is something that will beneift you and your husband, but not to apease his mother. Please, do not let your husband sacrifice his recovery and the safety of your children by attempting to meet the needs of a woman whom enabled the abuse and who stands by the abuser. I admire your husband's courage for getting help and breaking the cycle, and your courage in supporting him. anon

Someone said that your husband was in charge of deciding how the relationship with his parents should progress. This is not true. He is in charge of his relationship with his parents, but only that much. Whatever he chooses to do for himself must not be allowed to draw your children into danger. You are the mother of these children, and you should not allow their well-being to be tied to any other question -- the only issue at hand is whether they are safe with these people or not. As someone else pointed out predators do not change. In this case there is a consistent diminishing of the gravity of what happened -- ''get over it'', So this is an on-going problem and under no circumstances should their grandfather have any access to any child at all let alone yours. And since the grandparents are a package deal, that means the grandmother too -- why give them a new batch of victims? Some one said ''Oh that was all 20 years ago'' in the stone ages (1986?) when people didn't know about this stuff. Oh yes they did. Lots of women got out of bad marriages back then.

Besides, if she didn't know about it then, she does now, but discounts it. She is still with this man, so she has made her choice, and must live with the consequences -- no grandchildren. From your point of view your kids really don't have grandparents: they have a predator and an enabler. If you let grandmother send them stuff, and you send her pictures and play happy families, you are agreeing with her accessment that all that abuse stuff was no big deal. If you don't make it an issue, your children won't care, or miss what they've never had. After all, many kids simply don't have grandparents. When they are old enough to ask, then is the time to make age-appropriate explanations.

Keep in mind as well that if you allow contact between the grandparents and your children now, you help make a case for their access to the children if you were gone. You might want to see a lawyer about how to safeguard your kids in the event of your deaths. anon

My mom is still with step-father who abused me

July 2005

i was sexually abused by my step-father as a child and while the topic has come up periodically throughout the years it has recently come to a head once again. while i have tried to come to some resolution over the years it has never been settled which i now believe is due to the fact that my mother is still with this person. he admitted to something years ago, but turns out that details were spared and my mother thought it was a lesser infraction than it actually was. he has now admitted to more after my mother asked for details and i pushed the issue.

so, my question to others who may have gone through this is how you handled the situation. i am finally beginning to find the strength that i lacked over the years and have told my mother that i could not have contact with her while she is still with this person. she claims that it only happened once with me years ago, that he's a good man and that she has spent so many years with him that she can't imagine him having to start over at his age. while she does feel bad, tells me she loves me and my kids, and seems symapthetic to my situation she chooses to stay with this individual. i am at a loss of comprehension as to how she can do this. if someone abused my children they would not be any part of my life.

this has been tremedously difficult for me, and i'm heartbroken over having to stand my ground, yet feel that i'm doing the right thing for my kids. a few family members have asked why i can't just have limited contact with her, yet it seems that i am then having a fake or partial relationship while having to choose which parts of her life to share with my children. if she does decide to leave him as a result of my actions i am afraid that i will then feel liable for her happiness.

i am not entirely sure how similar a situation people may have experienced but would love to hear their advice or recommendations. i think that if it weren't for my children i would just continue to coast but because of them i know that i need to handle this situation responsibly and with my family's well being in mind. anonymous

I was sexually abused by my father and my situation was a bit different, but I can relate to what you are saying and the challenges you face. I have found my abuse issues have differed as I have faced new life challenges, marriage, kids, etc. I think it is vital that you do what you think is right for you at any given time. This may change, but as an adult and mother, you are now able to protect yourself (and your kids) from abusive situations and do not have to give in to pressure from others. I am not saying it is easy by any means.

I think denial is the norm, explaining possibly why your mom is handling it the way she is. That does not mean it is okay. I have noticed both my mom and stepmom in different levels of denial over the years. The stronger I got and the clearer I set my boundaries, the more it helped. I also think it is appropriate to tell your mom the whole story, if you have not already done so. You have a right not to keep this secret and your mom should know what he did, especillay since she is still with him. No matter how ''wonderful'' she thinks he is, he committed a horrible crime against a child and that is not a small thing.

Re: a limited relationship with your mom. I think it could be possible if that is what you want. I think it is fine to have her visit you or your kids while saying step-grandpa is not invited. Explain to them in age-appropriate terms that he is .not a good person with kids, was not a good dad to you when you were little, etc. I have explained to my own daughter that my dad was not a good dad, that he did some bad things, and that is why we don't have contact with him. I will probably share more when I feel she is ready (an adult, maybe).

I don't know if any of this helps. Please know you are not alone, it was not your fault, and in my opinion, you have a total right to cut your mom off if that is what feels right to you. survivor mama

It is sad, but often others do not understand the impact of childhood sexual abuse - it especially hurts when your own family doesn't! I just wanted you to know, however, that it is very common and there's a website where you can get a lot of support, advice and encouragement: isurvive.org

It's a forum for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and it has been a lifesaver for me.

My heart goes out to you. It must be really hard for you and your feelings are probably even sharper now that your children are the age, possibly, that you were when your abuse occurred.

Safe hugs to you. survivor

Your mother is a weak women and is harboring evil. I fully support you standing your ground. I would also cut ties with those family members that support her. I am so sorry about what you have gone through and I am glad that you don't expose your children to such sickness. Anon

I'm so sorry you were abused and that it pains you to see your mother continue her relationship with this man. However, I think that in any situation, the only way you can be truly happy and at peace is to change your own situation. You cannot ask others to change for you. What this man did is terrible and probably can never be forgiven but there are people out there who have a sickness and hopefully he no longer has it. Your mother may be very happy with this man and it would be hard for her to leave him. I would say either limit your contact with him/her but don't give her an ultimatum that you may regret later in life. At some point, hopefully you will be able to look him in the eye or even just when you think of him, and know that he can no longer hurt you, that he doesn't have that power over you and how you feel about things. You can't ask your mom to leave him; she would have to do this by her own choice. So, you will have to find happiness and peace another way. anon

I am so sorry you had that terrible experience and that you still have to deal with it. Unfortunately you don't seem to have options that are completely satisfactory to you.

I think you have to ask yourself what it is you really want and why. It does not sound as if either of your solutions will really meet your needs, yet you are trying to find reasons outside of yourself for taking the position you are taking. Perhaps they are not the real reasons?

For example, how does it make you a better parent to stand your ground and refuse to have a relationship with your mother if she does not leave this man, as opposed to standing your ground and refusing to have a relationship with this man and having a relationship with you mother without him?

You were hurt by this person in the worst way. Perhaps you feel that your mother is betraying you by staying with the person that abused you. I know I would. I also know I would leave someone immediately if I found out they were abusing my children. Would I if I found out they had abused my children 15 years ago? I think I would, but I don't know for sure. Denial is a strong condition. And who knows what he has told her. You are expecting your mother to give up her companionship in exchange for what? Can you fill her needs? Will it cause her financial hardship? Loneliness? Other hardship? I think there is a lot going on for her and it must be very hard and very painful.

Perhaps by trying to take your mother away from him, you are trying to punish him for hurting you? Has this person shown any remorse? Has he apologized to you?

Have you considered filing charges? I don't even know if that is possible, but I would want to make sure he isn't hurting other children.

In short, figure out what it is that you want and need. Then perhaps the way to accomplish it will be clearer. anon

How to protect my daughter from my sexually abusive step-father

Jan 2001

I am a mother to a five year old boy and a nine year old girl, and I am expecting a new baby soon. My mom plans to come to visit me one week before my due date. She is coming with her husband, who would stay here for two weeks, and she would stay two more weeks. I am very worried about my daughter. She is nine years old now. I was ten when he started sexually abusing me.

My parents would be here alone with the kids when I go into labor, because my husband would go with me. After the labor I would still have to spend some time in the hospital, so I won't be here to keep an eye on them. Moreover, the purpose of the visit, stated by my mom, is to help me with the kids. We have no other relatives in the area.

Should I warn my daughter, tell her that my stepfather is sexually interested in young girls and she should be alert? Shall I ask my mother to be alert? She has always not noticed when I was sexually abused by family relatives, so I don't think she is capable of taking care of the situation. Should I speak with him and warn him? I can tell him that I intend to report anything he does to the authorities, and he should keep away from my daughter.

I am on good terms with my step uncle and his wife, and my stepbrothers and sister. They don't know about anything that happened. I could tell one of them and ask him/her to speak with him and warn him. I don't know which of these things would be effective, if any.

Thank you for your help.

(NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Due to the overwhelming volume of mail in response to this problem/request for advice, I thought it best to consolidate the responding posts into a single "Special edition" digest. Thank you to all who replied to this post -- your support and ideas for alternative solutions will be, I'm sure, greatly appreciated. Many respondents provided contact information invited the poster to call them, or offered to help. A;; personal information was removed when these responses were published on the BPN website.)

Your gut feeling is right on. Your instinct to protect your daughter should be reinforced. You don't trust your stepfather alone with your kids, particularly your nine yr. old daughter becuase you were a similar age when he abused you. You also recognize that your mother did not protect you when you were a child and you have no reason to expect her to protect your children now.

You will have to make your own decisions, but it's great you're asking for other people's ideas. I'm glad to share my ideas, but I'm going to be pretty direct because, as you pointed out, your concern for your children is serious.

You cannot leave your stepfather alone with the kids, even with your mother there. Threatenning your step father with reporting him to the authorities sounds like the right thing to do. However having a tactful but firm talk with your mother and stepfather and having your mother come alone would be safest (it will be up to you to screen anyone your kids will have contact with while in her care since your mother can't be counted on to protect them). I assume that if you have a partner you have shared your own experience and your currents fears with them. Ask for your partner to support you the way that would help you most- be on the phone with you or in the background when you talk to your mom/stepdad, enforce and support your decision, talk things over with you, go to therapy with you, etc.

Telling other family members that you trust and breaking the secret also sounds like a good idea, although it would have been easier for you to have paved the way earlier-I know that's hard to do. You are in a period in your life where stability and support would be most helpful so these need to be weighed thoughtfully. The same goes for telling your daughter, it will likely be quite upsetting for her, but if your stepfather is around her (supervised, and not by your mother) she needs to know appropriate v.s. inappropriate behavior, to not be alone with him, to be able to say no, and to tell you and her other parent or any safe (designated by you) adult/s.

Talking to a therapist could really help validate and reinforce your healthy instinct to protect your children and help you talk over different ideas about how to handle this. You should know though that if you tell a therapist, or any mandated reporter (on duty) about this, they will need to report if someone who has abused children in the past has access to children now. And actually you will be expected to use your best judgement as a mother and protect your children from the known risk of being alone with your stepdad (including if your mother is present).

You didn't have a healthy role model in your mother in terms of protecting her children. You have the right instict and empathy for your own children though-you're right , this is a serious matter-follow your instinct and don't compromise. (a little caveat: if I sound like a therapist it's becuase I am, however this is not meant as professional advice, just human concern. I recommend you hire a therapist-make sure they're qualified in this area.)

Best of luck with your family and your new baby. Your kids are lucky to have you! Vicki

I feel compelled to respond to this request for advice. This is my first post on this board.

I write from the perspective of an adult survivor of child sexual abuse (at the hands of a neighbor), so please take my thoughts with the compassion and sense of understanding with which they are offered. My advice is simple -- protect your daughter in the way you yourself should have been protected -- keep the perpetrator away from her.

You cannot negotiate with a perpetrator nor will threats work to keep him from continuing to perpetrate. If your mother was in denial about what was going on when you were a child, there is no reason to expect that her awareness is any different at this point. After all, she is still with the man who perpetrated sexual abuse against you.

It would also be inappropriate to put your daugther in the position of being the one responsible to prevent sexual abuse from happening to her. You did not cause it to happen to you and nothing you did or didn't do at the tender age of 10 could have prevented it.

It sounds like you are in a situation in which you feel that you must turn to your mother and the perpetrator for support because you do not have family in the area. Please, please question this assumption. Have you really reached out to your friends? Have you considered hiring a doula to help? Are there other families from your daughter's school (whom you know and trust) who might be with her during the labor?

You are the parent now and you can take action to protect your daughter in the way you yourself should have been protected. Tell you mother she can come, but he can't. Don't dialogue with her about it, just lay down the law.

Forgive me if I overstep the rules of polite distance in internet communication, but your post makes me worry about your own well-being at all. This man did something unspeakable to you as a child. From what you wrote in your post, you are still protecting him by keeping the abuse a secret from the rest of your family. He doesn't deserve such care. It is you and your daughter who have a right to safety and protection. In my experience, women are extremeley emotionally vulnerable after giving birth. It is such an awesome, often terrifying experience. I would never have been able to be near the man who perpetrated against me during those tender moments after my son was born. It would have been emotionally devastating. You deserve to be taken care of, not to have to engage in the hyper-vigilance you undoubtedly developed as a child to try to avoid abuse. Surround yourself with people who have proven that they know how to treat you with love, compassion, and care. You deserve this all the time, but particularly at one of the most vulnerable moments of your life -- when a new life arrives.

Okay, I'll stop now. Let me recommend a really excellent book for you, though. It's called "The Courage to Heal" by Laura Davis. It is a really helpful way to work on healing from a past of child sexual abuse. One of the things that has been true in my own life and that is addressed by the book is that our experience of child sexual abuse is often triggered as our own children approach the age when we were abused. You are in that phase now and it provides an opportunity (along with the pain) to look at these old wounds to try to heal. Please take care and remember that you and your daughter are worthy of being cared for. Jean

I think you should consider asking your mom to come visit without her husband. Mary

You've asked one of the hardest questions I've ever seen posted here. I'm very sorry you yourself had to go through that experience, and can only imagine the terror you must feel when faced with the possibility that your daughter would go through it as well. My heart truly goes out to you.

Let me start by saying that I'm an attorney working full-time representing CPS in child abuse and neglect cases, so, while I don't have personal experience, I'm very familiar with sexual abuse cases and the dynamics within the families in which it occurs.

The choice between receiving the help you need at a critical time (the birth of your child) and not wanting to alienate your mother or other relatives and protecting your child may feel like the hardest decision you've ever made.

On the other hand, the most important question to ask yourself is how you can best protect your daughter. She's at exactly the "right" age for your step-father to be sexually interested in her. This, to me, means that you can not permit there to be any time in which he is left alone with her. Warning her means making her afraid of him, which is a good thing if he won't be around, but not a good thing if he's a part of your life. Warning him may work, but it may simply make him threaten her all the more severely to never tell anyone what happens or make him come up with more creative bribes for her. It could actually put her in physical danger if he molests her and then believes she may tell you about it. It doesn't sound like talking with your mother will be successful -- if she couldn't/wouldn't protect you from him, why would she be able to do so with your daughter?

Do you have a friend/neighbor/babysitter who can take your daughter for the two or so days you'll be in labor and then in the hospital? That way, your parents can care for your son and your daughter can be safe. I'm assuming that telling your mother that your step-father can't be there when you're not is not something you want to do.

I truly believe that you need to keep your daughter out of harm's way by not permitting there to be any time when your step-father can be alone with her. It's the harshest of the options I can think of, and depending on your circumstances, possibly the hardest to find a way to arrange, but, again, your first priority needs to be protecting your daughter from being molested. You are aware of a very real risk to her physical and emotional safety and need to find a way to protect her.

In addition, the last thing you'll need while in labor and giving birth is to be worried about what might be happening at home when you're not there... I wish you the best of luck, both in dealing with this and in the birth of your new child. Laurel

First of all, I am so sorry about what you must have gone through as a child. I feel very strongly that you should not give your stepfather ANY OPPORTUNITY to have time alone with your daughter. I know you need the help when you go into labor but there must be someone else to stay with your 2 kids. Your mom & stepdad should NOT be left alone with your kids. You already know what your stepdad is capable of. Why take any chances???? The stepdad should definitely NOT be left alone in the house even if your mom is there. Your mom did not protect you as a child so it is not reasonable to think that she could protect your daughter. Please don't take any chances!! If any thing ever happened you'd feel horrible. I have worked with victims of sexual abuse & I know that perpetrators are like addicts in many ways. Perhaps you could hire a doula, ask your closest friend to help...your daughters friends families??? Your mom may be upset if you don't have her care for the kids but she'll get over it much more easily than your daughter would if anything happened. Ruth

After reading your statement, I truly sympathize with your dilemma. I have a little girl, and I cannot think of anything more terrifying than that sort of thing happening to her. I am not an expert on the matter of sexual abuse, but I what I can offer you is my opinion on the little that I know/have read. I have noticed that you seem to have a lot of self doubt. Regardless of what type of prior action/preparation you plan on taking, I don't think you are going to feel one hundred percent secure-or comfortabe at all for that matter- with this man staying in your home. I do not think that you or your daughter can afford to take that kind of risk. Any chance of him laying his hands on her is not worth the inconviences it will cause to uninvite them-or not have them stay with you at all. The damage that would inflict on her is irreversable!

You are going to have enough stress and activity with the arrival of your new baby and you do not need any additional worries. I would not reccommend mentioning anything to your little girl. A nine-year-old does not have the maturity to understand this sort of thing, and she will probably feel afraid of him, or at least subconciously nervous. That is not fair to her. If your own mother is "not capable of handling the situation," then you cannot expect that your daugter will be.

If you think that warning him, and proving to him that you are keeping watch, will prevent him from doing anything, then by all means do what you have to do. This is your daughter - she is depending on you, just as your new baby will be, to protect her and make the best chioces for her.

If there is any part of you-even a small voice in the back of your mind- that is intuitively feeling that this is a bad idea- to have him alone there at all- then I just encourage you to remember where it came from in the first place. Best of luck to you and your family. KT

Tell your mother not to bring your stepfather when she comes. You and your kids DO NOT need to deal with him. If your mother won't leave him at home, find someone else to help you out. Break the cycle of abuse! Don't let you children become victims like you were. Don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings. Protect your kids the way your mother couldn't! Ellen

Oh no! Please don't set your daughter up like this. You must tell your mother not to bring her husband or find somebody else for your daughter AND YOUR SON to stay with. Do you really want to have your abuser in your home, making him welcome and comfortable anyway?

Please don't assume that you can keep your eye on them all the time. You will have to sleep and will you know whose bedroom he is in while you are sleeping? You already know that your mother will not stop him, so you can't depend on her for this in anyway.

Please don't assume that what he will do to your daughter will be the same as what he did to you. He may do more, go farther, do more damage.

Please don't assume that you are the only sibling this happened to. You say your siblings don't know what happened. By the same token, you may not know what happened to them!

Please don't assume that your step-father's interest is confined to little girls. You don't mention any concern for your little boy, but he could also be in danger.

Please don't expect that a warning from anybody will stop him. There is a compulsive nature to this type of behavior. Warned or not, if an opportunity arises in which he thinks he can get away with it, he will do it. He may not even think about the future or the possibility of getting caught, once the opportunity is in front of him. And, after all, his experience is that he can do it, people can know, and so what? Did he ever suffer for what he did to you?

If your mother won't come without her husband, can you find somebody else to help you? Do you have a friend or a church that might be able to provide some assistance? I know it may seem like a lot of trouble, but you must protect your children from this man. You survived his abuse and have a normal life, but that doesn't mean your daughter (or son) will.

If you cannot avoid the visit, consider having your husband stay at home to protect his children in their dire need and having a doula go to labor with you. I'll bet you can find a doula who would give you a greatly discounted rate, or volunteer if you explained your circumstances. Laurel

I do not think you should allow your stepfather to visit. You cannot put your daughter in harms way. There is no middle ground here. You have to be strong for your daughter. You will have to tell your mother why you can't have them in the home, there is no way to tip toe around this issue.

If this means you don't have her staying and helping during your first months of life with your new child, so be it, make other help arrangements. This is a time to stand up and be strong.

I find it hard to believe you would even consider it. You MUST protect your daughter and NEVER allow your stepfather to be alone with your children (or other children for that matter). That is HIS punishment and HIS fault. Don't be nice about this. Your DAUGHTER is yours to treasure and PROTECT. JoAnne

You should, under no circumstances allow this man into your house without your watchful eye present at all times. You would be abandoning her to possible sexual abuse by a proven pederast, and, as you said, there would be no protection.

I was abused by my father for much of my young life (until I left home). The effects are literally "stunning". You know this. Do not repeat the cycle. There are lots of accepted secrets running through your family, and I understand the conflict of upsetting a whole family with an injection of truth. We were forced to live with my parents after our house burned down. My little girl was 4 and a half. Beautiful. Affectionate. I decided to make sure I knew exactly where SHE was at all times, and kept my eye on my father. I also took him aside before we moved in, and I read him the riot act. I told him that whether or not he would admit his past abuse, I knew it to be true, and that if he should dare to come NEAR my daughter, let alone lay a hand on her, I would personally explode the silence, report him..... or kill him.

But I was present. I never never never left my children alone with him in the house, even if my mother was there with him. My mother, for whatever internal reasons, like yours, could not and would not see what was happening. You will not be present, and you cannot allow anyone but yourself or someone you trust absolutely to be the guardian and protector. Forbid their coming, and if necessary, give the ugly reason. Don't waver. Maybe one of the other family members you mentioned could come. Maybe you can hire a short term nanny to care for the children while you are away.

Telling your daughter? She is not old enough to protect herself. The conflict is horrendous. We remember it, don't we! The responsibility is far too burdensome. If the man wants to abuse her, he will, no matter how aware of the problem she is.

I will be thinking about you and sending my protective thoughts. Tobie

Why will you allow a known child molester to stay in your house? I'm amazed at how calm you sound about this... You are obligated to protect your children from harm -- Your own mother didn't protect you, but that doesn't release you from the obligation. As a new mom you also need to feel safe and secure -- and I can't believe you would be able to sleep with that man in your house. I'm not clear on how you would rationalize leaving your kids with your mom -- knowing that she is incapable of protecting them. Heather

Please do not let your stepfather anywhere near your daughter. If your mother will not come alone, can you ask a friend or babysitter or the children's teachers to help you with the children? Or ask your mother to come with you to the hospital and leave your husband with the children. Even though I do not know you, I would watch your children for you rather than have you resort to letting your stepfather around them unsupervised. Be the protector you wish you had had for your children. Laura

It seems quite clear that you don't feel secure about any of the alternatives you've posed, and with good reason. You believe your stepfather capable of repeating the behavior today; your mother didn't protect you then and can't be counted on for your daughter. It would be totally unfair to expect your daughter to be responsible for the situation, in effect, you would be repeating your mother's behavior. I see only two choices; perhaps others will have additional suggestions: either your mother comes alone, or you hire someone to help with the kids. No matter how impossible either of those might seem, they couldn't be more costly than the effect on your daughter - and you - if she were abused when you knew it was a possibility. Dana

My advice is simple: Do not invite your mother's husband. Dis-invite him if he's already been invited. If your mother insists on coming with him, dis-invite them both. You can manage without them! Turn to your friends. Find a friend or babysitter for the few days that you and your husband may both be in the hospital. Does your son go to nursery school? Your son and daughter may be able to stay overnight with a classmate. Help from relatives is a lovely ideal, but not always possible or worth the extra problems it may cause. Many people have children without the benefit of help from relatives. This is not something you should be worrying about, and certainly not a situation you should knowingly put your nine-year-old daughter into. Bonnie H.

I am sure that there will be several responses to this question, and I believe that the general consensus will be the same. Do not let the stepfather stay with the children...end of story. That would be the ONLY way to ensure that your daughter does not fall prey to him. Even if he has 'changed', it would be all to tempting with his past track record. I would not allow him in my home without 24-7 supervision of my children by either myself or my husband and that would still make me uncomfortable. So, either your mother comes alone or not at all. Because even when you are home after the delivery, unless your husband would be home the WHOLE time they would both be there, it would be practically impossible for you to supervise your children all day every day...especially since the reason that she was coming was to relieve you of some of your parenting duties in order to get rest and care for the new baby.

I would suggest asking a friend to watch your other children or a few friends who could take turns. And if you have a problem with the two to four overnight stay at the hospital, your husband could go home every evening (with the exception of the first evening if the labor and delivery lasts well in the night) to be with the children thus relieving your babysitters. And if you don't have friends that can do this, how about getting recommendations on babysitters. I would offer to watch your children myself, but 1) you don't know me and 2) I am due with my second child very soon as well.

PLEASE, PLEASE find another way to care for your children during that time!! It would be a tragedy to allow any harm to come to your children...and you should know. Sherri

In response to how to protect your daughter from a sexually abusive relative I would like to say the best way to protect your daughter and son is to not let your step father come to your house, especially if you are not going to be able to supervise your children 34 hours a day. That may sound like a harsh alternative but it is the best way to protect your children. Remember if anything happened to your children you would be responsible since you are aware if your step father's ability to harm them. Don't even take a chance with their safety. Kari

I can't believe that you would even consider having this man anywhere near your daughter if he sexually abused you. Give yourself a break from all this torment and worry by making OTHER ARRANGEMENTS for your children while you are in the hospital. Of course all children should be given information to avoid abuse, but I don't think there is anything that you can say to you daughter to explain why you would knowingly put her or her siblings in a situation with so much potential risk. You stated that you have a close relationship with other relatives-- ask them to take care of your children, but by all means DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN ALONE WITH A KNOWN CHILD ABUSER. I'm sure that you know in your heart that you shouldn't do that, or you would not have written. It sounds like you might benefit from some counseling to heal some of the wounds left by the abuse at the hands of your stepfather. Write back if you want to talk more about this. Michele

Dear Parent of the Nine Year Old Girl, It is apparent that you want to do the safe and protective thing for your daughter, while simultaneously getting help from your mom when you have your new baby. First thing is you CANNOT invite your step father to stay at your home. It is completely innappropriate to have him there with either of your children given what you said he did to you. This is your oppurtunity to stop the abuse. DO NOT subject your daughter or son to him. Protect them from what you went through as a child. Your mother did not protect you, but you are an aware and protective mother now. Please protect your children. In fact, if you need to disinvite your mother do so. If she will only come with her husband, then let her know she can't come. PLease ask other friends to help you with child care at your birth, hire a babysitter, whatever it takes, but do not subject your children to abuse. Please get counseling for yourself as well, if you have not already done so. This will help you protect your children and heal yourself from what happened to you. You can make the appropriate decision here. Do it. Mary

Please do not have your 9 year old daughter in the house with your step father ever! Even when you and your husband are home from the hospital. As you know sexual predators are very good at sneaking around. Actually if your stepfather is ever in contact with any children you should report him to the state authorities. Do your children have friends with whom they can stay overnight when you go into labor? Does your mother know you were sexually abused as a child? If she does, you should just tell her to come visit on her own. I'm sure this is a heavy issue for you to be worrying about at this time. It sound difficult. I don't think you should take any risks with your daughter. amy

I am so sorry that you had such an unfortunate experience with your mother's husband. I strongly believe that under no circumstances should you allow him to visit your family. The danger is too, too great that he may repeat past behaviors with your children, and this is a risk you cannot afford to take for your daughter's sake. Warning your daughter about his potential bad behavior would send her a mixed message--If he's so bad that he warrants a warning, why is he coming to your home at all?? Nothing is worth that sort of anxiety, nothing is worth that sort of risk. If your mother can't come without him, I would venture so far as to say that she should not come either. Don't subject yourself to his presence at such a vulnerable time for you and your family. elizabeth

I would not suggest having the relative in your house at all for any reason! You would only be inviting something to happen to your daughter. Tell your mother she is welcome to come ALONE. I would not for any reason put your daughter anywhere near this man. I realize you will need help when the baby is born, however, the chance that something might happen to your daughter should outweigh any benefits of help. Don't you remember the trauma you went through? I would think that you would do anything in your power to prevent this from happening to your daughter or anyone. Sinkent

This is regarding the woman who wonders whether she should leave her 9 year old daughter with her step-father, who had sexually abused her when she was younger. I am a pediatrician, and I enjoy relativly long term relationships with my patients. I have no doubt that if you leave your daughter with this man and anything happens, it will not only be traumatic...and dangerous, but she will eventually blame YOU for the abuse. You seem to have forgiven your mother for your childhood, but this is the exception, not the norm. I can't imagine intentionally leaving a child at such risk. Your stepfather should not spend any time alone with children. Your mother seems clueless. If you cannot find a friend to stay with your children, hire a babysitter. The money is irrelevent when it comes to protecting your daughter. Dorit

As a parent it is your job to protect your child from a known abuser. I would not allow your step father to come to your house and assist in the care of your child during the time that you are in labor with your third child. I would also highly recomend doing some counseling on this issue or at the least do some reading on the subject. Shoshana

If you don't want to alert any of your family members immediately, then maybe you can arrange for your daughter to stay with one of her friends' families (from school, etc.) and explain it as a "sleepover" to your mom and stepfather? Does your husband know anything about it? I would suspect that he would not want your daughter (or your son) to be near your stepfather. Given the upcoming birth of your new baby, perhaps you don't want to start anything that may cause you undue stress, but it appears that you have a serious situation in your hands and on your mind, and that you should seek professional help in this matter.

I come from a family where a close relative has been accused of molesting my sister. I don't leave this relative alone with my child (a girl, although I would do the same with a boy) and I don't trust my mother (who lives with this relative) to be there to supervise. I feel quite strongly that it would be dangerous for you to allow your mother's husband to be alone with your children. A child can be molested in a few minutes -- and your mother can't be in all places at once, besides the fact that you state that she failed to protect you as a child. People who molest children are manipulative -- your nine year old daughter is too young for the burden of warding off this We often forgo the free child care that my parents could provide because I am just not willing to take any kind of chance that my child could be harmed. You'd be better off on your own in the hospital (I know that this is a strong statement!) but knowing that your children were safe. Or, could you afford to pay a babysitter for the time you needed your husband? The molest in our family has caused years of pain and thousands in therapy bills.

You must keep your step-father away from your children. Such a person cannot be trusted, regardless of what he says. If you haven't already, please inform your husband of your experiences of abuse so that you will have his understanding and support. You also must tell your mother of what happened to you as a child.

You also must educate your children that it is never okay for anyone to touch them in their private areas, regardless of who it is, and that they should immediately tell you if it ever happens. You should assure them that you will not be upset at them if they let you know about such things regardless of who it is and what they say.

I definitely would never allow such a person near my children, despite any promises of having changed.

I do not have any specialized knowledge about sexual abuse, but I am, like you, a mom of a young child. Here is what I'd do if faced with your dilemma: If I knew from my own experience that a person was prone to sexual abuse, I would not let that person near my child at all. If everybody's at a family visit, I would have myself or my husband present at all times and absolutely NOT let my children near this person while alone. Knowing that your mother didn't protect you or others means that she can't be trusted with the safety of your child, sad as that is. At the age of 9, your daughter may be too young to be burdened by hearing about your history with this person. So talking to her about this situation may not make sense right now, although I would still make sure she gets the same general training that all our kids get about what's appropriate touching, etc. I would arrange other child care or family help during the birth, with people I could trust and tell that that no home visits between the grandparents are allowed while you're away. Let your mother stay with some other family members or in a B&B nearby. I would also tell any family members about my history with this person, if they had children who could be potentially harmed. I'm sorry for your past trauma and grateful that you are not letting it be repeated.

It's great that you care so much about your kids and are determined to keep the same type of abuse from happening to your children. I wouldn't want that man to set foot in the house personally. Nothing is worth worrying about a child being molested while I'm helpless having another one at the hospital. There are doulas, babysitters, and many other sources available if you need it enough. If your husband doesn't know about the situation, he probably should know since he's also responsible to care for the kids welfare. If you must have abusive people in the home while you're away, perhaps your husband could stay with the kids while your mother helps you in labor. I've also found that a doula was much more helpful than my husband during my labor. A good one is Laura Wilks in Benicia or Vallejo. You may also be able to get more professional guidance on this issue via a sexual abuse hotline. Good luck to you!

I would seriously reconsider having your mom and her husband come during the time of the new baby's birth. On a practical level, you will be worrying about what is happening to your daughter during a time when you want to be concentrating on the birth and bringing the new baby into the family. Also, unless your mother's husband has gone through a serious treatment program, he is quite likely to re-offend. By allowing him to be in your house when you and your husband won't be there, you are putting your daughter in a very risky situation. Is it possible to have your children stay with their friends when the baby is being born? Or with friends of you and your husband? Or, if you put your foot down would your mother come without her husband?

You're responding as if you have no power in this situation. You do. You may have been too young to stop your stepfather's behavior when you were ten, but that's no longer the case. You have a responsibility to your daughter and to yourself NOT to leave your daughter with someone who you believe may harm her. Sexual abuse is a horrible, traumatic experience that you live with forever. It damages your future ability to trust, to love, to be sexual, to value yourself and your body, to set boundaries, to be psychologically free.

Think about how you would you feel if your daughter were sexually abused by your step-father? You would then have to live with your pain as well as hers, and you would have played a role in passing on the pain and suffering endemic to sexual abuse survivors. It's not worth it. Tell your step father to stay home.

In terms of you telling your mother or step siblings . . . Allegations of sexual abuse can create serious divisions within families, particularly if certain family members are in denial about the perpetrators behavior. You should think about whether this is the right time for you to raise the issue, or if it might be better to raise it at a time when you are less vulnerable (i.e. having a child and being away from your daughter) and have more emotional energy.

I am appalled at the thought that anyone would ever knowingly put their child at ANY risk for abuse. Spare both your daughter and yourself and figure out some other arrangement for your children while you are in the hospital. I realize that you don't have other family nearby, but I'm sure that other people you know would be willing to help out under the circumstances. Pay someone one to stay with your kids, ask for advice on this listserve about who might be able to help out while you are in the hospital, have your husband stay home with the kids, have the kids sleep at the hospital, have friends take the children for a few days -- whatever it takes. This is the rest of your daughter's life -- don't jeapordize it.

I am not yet a mom, so perhaps I have no standing to speak on this. Nevertheless, as someone who has dealt with the issues of sexual predators in the family, I may have some useful feedback for you. I am wondering why your stepfather needs to accompany your mother on her visit. Considering your past with him, I would think that you have grounds to worry about leaving him alone with your children. You may have to choose between protecting his feelings and protecting your children. Can you ask him to stay home until you can be there to make sure that your children stay safe? Failing that, can you have your mother postpone her visit until you are home and able to watch over your daughter? Even if you have to hire a post-partum doula, or pay for extra childcare, you may find this a worthwhile tradeoff.

I was a child who was molested by a relative while my mother and father were in the hospital giving birth to my sister. Not only have I carried emotional scars from this, I have never forgiven my sister for being born!! (Now that I am an adult, I have a good relationship with her, but the molestation certainly took its toll on us). In my opinion, you could be endangering all your children and your family's well being by allowing your stepfather unsupervised access to them. Have you seen any evidence that your stepfather has changed, or regrets his past actions, or even acknowledges them? There could be reasons for you to trust him now, but if you have no evidence that he has changed, why would you risk this?

One more opinion -- it is not your daughter's job to keep herself safe from your stepfather. When children are abused, there is often a sense of shame and secrecy that accompanies the abuse. How much worse would that be if your daughter thought that anything that might happen was her fault because you had warned her!

I would hope you could think of what your mother is offerring you, and at what cost. There is no way of knowing what will happen, but you probably have a good sense of what the risk can be. If you have not confronted anyone in your family of origin about your experience, you have no way of knowing how they would respond to a challenge now. It is utterly up to you to decide what kind of relationship you want with your stepfather and mother now. You may not ever want to confront them, or you may want to confront them at a less stressful time. Things like this often bring up lots of issues about alliances and loyalties ....like your Mom having to choose between protecting you or protecting her husband, or you having to choose between protecting your relationship with your Mom and Stepfather at a potential risk to your childern. To me, though, the risk of ignoring the situation and hoping for the best sound really high.

In any event, sexual abuse in a family is a hard subject, and is bound to bring up stress all around. I am sorry that it happened to you, and wish for you as much peace and strength around it as you can glean. Good luck with your upcoming birth, and all the decisions you must make around it.

Do not let this man into your home when you and your husband are gone. You will be setting your daughter up to go through the same nightmare you experienced when you were ten! Warning her about him will terrify her and will be ineffective; what would you have done with this information when you were her age? You cannot protect her from him when you are not there. The fact that these are your only nearby relatives does not mean that you have to invite a child molester into your home! I feel for you and I don't know exactly what you went through as a child, but I can imagine. I know you do not want the same thing to happen to your daughter.

If you haven't already told your mother, tell her. Tell her again until she understands. Either way you have to let her know your VALID reason for not allowing she and her husband to look after your children while you are in the hospital. There must be some trusted friend or neighbor who would be a far better choice than your step-father. I don't think you have a choice in this matter. I am sorry.

I don't know much about these kind of family dynamics. But my first thought, on reading your post, was to have another adult in the house at the same time. Perhaps one of your daughter's playmates could come over that night, along with a parent (if you are close enough to talk to the parent about what's happening). You could then just explain to your parents that your daughter wanted to have a playmate over on this special ocassion. Or perhaps your daughter could go to a playmate's house on the day/night in question--again with the explanation to your parents that this is a special occasion.

As a pregnant mom I know very well how hard it is to plan to leave your children to go into the hospital, even under normal circumstances. I certainly wouldn't leave your daughter alone in the house with the man, even with your mother there. Just the potential of what could happen would be crazy-makign in the hospital.

Please don't take the risk of leaving your daughter unsupervised with your step-father! I don't think you'd be able to live with yourself if he behaved inappropriately toward your daughter. I think she is too young to be expected to fend off his advances. She might resent your leaving her with someone you know is a child molester. It seems that you cannot rely on your mother to protect your daughter. I wouldn't risk relying on a warning to your step-father. Your main concern, in my opinion, should be to keep your daughter safe. Isn't there anyone else who could watch your kids for you while you're in the hospital? A babysitter or neighbor or the parent of one of your children's friends? Possibly a co-worker? I'd rather have my husband at home if that would ensure my daughter's safety. Why does your step-father have to come at all? Please consider all of your options.

Personally, I would not allow that man to stay in my house with my children there. Please try to find other means of child care or talk your mother into coming alone. But if both parents must come to your house, then it is your responsibility to warn BOTH of your children of the danger you are placing them into. Tell them exactly what to watch out for and not to leave themselves alone with that man. Tell your husband the concerns you have and make sure he keeps an eye on both of your children. If you are uncomfortable with warning your step-father of this issue, then bring up the issue of sexual abuse and let both of your parents know about the talks you have had with your children regarding sexual abuse and that you have told your children to call the police or tell a parent or teacher if anyone, no matter who they are, attempt to touch them in a bad way. This will let your step-father know that your kids are not naive and will inform others of his inappropriate behavior. Trust me, your step-father will most likely try to molest your daughter because he will see you in her.

Please do NOT allow this man to stay in the same house with your daughter. Do not ever allow him to be alone with her. You personally know the anguish that sexual abuse can cause. Please find some way - ANYWAY - to avoid possibly exposing your daughter to this lifelong trauma. Find another trusted adult to stay with the kids. Perhaps your mother can come without him. Make reservations at a hotel for them if you have to. But please say no to this man's stay in your home - use any excuse you can think of. Good for you for reaching out with your concerns! Trust your instincts! You won't regret it.

Under no circumstances would I allow your mother's husband in your house without your supervision at any time!!!! I urge you to stand up to your mother and tell her that she is welcome, but her husband is not, and why. I understand you are pregnant and vulnerable right now, but the safety and protection of your children comes first--everyone else's feelings are irrelevant.

Sexual abusers are opportunistic. They will get up in the middle of the night or do anything possible to create opportunities to gain access to their intended victim. If you do not keep him out of your house and away from your children they will be molested. Period. Furthermore, you could be held responsible if Child Protective Services finds out you are aware of this man's behaviors and still left your children in his care. Your mother is probably in denial regarding his behaviors and will thus have no problem leaving the children alone with him to run errands. If he has the opportunity to molest your daughter (or your son), and your children know that you are aware of his tendencies, THEY WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!

I was married to someone for 5 years who was sexually inappropriate with our sons. I did everything possible to not leave the children in his care, yet he still found opportunities to touch them inappropriately--even in the presence of others. After we were separated, I allowed him to spend one night on my couch the first Xmas eve because he wanted to be part of their Xmas morning. I awoke in the middle of the night to find him "snuggling" with my son, whose diaper had been removed. I thought my presence would have been enough to protect my children. I was wrong.

I urge you: Do not let your mother's husband accompany her. He should not be welcome in your home--especially at a time when you are vulnerable and need help, not problems. GOOD LUCK.

Absolutely do not leave your daughter in a situation in which she could be abused. There must be some other solution to your child care situation when you have your baby. You will be unable to watch your stepfather and will have difficulty following up on any threats you might make about reporting because the baby will take up your time, attention and energy. Why do you want to deal with such an awful situation while you are having a baby?

Although it is wonderful to have your husband there when you have a baby, if his absence from home endangers one or more of your children, it would be better for you to do without him. What does your husband think about this situation? Can you afford to hire a birth coach and/or doula? Do you have a friend who can help with birth support and/or with the children? It's been my experience that people are thrilled to be asked to participate in a birth.

Although you were abused, your daughter has not yet suffered in this way. If you protect her, you have an opportunity to break the cycle of abuse and begin a new way of living. I was sexually abused by my father. When I realized my children were becoming old enough to notice that he still behaved improperly towards me, I cut off my relationship with him. This was a harsh step, but necessary. He never had the opportunity to abuse my children. They have grown up to be well-adjusted people who never missed knowing their grandfather because they had close relationships with healthier adults.

I urge you--do not compromise--do whatever is necessary to protect your children from abuse. This may involve doing some very difficult things, but you will be greatly rewarded by knowing you have protected your children from serious harm and by being part of their lives as they grow up to be healthy adults. As a mother of almost-grown children, I can tell you that the price I paid to raise these children well was worth it.

I can't believe you would even let that man in your house! You mother didn't protect you, why would she protect your daughter? "Talking" to him won't prevent a thing. Find someone else to watch the kids when you are in labor and don't let your molester visit. You're the mother and you need to protect your kids.

I would not allow this man in my home while away. I would not expect my mother to be capable of protecting my daughter from him if she could not protect me. If you have no other resources, take your children to the hospital with you. Your OB may welcome them in participating in your baby's birth. DO NOT QUESTION YOUR INTUITION! You have good reason to believe your children may not be safe.

How about explaining your dilemma to your mother and insisting that she can only come 'help' you postpartum if she leaves her husband behind? (I don't see how it will 'help' you in any way postpartum if you have to be worried about your daughter because your stepfather is there.) Please, please, please do NOT merely warn your daughter to be vigilant about this man. It should NOT be her responsibility to protect herself. This is what adults are supposed to do for children. Besides which, what could she possibly do to stop him? (You were unable to stop him when you were little.) The whole reason it is abuse is that he is more powerful than she is. I'm worried that if you warn her and then leave her to her own devices she will only feel more guilty if something happens. Since you know your mother was not aware/able to stop the abuse with you I would not count on her to do a better job with her grandchildren. Why take this risk?

I would not let that man be alone with either of my kids, ever. Why don't you tell your mother about the abuse, and about your concerns for your own children? When innocent children are at risk, you cannot be concerned with hurting anyone's feelings. Your mother will deal with it, she is an adult. Children are another story. Think about your own experience and how much better it would have been for you if someone had known about the impending abuse and had protected you from it.

Explain that you hope she understands why you do not want him to come with your mother to visit. You could also confront him and tell him straight out that you do not want him alone with your kids because of what he did to you, so he is not invited. If your mother refuses to come alone, then find a friend to come and help you with the baby if you really need it, and plan a trip to bring the baby to her sometime in the future.

I would be very wary of this man, even if the abuse happened a long time ago you cannot be sure it won't reoccur. Your children are too important to take any chances. Please keep them away from this man!

Telling your daughter to be alert in general is a good idea; but given the situation, I would not bring a potentially dangerous person into the house and then warn her to be careful. This would probably only scare her and make her wonder why she has to be afraid of someone who has been invited into her own house. A 9-year old should not have to deal with that kind of thing.

To the woman afraid of her stepfather being around her kids, why does he even have to come? If it was me, he'd never set foot in my house or around my children. Period. You sound very accomodating to me, given the circumstances. Maybe I'm missing something. I realize it may cause you to lose one or more relationships with your family, but your kids should come first. Your kids are too important to take the chance that something will happen. I'm not trying to sound mean or condescending, but the choice is really clear to me. Good luck. Maybe you should talk to a professional.

I must admit, I am extremely shocked that you would even have this man within 5 miles of your house. He should not be alone with children, and you know your mother did a very poor job of protecting you. I am sure it has caused all kinds of psychological; problems for you, why would you want your daughter to go through that? What he did to you hasn't even been acknowledged or disclosed. My advice, do not let him stay with you or take care of your children at all. Even if it means losing your mother's help.

Why on earth would you even consider putting your daugther at risk with your mother's husband???!!! You MUST let him know that he can't stay at your house. Don't scare your poor daughter by bringing this up with her!!! If you feel that some visiting is necessary, ALWAYS have another adult (besides your mother) with your girl. This person must be alerted to the situation, even if it brings up old skeletons. As far as alerting this man that you'll be reporting him if he tries anything??? Much to late. You would never forgive yourself if you were too polite to protect your daughter. Don't let what happened to you happen to her.

I am sure that I am not the only person who read your dillema and thought you and your family need serious help. The intricate web of denial in your family is disgusting. I imagine that the posting was a cry for help, so then ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why are you or your husband allowing anyone in to your home that potentially can (oh, and by the way, no doubt will) hurt your children? 2. Why are you entertaining your mother as "coming to help". She abused you just like the molester by turning a blind eye. This is the woman who was supposed to protect you, and now you want her to "help" you with YOUR children? 3. Why are these abusive people still in your life? (Obviusly you have not undergone any counceling with them) 4. How can you allow them in your childrens life?

The cycle of violence doesn't end when it is kept secret. Like most victims, you probably feel shameful and blame yourself on many levels. Please seek help! For you and your children! Do yourself the biggest favor of your life and cancel their trip. How can you stand to have these abusive and very sick people in your home when you bring your brand new beautiful innocent child home?

Easy, don't bring a sexually abusive relative near your children. I can't believe that you would consider having this man in your house with your daughter without you there. It has been proven that your mother will not protect anyone from him. Do you think talking to someone like this will prevent them from doing whatever it is they are driven to do. Why would you even consider risking your daughter's safety. Don't scare her by warning her, just keep the creep far away from her. Tell your mom to come by herself or not at all. I had two kids with out any help from relatives, you'll manage just fine. But please don't risk your daughter or your son.

First, my heart goes out to you as you are having to deal with balancing two immensely important things: 1) your desire for ongoing meaningful contact with your family (you're choosing to have them [or at least your mother and she may come as a package deal with her husband] around during one of the most important times of your life).2) The desire to care for and protect your children whom you love dearly. It's a hell of a choice and one which I have struggled with a number of times. In addition there is the question of how to balance love and forgiveness of your mother/ her husband with the need to protect your children.

A short answer is that the only way to keep your son and daughter safe is to a) have a responsible adult who would stand up to your mother's husband supervise him and your two children every minute he's around or b) to keep him away from them altogether.

Warning your daughter (and what about your son?) may scare her to death and not prevent her getting molested anyway. And what about your son? Just because you only know he molested females in the past does not mean that your son is safe (I speak from experience.) Asking your mother to handle the situation when you suspect she can't do so may well also not protect them (and she didn't protect you so who's to say that keeping things together with her husband isn't more importnat than keeping her children and grand-children safe?). Warning him not to do this will not guarantee that he does not molest them no matter what he says. I see the bottom line of my responsibility as a parent to prevent such abuse from occuring no matter what that takes. Once I parked my bike outside a store but did not lock it. I did keep glancing out the door every few seconds to make sure it was safe. I watched it being stolen but was unable to stop the thief as he rode away. Ever since then, if I don't want something to happen, I simply make sure that it cannot happen.

I too was sexually abused by relatives and teachers and can say that the scars will not go away in this lifetime. And I too have chosen to continue to have contact with relatives who were variously physically, sexually, and/ or emotionally abusive(for the sake of having at least some sense of family in my life. I have also cut off contact completely with my most abusive relatives.) My decision has been to never NEVER NEVER leave my children in a room alone for a minute with anyone whom I know has been an abuser or whom I suspect of having the potential for being physically, sexually, or emoptionally abusive.

Given 1) that your mother will not be able to always keep her eyes on two children and her husband, 2) you know that he is dangerous and may choose to molest your children, 3) you care about your children, several solutions come to mind:

1) uninvite him or them and ask them to come to visit after the birth when they can help with the new baby

2) find somewhere else (safe) for your children to stay while you and your husband are at the hospital- with friends?

3) make the decision that your children's safety is more important than your having your husband's support during the birth and find a dear friend to come with you to the hospital for the birth so your husband can protect your older kids.

You have an obligation to your daughter to protect her from this man. She should not be left alone with your mother and stepfather. I would either tell him not to come or find a place where your daughter can stay while you will not be there. Send her to stay with a friend you can trust and make an excuse to your mother if you have to.

I empathize with your situation, and my heart goes out to you. You are faced with a colossal situation at a difficult time. I don't know how much to stress to you that in your place there would be absolutely no circumstances under which I would let your stepfather in the house in your absence and in the absence of your husband. Even telling him or having someone tell him that any abuse he commits will be reported to the authorities seems like a mistake. You are not protecting your daughter; you are threatening him. You are endangering your child by letting him into your house. Is it worth letting him rape her for the sake of reporting the crime afterwards? I think she would feel very betrayed and abandoned by her parents if they left to have a new baby and left her with a known sexual predator.

There are a couple of solutions to this difficult situation. 1. Refuse to let your stepfather come. Tell people why if they ask. 2. Have your husband stay home with your children as often as possible and arrange for a responsible, unbiased adult who is aware of the situation (even if you have to pay him or her) to be present at all times during your husband's absence.

I will emphasize again that it is your duty to protect your child, and this seems like a situation where you run the risk of endangering her. I think this is more important than not offending family members. I have the same problem with my brother being around my children (he wrote in a letter that he is hopelessly attracted to very young girls and that he was once accused of molesting a ten-year-old retarded girl). I am as nice as I can be and include him in everything I can, but I refuse to endanger my children by leaving him alone with my children, even for a few moments. This doesn't mean that he can't have a meaningful relation with them; it's just that I have to set certain boundaries to keep their environment safe. Best of luck.

Not to be too preachy but please please please do whatever you have to do to keep your stepfather away from your daughter. If this means physically sending her to spend time somewhere else while he is in town, please do it. It may save your daughter tremendous grief and trauma if he does manage to abuse her, so please do anything you can do to prevent it. Speaking as an incest survivor I know how this kind of thing can haunt a person for the rest of their lives. Is there a friend you can trust to send her to while you're at the hospital? If you belong to a church or temple your minister or rabbi might be able to help you find someone to watch her. Please don't expose her to the risk of abuse from this sexual predator!

I gather from your letter that asking your mother NOT to come with her husband is not an option. That surely would be the best one. Please, please do anything in your power not to allow this man to be alone with your nine-year-old daughter, or worse, to be in a situation where abuse could happen and another adult is around allowing her tacit consent. If necessary, have your husband stay home when you are in labor and have a friend go with you. The burden of protecting herself should not be on your daughter, i.e., warning her to stay away from him. Of course, she should be trained in general to be aware of inappropriate touching, but given that you know the risk is VERY high, she shouldn't be put in that situation at all.

Given that you've never confronted your stepfather yourself, you are clearly still living with the effects of the abuse. Your mother did not protect you from this man. Do not make the same mistake with your daughter.

I can't believe you would even let that man in your house! You mother didn't protect you, why would she protect your daughter? "Talking" to him won't prevent a thing. Find someone else to watch the kids when you are in labor and don't let your molester visit. You're the mother and you need to protect your kids.