General Question

raum's avatar

A question for jellies that identify as male...

Asked by raum (9718points) 3 months ago
20 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

Would you be offended if someone you babysat for asked you to not play sardines* with their 5yo daughter?

Because they don’t want to normalize hiding in small spaces with a grown man?

Would you feel offended?
Or would you understand the concern?

What if it’s a family member?
But not blood-related?

* A version of hide and seek where one person hides and whoever finds them crams into their hiding spot with them.

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SavoirFaire's avatar

I would neither be offended nor find it offensive (the difference being that one is a feeling while the other is a moral judgment). The concern has nothing to do with me or my relationship with the child, after all, but with the child’s socialization and how they might generalize from one context to another.

ucancallme_Al's avatar

The parents are your “employer”, do as instructed without question or favour.

Brian1946's avatar

I wouldn’t be offended.

Not only would I understand their concern, I wouldn’t enjoy cramming myself into a small space with or without another living being anyway.

Believe it or not, I’m a groan man, and I prefer wide open alpine spaces- I’d much rather normalize playing hide & seek in Fairytale Meadow, than a closet, an oven, empty refrigerator, or a bathtub.

flutherother's avatar

It’s not something I would do if I were babysitting a five year old child and I’d find it a bit weird if I were asked specifically not to do it. Even ordinary hide and seek might get a bit scary for a five year old when played with an unfamiliar adult.

sorry's avatar

I’ve never heard of this game. I would also never hug or smoosh my big adult body against a little girl I was looking after. If a grown man was doing this at the daycare my niece went to, I’d be asking questions.

stanleybmanly's avatar

What offense do you assume in the request?

gondwanalon's avatar

I wouldn’t be offended because I wouldn’t do it.
It just weird and inappropriate for an adult male to play like that with a little girl.

raum's avatar

Thanks for all of your answers.

The person in question is my niece’s fiancé. He’s a really nice guy and acts much younger than his age. (He’s in his 30’s.) So when he and my niece babysit occasionally they love playing silly games with the kids. Sardines has always been one of her favorite games since my niece was a kid.

I obviously trust him. Otherwise I wouldn’t be letting them babysit. But I also have concerns about normalizing this for my 5yo.

I just don’t want it to sound as if I am accusing him of anything. Any tips on the best way to say this?

nikipedia's avatar

You’re the parent and you get to set the boundaries you want with your kids. You even get to do that if it hurts someone else’s feelings.

But I would challenge your assumptions a little bit here.The problem you’re trying to avoid isn’t your daughter being alone in a small space with a man; the problem you’re trying to avoid is a person being sexually inappropriate with your daughter. A woman can be sexually inappropriate, and sexual misconduct can be in a wide-open room rather than a small space. Moreover, telling this one grownup not to hide in small spaces with your daughter stops THAT grownup; it doesn’t prevent your daughter from being in small spaces with other men—i.e., you are hoping that your daughter generalizes from this to other men, but I think that’s a tall order.

All of that is to say, I think there are better ways to protect your child. In my opinion, the best way to protect your child is to teach her to protect herself. Teach her to listen to her intuition. Teach her to speak up even when it makes other people uncomfortable. Teach her about “tricky people.”

One of my favorite kid books for this issue is Super Duper Safety School. It is very low production value but it hits on some key issues—namely, identifying manipulation and grooming.

raum's avatar

We have had conversations about “tricky people”. And a good deal of that will rely on her intuition and gut. Though I also want to be able to talk about appropriate behaviors that are consistent across the board.

These things can definitely happen in a number of circumstances. But it helps to reduce certain situations.

One of the things we’ve talked about is not going somewhere alone with an adult. Another set of eyes helps. And hiding in sardines kind of becomes an exception.

Another issue is playful touching as a grooming behavior. I’m not saying that he is. But I want to be able to clarify that’s this is not okay for our kid.

But I need to set boundaries with the adults first before we have that discussion.

I appreciate the recommendation.
I’ll definitely check it out. :)

raum's avatar

Oh! I just realized that the author of the book that you recommended is the same person who runs this site that we use. I didn’t realize that she had written a book. Just ordered it. Thanks!

Here’s the site in case anyone else might find it helpful. Really great resource.

jca2's avatar

I would find that game to be a bit odd. I wouldn’t play it, as an adult, with a child of any gender.

When I did Child Protective work, one of the supervisors was telling someone that there are men that will go out with you (“you” meaning a woman) not just because or not only because they like you, but because they like your child. It was not uncommon doing that work to find instances of inappropriate touching or other sexual advances from boyfriends to children of their girlfriends. I’m not saying that your niece’s fiance was doing anything inappropriate, but I would be leery of this game. I’ve never heard of it and if I were the fiance, I wouldn’t be playing it, at the very least because it has a weird look.

The child is put in the middle, if there is something inappropriate going on but yet they like the person doing it (because he’s a family friend or he’s familiar to them and they think he’s their friend, and don’t want to lose his companionship or cause trouble). It’s such a sticky situation.

raum's avatar

Thanks, @jca2.

I do appreciate hearing from your perspective with your experience in Child Protective work. (And from @nikipedia too.)

I think he’s a really nice guy. But I always think of what parents always say when they find out about someone. That they never would have suspected them.

It feels like hubris to assume I would know better than all of those parents somehow. So I’d rather just keep these boundaries consistent across the board.

cheebdragon's avatar

I’ll be completely honest with you, it sounds like a game created by a pedophile to groom victims.

raum's avatar

I can understand that, especially if this is the context that you’re first hearing about this game.

Though it’s actually been around for awhile. And fun to play as a kid. It just gets a little strange when you throw an adult into the mix.

Demosthenes's avatar

It sounds like something that should be played amongst children or with a parent and child. A babysitter, though, seems a little inappropriate, of either gender. I’m not a fan of the stigma against male babysitters but this isn’t that.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I thought sardines was a game for which you need a bunch of toddlers. The adult packs them in the “can” to solicit giggles.

janbb's avatar

@cheebdragon We played sardines as kids. It is not new or intentionally for grooming but I agree I would not want an adult to play it with my kids.

@raum I think I would talk to the niece’s fiance and say that you are working with your children on avoiding difficult situations with adults and since you know he is someone safe and has no ill intent you would like her to practice by him not playing hiding and close encounter games with them.

raum's avatar

I really like this idea. It’s a helpful way to reframe the situation.

Thanks, @janbb!

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