Family can be a complicated thing, especially when there are step-parents involved.
What isn't complicated is wanting to keep your children safe from a known abuser.
One mother took to Reddit for some advice when she found out that her step-grandfather might be moving back to the area.
She was worried about him being around her kids, and how to keep them safe, so she asked the folks over on the subReddit r/Parenting for advice.
style_quest told Redditors the story of her childhood with the man, and asked if she was "overreacting" to his potentially being near her children.
"My grandma remarried when my mom was in middle school to my step-grandpa so I was raised with him being 'grandpa' my whole life. He was abusive toward my mom and her siblings and to his own kids."
"I don't know the full extent of what happened, but enough that I can understand why he doesn't have a great relationship with them anymore."
"My sister and I both experienced him being very inappropriate with us as kids. It started with him walking in on us in the bathroom and looking through the door when we were changing."
"It progressed to touching us in ways we were not comfortable with, to making comments about our bodies as we became teenagers, and trying to get us alone."
Most people would probably agree at this point that she most certainly wasn't overreacting, but it still gets worse.
"There was a time he came up behind me and put his hand up my shirt and I told him to never touch me again."
"That was in college and since that point I have only talked to him a few times and refused physical contact. I think he did more to my sister, but she hasn't confirmed that."
With him living far away, she has been able to cope; she doesn't have to interact with him, and he doesn't spend any time with her children.
"He now lives on the other side of the country from me and I am very happy with that arrangement."
The big problem? He might not be staying on the other side of the country.
style_quest is planning to move her family to be closer to her mother. But her mother is talking about moving her stepfather (the step-grandfather) closer too.
"The problem is I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety lately because my mom has been talking about having him move across the country to live with her since he is having a hard time on his own. My grandmother passed away last summer and now he is alone and no one else is willing to help him out."
"There are good reasons for why no one else wants to be around him. He has a horrible personality, is argumentative, controlling, and angry. But for some reason my mom feels obligated to take care of him."
She felt conflicted about what to do. Her mother watching her kids was of particular concern, as her step-grandfather might end up spending time with them.
"She wants to help out with childcare of my two young children part time while I'm at work. I just don't know what kind of boundaries to set if he does end up moving in with her."
She worries she may be "overreacting."
Minimizing past trauma is a common (if fairly unhealthy) coping skill.
"On one hand it would be really helpful to have her watching the little ones (3 and 1) and sometimes I feel like I am overreacting to what happened to me since he never really did anything past some uncomfortable touching."
Still, she worries that she might not be able to count on her mother to keep her kids safe.
"On the other hand, when I was a teenager I felt betrayed by my parents because they didn't put themselves in an 'awkward' situation to stick up for me and tell him to get away. I told them what he did and they didn't do anything."
When she turned things over to Reddit and asked what people thought, the answer was unanimous: she was most certainly not overreacting, and she should do what she thought was necessary to keep her kids safe and happy.
"Tell your mother what he did to you and your sister and make it clear that if she brings him into her home you will no longer spend time there and your kids will not be visiting."
"If she is in any way normal that should end all discussion of bringing him out." -mehsaurus_rex
One Redditor pointed out that she needed to change her perspective.
"I think you already answered your own question. It doesn't matter if you are afraid to hurt your mothers feelings. You absolutely do NOT EVER put a child in this situation. He had shown you what he is capable of. Full stop. You control your children's environment and to put them in a situation where in which they are in danger, then you are just as much at fault." -thatsuxbro
Others focused on letting her know that it was a big problem that it happened to her in the first place. Protecting her children is vitally important, and recognizing that what happened to her was well and truly wrong is an important step.
"OP, this WAS a HUGE deal that happened to you. You are correct in the fact that you need to protect your children from the same thing. Tell your mom everything you said here. If she doesn't take any of it seriously, then unfortunately you need to protect your children from her as well because she won't hesitate to let this awful man around them." -BlueberryBunnies
"If I was in your situation I would have absolutely zero tolerance for his presence around me and especially around my children. I would tell my mom that I would have NOTHING to do with her if she took him in."
"He molested you and your sister, what do you think he would do to your children if he could?" -alchemisting
It most certainly isn't overreacting to want to protect your children from abuse. It seems like that message got through to u/style_quest, thankfully.
"You're right. I keep thinking about it from my own experience and saying it wasn't a big deal. But it would be a HUGE deal to me if that happened to my kid."
"I would be furious. I don't want to make the same mistakes my parents did with this. Thank you for putting it in that perspective for me."
Bottom line was "do what you feel you need to do to keep your children safe."
If that upsets her mother, then she may not be the best person to have watching them anyway.