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The relationship here is one between an an uncle and niece.

I'm the uncle and happily...
The relationship here is one between an an uncle and niece. I'm the uncle and happily married for 25 years. My niece, Kylie, is 9 years old and extremely smart but recently has been having trouble in school. I have been tutoring her most weekdays after school and we have become very close. Her father, whom she has always adored and idolized, has mental problems that have worsened to the point of him being all but completely out of her life. For that and several other reasons, Kylie has insecurity and trust issues, particularly with father figure men. My wife told me that she and other family members can see how Kylie has become comfortable with me and are happy to here her talking to me about how she feels about her daddy being so sick.
My question is, is it appropriate for me to gently massage her feet, at her request, while we sit on the living room couch and she reads her assigned homework with her feet in my lap? She says it helps her to read better and so I won't get bored and leave. Her grades have remarkably improved and other related family stress has lessened since the tutoring began, so it will continue massage or no massage. Most of the family, my wife included, find nothing wrong with it at all. I would just like some outside opinions on the subject to help with a few family members objections.
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Answered in 2 hours by:
1/7/2011
psychlady
psychlady, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 6,893
Experience: I have over 16 years experience in treating adults presenting with a variety of relationship issues
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I run a program for those who sexually assault others so I am going to give you an answer with this prejudice in mind. There is nothing wrong with showing affection and closeness through physical contact. As long as this can not be perceived as sexual. Kissing, hugging, hugging etc are fine as long as these are uncle to niece behaviors. These behaviors can be very innocent and shows a child that you love them. The massage bothers me a little more for some reason. Your actions may be completely innocent but be careful to show affection to a child that really are actions that can be perceived as slightly sexual or that are actions that would typically be between two adults in a sexual relationship. It is very important to avoid this in the society that we live. if she goes to school and this can be misinterpreted, then I would avoid this interaction.
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago
Thank you so very much! I have heard several thoughts and feelings about this, a few from those close enough to see it and some from others hearing about it and expressing concern or defending me. It had not been put in the way you have put it. I am so thankful to you for your view on this. The majority of opinions were towards it being perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. I will try to share this with the ones who want to read it.
My concern now is, what do I do to explain why it was okay before, but now it's not. I have no problem telling Kylie that I was wrong, I just don't want her to feel she has done anything wrong or for her to think she is responsible. Her trust in me is important but this seems like it has a chance of making her feel guilty. I'm not sure if I'm making my concern here clear or not to you. What do I say to Kylie?
It is a very delicate situation when you talk to a child what is appropriate. Just keep it short and sweet. You can even make up an excuse. That way she won't feel guilty. For instance kid her about the fact that you don't like feet as in a joke. Sooner or later she will forget all about it because you are not conditioning her need to even ask for these massages. Don't bring up your realization that this wrong and don't apologize for it. That will only bring attention to your feeling guilty. She is still young so she doesn't really get that this is inappropriate so be consistent and just stop doing this. She will eventually stop asking
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago
Is there any way that I can accept your answer now, and then open a new question and get you as my professional? I have more to ask on this situation and don't want to have to go through what we have already. I feel like you handle this in the direct way that I need. But, I want you to get paid and feel I need a little time to think. Is this possible? There has only been one short time of the massaging. It will never happen again. I'm not entirely sure that I should continue with the tutoring. I feel I can't trust my judjment.
I think you request us through our user name. Mine is psych lady. I am sure questions are always available. I wouldn't pursue tutoring if there is any question that it may be construed as inappropriate. Just say you are not available.
psychlady
psychlady, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 6,893
Experience: I have over 16 years experience in treating adults presenting with a variety of relationship issues
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