My adult son (27 years-of-age) is married and in the past I have witnessed him “playfully” biting his wife. He frequently bites her hard enough that she crys out in pain and demands that he stop. He then plays it off as being “playful”. Now there is a four month old child in their lives and I have now seen similar behavior on his part towards his infant daughter. He doesn’t bite her hard, but firmly enough that there are some residual marks for a short time. He seems to make it a habit of placing his open mouth on her face, ears, eyes and nose. He has always exbibited the same behavior towards his wife, placing his face extremely close to hers and when she would try to move away, he would just move to maintain his face as close as possible to hers (control issue??). He seems to equate this activity to being affectionate towards his wife and now his daughter. He has also exhibited the same “oral” behaviors towards his sister (17 years-of-age), but has not bitten her, just a lot of close facial proximity. It appears to me that he has some sort of “oral” fixation that he associates with his expression of love for the females in his life. I compare this activity to having a group of gnats flying around your face in an annoying manner. My son was diagnosed with ADD as a child and was treated with Ritalin through his teens. He is not medicated now that he is an adult. He is a college graduate and is a stay-at-home Dad. His wife is a registered nurse.
My greatest concern is for my granddaughter. My daughter-in-law can accept or reject his behavior, but the child is helpless to this behavior. I hope you can provide some insight to me, regarding my son’s behavior. I am prepared to firmly suggest professional counseling for him if there is some underlying mental health issue.
Thank you for your assistance and any information you can provide.
You are right to be concerned. As you pointed out, adults can tell your son to cut it out but a baby can’t. He seems to have difficulty respecting the boundaries of others. He may mean it to be playful but when his oral attention is unwanted or painful, he has crossed a line. Leaving marks on an infant could result in the baby being removed from his home. Please have a heart to heart talk with your daughter-in-law. Calling in any kind of help or reporting this behavior without talking to her first could cause a serious rift in your relationship. If he can’t or won’t listen to the two of you, professional help is certainly in order. If he keeps this up, the consequences are grave. His baby will learn not to trust him and may become fearful of men in general. She’ll also learn that the women in her life can’t be counted on to protect her. At some point, it’s likely that someone will report his behavior to the local child protection agency. Far better that you and your daughter-in-law take charge of this situation now. Your granddaughter deserves to feel safe with both of her parents.
I wish you well.