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Feelings for my daughter

I started having inappropriate feelings around my daughter. What should I do?

GYE Corp. Sunday, 10 June 2012

Someone wrote in:

One of our daughters is extremely emotional. I tend to deal with her by telling her to be quite and go rest, and at times I can be very snappy with her. My wife tells me to go easy on her; she needs understanding and affection.

I was trying my wife's approach; trying to listen nicely and give her hugs [she's only six!].

Suddenly this interaction was having an affect on me that it shouldn't. I withdrew, but not enough. This scared me!


GYE Answers:

Your honesty is refreshing. Unfortunately, this is not as unusual as most people would like to believe. Often addicts have fantasies that go WAY out of context with what is right and wrong, such as adultery, kids, incest, you name it. See the Ohr Hachayim in Acharei Mos where he brings the Gemara of the goy who bought a piece of meat in the market place, cut it open, used it to pleasure himself, cooked it and ate it. Like he explains there, the mind of someone who is steeped in this desire (an addict) can see everyone and everything as potential for sexual pleasure. HOWEVER, there is a big difference between someone who has such fantasies but never ever acted on them, and someone who has actually acted them out in real life. For the former, he could use all the tools that GYE has to offer. For the latter, we'd send him straight to tools 17 and 18 of the GYE handbook, with no tolerance for anything less.

There is a huge difference between feeling lust and not. The Rambam (21:7) says that a man can sleep with his daughter in the same bed until she is 12, undressed and with touching skin. Yet he also writes (21:1) that if someone so much as touches an "issur erva" (an incestual prohibition) with feelings of lust (derech ta'avah) or if he is "ne'heneh mikiruv basar - enjoys the closeness of flesh" he gets Malkus!! We clearly see what a big difference there is between when a person feels lust or doesn't.

In these areas, everyone needs to know themselves honestly, and know where they need to be careful. Therefore I say again, if you discover these unwanted feelings in your relationship with your daughter, it is vital to make careful fences for yourself. Enjoying Kiruv Basar of an Erva is likely an issur of “yehareg ve’al Ya’avarbe killed and don’t transgress”!

Having such feelings can be very scary, but we have to treat it the same way we treat the rest of our addiction, i.e. with careful fences. I would avoid touching any area below her waste, and avoid close hugs…

One addict who has this problem with his daughter, feeling a strong attraction to her, once wrote me that he makes a list of vows once a year to put up fences in all the areas he feels he needs to protect himself, such as other women, internet, etc.. And he sent me his list of vows to share with others if I find it could be useful to others. Here are some of the vows he sent me that relate to his own daughter. You can see how afraid he is of this, and how many fences he puts up to protect himself.

Shvuah that … I will not, of my own initiative, pull onto me, even if I am in a sitting position, nor lay on top of, nor pull very close to me — if I am in a laying position or on a bed, any girl or woman over the age of 6 years old, besides for my wife, nor will I suggest in any way that they come on top of me, not even onto my lap when I am sitting, if I know that it will arouse me or that I will enjoy it in a sexual way.

Shvuah that … I will not intentionally touch with my hands the private areas of any woman or girl over the age of 6, besides for my wife, even if the area is covered with a layer or layers of clothes, with the intention of arousing myself or enjoying it in a sexually related way.

Shvuah that … If my daughter straddles my upper thighs, or from anywhere above that, with both her legs, whether I am on my back or on my stomach, or even if I am in a sitting position, I will ask her to get off me within 30 seconds of me realizing this and remembering this shvuah.

Shvuah that … I will not read or tell stories to children unless no girl over the age of 6, including my own daughter, is sitting on the same chair, couch or bed as I am, or on my lap.