Our expert says:
It's not specifically abnormal. If a shy girl finds him an adult she feels safe with, and he enjoys the attention --- and he is not exploiting or harming her in any way, that'd be a mutually beneficial relationship. And with so many adults around, it's unlikely anything untowards is happening. Yes, men of 40 need to feel needed and special ( like the rest of us ) ; and girls often find older men interesting. Heck, girls that age often get nuts about horses, but that doesn't mean they ride them.
The hush in their conversation when you draw near could be sinister ; or it could be that she gets shy again and he fears sounding ridiculous. Discuss this with him, frankly, and express your unease. He should be able to enjoy her company, and to encourage her to come out of her shell --- in front of her parents and other adults. And discuss this, too, with the girl's parents, and see what they think about it. They presumably know her better than you do, and she may have talked to them about this.
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