Are His Son and Stepdaughter an Item?
Q: I think something's going on between my son and my stepdaughter. They're not related by blood, but we're all part of the same family. My wife and I got married three years ago, and her kids and my kids live with us part-time, usually on the same weekends. But I see some flirting and more going on between my son, who is 17, and her daughter, who is 18. It just feels weird and like it could mess up the whole family. I told my son I noticed he was spending a lot of time with his stepsister. He said, "Yeah, we're cool with each other." What does that mean? I told him I didn't want him messing around with her, and he laughed and said, "Don't get any crazy ideas, Dad!" He reminded me that I asked the kids to try harder to get along when we first got married, and he said they're just doing what we asked. My wife thinks I'm overreacting, but if it's true it's just not cool. Should I keep them apart? Should I get my wife to ask her daughter about it?—Travis, 45
Dr. Susan: I think you're giving your son and stepdaughter (and yourself) ideas by mistrusting them so much. It wouldn't hurt to keep a closer eye on the two of them, but your son's comments sound legitimate to me. They're trying out adult roles, acknowledging that they recognize that each of them is a sexual being, but there may be no more to it than that. Ask your wife what she thinks about asking her daughter about your concerns, if she can do so without alienating anybody. Do not try to keep them apart or they'll rebel. It's likely that each of them will soon have their own boyfriends or girlfriends, and the friendship they're developing will cool down appropriately.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.