My husband and I have been married for 10 years. It is a second marriage for both of us. I had a 6-year-old daughter when we got married, and my husband had an 8-year-old son. Our kids have grown up together, and we are a nice family. Now my daughter is 16 and my stepson is 17. About a month ago, I noticed them acting weird around each other, smiling and giving each other looks. I looked at my daughter's computer and found a highly sexual email to her from my stepson. I think they are dating behind our backs. I'm beside myself and not sure what to do. Is this even legal?
Worried Sick(female, 43)
Dear Worried Sick,
Your daughter and stepson are not blood related, so there is no law against them dating, having sex or even getting married. That doesn't mean their new relationship isn't problematic, however. As you said, the kids grew up as brother and sister, and in our culture it's not acceptable to date one's sibling.
There is also the issue of them living under the same roof. Your daughter is only 16. For most teen couples, it's not easy to get time alone, especially in a bedroom. Without that obstacle, their physical relationship could easily become too much too fast.
Also consider your extended family and friends who view your kids as related. Get-togethers could become terribly awkward, and you might lose relationships with those who disapprove.
And what happens when the teens break up? It's not like your daughter can leave and stop taking his calls, or vice versa. What if one of them starts dating again and the other is jealous?
That kind of thing could tear your family apart.
Make time to sit down with your daughter and calmly ask questions. Explain the perils of what she's doing and the long-term impacts it could have on your family. There is not much you can do to keep them apart, especially after they move out. But as long as they're under your roof, you're the one who sets the boundaries.