Sex and Sexuality:
“My daughter is flirting with my stepson.”
Dear Annie,I have a 10 year old son and a 12 year old daughter (going on 16). She has a very strong personality and very mature for her age. All I hear is that I am in deep trouble with her because she is attractive and certainly not shy. My new wife has three boys ranging from 16, 18, 22. I have recently noticed my daughter hanging around and becoming somewhat closer to the 18 year old. I certainly would like to think that my daughter and my step son would not engage in something but -- I am from a divorced family and have had step sisters and I know hormones fly. I am about to have a very serious Conversation with all -- shooting straight from the hips. What's your thoughts?
I'm a big fan of "serious" conversations (aka Family Meetings) as long as you don't let your imagination and fears turn this into a lecture from the bully pulpit (if you take my meaning). Without accusing or embarrassing either of them, I'd suggest that you have a private conversation with your daughter and that your wife do the same with her son. Talk to your daughter about how the changes in your current living situation have brought up certain feelings (fears, worries) for you. Make it very clear that you understand (from your own experience) about physical attractions but make it equally clear that any kind of romantic involvement between your daughter and her stepbrother is totally unacceptable.
In addition, the fact is that she's 12 years old (no matter how much older she acts), and needs guidance and supervision. Your daughter may be looking for approval from "older guys" because she is missing healthy, loving attention from you. She may feel like all of your emotionally energy goes to your new wife and that she isn't important to you any more. How much one on one time do you spend with your daughter where you are enjoying each other's company and you're letting her know how special and important she is to you? A father-daughter relationship is key in the healthy development of a girl's self-esteem and sense of sense-worth. If you don't establish yourself as the most significant loving male in her life during this time in her life, she's going to look for that love and approval from other guys -- and she's likely to use sex to get it.
Speaking of sex, you and your wife need to make sure that your stepson knows that as an 18 year old, you expect him to be mature and responsible enough to make sure whatever attraction they might be feeling for each other does NOT turn into action.
I hope this helps.