The thought of a child and step-child having sex with one another could be considered to be a parental nightmare. This is the reason why many remarried couples fail to even entertain the idea that it could happen. However, an internet search of any variation of the words "step-kid having sex" would yield abundant results.
Why does this happen?
Remarried couples with blended families can unwittingly put pressure on the children to "be friends" too soon. The desire to appear as if the blended family is one big happy family may cause parents to let their guard down concerning one really important fact: the children are really not related. Many children and teens see things in 'black and white'. Either a person is a relative or they aren't. The ability to understand the concept of a 'grey area' is learned as they mature. So, when looking at a step-sibling one thing is clear to young people- that step-sibling is not their brother/sister.
This very accessible - and possibly attractive - juvenile non-relative is now given the opportunity to "get to know" their step-sibling unsupervised. In some cases they even share a room, or sleep in the same bed. They get the opportunity to bond with each other over games, outdoor activities, movies, etc. In essence, they get the opportunity to date each other (uninterrupted) because their parent and stepparent are so relieved that the children are getting along with one another.
Signs that kids/step-kids are sexually attracted to each another:
1. They show classic signs of a dating couple. (Flirting, holding hands, laying head on shoulder, etc)
2. They call each other by pet names. (Baby, hun, sweetie, boo, bun, etc)
3. They become jealous when their step-sibling shows interest in another boy/girl.
4. They are overprotective.
5. They are comfortable being nude or scantily clothed in front of their step-sibling. (Step-sibling accidentally walks in room while the the teen is changing and no one screams out in embarrassment.)
6. They are defensive when asked about the nature of their relationship with their step-sibling.
What to do if they are "Shmooshing"
The idea of their children being sexually involved can send a parent reeling. However, one should not overreact. After all, even though the relationship may be seen as a societal taboo, at the core of the relationship are two non-related, sexually involved, teens (who happen to have unlimited access to one another). That being the case, these are possible solutions:
1. Separate the two of them. It is important to separate the two of them for several reasons: one being that when the non-custodial bio-parent finds out what has been happening in the house where the incident took place, there is a very likely chance there will be a court battle of some sort. (visitation, child endangerment, sole custody amendment, etc). The second reason to separate them is to limit the chances of this happening again. The separation may include giving them separate bedrooms, or a temporary stay with other blood related relatives until things can be cleared up.
2. Each parent should have a discussion with their child separately. This allows the children to be honest about the situation with their step-sibling without feeling that they have betrayed them. This discussion should focus on the child, not the parent's feelings of betrayal or embarrassment. Parents should find out how the child feels about their step-sibling- If they are "In love" or not. They should find out how long they have been romantically involved with the step-sibling, and should talk about the ramifications of their relationship with the step-sibling. (I.e. How would the child feel if the step sibling got involved with someone else or moved away?) Because children and teens do not always consider the repercussions of their actions, parents should also talk to their children about the long term affects of being in a relationship with someone generally excepted as a family member.
3. Arrange for blended family and individual counselling/ therapy. Because of the sensitivity of the situation, parents may be unable to navigate this particular situation unassisted. A counselor can help families deal with current and future emotions that are directly tied with the incident.
4. Inform the children not to spread the incident around. Children and teens put things on Facebook and Twitter without thinking about the long term effects of it. They also tell their friends stuff about who they are dating and what they are doing. If an incident of this nature spreads it could get out of their control and make them susceptible to bullying and other negative behavior.
5. Tell the non-custodial parent. Some may disagree with doing this. It is better for the non-custodial parent to find out about what happened from the custodial parent, then for he/she to find out through the grapevine. Telling the non-custodial parent will also allow the custodial parent to share their plan of action for preventing the incident's recurrence. It may also allow the custodial parent to give suggestions on how to handle it. Telling the non-custodial parent can also defuse the situations potential for volatility.
6. Supervise them. Enough said.
Religious Steps To Take
Although some countries allow the practice of marrying and/or having sex with a close relative (or one thought to be a relative such as a step-sibling) the practice is predominately frowned upon in the United States of America. It is deemed to be socially unacceptable. (However, click here to see the law concerning it). There are many incidences of relatives marrying and/or having sex in the Bible and Torah, and it can be argued that since it was socially acceptable in that day, it was okay to do.
Depending on the religious and moral beliefs held by a parent/stepparent; finding out that the children are engaged in premarital sex could also be a big issue. It can be an even bigger issue that the child's partner is a step-sibling. Therefore, it may be necessary to remind the child about acceptable religious and moral practices held by your family. Do this without humiliating or condemning the child.
There should also be some way that the child can regain their "purity". Many religious organizations use purity rings, combined with classes and other religious rituals, followed by a pledge/vow to retain celibacy until marriage. This may be an appropriate option.
Blended Families that are currently dealing with a situation in which a step-child and a biological child are engaged in sexual activity should seek the help of a qualified therapist, counselor and/or religious leader. The religious leader, should be qualified educationally and have the experience to handle such a delicate situation. It may be best to avoid counselling from novice religious leaders and/or those that are inexperienced or uneducated (or ones that do not hold a degree/certification) in the fields of Marriage & Family Therapy, Social Work or Counselling for this particular situation. Do not navigate this situation based on information found on the internet only. (Including the information found on the Blended Family Moments site).