Sexuality in stepfamilies is different than in biological families because people of different sexes who are not related are living together. It is also different because the family begins with children when the sexual climate is higher. By the time children are born into biological families, the sexual climate has cooled down, generally, because partners have been living together longer.
The increased sexual climate of stepfamilies can be too intense and too stimulating for the children.
All children have sexual feelings--even about their own family members, at times. Feeling sexual attraction is natural but when family members act on these feelings problems for the entire family result. Those involved feel guilt and the others feel increased tension and possibly jealousy and confusion.
The following suggestions may prove helpful:
- Talk openly and honestly about sexual issues and what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
- Arrange family schedules so that adolescent stepbrothers and stepsisters are not left at home alone.
- Stepparents and adolescent stepchildren may feel more comfortable with one another if not left at home alone for long periods.
- Arrange bedrooms of adolescent step siblings so that they are not adjacent to one another and establish rules of bedroom behavior for when doors are closed and when visiting can occur.
- If one family member says that another made him or her uncomfortable, encourage discussion.
- If there are unresolved sexual issues in the family, find a good licensed family therapist for advice.