Inappropriate Behavior - Is it Wrong for Step Father to Walk Around in Boxers When Home Alone with Step Daughter

Inappropriate behavior ...

... by a Step Father?

Parent Question

Is it appropriate for a step father of a thirteen-year old to walk around the house in his boxers, when the mother is not home?


Laura's Answer:

This is a simple question that seems to point to deeper issues without naming them. For instance, you don't mention if you have issues with regard to trusting the step father. Is your primary concern the fact that he walks around the house in his boxers? Does he also do this when you're at home? Do you have reason not to trust him? Do you suspect that he might have an ulterior motive other than comfort?

Second, you did not mention if the teen in question is a boy or girl, so for the purposes of this article, I will assume the teen is female.

inappropriate behavior

To answer your question in general terms—yes—it is inappropriate behavior for a step father to walk around the house in his boxers when alone with his step daughter. At thirteen, your daughter is awakening to her sexuality and may feel uncomfortable with her step father's display. She may be confused by feelings that arise when she is alone with a half-dressed man or she may be repulsed by it.

Adolescence is a difficult time—the last thing a teen needs is a parent who is exhibiting inappropriate behavior

Adolescence is a difficult time for teens. Hormones are raging, roles are changing and kids are beginning the painful process of disentangling themselves from their parents in order to find themselves. During this time, parent-child relationships are fragile and easily damaged. Your daughter needs to rely on you to act in her best interests. After all, you are the birth parent. The last thing she needs right now is a step father who is unconscious about her needs or who puts his own comfort before his respect for the feelings of his step daughter.

Whenever you witness inappropriate behavior, take action. Your husband may simply be unaware of the effects of his behavior. He may not have fully realized that his step daughter is growing up. Sit him down and talk with him. Tell him that you understand his need to feel relaxed and comfortable in his home, but that walking around in his underwear is no longer appropriate. Suggest that he limit this behavior to your bedroom. For lounging around the house, buy him a loose fitting pair of cotton pants (or even some pajama bottoms) as a comfortable alternative. Acknowledge that it's hard sometimes for you to realize that your daughter is growing up, but that both of you must begin to respect her growing need for privacy and propriety (most teens don't want to even think about their parents' sexuality, much less be exposed repeatedly to a step parent in his underpants) by examining your behaviors.

If there are deeper issues or suspicions you did not express, see a therapist at once.

About the author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting. It is the only book that combines native ideas (like true child stewardship) with heart-centered psychology to show parents how to raise children to develop their innate strengths and unfold their uniqueness. The book is journey of self-discovery for child and parent.

Laura teaches a parenting class via teleseminar. Click on the link to sign up or find out more.

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