Stepfamily Reality #39 - Stepfamily Incest Taboo
Healthy adults raising children from infancy seems to naturally inhibit later sexual interaction between them. The instinctual incest taboo is weaker in typical stepfamilies. Attraction and sexual behavior between a stepparent and an alluring stepteen or between adolescent stepsibs isn't probable, but it is more likely than in a typical healthy intact biofamily. Recent research suggests that American girls under 18 are four times more likely to be sexually abused by a male step-relative than a male bio-relative.
So: thoughtful co-parental modeling, sexual guidance, and enforcement of personal modesty and privacy rules are specially important in stepfamily homes. Note: co-parents and supporters can get distracted or conflicted by debating what the provocative word incest means - in general, and in their stepfamily. The issue is not semantic labels, but co-parents' admitting and controlling family-members' sexual attitudes and behaviors that harm or upset each other, and lower their stepfamily's nurturance level.
Courting or newly-cohabiting co-parenting couples should generally avoid being overtly sexual in front of their minor kids, specially within se-veral years of biofamily separation. Seeing their parent and a "strange" adult sexually kissing or touching can evoke intense feelings of disgust, outrage, resentment, and guilt in a pre-teen or adolescent biochild who hasn't had a chance to grieve and/or to adjust to their own sexuality. This is specially true if the child has protectively allied with a bioparent who is psychologically "still married" - i.e. hasn't mourned (admitted and accepted) their divorce losses.