21 answers

Afraid 12 Year Old Step-daughter Is Sexually Active. What Can I Do?

Here is the situation...my 12 year old step-daughter who doesn't live with us, spends LOTS of time text messaging and no time studying (last report card 2 F's, 2 D's, and a C-). I have been in her life since she was 1 and her mother always dismisses EVERYTHING! No parenting at all, many boyfriends, etc. Anyhow, she is well developed (34C) and she had a friend sleep over this weekend. Well, when her friend left, she told her mom that my SD ignored her, spent most of her time texting her "boyfriend" and when her friend suggested some girl talk, she said she was WAY beyond that and doesn't want her parents to know all about her sexuality. We don't have anything concrete yet, but what should we do? If DH says anything to her mom, she will brush it off and say mind your own business, like she always does! Her phone is dead and she didn't bring the charger so no way to check her text messages. At this point I have no clue what to do...she is headed down the wrong path. She is home with no parent from 3:30 until 6:00 4 nights a week. Lot's can happen in 2.5 hours. We see her 4 nights a month and if her bad attitude continues (forgot to mention that part), then I don't want her here at all influencing my young children. I suggested to DH that next time she comes, he takes her phone for the weekend and "explores" it. Not sure if that is right either. Please help! Don't want to become a step-grandma before 40!


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TALK TO HER!!!! This girl is reaching out for somebody to talk to her. 12 yrs old is way to young for this. You may not feel it is your business to do, but her mother is not handling the situation. My oldest son is 12. Almost everyone tells me he is too young to talk to about sex. BS!! If he can tell me about what boys are talking about at school, he is not too young. I have responded to many, many posts by saying be blunt and honest with your kids. My mom was not with me. I made good grades, so she turned a blind eye. I did not even tell her when I started my period. I first had sex at 14, and regret it to this day. I wish my mom had talked to me. If you are worried about being the step-parent, don't. My step-dad that raised me is no longer married to my mom, but he is still my 2nd dad. I am closer to him than my real dad. He was the one who tried to "lasso me in" but my mom was not on a united front with him. I spent many turbulent teenage years rebelling. You are not replacing her mom by being there for her. You being there, whether it works or not, could change that girls life forever. Be her friend. Take her on a girly date and get her to open up. It may not be easy at first, but she is a little girl reaching out, even if it doesn't seem like it now.

1 mom found this helpful

By all means I think Dad should be checking her phone. Check it, tell her why and have a discussion with her about what you find. Even if she hasn't had sex yet it is time for Dad to talk to her about what boys are thinking about at this age. She is thinking about love, sex and romance the boy is thing about how to get in her pants. Especially if he is older and doesn't have anyone who cares at home either. It maybe be best left up to Dad to do this depending on how good the two of communicate. They are looking for love in all the wrong places. I would also see if Dad is willing and her mom to have her come to your house for "dinner" on the nights she is home alone, that will at least keep her from being home alone and she can spend some more family time with the parents that can care. Good luck and pray for her.

talk to her! ask her what is really going on.

Ok, I don't have step children, but my kids have a step-dad. In our family, mom and dad (stepdad) are the people responsible for the kids. Not me being responsible for my kids and him needing to ask my permission to take any action with them. If he sees a situation that needs to be dealt with, he deals with it and informs me later. IMO, you should not even be questioning if you are in any position to handle this or not. When you married your husband, you also married his children. It is your RESPONSIBILITY to care for and be concerned about her just as you would your own kids. This idea that you really have no part in this and that you have to take a back seat on this one is absurd! Yes, your husband should absolutely be involved in all of this, but this child needs a mother, and obviously hers is not it. If this was your daughter (fast-forward 11 years), would you even hesitate on dealing with this? I don't think so. Take control of this situation and be the MOM! Your husband obviously trusts your parenting skills, otherwise he wouldn't have married and had children with you!

I think it's time your husband take the mother to court and get custody. Her grades are horrible and if her mom isn't doing anything about it, your husband needs to and I think the courts will agree. Then you can work on the rest of her behavior first-hand instead of only on weekends.

Unfortunately, as a step mom, you don't have much to ay or do. Your husband will have to do the work or the biological mom and since she isn't interested, there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room here. I was in a similar situation for a while until my step kids decided their mothers was a better place to live because they got away with everything and no parenting. Is there any way to get more visitation? Who pays for the phone? If you pay for the phone, then take it away, but since you don't see her that much, it is up to the mom, who seems to be letting her ruin her life.

Since you are the "step" mom, it would probably be more productive to have your husband step in. He needs to have an open talk with his daughter. Let her know that every time a person has sex there is the potential to have a baby. And also, if she attends church, maybe the youth minister can talk to her.
Hubby also needs to talk to his ex and see if they can work out something so that the girl has supervision 24/7. Taking the cell phone away is a good option also. I don't understand parents letting their kids text all the time. At age 12, she should not be dating. Boy/girl stuff should be school or church functions only.

At that age, YES, you SHOULD be taking the phone. If she is offended by that, then that tells you something in itself. You need to tell her you're doing it NOT to invade her privacy but rather for her own protection. She is NOT old enough to make her own decisions. If that were so, she could get her own apartment, etc.

NO MATTER WHAT THE OTHER PARENT DOES OR DOESNT DO.....STEP up and be a REAL parent. If you have to try and get custody, do what you have to do for this child. I'm going thru the very same thing right now with a mom who does NOTHING and tries to keep things from dad when they do happen!

Fortunately, she's only six and HOPEFULLY hasn't experienced anything sexually yet. HOWEVER, based on the fact that her mom lets the guy she lives with SLEEP with the daughter...even when she's not around, give her baths, etc....we're not sure. We can only hope, pray and talk to her about what is right and what to avoid. Mom has NO boundaries whatsoever. We're goin for full custody for the protection and best interest of the child!

document her moms nonparenting and see if your husband wants custody of her.go to someone like a child advocate or preacher and get their advice

L. - Tread Lightly, but keep helping. It is a most delicate position, when you are a step parent. But you are on the right track wanting to ensure her safety, just don't eliminate her from you and your families life, she will need the "good" influence of your family. My opinion, is privacy is a privilage of adults and parenting is a responsibility to do things that are uncomfortable...love her enough to "risk" her bad attitude. And as I told my husband, when his daughter was in a similar situation..they will be adults alot longer then they are children, and they will thank you for loving and caring so much, once they are older. And she has.

Well, you can only control what goes on in your own house, so you and your husband need to set ground rules for your SD as far as behavior in your home. She will at least have consistency and discipline while at your house, which kids actually crave. Having no rules and being left to run wild gives kids the impression that they aren't loved and makes them very insecure. So stand your ground even if she gets upset. Be clear about the consequences, such as taking the phone away or grounding her from social activities. Talk to a parenting consultant. You can call the Elizabeth Blackwell Center in Columbus at ###-###-####. I would definitely get her school counselor or psychologist involved and perhaps take her to a therapist. She needs to see an OB-GYN if she is sexually active. The boy's parents need to be alerted to the situation as well. You and her dad should talk to her about the consequences of sex, both physical and emotional. Talk about birth control. It would be better if she didn't have sex at all. Of course she is way too young! But since she is at her mother's most of the time, and her mother isn't cooperating, this girl should be given condoms and put on the Pill. I feel for ya! Good luck!!

Okay, I'm going to be a little bold here, but SHE IS 12, YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO LOOK AT THE PHONE!! Let me say it again, SHE'S 12!!! I have been through this as I am a step mother of 2, 16 yo girl, almost 17yo boy. They both did get cell phones when they were 14, but 12 is quite young in my opinion. You and your husband should set down and talk to her, she is probably crying out for attention, we just miss it so often because we are so busy with our own lives. I personally have read both of my step kids text messages, and I did not approve of many of them. We actually stopped a very dangerous sitiuation because thier mother read one and called us. The cell phone is a priveledge and should be looked at the same as if you were letting her use your computer to email, you would be checking up on those I hope. Good luck.

I'm sure her being 12 years old, she is not paying for a cell phone by herself, therefore, I would think it is technically the property of her parent(s) until that time. I used to think my own mother was over the top prying into my things but looking back, she had very good reason to do so and it probably kept me out of trouble. She has to put the phone down sometime, to take a shower, etc. I don't think looking through her phone is over the top as long as its a decision that you and your husband make and do together. As was previously said, you don't want to overstep your bounds as a step-parent and you don't want to be left standing alone if her mother blows up about it. Its important for parents to watch for signs of things like this and it sounds like you are the only one in her life that is looking out for it. Don't second guess yourself.

Before doing anything - I'd say there's a "new rule" at Daddy's house - no cell phone for the weekend.

Unfortunately, this situation needs to be dealt with by your husband, regardles and in-spite of the mother's dismissive attitude towards what's going on. He needs to have a heart-to-heart with the daughter - the birds and the bees saga would be appropriate too. Do the "egg-by" experiment with her...next time she's at your house for an extended period - her job is to take care of an egg, and make sure it doesn't break - it goes everywhere she goes, and it's a 24/7 thing. I've seen it done with sack's of flour...there are also dolls that do this - my neighbor's daughter said they gave out actual dolls that would cry, and you had to figure out why....maybe one of the teachers at school could help set you up with one or figure out where to find one.

See if one of the day-care's nearby will let her be the "helper of the day" to help feed snacks, then clean up afterwards, and help make sure the kids are okay sort of stuff.

These are all "find out what parenting is all about" sorts of things and let her know that if she is sexually active, then this is what it's going to mean. When my neighbor started watching my girls, her daughter was 16. She said it was the greatest life-lesson to realize what all went into caring for kids. It isn't all "fun and games".

Let her know that with anything, there are consequences to her behavior. I knew someone at 16 who got pregnant - the parents put her in a convent, and when she gave birth, the parents forced the issue for her to give her son up for adoption. Is that something she's prepared to live with? And she'll scoff that "that will never happen to her".

My parents both preached while I was growing up that "you don't want to be 16 and pregnant." And maybe that's something to talk to her about too - it's a glorious thought to be a parent, but a lot of people don't know what it's really about. I still remember a line in the movie Parenthood...something like this...."My dad used to wake me up by flicking lit cigarettes at my head saying, "wake up and make me breakfast"...You have to have a license to fish, buy alcohol and even drive, but they'll let any poor slob be a parent."

Sorry for the tyrade....another thing to consider is if the mother is that dismissive towards the daughter - consider getting full custody of her.

For what it's worth - and good luck!

Looks like you're getting some good advice already. I just wanted to let you know that you could not find anything from checking her cell phone. I know mine doesn't save the messages I send and it's as easy as a click of a button to delete received text messages. Maybe your service provider has a monitoring or tracking system to help keep tabs on children.... worth a try! Hope everything works out for you!


This is something you will really need to talk about with her dad. I understand your concern for her, but you also don't want to over-step your bounds because you are not her 'parent' or something.

So, I would certainly talk to her dad and let him know your concerns. Unfortunately, he may need to do some things or make some decisions that don't include her mother (as it sounds like she is a nonparticipating parent anyhow).

One thing you could consider doing is making a rule that there will be no cell phone at your home. I won't allow my children to have one until they are 16 and able to pay for it on their own. I agree that her dad needs to take a look at what she is doing on there. After all, even though he does not live with her or her mother, he is STILL her father and has a right to help parent her.

You may also want to sit down with her and talk to her. Try to keep communication lines open between the two of you. This might be a long shot, but you might want to invite a friend of hers over for a sleep-over or something and then talk to her about how it went the next day (this is assuming that her friend will react the same way by saying that she didn't have much fun, etc). I'm not sold on the idea though, lol. I don't have step-children to relate this to, so I'm just coming up with whatever comes to mind.

I really hope that you can figure something out here and I'm sorry that her mom is of little help in the situation. Her mom and dad do need to talk and I would suggest that if she say that it isn't any of his (or your) business, the two of you need to stand up and say that it IS your business because she is his child as well and you see after her in your home.

Let us know how it goes.

God bless,

Sexually active at 12! Yikes! There definitely needs to be a change. If Mom can't agree, then I don't know what to do. That is a really really tough situation. Do you live close enough to you SD's school that you could offer to have her come to your house during the hours that her mom isn't home? Would mom even agree to that? You could tell her that you need some help with the little ones and you'd be willing to pay her a small amount. Perhaps some responsibility would do her good. The unfortunate things is the mom's reaction. If she won't help you, then there is not much you are going to be able to do. I would have your husband explain things to your daughter. And, if you still think she is sexually active, it's time to discuss birth control. I can't imagine having that conversation at a young age, but it's better than the alternative. IMO anyway. Hopefully you can all come to a meeting of the minds on how to handle this little girl. Best of luck to you and your husband.

She has a mother who isn't mothering her, she needs a female role model. Normally I would say the father should be dealing with her but in this case, she may need you a whole lot more than you realize. You can be there for her as a friend, hang out with her, take her places. She is 12, still a baby in so many ways. My heart is breaking for her. She clearly isn't getting something she needs so she is seeking it out to fiil a void. The time she has after school is a bad situation waiting to happen. Is it possible to make arrangemnts for her to be with someone during that time? I am sure with her being developed she is getting a lot of attention from boys, I hope you are able to find some way to help her!

you might check out www.sexrespect.com and see if there is anything there that you think you or your step daughter could benefit from...and lift her up in prayer!
God Bless,

I am going to go with the old saying "Better safe than sorry". Even if she is not sexually active right now it is a VERY thin line between talking like you are and actually doing it. Lots of kids say they are sexually active but aren't. However, it doesn't take too much to cross the line. Talking about it with your friends and/or boyfriend means you are thinking about it. Possibly experimenting with it. The age that kids are engaging in sexually activity is getting younger and younger. I say you and your hubby need to talk to her and...although I am sure I am going to get comments about this...make sure she has some form of protection. She doesn't sound like she is going to open up to you (although you never know) so all you can do is try. Make sure you equip her with lots of knowledge and let her know that if she does want to start being sexually active, she needs to protect herself. At 12 she is not able to adequately judge the situation herself. Nobody wants to think about a 12 year old engaging in any kind of sexual activity but we have to be prepared to face that it is happening throughout the country. She is especially vunerable b/c she is spending so much time alone. Like I said just try and educate and empower her to make safe, informed decisions. Good luck and God bless.

Dear L.,
I would find a support group where your entire family can benefit. Church is a great place to find a godly positive influence for you and your family. Find a church that is family friendly; one that has activities for the whole family. L. J

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