Your Call: Where Should a Husband/Stepfather’s Loyalties Lie?

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We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. And frankly, this one is a doozie. Make your call by leaving your response in the comments section below.

Dear Em & Lo,

My stepdaughter just confided in me she had recently lost her virginity with her boyfriend. She’s fifteen and doesn’t want me to tell her mom. She said that I’m the only one she feels comfortable talking about sex with. I’ve always taught her to practice safe sex, choose her potential partners carefully, and to be discreet about her personal choices. What do you suggest about her request not to tell mom?  I don’t want to betray her trust, but I’d also like to avoid the scalding hot water I’ll be in if it ever gets out I held onto this piece of info.

— The Secret Sharer

What should T.S.S. do?

Say Something

8 Comments on "Your Call: Where Should a Husband/Stepfather’s Loyalties Lie?"

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My wife and I have an agreement that satisfies both. When told something in confidence by either of our children, we let the other know what’s going on, but the parent who is “supposed” to be out of the loop agrees not to mention or use the info. Get’s a little complicated at times, but keeps both circles of the relationship connected.

While every former-peer-counselor and privacy-respecting bone in my body says don’t share something you’ve been told in confidence, and while I agree strongly with Ape that if your her parent and you’re parenting in good faith that should be sufficient. The problem is that you’re not just a parent, you’re a partner. And if your partner views you withholding that information as a relationship deal-breaker then you face the loss not only of contact with your partner but also of contact with her daughter, given that it’s almost inconceivable that she wouldn’t follow her mother should her mother leave you.… Read more »

I never talked with either of my parents about sex topics for fear that they would tell the other parent. I think it would be best that you keep her trust so that you can open up the space to talk about topics in the future as well.




If you caught her doing something dangerous, you might have to tell. But it sounds like she tried to do the mature thing here – seek guidance from an experienced adult whom she trusts. Mom doesn’t need to know.

By the way, what the hell is with girls telling their parents when they first have sex? That seems incredibly common, but I don’t know a single male who has done the same.

If you have a parental role in the family do not tell her mother. Unless you feel the girl is in danger or is in a situation that neither one of you can handle without her mom. Since you have given her “The Talk” I’ll assume shes not. Just as your stepdaughter trusted you, your wife should also trust you to be a parent. Don’t worry about the hot water as it will eventually cool down once she realizes or you explain that you were looking out for her daughter. Shattered trust on the other hand is notoriously hard to… Read more »

I’m in complete agreement with J.