Q & A: Bathing Together With Stepdaughter



I have a situation where my partner, (who is also the stepmother of my 6 year old daughter) has taken a bath with my daughter. They have done this openly with me walking in occasionally to check on the situation. The results were a quick and close bonding between both of them. To hear them laugh and have fun only increased my love for my new partner.

My daughter has told my ex-partner about how much fun she has had in the bath. The reply from the biomother was telling the 6 year old that this is not proper and should stop. I am now in a conflicting situation where I believe that there is no problem with the bathing while my ex feels strongly that it is wrong.

Do you have any advice?


Disclaimer: The comments, impressions and suggestions that we provide below must be understood as limited because they are based exclusively upon the limited information you provided.

Our comments are as follow:


As the girl's bioparent, your authority over her, in general, is equal to her mother's. When she is in your custody, it is your responsibility to ensure her well being. In this regard, your walking in to check on the situation, suggests that you have been prudent, and have come to believe their bathing together presents no risk of harm for your daughter. We don't see the situation, as you have presented it, as being worrisome. However, it would appear that, probably out of genuine concern for the girl's well being, the biomother is inadvertently acting "as the master of two households"--an approach that typically doesn't work well in stepfamily settings. Under the assumption that your prior spouse doesn't know your current partner, we can certainly understand her concern, but we don't feel your prior spouse's strategy for addressing the issue is optimal; and suspect that this issue could easily intensify any strain that may already exist between the two households.

Given the foregoing, we offer the following two suggestions for your consideration:
1) For your current partner and daughter to wear a bathing suit at times such as this.
2) For you to: call your prior spouse, tell her that you do understand her concern, reassure here that you would never expose your daughter to anything that would negatively impact her well being, and suggest that the two of you AND your current spouse a) make a conference call to Social Services/Child Welfare/Child Protection (I'm not sure of their official name in your province), b) request an anonymous consultation, and c) agree, in advance, to follow their recommendation.

They will hear the particulars of the situation and advise you of how they (the real experts in concerns such as this) would view it.

We hope you will find these suggestions helpful.


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Stepfamily Foundation of Alberta