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Stepson Watches Women while They Sleep

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From the U.S.: I have lived with my boyfriend and stepson for 6 years. My stepson is now 19 years old and my 12 year old daughter also lives with us. I have caught my stepson numerous times watching me, my daughter and most recently a female friend of mine while we sleep. It is always the same — you wake up with him standing over you, and when he realizes he has been caught he will make up an excuse like “oh I was just turning off the light” or “I am just grabbing this pillow.” It is very disturbing to say the least and my boyfriend, his father, does not know how to approach the situation. Should we be upset? How do we make him understand that we are not ok with this behavior? Thank you.

Stepson Watches Women while They Sleep

Answered by on -

A.

Yes, you should be upset. The young man is violating the privacy and boundaries of the women around him. Although I’m concerned about all the women, I’m especially concerned about how this behavior affects the 12 year old. How is she to feel safe in her home, if she can’t rely on privacy when she sleeps? Put a lock on her door until you take care of the problem.

I’m sure the young man knows his behavior is not okay. (That’s why he makes excuses.) I’m reasonably sure it’s part of why he does it. There is excitement in trying to get away with the forbidden. It’s also possible that, at 19, he hasn’t figured out how to leave home and may be unconsciously creating a situation where you will have to kick him out.

A lecture about privacy from you or your boyfriend isn’t likely to change things. Setting clear consequences might. Make it clear that at 19, he’s an adult. You are not obligated to provide him with a home. You are obligated to keep your household safe. He therefore has to leave. (Set a time limit.)

If he says he was just doing it to rile you and won’t do it again, trust your instincts. Decide if you trust him enough to let him live with you. If not, he should leave. If he says he can’t help it, tell him that he needs to get some therapy to learn to manage his impulses and he still has to leave until he does.

He will probably test whatever line you draw. Make a plan for when that happens and stick to it. He needs to get this resolved. Someone isn’t going to be as forgiving as you are. He could end up seriously hurt, in jail or both.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

Stepson Watches Women while They Sleep

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Stepson Watches Women while They Sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/02/15/stepson-watches-women-while-they-sleep/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.