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The closeness of family ties has often been used to pervert family relationships. In some homes normal prohibition against this kind of behavior simply are missing. Add to this moral vacuum the fact that the Leave It to Beaver version of the American family has radically shifted over the years. Now more and more people flow in and out of the family unit. With so many strangers living in the same house, the potential for sexualized relationships within blended families must be recognized.

As marriages break up and families scatter, many people find themselves plunged into new relationships. Parents remarry, merging family units and bringing together people who have no blood ties to each other. Within this fluidity some will inevitably sexualize their new relationships.

To a person who inappropriately sexualized relationships, the family is fertile ground. This problem is compounded when the family is blended and traditional prohibitions against sexualized relationships between family members are weakened. Because the children of one spouse are not related by blood to the other spouse, members of a blended family may be viewed as potential sexual partners.

No one would condone a man’s leaving his wife and marrying his daughter. However, the lines are not quite so clear when a man leaves his wife and marries one of his wife’s adopted daughters. Remember the actor and film director Woody Allen, his actress wife, Mia Farrow, and her adopted daughter, Soon Ye Previn? Soon Ye became Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter when Mia Farrow was married to music conductor Andre Previn. When Mia Farrow subsequently married Woody Allen, she brought along her children from the previous marriage. After a number of years, her marriage to Woody Allen began to dissolve. Controversy erupted when the media revealed that Woody Allen was sexually involved with Soon Ye, by now a young adult. After his divorce from Mia Farrow, Woody Allen married stepdaughter Soon Ye. Woody Allen evidently saw nothing wrong with his sexual relationship with his daughter by marriage. Mia Farrow found everything wrong with it, publicly admitting feelings of outrage and betrayal.

While this case was highly publicized, it is by no means unique in our world. Daytime talk shows have made convoluted sexualized relationships of this type fodder for ratings.

Tragically, the blended families of today often become the broken marriages of tomorrow. Studies consistently show second and subsequent marriages failing at higher rates than first ones. This instability further degrades the boundaries against intrafamily sexual relationships. At some point Woody Allen no longer looked at Soon Ye as his stepdaughter. Perhaps the shift took place around the time he began to distance himself from her mother, Mia Farrow. With wobbly sexual barriers at best, the shake-up of the current family can cause them to teeter and topple.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a sexualized relationship in a blended family, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is standing by to assist you and your family.