Stepfamilies Need One-on-One Time to Bond

by childless stepparent

Did you know that one-on-one time is essential in stepfamilies?

In a recent Psychology Today article, stepfamily expert and bestselling author Wednesday Martin explains that “while first families bond well as a group, stepfamily members bond best dyadically, or one-on-one.”

That’s a significant fact, and one that many well-intentioned stepparents may not realize as they try to live up to the myth of the “blended family.”

My husband and I spent a lot of time planning how we would integrate me into his daughter’s life. We did it slowly, mindfully, we let her come to me. It worked.

Once that happened, and when my husband was out of town on business, his daughter and I had one-on-one time. This gave us the opportunity to build trust. We got to know one another. We had fun.

I shared art and cultural events with her, things I like to do on my own. My husband supported me enthusiastically. “This is exactly the kind of experience I knew you’d bring my daughter, and it’s why I am so excited for you to be in her life,” he told me. Meanwhile, his former wife was freaking out, demanding that he tell me to back off, reminding him (as if she needed to) that SHE was the mom. She was threatened. She has no reason to be. I’ve very clear on my role in my husband’s daughter’s life. My husband told his former wife that he wanted their daughter to have these enriching experiences, and that was that.

Turns out my husband and I were right. All along, I was doing what experts have discovered works best in our situation: making time to bond one-on-one. Knowing that gave me confidence.

I’ve learned to trust my instincts.

Question: Have you found that your stepfamily bonds more easily one-on-one? Was there a moment when you gained confidence in your instincts as a childless stepparent?

Manifesto #6 | I will be kind to my stepchild. I will support my husband in his role as her dad. I will contribute – on my own terms.