Stepfamily Reality #40 - Time Alone With Kids

        Stepparents may agree intellectually that their mate should spend time alone with their biokids, and unconsciously resent it when s/he does. This is a typical conflict among personality subselves.

       Typical pre-teen kids need regular undistracted time alone with reach bioparent, specially during major life changes like family separation, parental dating, cohabiting, and changing homes. Teens need alone-time with bioparents too, though more selectively. Bioparents have their own needs for closeness with their children, not necessarily connected to a major family change or event.

        A secure new stepparent won't view such alone-times as "being shut out," but as a healthy part of bioparent-biochild relationships that will increase their stepfamily's nurturance level over time. An insecure (anxious, shame-based) stepparent may  be unable to genuinely accept their mate wanting to spend alone-times with their child/ren. Mates committing to some version of Lesson 1 together can relieve this, over time.

       A co-parent who believes "We're a (bio)family, so we should do every-thing together" risks eroding, vs. building, stepfamily bonds, over time. To avoid hurts, resentments, and guilts, it helps if co-parents (a) admit their stepfamily identity and what it means, and (b) resolve values and loyalty conflicts over who spends time with whom non-judgmentally. This includes each bioparent periodically asking their partner "How're you feeling about my time alone with (my kid/s)  recently"? A related choice is the stepparent telling their mate clearly and non-blamefully of any growing resentment, so they can problem-solve together.

       The goal to shoot for is a balance of individual, couple, adult-child, and whole-family times that suits everyone - including relatives - well enough. Easier said than done!