So Damn Silly, and Offensive Even
I just have to take a few moments and address the sort of assumptions that I'm seeing made on here lately about exactly how many hours, or how many drops of blood, or how many family members are sufficient ---or not--- to engender the feelings known as "love" and "devotion" and "bonding" in stepfamilies.
There have been arguments put forth about how the love for a bio child is different than the love for a stepchild is different than the love for an adopted child is different than the love for a nephew is different than the love for a dog. And how ya just can't expect to ever have more love for or get more love from the individual in question based primarily on the circumstances by which you are in each other's lives.
There have been arguments put forth about how the bond ---and even the love--- between a child and step-parent or between a child and bio-parent cannot possibly be expected to develop if the number of hours spent in each other's presence is less than a certain amount. This has been used on both sides of the step-parent/bio-parent divide to cast aspersions or make justifications for all manner of things from: letting oneself off the hook for having a duty to work positively on the relationship with a stepchild simply because the child is now 9 and it's too late to find them cute... to not believing that a bio-parent and/or their bio-child can possibly have genuine love and bonding with each other if they only see each other every [fill in the blank with the requisite time intervals]... to once the kid turns 18 and goes off to college maybe they'll care less and thus be less of a thorn in the side.
All I can say in repsonse to all this are two things:
1. Many resentful step-parents and bio-parents ONLY WISH these equations were so simple. Then whatever task they might have up their sleeve (banishing the kid, punishingthe ex) would be made so much easier. Simply get a DNA test (fake or real) to disprove the blood-line. Simply cut back the visits. Presto! Love & attachment gone! But how does this sort of simple math explain love that lasts ---between anyone and anyone--- across the miles and years? How does it explain two siblings living in the same neighborhood al their lives who can't even stand the sight of each other? How does it explain my step-dad, who didn't need a bloodline, nor adoption papers, nor a time machine to take me back to a cute n' cooing infant, nor a womb in which to grow me inside himself, nor to be my next-door-neighbor, in order to adore, support and genuinely befriend me starting the day he met me when I was 13 years old? How does it explain that my bio-dad and I saw each other only a few times a year since I was a child but not only loved each other but were so very much alike? How can some couples "lock eyes" at first meeting, get married on their first date and stay married 75 years and some others spend 75 years growing apart because they never got to know each other in all that time?
2. Love is an action verb, it's that simple. It's an action one takes based on choices one makes. Same with "bonding", same with "good relationship". It isn't something that flies down from the sky inside a baby with wings & an arrow while you sit there making yourself feel better about why you don't love a person whose life you chose to share in. You chose the person being in your life ---the child whom you either chose to birth or marry their parent, who didn't have a choice in the matter either way--- and because of that you have a responsibility to try and get to know that person, bond with them, see the good in them, treat them fairly, care and be supportive of them and most importantly never impede them from all the love they have coming from anyone else in their lives... especially if you can't ---or won't--- give enough of it to them yourself. That's what love is, specific choices, specific actions and first and foremost not doing any harm. If you wait around for a magical feeling to just "hit" you, meanwhile reassuring yourself that it's okay that it hasn't because after all you can't be expected to love a child after the diaper phase, or hold up your end of a commitment you made or stand behind what you chose for yourself, it'll never happen, either to you or for you. If that's you, don't have kids or stepkids, choose otherwise.