The divorced parent

I saw a meme on Facebook that said “Stepdads: The men who step up when boys step down”. and it stood out to me, but not entirely in a good way. It bothered me to a degree. I guess because I can see 2 sides of the stepdad relationship within a family that I am close too.

Yes, it does take a special person to love and raise someone else’s child. But there are so many dimensions to consider and no family is identical. And not every man is a deadbeat. Some are good fathers/good men who want to be a part of their children’s lives but aren’t allowed. At least in state I live in, child support and visitation are separate so a man can pay on time but still not be able to see his child.

When a man enters a relationship with a woman with children it’s a package deal. When he embraces the children it’s special. And it’s the same when a woman enters a relationship with a man with children. When she accepts and loves those children, it’s special.

But what happens when a couple gets together and each have children, but one doesn’t have custody of his/her children? In the case of the family I know, it creates hurt feelings and heartache. The father moved away, is in a relationship with a woman who has a daughter (Mel) (the same age as his own daughter) and she calls him daddy. He is raising this child as his own. When they marry he plans to adopt her daughter. They are a happy little family…except he only sees his own children a couple times a year.

His daughter is at an age where she is beginning to understand more and she realizes that her daddy is spending time with this other child who gets him full-time. Her daddy is tucking this other child in at night, sharing meals with Mel, attending father-daughter functions with Mel, etc. And she is feeling left out. And that is the reality of a man stepping up and accepting another man’s child. But…what about his own children – he has two from his marriage.

And let’s talk about the ex-wife, the woman he married and had 2 children with. She is accused of being bitter, of not moving on, of being jealous, of all kinds of negative things. But the reality is more that she has moved on and doesn’t care what he does or who with, except she is the one wiping tears because their daughter feels left out and replaced. So is she angry? Yes. Not because he is with someone else, but because he is not sensitive enough to realize that while he is being a great “dad” to his girlfriend’s daughter, his own is feeling abandoned. Because 2-3 weeks out of the year is not enough for a child who misses her daddy, especially when the child sees her daddy with another little girl her own age.

So, yes, lets commend those men who step up and parent another man’s child. But let’s also hold them responsible for parenting their own flesh and blood. Because while we give accolades to them for “stepping up when boys step down”. we must ask who is stepping up for them to parent their children?  And yes, we see it, we just don’t normally talk about it.

Divorce is the end of a relationship with an adult partner, not the end of being a parent to children you have helped come into this world.

God bless and be blessed.

stepdad

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