Ode To Stepfathers


Paris 2001 001 2

Paul, Anne, Gina in Paris


My daughter Gina sent this greeting:

“For Paul with Love” …”For you Paul for all the times you’ve had to put up with all our s…,

and never complained and always been there.

Happy Father’s Day!

Oh, Wait. I’m sorry.  You’re not their ‘real’ dad are you?

Give me a break.

If ever there was an unsung hero, it is the stepfather.


‘The Wicked Stepmother’ may be the evil character of the Disney

Classics, but at least she could defer to BioDad to discipline

the child. Stepdads, on the other hand, are expected to take

over when mum doesn’t feel like (or can’t) handle it.


Parenting, and especially disciplinary stuff, is hard enough

when the child shares your genes. Stepdads are at a double

disadvantage. They are supposed to discipline the child

without getting the mother angry. The episode can turn

into this big perpetrator/victim/rescuer thing that

nobody really wins but Stepdad ends up loosing most of all.


Some stepfathers handle this by backing away. They let

mum take care of everything. But that’s not really being a

father to the child. In the eyes of the child, that can make

the difference between being ‘Dad’ and being just ‘that man

my mother married [or lives with]’. Being a stepparent is

easier if you have an easy to parent child. It can be hell if the

child happens to be one of those who are difficult to parent.

I know. I have both.


For inspiration as a stepfather, I look to the

character of Joseph. This guy was the ultimate stepparent.

Don’t think that raising Jesus was easy. Even Jesus

pulled the “You can’t tell me to do that” bit on Joseph. The

kid disappears for three days while they are travelling;

the entire tribe has to turn around to go back and find him,

and once he does turn up, he pops up with this “Know ye not

that I have to be about my Father’s business?” stuff. Translation:

“My REAL dad said I could”.

Jesus was 12 when that happened.  There is nothing else

written about him until he is thirty years old.

That’s because he was grounded.


The other classic example of a stepfather is

Mike Brady. Mike Brady, the 70’s version of

‘Father Knows Best’, ruled his home with and iron

fist covered with a velvet glove. He was caring, patient

and wise. He had none of those nasty masculine traits

that create problems for dads. Can you imagine Mike

Brady breaking wind while the kids are in the back singing

“When it’s time to change…?”. No way. Mike Brady was perfect.

A little too perfect.

Personally, I think he and Sam the Butcher had something

going on behind Mrs Brady and Alice’s backs.


Stepfathers deserve special appreciation. They have sacrificed that special

time alone with their wife [or partner] before the kids would have been born.

In some cases they may have forfeited the idea of having biological children

for the sake of being able to provide a better life for the children that were already there.

And, in many more cases, they have to subordinate their own needs as a man for

the unconditional love of a child to those of the biological father. Sure, he sees them

on weekends and during vacation.


Stepdad is the one who rushes them to the doctor

when they’re sick, or takes the time to explain to a seventh grade girl why boys aren’t

always nice. Stepfathers are the mean men who say “No, you can’t stay up all night

on a school night”. BioDads are the party givers, the trip takers, the all around nice guys

who don’t have that many stupid rules, laugh a lot, and buy all kinds of nice gifts.

Stepdad is the one who has the rules. He’s the one who might not have any extra money

because BioDad forgot to send his child support cheque again and it costs a lot to feed

and buy clothes for three teenagers.


And if Stepdad is lucky, he is the one who’s making a difference in the lives of these children.


So when you’re helping your son or daughter pick out a nice Fathers’ Day gift for their ‘real’ dad on Fathers’ Day, try to remember that this father in absentia is missing out on watching his kids grow up. Try not to envy the fact that while you’re spending the night with a sick child, this guy is spending his nights with women half his age. We’re talking women who barely remember Jimmy Carter. Now, THAT would be a horrible way to live. You can bet he’s not spending his Saturday afternoon looking for some last minute gift for some guy he doesn’t even like. Make sure that you pick out something real nice. Maybe this purple and yellow plaid necktie that’s the size of a table cloth that your eager four-year-old is waving in front of your face.

“Yes, son, I think he’ll love that”.

From ‘Happy Fathers’ Day!’  by Bob Seay.


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