Defeating the role of "Step-Dad"

One of the hardest things that I’ve run into in my time as being the “Step-Dad”, is the stereo type and bias that comes with the title. The notion that you are just a replacement, that your “Step-Child” isn’t actually YOUR child.  That you must toe the line between trying to please everyone and trying to be the Father figure you want to be.  Luckily, I have a very loving and supportive wife who is willing to call me out (in private, not conflicting authority in front of the kids) and confront me when she feels that I’ve crossed these boundaries, but is also willing to let me step past the stereotypical role of “Step-Dad”.

no need for a gym membership when you are 'daddy playground' to three five-year-old boys.

My biggest struggle has been making sure that I am treating my “Step-Son” as just that, a Son.  I constantly have to check myself.  Am I being too hard on him?  Am I treating him differently?  Am I treating him fairly?  All of these questions and more run through my head with every decision I make when interacting with Soren.

the boys are so strong I didn't have to cut the tree down - they pushed it to the ground!  all those push ups for 'every toy still left out' have paid off *wink

As such, I have slowly come to see him AS my Son and have learned a few things on this journey.  But what I propose to any other Step-Dads out there, are these few things I have learned and the many things I still have yet to learn:

1:  Establish your role as Step-Father

  • You don’t want to try to replace the Bio-Dad
  • Be a safe place

2:  Involve your new Step-Child

  • Include him in your daily routines

  • Create new routines for just the two of you

3:  Work with your partner

  • No one knows your Step-Child like your partner (they are the biological parent after all)

  • Talk about the boundaries and values you wish to instill

And lastly, and by far I think to be the most important… stop thinking of yourself as “Step-Dad”!

The definition of a Dad: dad [dad]  NOUN1. Informal -- one’s father
The definition of a Father: father [fa'ther]  NOUN1. D. -- A man who raises a child

So by definition, are you not your Step-Child’s Father, and your Step-Child not - your Child?

authored by Trent Crutcher