In Praise of Step-Parents

First off, happy Father’s Day (a day early) to all of you dads out there, be you step- or non-hyphenated.  I know several good dads of both stripe and at one time (and perhaps again soon) I will be one of both.  Before I was a dad, I was a step-dad.  I have two wonderful grown daughters who mean more than they realize to me, but to be honest I’ve been a terrible father to them for a few years now.  Minimal contact with them, almost no contact with their children; I even have difficulty remembering their birthdays and I haven’t been much for giving them presents on the appropriate occasions.  I hope to change at least some of that soon, with their help and understanding.

But, enough about me for the moment, let’s get to the real reason for this post: to give step-parents their due.  It’s a tough job, and it can be made even tougher by certain circumstances (more on that in a bit).  I had it fairly easy; I had no other father to compete with or to measure up against and I did the best I could.  I hope and think that I made a positive impact on their lives.  That’s still not an easy gig but it’s easier than the other type of step-parenting: the one with other natural parents involved.

That’s the second reason I’m writing this, to give some much-deserved credit to my lovely wife who falls into this category.  She’s a step-mom to my daughter – our daughter – and she has to do that on an every-other-weekend basis.  It’s tough, being a step-mom or step-dad when the mom or dad is there.  You have to establish a bond with the child and keep reestablishing it.  It shouldn’t be a competition but in a way it is.  It’s a long road to establish trust and earn respect.  My wife has done it with our daughter and she’s gone through some minor forms of hell along the way, and there are still gonna be bumps in the road ahead (Zoe just turned 13…yeesh.  A teenager.).  She’s stuck by me through all of this and she deserves all the credit in the world, something I don’t give her enough of.  Vanessa, you do a great job and I’m glad I have you (and your family) in my life to help me raise Zoe.  I can’t imagine doing it without you.

So to my wife in particular and all the good step-parents in general, I tip my cap like Mike Scioscia to you.  It’s a difficult thing to do and you do it voluntarily, and you make so much of a difference.  Keep up the good work.

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