Question from concerned the Bio-Dad

Question from concerned the Bio-Dad

I would like to hear how Step Dads protect the child’s relationship with his REAL Father? What kinda things do you guys/”stepdads” do to “de- dramatize” any interference to the Father Child relationship? What I am interested to learn from your group, is what “next spouses” do to insure the last spouse is able to maintaintheir parental relationship? Cause God knows, divorce rates indicate half of you will be ex-spouses, -and maybe with shared children. I wonder if you will then hope the next guy supports your relationship as Father?…Thoughts? How many (stepdads) make an effort to support the Father’s relationship? Why and Why not? How many of you are encouraged by your new spouse to do so? From a distance, that fact that you call them “your kids” seems to indicate you don’t have respect  for the “former” spouse’s “Dad” relationship…And I ask again…What do you do to support That?-Stephen

 

Stephen,

These are great questions and I thank you for taking the time to ask. The news is full of negative stories about the bad Stepdads of the world. Part of the mission of stepdadding.com is to be a counter-balance to that. There are good and bad bio-fathers and there are good and bad Stepdads, but not all Stepdads are bad. For the most part Stepdads have a bad rep. Movies portray us as evil, domineering or worse. Within this group there are a great bunch of guys who are trying to be everything they can for the kids in their lives. The negative stereotype makes some men overly-cautious and others defensive.

The Stepdad’s Challenge

Many Stepdads are amazing men. Most of these guys step into a very challenging role. They have to find a way to be comfortable in their own homes without making their new children uncomfortable.  That’s a tough balancing act because many come into a situation where the kids have been alienated by two arguing parents. The kids are often resistant to more change. In most cases the new wife doesn’t get along with her ex. After-all, they didn’t break up because things were working too well. A Stepdad often walks into a situation where there is a fair amount of unresolved tension between the wife and her ex. These guys have to struggle with the existing dynamic in the home. It’s an uphill challenge. It takes a fair amount of communication skills, logic and self-control to be an effective Stepdad. Some guys handle it better than others.

Communication

Stepdadding.com wants to inspire men to do their best, work. This site isn’t about bringing down bio-dads it’s about inspiring Stepdads to do their best work. This included encouraging communication between all the adults. The blended family divorce rate is about 70% in western countries. This means most of these kids will have to suffer through another divorce. With some information & inspiration more couples can succeed and protect the kids from having to suffer through another dysfunctional family dynamic. Any bio- dad who cares about his children should have a vested interest in the Stepdads doing his best work. good communication between the adults has a huge impact on this. Working as a team is vital. That’s what we promote.

Stepdadding.com has always advocated communication between the parent groups in blended families. Our focus is about helping kids have a better childhood by helping parents do a better job. My book The Stepdad’s Guide – Resolving Family Conflict is solely focused of helping Stepdads and bio-moms forge a better working relationship with the bio-dad. At the core of what we do… it’s the kids. Ultimately that’s every GOOD parent’s focus -whether they’re biologically related or not. That’s the reason we share inspiring stories here and on our Facebook page. I know there is a great deal of emotion and struggle when a mom remarries –for both sets of parents. With some effort and teamwork, it doesn’t have to be a tug-of war. It can be a partnership.

“My kids”
I refer to them as “my kids” because that’s how I approach my relationship with them -as a parent. A stepdad needs to develop a consistent mentality about his role. He can’t see the kids as a burden. He has to see them as a responsibility. His approach doesn’t leave him with the expectation of being “dad.” However, it’s reasonable for him to expect to be treated with respect by kids in his home. I love my kids and treat them like they’re my own, but I’ve never asked them to call me dad and I don’t intend to replace their father. I’m just one more parent who has their best interest at heart. I call them “my kids” because I don’t want them to ever feel they are less important to me just because we don’t share DNA. Unfortunately, taking that pro-kid position can inspire a defensive reaction from bio-dads who don’t understand the motivation behind it. Communication can help bridge that gap and remove some of the father’s concern.

The Keys to Success
There are key issues that nearly all remarried moms will encounter. The stats tell us that understanding these factors will help improve the divorce rates for blended families. One big factor is the rift that’s usually left after a break up. The wife might not have a positive attitude about her ex. Her perspective can rub off on the Stepdad. I encourage Stepdads to set aside what they THINK they know about their wife’s ex. Most of what they think they know comes from their wife’s experience with her ex –and not their own interactions with him. It’s vital that the Stepdad set those attitudes aside for the kids’ benefit.

When you marry a single mom, you marry her entire situation
Before my wife and I got married I made a point of talking with my kid’s father. I knew that he was a part of their lives and we’d need to work together for many years. In a re-marriage position, bio-dads are in a more vulnerable position emotionally than Stepdads. Committed bio-dads often feel threatened by Stepdads. It’s easy to feel uncomfortable. There’s a new guy walking into their kid’s lives. Stepdads don’t carry as much fear about the situation. These are their wife’s kids, but Stepdads don’t have the same connection to them that the bio-dad usually does. In most cases it’s easier for a Stepdad to open a conversation than it is for the kids’ father. He ‘s in a less-vulnerable position.
When I spoke with my kid’s father I told him I cared about the kids and would always raise them as if they were mine, but I wasn’t interested in replacing him. I let him know I would never ask them to call me dad. That would have to be a decision they each made themselves. I l told him I knew he was their father and understood the importance of that. It meant a lot to him that I broke down that wall and made an effort. Even though he and the mom don’t have great rapport, we’ve always been able to talk when we need to. This includes playing intermediary when he and my wife aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on things. What matters most is that the kids are happy and they don’t have to see the parent groups arguing. Less drama= happier kids.

When is it okay to work against the bio-dad
The only time it’s okay to work against the father having contact is in the instance where danger to the kids is a factor, such as in the case of abuse, drug use or alcoholism. Again, all things go back to what’s in the best interest of the child. Any parent who knowingly allows their child to be in a dangerous situation is not doing their job.

S. James Wheeler

Founder, Stepdadding.com

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