Stepdad feels like he’s second-best to kid’s bio-dad

Stepdad feels like he's second-best to kid's bio-dad

This really stings. I’ve been raising my son since I married his mom 10 years ago. He was six when we got married and about 4 when we started going out. He’s my boy. You can’t tell me any different.  But his father is also in his life and sees him sometimes. This is a guy who doesn’t pay child support and even has another kid with another lady and doesn’t raise that kid either. Anyway- I raise him and I work with him on his basketball, homework and all other school stuff. We have typical parent & kid issues but we have a very good thing. We’re like any other dad and son except he doesn’t call me dad, he calls  me Jimmy. He’s been really into this dance crew thing at school it’s a competitive dance thing, you know.  I’ve been driving him to these and letting his friends come over to work on it and encouraging him. He’s been doing great. He finally had a big performance and we all went, even his father. I was surprised the guy showed.  When it was over they did real good. His mom and I were real proud. We was waiting for him to come out after the show and he finally showed up, all pumped up and excited about the performance. I slapped him on the back and told him how great he was. He was cool but when he saw his father he grabbed him and said to his friends “Hey guys, this is my dad. You know. I told you about him.”  Man that sucked. I know it’s dumb but it really made me feel like a fool. You know, like I didn’t matter. Do other step dads wonder if they’re wasting their time- like they’re never really ever gonna win at this thing? I’m there for him. I pay for everything and I do what a dad is supposed to do. I love my son. I just don’t think he sees me the way I see him some times.  -JimmyG


You’re a good dad and a very good man. I can tell by the way you write about your boy that you love him like your own. That’s the reason this whole thing stings so much. Don’t lose faith. You are being honorable. You’re demonstrating for you kid what an honorable man acts like. He needs that because his bio-dad isn’t showing him. He has you as a role model and will probably be a better man for it one day.  Right now he’s young. His desire to be accepted by his bio-dad is natural. He’s not thinking about child support or if his father is being the best man he can be- he’s probably thinking about wanting to be accepted by him and feeling like he matters to him. It’s sort of a catch 22 that Stepdads often find ourselves in. Many of us Stepdads have been stung that same way. It’s important that you understand that it’s not personal. There’s a reason for the way he acts. Because you make an effort, he knows you care. He doesn’t have to try to win you over or earn your approval. He’s got that -and he knows it. Sadly, he also is probably hurting because his father doesn’t give him the same love and respect that you do -so he tries to win his father over. Unfortunately, this is part of the deal all of us Stepdads get dealt. You can love them like your own, but there are no guarantees that they will return that emotion.

Here’s the good news: He sees a good man in you every day. For him -you are being everything his father isn’t. He’s well on his way to being a man that you’ll be very proud of. When he gets to that point he’ll probably realize that you were a big player in making him that man. I’m willing to bet when he gets it- he’ll stop and thank you. It’s not much of a payday for your efforts but I’m willing to bet that you aren’t in it for a payoff anyway. You’re there because you love your kid. Whether you’re a Stepdad or a bio-dad, teens are hard work. Keep being the best dad you can be Jimmy.  Sounds like you’re doing a great job.  You can always feel good knowing that.

-The Stepdad


  1. Mr. Jones
    June 20, 2012

    I would;ve gone up to the kids and said, "no< I'M the father. I'm the one who has been there for him while that deadbeat neglected his kid. This kid doesn't even appreciate anything I do nor does he call me dad like he should."

    I would've asked the kid why he did that and just left. Then I would sue both biological parents for reimbursement for the expenses.

    Jimmy, do you have nay biological children of your own?

    This is exactly why men hate dating single mothers.

  2. Sundoulos
    November 26, 2012

    That has happened to me w/ my step daughter as well. She only adores him BECAUSE she wants HIS approval. Everybody else that was around us thought that I was her dad & I am, I just don't have the blood ties. The good thing about your situation is that one day, he'll tell you how much he appreciated you; I might not ever hear it from my step daughter (but, I did what I did because I love her, not for a pat on the back). True love is independent of the response of the recipient…

    • The_Step_Dad
      November 26, 2012

      You nailed it! Being a Stepdad is about being the best parent you can be with no thought of what's in it for you. That's the path that gets the best results.
      Not by any coincidence -being a good bio-parent is the same formula.

  3. thechildlessstepmom
    November 26, 2012

    Mr. Jones, I completely appreciate your feelings. We have an entirely absent BM and believe me, there have been MORE than a few occasions where my hateful attitude about her LACK of parenting and me doing ALL the mothering has boiled over. However, there comes a point where you have to realize, The Stepdad and Sundoulos TRULY nailed it. Kids often treat the one who cares poorly because they KNOW we will be there. I dealt with this constantly myself. And I have no biokids of my own, I CERTAINLY have thought it would be WAY easier not to deal with this. EVERY involved step-parent with an absent bio-parent has felt: Why on EARTH do I get no credit, I make his lunch, I give him baths, I read the bedtime stories, WE pay the mortgage, WE pay for childcare WE pay for activities, WE DO EVERYTHING while they are off doing whatever they do and NOT PARENTING! But I DO get credit and he KNOWS who is there because I put in the effort. They will ALWAYS want to know where they came from and that is their right. And Jimmy, he said " this is my dad, the one I told you about." Take that for EXACTLY what it's worth – he doesn't have to TELL them about YOU – you are THERE! Yes, he is his dad and will always be, even if he hasn't earned the title. Mr. Jones sounds like he is still in a very bitter position in his journey, which I can relate to, but you are actually only hurting your relationship with the child by behaving that way. I know it hurts, but be the bigger man. Show him you appreciate that he wants a relationship with his biodad, and you are secure enough in your own role that you don't have to let your emotions overwhelm you. Yes you could take different advice, say nasty things and make the kid feel like crap for his NATURAL feelings, or you can swallow your pride and rest assured, your boy already KNOWS who has been there and who he can count on. Step-parenting is about endurance, your reward will come much later, when you didn't bash his dad, when you let him figure it out on his own. One day it will all make sense when he returns to you and thinks of YOU as "DAD" because YOU put in the effort. Right now he is confused, he is hurt and he wants to be accepted. You have every right to feel the way you do, but never let these things take away from what YOU are doing. It is NOT going unnoticed.

    • J_C
      March 18, 2013

      So what are you supposed to do when everything is going perfect just the way they are without the bio dad in the picture and mom decides to beg bio dad back in to their lives?

      • The_Step_Dad
        March 18, 2013

        Being a Stepdad is much more complex than being a bio dad. It's because we have to navigate through challenging (sometimes emotional) situations that grow from the wife's earlier relationship(s). A bio-dad suddenly re-entering the picture is a common complaint from Stepdads. This is also something most guys don't consider when getting together with a single mom –but they should.

        Studies show that children benefit from having multiple parent figures and role-models, if they are positive influences. The child's father should not be blocked from being an important part of his life, even if it is frustrating. A child's father has more legal rights than a Stepdad ever will (unless he signs them away). Unless he's a dangerous man, there's no reason to block access to the child. When you marry a woman, you marry her entire situation. You have to be ready to adapt to changes that you had nothing to do with creating. The best thing to do is to reach out to the father and try to work together as a team, in the child's best interest. Don't allow animosity to build between you and the child's father. Take a minute to read the middle section of my reply to Alex on the page listed below. If the father decide's to stay he'll be a part of your life as long as the child is. http://stepdadding.com/stepdad-questions-answers/

  4. Dave
    October 5, 2013

    The truth is you are not his dad. The biological dad is and the boy only has one dad. It is great that you are there to support the child and be a male role model and support the mother but at the end of the day, the dad is the dad. It is hard to be a ‘father’ when you have been displaced from the family home and seeing your child becomes problematic, it is even harder for the real dad when a new man enters the scene and presents as the savior figure when the biological dad has two arms tied behind his back. At the end of the day all this hoopla about research and multiple father is rubbish. Unless the biological father is deceased or has expressly stated he has no interest in raising his child should a ‘step-dad’ assume this mantle. You are not even the dad, you are a significant role model who cares and loves the child. Great.

    “Stepdad is much more complex than being a bio dad. It’s because we have to navigate through challenging (sometimes emotional) situations that grow from the wife’s earlier relationship(s). ” M

    This is a big load of rubbish, more complicated then being the biological dad? Yeah if he’s dead, this is a very stupid thing to say.

    • The_Step_Dad
      October 8, 2013

      Your statement is overly emotional and highly uneducated. You sounds like someone complaining about a football game who’s never even played the game. You do your kids a dis-service. See a complete reply here: http://stepdadding.com/?p=2806


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