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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

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