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What is it to be a dad?

Lately I have found myself in discussions on blended families. I find it interesting to see how the different families handle their individual situations.

We know one family that the parents divorced and the mother remarried. The child still sees biodad most every weekend but the stepfather is there day and night for the child through thick and then. The child goes out of his way to distinguish the stepfather as "my step dad."

We have other friends that are a blended family. The daughter sees biodad regularly but I get the impression perhaps not as regularly as she would hope. The stepfather is hated despite appearing to be a kind, soft spoken, gentle man. The stepfather is called by his first name.

Last night I was told about a man who refuses to be a dad. He is the male in the house but totally ignores when his high school stepson comes home drunk or otherwise shows out. He declares, "I am not his father and it is not my place to discipline him." I so disagree! Perhaps that child is pushing the boundaries in part to see if this man will come alive and be his dad. Regardless, the child has been setup for rough relationships in his future.

In our house, I am called "Dad." We did not force it upon the older three and gave them the option to call me "whatever makes you most comfortable." For awhile, Tommy tried on "Doug" and, in the beginning, after every phone call with biodad there was great confusion causing the children to stressfully stammer between "Dad" and "Doug" because he gets upset if the children call him by first name. With the exception of Tommy, I have been the father figure in their lives longer than all biodad’s years. With irregular phone calls and 36-72 hours of visits a year, I don’t see how biodad could expect to nuture a relationship with the children. The teenage girl now refuses his calls so often that he has resorted to tricks to get her on the phone, "hand her the phone but don’t tell her who it is."

Any man with a half decent sperm count can father a child. A dad is the person who speaks to each of the stuffed animals by name at three a.m. while carefully cleaning spatters of vomit from their delicate fur. A dad is there to comfort a scared child and help her get cleaned up to return to bed. A dad takes the good and the bad. A dad is there for the children and it doesn’t matter if those children are his own dna, adopted, stepchildren, or squatters. Being a dad is something special and I am honored to be called "Dad."

3 thoughts on “What is it to be a dad?

  1. Doug,
    The term “step” doesn’t have to be seen as a negative. Luckily you and Cathy do not have divorced parents. Step-parents come into children’s lives in very different ways, and you may not always know the whole situation. You are very blessed that your children see you as “dad,” not all step-children are taken in immediately and loved. But if they called you “Doug” or their “step-dad,” would you love them less, or think they love you less?
    My step-mother came into my life in a not so positive way, and it has taken a very long time for me to trust and love her. I call her by her first name, and so do my brother and his brother’s children to whom have been around her since their births. We are not disrespecting her in any way and she doesn’t feel like we are.

    And on the point of disciplining a child, sometimes when blended families come together, they are in agreement that only the “bio” parent does the disciplining. We have friends that this is their agreement.

    Doug, not only are you blessed to be Tommy, Sarah, and Noah’s dad, they are very blessed to have you. Not all men step up the plate like you have.

  2. I would love them the same if they called me Doug, Mr. McCaughan, or Jane. Just don’t call me Shirley.

    Thank you Jeni!

    KristyK once lamented that blended family bloggers don’t share enough of the blended experience. I hope to be able to slip more stories of our perspective/our experiences.

  3. We did not force it upon the older three and gave them the option to call me “whatever makes you most comfortable.”
    because he gets upset if the children call him by first name

    In those two snips, it shows so clearly why you are “The Dad” and the other one is not (regardless of what DNA may say).

    I am adopted, and I blogged back on mother’s day about how when people ask me if I am going to look for my “real mom,” I tell them, I already know where she is… In the same house I grew up in.

    There is more to being a parent than biology. But you already know that.

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