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."