For The Stepdad Who Really Steps Up
When my daughter’s father was sentenced to serve seven years in prison, I was devastated. Although our intimate relationship had been over for a while, my heart grieved for the loss of a father’s presence in my daughter’s life. I didn’t want her to fall prey to the statistics known to impact children with an incarcerated parent. I refused to let it happen on my watch and thanks to my husband, who I’d just began dating at the time, she has not ever wanted for anything or missed on out good experiences because her biological father wasn’t around.
I am glad my husband entered the picture and took on the role of stepdad; however, I am a bit frustrated at her biological dad’s attitude towards providing for her financially. This isn’t a new attitude. Bio dad has always fallen short when it came to providing for her consistently. Prior to his incarceration, he’d periodically lavish her with expensive gifts and clothes, but did not understand that importance of supporting her on a consistent basis. The bulk of the responsibility had always fallen on me. However, he assured me that when he was released, he’d be the father he’d always intended to be in every aspect of the word. I had my doubts, but I hoped for the best.
When he was first sentenced, I had to explain the nature of his crime to my daughter and why he would be going away for a while. She had heard rumors, so I explained things to her in a way I hoped a six-year-old could understand. I told her she would not be home until she was 13 years old, but there would be letters, phone calls and possible opportunities to visit. I was still on the fence about allowing her to visit, but in any event, I did my best to keep her connected to his family. I sent pictures and updates so that they could still have a feeling of closeness even though they didn’t have proximity. He wrote her consistently and needless to say those letters included a lot of promises that I truly hoped he would fulfill when he was released. Again, I took his words with a grain of salt because I had my doubts, but I didn’t want to dash her hopes.
When my husband entered the picture, he didn’t think twice about helping me to take care of her. Unsurprisingly, her bio dad initially expressed a lot of concern at the thought of another man taking over his role in his daughter’s life. I personally couldn’t care less about how he felt, but as a man, my husband seemed to understand where he was coming from and handled the situation with so much finesse. My husband filled in the gaps, but at the same time, he put no pressure on her to regard him as her dad. He positioned himself as her friend and protector because he felt she had a dad even though he’d be gone for a while. He respected the bond she had with her bio dad and that made her feel good. In the end though, I still had to wonder why her biological dad seemed more worried about someone physically taking his place, but had no qualms about another man footing the bill for his daughter. I probably won’t ever know the answer to that one. I’m just glad my husband has been there to do what needed to be done.
Her dad has since been released from prison and has been out for about two years. The promises he made to our daughter have been deferred. She’s 15 now and not looking for money because her needs are met, but she was hoping he’d be able to spend more time with her and that they could pick up where they left off. Unfortunately, he’s since had kids with an unfit mother and most of his time is spent working through their various dramas. I recently asked him about providing for our daughter and he stated that since my husband and I have “good jobs,” it was only fair that he use his limited resources to provide for the kids who have nothing. There is no need to rehash the direction this conversation took after that comment, but needless to say, it went downhill.
As much as I want to intercede and advocate for what I’ve believe he owes my daughter with respect to time and money, I’ve decided to let it go and avoid the unnecessary drama. I want her to have a good relationship with her bio dad, but it is his job to figure out how to make that happen, not mine. My husband feels that as long as she has our continued love and support, she’ll be fine. He said he’s been taking care of her this long and has no intention of stopping now. He’s shown me that a good stepdad is a man who is willing to step up when another man has taken a step back.
Do your kids have a stepdad who does more for them than their real dad? How do you manage?