There is a really easy answer to this question…and the answer is Love. Love makes a parent, not blood or biology. Children, like my own daughter, are incredibly lucky because they do not just have the unbreakable love of their blood relatives and parents but also that of another family. A family that has been blended into their lives through circumstance.
Adam is very much a step father to my daughter. No, we’re not married, so legally he has no obligation to my child. However, Adam has been an absolute constant in my daughters life since 11th Janaury 2013 and very much a part of our family from moving in with us on 1st June 2013. Since he made the choice to live with us and after months of building up a relationship with my child, he has been every single bit a parent as I have.
There isn’t any point listing the financial pressure this put on him at twenty two years old, almost four years ago, because that’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? When you live with someone, regardless of children, you have a financial obligation to the home. So not counting all the school trips, clothes, food, rent, bills, electric, days out, holidays, plasters, calpol, sweets, cinema trips, picnics and toys that have been bought I’m going to tell you about the times when Adam has been a parent.
Unfortunately for him he had to learn to change a nappy without me to hold his hand. He didn’t know what he was doing but I was at work. However, it’s a parents responsibility to keep a child clean. He just did it because that’s what parents do. He probably didn’t want to be in on the potty training either, but do you know what he did when he came home from work? He lifted her, sat her on the toilet, and if she’d had an accident, he cleaned it up and sorted it out. Isn’t that what a parent does? Isn’t that what a dad does?
He hasn’t been afraid to take her to the loo on car journeys, find a good bush if she’s been desperate, and help her clean herself up if she’s needed the help. He didn’t take shortcuts. Instead of telling her she needed to be in pull ups at night and when travelling, completely messing up the consistency it takes when toilet training a child, and forcing her to have embarrassing accidents because she was so confused. He just did what he thought he should do as a parent. He helped support my decisions and he went with it rather than trying to build up a wall against my decisions because he was lazy.
And bath time, oh gosh, that’s been an experience too! My daughter has the longest hair, almost to her bottom, and he has sat there in the bathroom and washed it for her. Making sure no soap gets in the eyes. Laughing with her. Trying to make it fun because she hates having her hair washed. He has sat their with a hair dryer because she hates the feel of wet hair on her back. Surely thats what a parent does, step or otherwise?
He has walked her hand in hand safely across roads to and from nursery, and now to and from school. He has been involved in parents evenings, nursery one to ones, read her report with pride. He has attended her Christmas performances, sports days and met each new teacher. He has taken time off work to attend these meetings, sacrificing his scarce annual leave so he could watch, listen and cheer her on. Isn’t that what a parent does?
Whilst I have always lead the way in disciplining my daughter, he has helped me and supported me with every method we can think of. He has helped with reward charts, pocket money, park visits and he has stuck by me when her attitude is not as positive as I would like. She listens to him, she respects him and she does what both of us tell her. Isn’t this what parenting is all about?
There have been times when my daughter has woken late at night, just as Adam has got home from work, and he has given her cuddles, tucked her back into bed and read her a happy story. He has held her hand when she’s been so sad. He has listened and encouraged her school reading, worked with her on her homework and basically done every single little thing a parent does for a child.
Rather than letting any petty jealous emotions get to you maybe you should think about a few things when it comes to the step parent in a child’s life. No, we’re not married right now, but we will be. We will have children together and we will celebrate that we will have a larger family. We have built an incredibly strong, happy and supportive relationship and family home over the last few years. Pretty much every parenting choice that has happened since Adam came into my daughters life, he has known about, supported and encouraged. He has been there for her too. He will always be a father figure to her. He isn’t her father, my daughter knows exactly who her dad is, and she is incredibly lucky to have the love of three parents.