A reader dilemma – When an absent father wants to be daddy again

A reader recently sent a distressed request on the post A Manifesto on Absent Fathers concerning her absent ex who has suddenly expressed a desire, after six years, to be part of his daughter’s life. Below is her predicament and my response. I’d love the Chopper Nation to chime in with any perspective you can offer this mom.

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I need help! Any advice for a mom? I have a 6-year-old girl her father has seen her twice in 6 years and that is because of his lack of trying. I have an amazing husband who has been here for her since she was 3 months old. The past few months my ex all the sudden has been emailing asking about her and wanting to talk to her and acting like he cares. My current husband is FURIOUS with this and I don’t know what the right thing to do is. My daughter knows about her ‘bio-father’ and asks lots of questions and this seems to hurt my husband. He is angry about him trying to all of a sudden come into her life and I myself don’t know why he is either. He lives in Hawaii and us in MN so it’s not like he can visit on any regular basis. Any suggestions? Do I allow him in not knowing if he is going to bail again and let my husband be hurt..Ugghh I don’t know what to do!

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You certainly are in a difficult situation. You’re between the proverbial rock and a hard place of trying to do what is best for your daughter while remaining supportive of your husband.

Before I share my thoughts I want to encourage him to read a post I wrote for Father’s Day last year, in it I express many of the emotions he is likely going through right now and I go on to  unpack how I deal with them.

When you must share the stage on Father’s Day

From your comment it appears that you are, at least, considering the chance of giving bio-father the opportunity to connect with your daughter. After six years and only two visits you certainly have the right to react defiant in the face of his request. From a purely biological perspective he does have the legal right, regardless of his absence, but actions always speak louder than genetics or the law in my opinion. While I don’t know why he disappeared in the first place hopefully he has realized the err of his ways and now wants to be a permanent part of his child’s life.

I don’t think you want to, nor should you, prevent your daughter from establishing a connection with bio-father, especially since she is asking about him on a regular basis. That however doesn’t mean he just walks back in as if nothing ever happened. You have the right and obligation to establish strict boundaries around how he reintroduces himself to her. You should not shy away from demanding that he follow you and your husband’s strict guidelines. Whether that be you both supervising bio-father’s visit time or just limiting contact initially to phone calls until such time as you both are comfortable with taking it further. Personally, I think you should be cautiously optimistic but make him prove to both of you his dedication.

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And you must do all of this while remaining conscious of your husband’s emotions, which may prove to be much more difficult. I can totally relate to how he is feeling. He has stepped up when bio-father choked and bailed and has been there for you and your daughter ever since. He may even be wondering “Why am I not enough?”  Then suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere bio-father comes back and wants to be involved. His anger and frustration are legitimate and understandable but, and this is the tricky part, he can’t let his personal feelings take precedent over what is best for his stepdaughter. The most difficult thing he must over come, and it was the very same for me, is putting aside his pride for the betterment of your child. You and he may have already formed opinions about how this will ultimately turn out and you may very well be correct. But I don’t believe that is for you to decide. She deserves an opportunity to connect with bio-father if he has proven himself worthy and up for the task.

My immediate suggestion on a course of action is to sit down with your husband and talk to him about what is most beneficial for your daughter, specifically connecting with her birth father. Convince him that this doesn’t change anything about his current role nor is he being replaced. Then together you should structure how bio-father will be allowed to reconnect with her. I think that it’s imperative that you both be in complete agreement on how to proceed, communication that decision with bio-father, then slowly ease him back into her life.

I believe that being a part of the decision making process will limit any feelings of intimidation and hopefully not give him the sense that he’s just been cast aside. While bio-father may be just that, your husband is probably her ‘daddy’. And from personal experience children never, regardless of what men enter their lives, forget who their daddy is.

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The opinions expressed here are personal and are not intended to replace professional or legal advice. 

I’m a single dad, not a child molester

Let’s begin with a story. There’s a little girl we’re going to call Brittany. Now Brittany is in the fourth grade at a school she’s been attending since kindergarten. She’s outgoing and cute, dresses odd at times, can be very funny, is a tad bookwormish, and is most definitively a Taylor Swift fan.

Brittany meets and becomes fast friends with girl in her class named Mallory.  They both like the TV show Good Luck Charlie and play Tap Pet Shop on their iTouches, not to mention Mallory loves Taylor Swift also. They quickly become inseparable pals eating lunch together every day, playing during recess, and drawing pictures of one another under rainbow and butterfly filled skies. One afternoon Mallory comes running home from school asking her mom and dad if she can have a sleepover at Brittany’s house this weekend. It seems Brittany recently got Just Dance 3 for the Wii and they plan on having a dance party late into the night.

The usual next step entails Brittany and Mallory’s moms talking on the phone or maybe meeting up for a quick ‘get-to-know’ and it’s party on. But if it ended there, it wouldn’t be much of a post. Well it isn’t all because there’s  one small detail I left out. In this story you’re Mallory’s mom or dad and the sleepover she wants with Brittany, well, it’s going to be at my home – her divorced, unmarried, and single father.

Now let me ask you this question. What is the very first thought going through your mind after realizing the place where your daughter is going to spend the night is a single dad’s house? You don’t have to answer that because I already know. It’s something like this… Not a chance in hell! And here’s a secret, I would probably say the same thing.

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Next month marks seven years since my divorce, which is longer than I was married and neither of my kids have known any different. That’s seven years of co-parenting on my own. That’s 2,555 days full of diaper changes, potty training episodes, nursing nosebleeds, performing tuck-ins, and reciting bedtime stories. I’ve doctored diaper rashes, attended parent/teacher conferences, and sat through a dozen God-awful elementary school musicals. I’ve read to classrooms, been a teacher’s helper, and ate $2.30 school lunches with a table of seven year olds.

There are only two feats I’ve yet to check-off from the parenting to-do list – breast feeding and giving birth. If you’re going to judge a parent based upon his or her aptitude and performance, go ahead and induct me into the Mommy and Daddy Hall of Fame, right now. So why is it when Mallory asked if she could have a sleepover at my house you looked at your spouse and thought “how are we going to get out of this?”

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It’s one of the harshest realities I’ve ever faced as an man, and a father – the perception that since I don’t live with a woman I’m less of a parent. In the court of public opinion I’m a dad who’s guilty until proven innocent and even if I am acquitted I still need an ankle bracelet and must check in with my parole officer once a month.  Because I failed at a marriage it seems, as a man, I’m no less inclined to fail as a parent. Why, and this question is directed at me as much as anyone else, do I feel way more uneasy if my kids are in a home where the responsible parent isn’t a woman? Why do I believe it isn’t a good idea, since there isn’t going to be a mother around, and therefore I make up some lame lie excuse about why my kid can’t spend the night with her friend?

Why do feel I need to ask around, run a complete background check, and ask for blood and urine samples because the dad isn’t married? And why would all of this anxiety disappear if happened at a divorced mom’s house? The fact isn’t lost on me that my daughter has tons of sleepovers but none of them are at my home. In the last seven years she has only had one friend spend the night and it was a neighbor who lived 200 yards away and her parents had me on speed dial. Sure, my daughter wants friends over but it never seems to materialize, as if by magic the other kids are always busy…until the next weekend she’s at her moms.

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Why are single dads looked upon more critically than any another parent? While single moms are virtually sanctified to the level of Mother Theresa for their seemingly endless supply of self-sacrifice; why are single dads expected to be self-centered, negligent, and unreliable  – especially as a parent? It’s undeniable that a single father is first and foremost regarded as single. Because I’m not with a woman, why is it assumed I must have the parenting skills of a green sea turtle? That I will invariably let your kid watch too much television, drink gallons of soda, and run with knives.

But let’s be completely honest. The true reason why you don’t let Mallory spend the night, whether you want to admit it or not, is that doing so fills your mind with dreadful images better left unsaid.

I could tell you that I, like most dads, just want the best for my kids and for them to have happy and joyful childhoods. I could also tell you that as a divorced dad I guarantee I work harder towards achieving that than any married dad ever will. I could mention how it offends me that you think your child would be any less safe and secure with me just because a woman isn’t under my roof. And I could bring up  that if you actually got to know me you’d quickly realize I, and many other single dads like me, aren’t anything like the deadbeats you hear about in the media.

But chances are it wouldn’t do any good, so instead I’ll just leave you with a harsh remainder until your kid’s next sleepover – I’m a single dad not a child molester.

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Child Visitation is a four-letter word

With all the bitterness and resentment that occurs in a divorce such as alimony, co-parenting, every other weekends, and the train wreck it makes of lives in general, this notion of parental/child visitation is head and shoulders the most insulting.

The mere fact that I, as their father, am reduced to ‘visits’ with my children is enough to make me strap TNT to my chest and walk into the nearest family court room. It’s the only piece of my divorce that I have yet to come to complete grips with.

When the Jap and I divorced in ’05 our children were 10 and 18 months old. I moved, and still live, exactly 7.2 miles from the home she and the Trainer live in today. Being unaware of their impending co-habitation and ultimate marriage, I agreed to provide the necessary financial resources for her to stay home full time until my son was two years old. She believed, and I agreed, that their extremely young age warranted greater stability and going back and forth sleeping at dad’s one night and their mom’s the next would be a bit much. I wasn’t overly pleased with the situation but my ego and wallet took a back seat to their well-being.

Seeing a chance to move the docket forward with relative ease the court eagerly agreed with our contract as do most family courts in Georgia. At no point ever in the proceedings was it assumed or suggested that I would have equal parenting time, so instead of automatically offering joint physical custody to both of us I was relegated to a non-custodial ‘loser’ parent with set visitation that  had to be approved  by their mother and the judge. I was informed that if I had any intent on changing that arrangement not only must I go to court I would have to prove that I’m capable of doing the job. And I don’t need to mention the financial incentive one gains with sole custody.

All of this meant my time with the kids would consist of a few hours two afternoons during the week after which I was to bring them back to her house before bedtime and then every other weekend where I would pick them up on Friday afternoon and dropping them off on Sunday evening. Arguably an odd arrangement, but there was absolutely no way I was going to be one of those dads who has his kids every other weekend –  or about four days per month. Regardless of my resistance, at that stage of the game, our arrangement worked for everyone  – especially me. I traveled for business occasionally and continued to battle my way through the mental and emotional fog that comes with any divorce. And unlike her I had no network of SAHM’s who could help babysit or have play dates – she got the dining room set and the friends in the breakup.

But even with my agreement to our co-parenting plan the feeling that I was just visiting my kids remained a bitter pill. You visit the dentist or your Aunt Sue in Hoboken, that phrase shouldn’t apply to your toddler children. To me ‘child visitation’ reeks of prejudice and says: 

“Yes we know they have your DNA and look just like you, we know you were in the delivery room and have changed countless diapers; but while we appreciate that you support them financially and love them unconditionally the best your going to get is a visit that will be put in writing and can’t be deviated from without an a judge saying so. Now be a good little daddy and shut up, stay out of the way, and keep sending the checks!”

As the non-custodial parent I have virtually no rights in the decision making process for my kids. The ex, if she chose, could move to another country and I would have to sue to stop it. On the other hand, if I took the kids there would be an APB out on me for child-kidnapping before I got across the county line. The custodial parent has the right to choose schools, activities, even religion, while the non-custodial has no say unless it’s been authorized. As far as I’m concerned that’s not parenting – it’s settling.[pullquote]You visit the dentist or your Aunt Sue in Hoboken, that shouldn’t apply to your toddler children[/pullquote]

I will say that while I’ve been spared the majority of challenges  many non-custodial parents suffer it’s still that infernal term ‘visitation’ that continues to haunt me. It’s as if somebody has thrown me a parental bone and I should be happy with what I’ve got. But that doesn’t sit well with me. I’m just not one of those absent fathers who take to the road as soon as the judge signs the papers and is never seen or heard form again.

Why is it routinely that if a man wants to have equal time with his children he must fight for it? Why is it necessary that of the two parents it’s always that father that must prove he’s adequate to the task? Are the cards stacked against me because I didn’t do the pushing, is it because mothers are viewed as more vital, or maybe all the loser dads before me blew it and now I’m paying for their sins? Which ever way, at least give me the option to turn down equal parenting time – then I alone am to blame for feeling like scum.

Seven years later and I’m still the non-custodial parent who gets visitation with his kids. Many people will say that “it’s really no big deal”. “You’re still their father and you’re part of their life, it’s only a legal term”. To which I respond lets trade places and then tell me if it’s still no big deal? It’s an absolute big deal and an abuse of legit single dads everywhere.

My repeated requests for joint custody have fallen on deaf ears as she gives me the same rational from way back then. So for the time being I use my lot as motivation, a competition of sorts. Being a non-custodial parent makes me feel as if I’ve got something to prove even though I don’t. Because my parenting time is court mandated I find I’m far more involved than I otherwise might be and surely more so than the major lot of dads who have their kids all the time. But as of now the truth remains, much like that lowly bill sitting on Capital Hill, I’m just a non-custodial parent whose wounds have yet to completely heal.

A manifesto on absent fathers

Parenting isn’t easy. Anyone saying otherwise has never been one  – or at least a good one. When I became divorced in ’05 my children were 10 and 22 months old –that’s young by any standard. And I can still remember the trepidation that initial weekend alone with them. Would I be able to do this on my own?

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The best divorce advice I never got

 

Divorce is big business.

In fact, it’s a $28 billion dollar per year industry with the average breakup estimated to cost $20,000. In light of that I can easily understand the axiom “it’s cheaper to keep her”. But for those who’ve been through their own the emotional costs can be incalculable. The moment a couple decides to dissolve the marriage a noticeable and psychological shift occurs. Virtually overnight two people who once promised to love, honor, and cherish one another till death to they part don armor and become sworn enemies. Their attitude is suddenly defensive with self-interest being the preeminent motive, while their actions take on militaristic like qualities as they are near hell-bent on getting or keeping what they feel belongs to them.

Divorce is dirty business.

For most the thinking behind the divorce drama is “to the victor goes the spoils” and almost everything is considered spoils including grandma’s china set, the 401k, that lake house, and the bedroom furniture; even frequent flier miles become assets or at least bargaining chips for sweeter rewards. And is often the case the more spoils on the line the nastier and more drawn out the divorce can get. Sometimes the process moves at a rapid pace, when I realized there would be no reconciliation in my own marriage I pushed all parties and finalized the deal in 2 months while other divorces can go on for years held up by all that stuff  – especially money.

The depths to which some people can and often go in a divorce are startling. I’m still amazed at how quickly two people, who once claimed so much affection for one other, can turn so angry and vindictive. And it seems peoples’ depravity knows no bounds whether it’s subpoenaing unforeseen witnesses to denounce her character or making false and outlandish accusations about his parenting nothing is deemed off limits if it might help them win.

It all helps to make divorce juicy reality TV or intriguing courtroom showdowns but it’s hell on the spirit and when both parties finally and often resentfully come to an agreement the scars left are deep and painful. And to make matters even more difficult, if kids are involved the two battle weary warriors now must try to move beyond their bitterness and differences to become effective co-parents.

Divorce is emotional business.

But moving beyond is something men find particularly difficult to do. Research indicates women file 60-75% of all divorces and often the husband is taken by total surprise when he gets the papers. While admitting to martial difficulties he is usually oblivious (purposefully or not) to how bad things really are.  So harboring feelings of rejection he moves forward in the divorce relationship. But looking at life through a lense of indignation leads to choices based primarily on emotion which take any number of forms including disrespect and disparaging comments about the ex to temporarily withholding child support payments and flaunting the new girlfriend all as a way of ‘getting back’ at the ex.

The best divorce advice I wish I’d gotten earlier.

For several years after my own breakup I struggled to find a way of dealing with my ex without wanting to set her on fire. And those feeling of homicide were intensified every time I wrote a child support check and dropped my kids off at her house. Too often I allowed my emotions to take my actions in a direction that wasn’t healthy or helpful, which made a strenuous situation even worse. Until I finally came to an epiphany.[pullquote]Co-parenting is a relationship by court order and it’s indefinite.[/pullquote]

Treat the divorce relationship like a business.

No one tolde me this sage advice I just kind of came up with it on my own. I had to remember that settlement agreement and divorce decree are more than just a ticket to relationship freedom. It’s a contract with certain stipulations that her and I must abide by.  Co-parenting is a relationship by court order and it’s indefinite. With two children under the age of five we’ll be dealing with each other for a long time. So like any good businessman it was time to institute some standard operating procedures.

First, there is no room for emotional warfare in a post-divorce relationship. Hostility, anger, and revenge serve no purpose but to further deteriorate an already difficult situation. So it became incumbent upon me to pack away any of that remaining emotional baggage. A co-parenting relationship is only adversarial if we make it so and her and I share one common goal, to parent our children the best way we can in light of the circumstances. The change hasn’t been easy but therapy, time, and insight from the Queen made it possible. Our relationship today has become one purely of business and it’s treated as such. I have put boundaries in place that aren’t crossed. Our discussions center on issues with the kids and their schedule while never delving into each other’s personal lives. We are cordial and polite but I wouldn’t consider us friends. Managing a divorce relationship is often a fulltime job.

But there’s an upside to all this businesslike demeanor. And that upside is two priceless gems, namely our kids, that have acclimated brilliantly to the modern family. Which I’m convinced would not have been possible were it not for taking care of business.

 

The ex is getting remarried. Now what?

© by Rubber Slippers In Italy

All the voicemail said was, “Hey it’s Jim. Give me a call when you get this I want to talk with you about something”

We men are funny little creatures even when asking for advice we do it in a way that makes us look like we’re not. The urge to know-it-all goes way beyond directions and while we don’t have a clue we must show that we’ve still got things under control.

And in case you’re wondering men invented the statement “So I have this friend….”

Jim was coming up on his 1st divorce anniversary. The break-up’s impact on himself and his elementary age kids woke him up to some areas of his life that needed to be dealt with. So he sucked up his pride, connected with a counselor, and had been cleaning out the gunk ever since. Going through my own divorce year’s prior he will periodically call to get a different perspective on his own life changes. And I would soon find out the reason behind this call was already checked off my list.

Jim and his kids returned from a week’s vacation at the beach to find his ex-wife was newly engaged. As he went into the details I sensed jealousy, alarm, and intimidation. Jim had chosen to stay out of the dating arena until he got right with himself while she had jumped into another relationship immediately, and now that 12 month affair to a man 10 years her junior was leading to a new father figure in his kids’ lives that Jim was none to happy about.

To give her some credit she did want his blessing before confronting their kids with the news for which Jim was less than willing to oblige. I think he would have much rather called them both crazy, filed suit for full custody, and contracted a professional hit on the fiancée.

As he continued to talk I began replaying my own story. Four days after my last alimony payment the Jap informed me her boyfriend, the Trainer, was moving in with her and my kids. While she defended the timing as mere coincidence, it couldn’t have been more organized if she’d hired an event planner. Though he news wasn’t all that surprising it was still something I needed to come to grips with. Which was that a new man was in my kid’s lives and that idea set me on edge.

No sooner were his boxes unpacked then they were taking trips together, displaying family photos around their house, and for a brief time referring to him as daddy (which was quickly rectified). With no kids or an ex of his own it seemed the Trainer was the easiest of plug and plays for her next marriage.

As Jim wound down his rant and awaited my reply the initial response probably came off a bit short reflecting my continued  sensitivity about the entire issue.[pullquote]While she defended the timing as mere coincidence it couldn’t have been more organized than if she’d hired an event planner.[/pullquote]

“What did you expect her to do? I said. It’s fanciful to think that neither person will remarry after a divorce and while we don’t want to be married to them they shouldn’t find anyone new either. But as couples divorce earlier in the marriage and at earlier ages in life it’s egocentric to think they shouldn’t find someone new, though pulling the trigger in such a short time as Jim’s ex did seem a bit hasty.

Looking for words of encouragement and what to do next I offered up four suggestions that centered around what he can control instead of what he can’t.

There is nothing you can do about it. – Regardless of personal opinion your ex can marry whomever they please. If you have evidence that the marriage puts your kids in danger then professional assistance may be necessary but if the contention is simply because you don ‘t like the thought of being replaced – you just need to move on.

Support the new relationship in front of the kids, no matter what. – This will be easier said than done. But nothing good comes from throwing the new couple under the bus and voicing your disagreement about the nuptials in front of the kids. Worse case they use that hostility to pit you against the other parent and best case you still come across as bitter.

Remain the constant in your kids’ life– As the ex’s new relationship grows there will invariably be bumps in that marriage. All you can do is be there for your kids when that other home turns to chaos and confusion. By knowing they can count on you here they’ll be better able to deal with the drama there.

Get to know the new partner. –  As sensible as it sounds I didn’t follow through on this though I wish I had. That other person will soon become a parent and the secret to successful co-parenting is communication and consistency. The new addition to the family ought to understand his or her assumed role in the bigger picture and what the expectations are. It’s imperative that each of the parents is on the same parenting page.

When an ex get’s remarried a whole new dynamic enters the co-parenting relationship. Too often our bitterness and resentment get in the way and that leads to decisions based on fear, anger, pity, and resentment – none of which ever turn out good. But as that old saying, life does go on and that goes for our ex as much as it does for us.

5 must haves for being a great single dad.

If you’re a single or divorced dad I feel your pain. I’ve been one for seven years and have experienced every emotion you are going or will go through. I know what it’s like to have a piece of your soul ripped away every Sunday evening, I’ve had the desire to take out a professional hit on my ex-wife, and I understand feeling like you just can’t win.

Being a single father means we may never have a traditional relationship with our children, we may not always be there to tuck them in or be able to band-aide every scrape but that doesn’t mean we can’t be any less than an extraordinary influence in their lives. Regardless of what media or culture says fathers are important and your kids need you whether you’re with their mother or not.

When I got divorced the judge didn’t hand out a how-to manual or assign a resource for help and since my family was hours away  it meant I was on my own. As such, I made almost every conceivable mistake a single dad can from introducing the girlfriend too early to horrendous potty training mistakes that required hours to clean up, but I also learned a lot from all those rings of fire. I often get asked about my experiences from new single dads and while there is no ‘one right way’ below are what I believe to be 5 crucial steps every dad must take if they are going to have a lasting impact in their children’s lives.

  1. Accountability – And yes, among other things I mean paying child support. I don’t care how irresponsible she is with money or how painful writing that check seems every month. It’s less unpleasant than jail and makes co-parenting way easier. And if you’re unable to pay then man-up, explain the situation to her, and work something out. There is no excuse to disregard paying child support when you are able.
  2. Consistency – Children from broken homes have plenty to deal with already, they don’t need a father who doesn’t do what he says on top of it. That means being there for the football games, ballet recitals, and daddy/daughter dances when you say you’re going to. If you can’t make it say so but don’t respond with ‘maybe’, kids take that to mean ‘yes’. Once there is an established visitation schedule stick to it, make that as much of a priority as going to work and if you must change call their mom and the kids to explain why. And above all don’t let your job or social life take time away from being a dad.
  3. Boundaries – while ‘Disney-Land dad’ seems more the grumblings of a jealous mom, many single dads are prone to let their kids get away with too much often allowing them eat, do, and watch what they want simply because it’s easier. Kids need healthy boundaries from parents and single parents are no exception. We should establish rules when the kids are with us and though it helps tremendously if those boundaries are the same at mom’s house it isn’t necessary. My ex and I don’t always approach parenting the same but unless it’s a central issue the best I can do is worry on what happens at my house.
  4. Family – you’re a family whether there’s a mom is in the picture or not and every family needs a home.  It starts with something so basic as the kids having their own bedroom. Your kids shouldn’t feel like they’re going to a hotel the weekends they’re at dad’s house. You should do the best you can to to make your home feel like their home. If you can’t provide their own room, try to create a place in your home that is their little spot. That also means keeping your house clean (not guy clean), well stocked with snacks and food, plus having books and games they enjoy. Additionally, it should mean performing activities as a family like eating dinners together regularly at a table, watching appropiate movies as a group, going on vacation, or just spending electronic-free time talking. I created set times for my kids to watch TV and play with electronics, otherwise we go unplugged.
  5. Respect – Your ex-wife probably isn’t your best friend. Divorces are hell and emotions get scarred in the aftermath but it is vital that we NEVER speak negatively about our ex’s in front of the children which includes snide remarks, off-color comments, or innuendos about her, her behavior, or her partner. Even if she doesn’t return the favor, you should take the high road.  Anything less is pure selfishness with the underlying purpose of persuading our kids to choose sides. They need to see mom and dad as a united front regardless of how they may actually feel about each other. Anything else is completely unacceptable.

Parenting in the modern family has its fair share of trials and challenges and sometimes is as fun as hernia surgery making us want to give up.  But as fathers we will be influential in our children’s lives, we just have to decide whether it will be good or bad.

Sharing your Father’s Day with their step dad

The Council on Contemporary Families notes that of the 30 million fathers living with children under the age of eighteen 11% of those (over 3 million) are considered step-fathers. Additionally, 30 million children live in a step family relationship where the adults are legally married and the vast majority of the step-parents are fathers. In today’s culture with marriages ending at an alarming rate and single motherhood at an all time high the step-father is stitched into the fabric of our society.

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