For millions of men around this
time of year, the arrival of Father's Day brings
a mixed bag of emotions. Emotions are something
we're told men don't feel or won't show in a meaningful
way, but this is just nonsense. Most men to my
way of thinking wish things could be different,
wish they could be more understood, and wish that
when it comes around to that time called Father's
Day, it truly was a day to celebrate and reflect
Truth is, it's still hard in our dynamic culture
for both married fathers and divorced/stepfathers
to honestly feel like they are truly valued as
a whole. Just think about this for a minute. Put
on your thinking cap and say out loud and say
to yourself, "Ok - time to think deeply."
How many times do you hear, even around and on
Father's Day, that fathers are not doing what
they need to do or they're just goof balls? Supposedly,
we don't know what we're doing in the kitchen.
Supposedly, we don't do enough chores in the household,
though I guess the yard and repairs don't count,
right? Supposedley, we have the opportunity to
spend an unlimited time with our children and
stepchildren, it's just that we choose not to.
We're only concerned 24/7 by four words that spell:
Believe this all you want, but it does not really
resemble what the majority of fathers in our culture
want or are thinking. How many times have you
heard a father say that they wish they had more
time to be a father, rather than they have so
much time to be a father, that they need a break?
I used to be a stepfather. It sounds very strange
to type the word stepfather in a sentence where
I also have to utilize the word "used."
Just because my marriage ended, it doesn't mean
that I don't think on a regular basis of what
it means to be a stepfather, and think of all
the things that could have been. Lately, I'm starting
to rethink things. Rethink things in a positive
way that will allow me once again to one day be
a stepfather or a father again.
Stepfathers really have it tough in our culture.
I say this because no matter what we do as a stepfather,
it often is not enough in some people's eyes to
ever be "called Dad". Or, it all can
end just like that. Stepfathers are portrayed
as monsters in our culture or worse. What good
does this do anyone?
In fact, even when the media attempts to do big
stories on what I guess are called "blended
families", it still seems the story is all
sizzle and no steak. A lot of posturing and pandering.
A lot of whimsical thinking. And even more statistical
nonsense that is very hard to wrap your head or
For example, Diane Sawyer recently did a huge
story on blended families. She is to be given
credit for this. She also deserves kudos for her
work regarding foster children. Far too many children
as young as one years old are being drugged in
our foster care facilities throughout the country.
But what I can't seem to forget is statistical
nonsense that goes something like this. It takes
four years for a stepfamily to truly come together.
I think this is not only a negative way to look
at what it means to enter and work as a stepfamily,
it also sets up everyone for failure. I mean,
talk about lousy and low expectations? Then ask
yourself: who came up with this four year figure?
Again, isn't it something of either a cop out
or prescription for failure?
You see, there is one major reason why stepfamilies
fail, and why both stepfathers and stepmothers
are ejected from their families. No back up from
the biological parent in the house. If the children
in the house know they don't have to listen to
a "s tep", what makes you think they
will ever "step up" to the other adult
in the house who has lived a lot longer than them
and can provide time tested love and guidance?
The last thing we need in our culture is a bunch
of whining men, whether they are married, divorced
or stepfathers. There is truth to the saying "suck
it up", despite what the pharmaceutical companies
tell you. There is strength in dealing honestly
with family hardship and hurt. The cliche time
heals all wounds is still true and workable.
However, when I think about how I used to be
a stepfather, I think that while there were things
I wish I did differently, I know that I sure was
there waiting and willing to be a key part of
the family. Fathers of every stripe have to put
in 100 percent, but sometimes what you have to
offer your children falls on deaf ears and emotion
This Father's Day, let us get rid of all the
tired stereotypes surrounding fathers. Deadbeat
dads. Mean stepfathers. Morons in the kitchen.
Addicted to ESPN. Unwilling to play with the children.
Many of our fathers these days are our heroes
in war. They, and fathers in general, deserve
respect, opportunity and love.
If stepfathers can one day take a crack at being
in a family again, even a new one, perhaps there's
no reason why on Father's Day and forever on end
we can't look at fatherhood for the appropriate
honor it deserves. And for what it is about fatherhood
all of our children will always need.