Dad. Separated Dad. Stepdad.


Four kids. When people ask how many kids I have, I say four. Biologically it’s three, but I say four.

I was 30 when I first became a dad back in 2003.I separated from Jack’s mother and we went our separate ways in 2006. Jack stayed with me a couple of nights a week. As with all people who go through such things, it was a rough time. Jack was young, though, and he grew up only really knowing that his dad lived somewhere else.

Dad. Seperated Dad. Stepdad.On February 28th 2009, I met Emma for the first time. Emma had a daughter, Rachel, who was born in 1998. Emma and I got engaged in December 2009 and married in November 2010. Jenny was born in July 2011. (A honeymoon baby!) I had just turned 39. Eve was born two days before Jenny’s first birthday and just over a month after my 40th birthday. Those are the facts.

So there are the four kids. Being a post-modern society, however, we’re not a ‘normal’ family. Jack lives with his mum and Rachel is my step-daughter. Rachel, Jenny and Eve live with Emma and I. I suppose it isn’t too unusual nowadays, but it seems like we have a sample of each kind of parent / child relationship going.

Absent Dad

Being an absent dad, as I am with Jack, brings its own set of challenges. As a parent, you naturally wish to impart a certain set of values upon your child as they grow. That can be difficult if the other parent doesn’t consider those values to be as important. Jack’s an only child at his mother’s house. He is one of four at our house. They are very different environments for a developing child. If I only see Jack for two days out of seven, his behaviour is more likely to be shaped by the other five days.

Step-Dad

Dad. Seperated Dad. Stepdad.A ‘step-dad’ role requires far more diplomacy than a natural parent. There are so many toes that you need to avoid stepping on. As the adult married to the child’s parent, all living in the same house, you’re going to have responsibilities. It’s when that starts to crossover into areas like giving permission for things or discipline that it gets a bit blurry. If one accepts that you shouldn’t get involved with the discipline side, then how do you deal with things fairly? For example, if you’re with a child and a step-child and they’re both misbehaving, it’s clearly not fair to only tell one off. But then what right do I have to say anything? At any point, they could turn round and say “you’re not my Dad”. Boom.

Luckily, I’ve not had many such problems. We have only had issues that any other parent / teenager experience on a daily basis. The “you’re not my Dad” explosion has never happened.

‘Normal’ Dad

dsd-03Parenting Jenny (4) and Eve (3) is therefore the first time I’ve been one of the primary parents (along with Emma) from day one to the present day. (By primary parent, I mean resident with them 7 days a week since birth.) I guess this is what people may mean if they say a ‘normal’ parent.

So, what’s the real difference when being all of these multiple types of Dad? Ultimately, very little.

Your goals are always the same. Make sure your child is safe, happy, healthy and not burning the house down. You want to keep them on the right path, whatever that is, without being too over-bearing.

And the rewards are the same. When Rachel’s amazing exam results came through, the pride I felt couldn’t have been greater if it was Jack, Jenny or Eve that had received them. Seven years of parenting will do that to a person.

Dad. Seperated Dad. Stepdad.
Me and the kids

I guess it boils down to the fact that to be a good dad, you need to be the best person you can. If you can deal with an argument and then not immediately think “I sounded like a right dick” then you’re doing fine. If you can tell a child off and get a hug afterwards, or immediately think “yes” when they ask if you can help, you’re a great dad.

17 Comments

  1. 20 April 2016
    Reply

    Oh gosh this made me cry! You sound like an amazing dad to all four of your children. My husband is step dad to my son and I think that is why this resonated so loudly with me, he also tells people that he has four children because in his eyes he sees Lewis as his child, just like the ones that are genetically his. Great post, thanks for sharing and hats off to you for being the best Dad that you can be. Xx

  2. 20 April 2016
    Reply

    I found this really interesting. I have the most wonderful Stepdad whom I call Dad even though he came into my life very late (I was about 19). It is a truly amazing thing for a man to take on someone else’s kid and even though he has his own biological children, I feel he cares for me just the same. Half the time I forget he’s not my biological Dad. I recently said I blame him for passing on eczema as it’s hereditary and he just looked at me and smiled.

  3. 20 April 2016
    Reply

    I think you’re definitely doing fine as a dad 😉 I don’t mention it on my blog, I do have a grown-up step-son (he doesn’t live with us either. He shares a flat with friends and has his own life/job/girflriend 🙂 I don’t mention him because he has his own online presence and I respect his privacy. And he knows that. When I came into the picture, I treaded very carefully. I didn’t want to cause any problems and I’m glad I did that because like you, I never had any problems with him at all. We’re really close and he adores his little sister 🙂

  4. Rosemary Szuster
    20 April 2016
    Reply

    Great explanation for all types of fatherhood from a great dad.

  5. 20 April 2016
    Reply

    You sound like a great dad to all 4 of ur kids. A great explanation of types of fatherhood and how it is for u.

  6. This is such a lovely post – especially the summing up at the end that, at its core, being a dad is the same no matter what your family circumstances.

  7. Relationships and labels can be so complicated, can;t they?

    Sounds like you are doing a great job.

  8. 20 April 2016
    Reply

    Ah this is a lovely piece and so well written. Give me a lovely insight into the intricacies of everyone’s individual situations. it does sound like you have it down though!

  9. 20 April 2016
    Reply

    Good on you! This is so well written! I only have one day, my biological one but I’ve never got along with him so this makes me feel really emotional inside… All your kids are so lucky to have you!

    Oliver • http://suedeandsymphony.com

  10. What a great explanations of the different types of fatherhood you face. I have two children a year apart with my partner but I also have an older daughter from a previous relationship too

  11. 21 April 2016
    Reply

    It is so hard isn’t it. My husband is step-dad to two of mine and the teenage years were especially challenging and I would often clash with my ex about his parenting style. Thankfully it all turned out ok in the end

  12. 21 April 2016
    Reply

    I think you have explained this incredibly and you are right, you have 4 children.

  13. Janis
    21 April 2016
    Reply

    You say it so well Grant. Lovely words and four beautiful children.

  14. 22 April 2016
    Reply

    lol I say 4 too but that’s because I count my hubby 😉
    Lovely well written post x

  15. 25 April 2016
    Reply

    It seems that you are such a good father, the fact that you even consider this is amazing. You will raise your children and your wife’s to be caring and intelligent

  16. Sam McKean
    26 April 2016
    Reply

    What a lovely post!

  17. 27 April 2016
    Reply

    I’m not the dad of the family but recently became a single mother of two after my fiancé left me. Not sure what was hardest: telling our eldest (our other child is only 2 and barely speaks) or packing my wedding dress into a suitcase to move out of his house.
    It’s the norm to have step kids, siblings from previous marriages etc these days. I have 2 half brothers (I’m 30 and my brothers are in their late 50s!) but I consider them my brothers, even though I don’t see them a lot and never lived with them. Family is family no matter what 🙂

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