Father's Day, June 15, is just around the corner. It's that unique day when so many dads are treated like kings and honored by their kids with gifts of love, respect and admiration. There's no denying the need of a father in a child's life, and today there are many different labels for dads; step dad, divorced dad, single dad, Mr Mom dad, gay dad.
What they have in common is a positive impact on their kids' lives in terms of increased self-confidence, a strong sense of well-being, self-control, and success in school. While a small portion of deadbeat dads ruin the reputation of the majority, we would hope that these missing-in-action dads could be around for their kids. But it's also true that over 90% of dads believe that being a dad is one of the most important roles they could have. While celebrating Father's Day, we offer some insight into two of the most common blended family dads: the step dad and the divorced dad.
There may be a lot of confusion about the role of step dad since, as male head of the household, he has important financial and physical responsibilities, he cannot take for granted that he has those same rights and responsibilities with his step kids. He's not the birth dad and that distinction often causes tension, especially when he has every good intention of being a supportive husband and breadwinner.
Conflict may arise in any number of ways:
1) the kids may resist his influence because they feel loyalty to their birth father;
2) their mother may feel he's too hard on her kids, critical of her parenting skills, or unbalanced in his treatment of her kids and his own; or
3) he may feel anger and irritation about his wife being disrespected by her kids or by being snubbed or discounted himself.
Any way you slice it, these circumstances bring about tension in the home and arguments between the couple. Issues like these are common reasons for second marriages falling apart more quickly than first marriages.
Following are some fundamental guidelines for step dads who may be struggling to define their role with their step kids:
1. Keep in mind that your role is to support your partner in parenting as a mentor, coach, or friendly uncle. Take it slowly, and over time, when mutual trust and respect has grown, you may develop a stronger, more active role with everyone's support.
2. Focus on being on the same page as a couple, which means not only loving and respecting each other, but communicating clearly about household responsibilities, family budget, rules of behavior, methods of discipline, and the role you play in defending her decisions. Her assignment is to define limits on behavior and follow through on consequences, and your role is to support her and remind the kids what their mom wants. A weekly Family Meeting is an effective way of establishing behavioral guidelines and getting recurring issues on the table for discussion and resolution.
3. Be aware of unrealistic expectations by reading and learning about what it means to be an effective step dad. And, remember, it takes a lot of time, patience, understanding and sensitivity to help the family move towards mutual affection, trust and connectedness.
4. Consider an enlightening coaching session with a knowledgeable blended-family coach to help the step dad in your family cope with some of the issues and challenges he may be dealing with.
Father's Day for many divorced dads may not be a particularly joyous occasion, especially if they are not close to their kids physically or emotionally. There are many reasons why divorced dads feel pushed to the side and are apparently unimportant in their child's lives: geographical distance because of work, remarriage, or divorce poison where the children's mother has carefully alienated the kids from their father with the intention of completely removing him from their lives.
Dads may be disheartened but they should always keep in mind just how important they are as they guide, teach, and show love and support to their kids, even if it is long distance.
Following are some basic guidelines for Divorced Dads on Vatermitkind
1.Try to get along with your child's mother for the sake of the children. Come to terms on a visitation schedule and a co-parenting plan. Kids want peace between you so they can enjoy both their parents, without worrying about your specific issues with each other.
2.Kids thrive on structure. Stick to planned phone calls, pick up and drop off schedules and behavioral expectations while at your home.
3. Avoid being Uncle Dad or Disney Dad with non-existent limits, and inconsistent discipline; this teaches the kids to believe you are a peer and best friend and not a responsible parent guiding a child. Uncle Dad parenting results in disrespect, emotional underhandedness, and eventually, kids who develop behavioral issues, since they have no respect for authority.
4. Consider an enlightening professional coaching session with a blended-family counselor who may help you gain new insight on problems that you face.