The Step-Up Parent

It’s the day after Father’s Day, but I don’t believe honoring the father in your life should be limited to just one day.

The father in my life… is my husband.

It’s easy enough to love your own flesh-and-blood children. With exception, of course. There are families who truly have no sense of loyalty or unconditional love. I work with high school students everyday, who have to fight for their parents love and attention.

But my husband is not that kind of parent.

My oldest son, my husband’s stepson, met my husband when he was just shy of three years old. My son is sweet and dynamic, and also on the autism spectrum. Which makes him absolutely brilliant, but also sometimes results in challenging moments of communication.

But my husband loves my son through it all.

He walked into a marriage with me – and my son – with eyes wide open. He embraced the unique and most frustrating role of being a stepparent; a role in which one is expected to play the part of a parent and take on all of the responsibilities associated with it, but then isn’t honored as such in our society.

Case in point – my son was with his father on Father’s Day. As he should be. But where does that leave my husband? Or my son’s stepmother, for that matter? Because my son sees me on Mother’s Day, and not her.

My husband has no legal right to my son. Should something happen to me, the ability for my husband to continue a relationship with my son, who’s now known his stepfather for the majority of his life, relies solely on the judgment of the remaining biological parent.


With our changing society and the monochrome 1950’s version shifting into a 2019 collage with every color of the rainbow, we need to consider how to honor – legally and otherwise – those heroic individuals, who take on probably one of the hardest roles someone could ever choose to play.


With our changing society and the monochrome 1950’s version shifting into a 2019 collage with every color of the rainbow, we need to consider how to honor – legally and otherwise – those heroic individuals, who take on probably one of the hardest roles someone could ever choose to play.

Because if being a parent is tough, try being a stepparent. It’s hard enough to step up and be a good biological parent, and that’s instinctual. I can only imagine how much harder it is to be a stepparent.

But my husband does it so well. He’s able to balance being a good father to our biological baby and good stepfather to my biological baby with someone else.

Which, in my mind, makes him the step-up parent, not just the step parent.

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