dear step dad

Single Dad Survival Guide: “Dear Step Dad” Let’s Cooperate

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So, in a very exciting and dramatic fashion, my 16-year-old daughter was involved in her first car wreck. She called me first. “Dad, I’ve just been hit. I’m okay. Can you come?”

Both her mother and I began to head to the scene to help our daughter. I got there first and comforted my daughter and the young lady my daughter rear-ended when she was hit by a third driver who fled the scene. Everyone was okay, but my young daughter was a bit freaked out, to say the least. I calmed her down and called 911 to have the police come to report the incident of the hit-and-run. All good so far.

Then the Step Dad Showed Up

He rushed up to me directly and said, “You are not on the insurance.”

“I am talking to the police,” I said. “It doesn’t matter who’s on the insurance.”

“I don’t want a police report!” he said, in an elevated tone.

“It was a hit-and-run,” I said.

“I don’t want you involved. I don’t want a police report.”

I handed him my phone. “Here,” I said. “You talk to the police.”

Score one for uber-step-dad failure. My daughter apologized and got even more agitated. I let step-dad have my phone and I got in my car to wait further instructions from the authority figure who was taking care of the situation. To be fair, I was not financially obligated for my daughter’s car or her insurance. But his approach to me was as if I were a child, or as if I were doing something wrong. I suspect he did get the police report completed, because the insurance was going to want that report to support the payment claims of the other driver.

It made me think back to a few other interactions with uber-step-dad when he literally freaked out at me. As if I were the intruder into his family. I’m sorry he has such insecurities about my kids and my ex-wife. And I’m not sorry for him, but for the people around him who obviously suffer from his bull-headed approach to getting his way.

My daughter related a few examples of how uber-step-dad got his attitude going and would hammer and control people with his anger. Like with customer service people on the phone, she said. “That is not the right answer. This is how you are going to handle this.” Pretty much the same controlling behavior I got about my daughter’s car wreck.

Here’s to the step-dads who take their roles a little too seriously.

Dear Step Dad,

  • I am an ally
  • I am happy you have married my ex-wife (good luck)
  • I am here to support my kids and don’t need any flack from you about my role in their lives
  • I am happy you are supporting the household now (really, I am)
  • I am here to be supportive of you as well, but not if you cross me or attack me or try to get between me and my kids
  • Let’s cooperate on all things between us

As divorced parents with kids we all need to work together to support the system. I am not part of his family system, but he is part of my family system. I suppose in his mind they do not overlap. He is incorrect. He is also an ass.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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