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Stepfathers and The Family

I heard a song on country radio a few weeks back that really touched the heart that I have for stepfamilies. I was surprised to find out when I “Goggled” it, that it’s been around for several years, because I do not recall having heard it before. Good country songs have a way of capturing an important life event, the accompanying feelings and the outcome…in less than four and a half minutes. But similar to a movie or a book that leaves you wanting more, my inquiring mind often has questions beyond the tale…and this was no exception.

The song starts out with a grown man remembering his single mom going out on dates that never grew into relationships once she revealed she had a little boy. He was five years old when his now stepdad took his mom to a movie and he got to go along. The night the man proposed to his mom the boy lay in bed praying that she would say yes! The chorus of the song is a tribute to the man for changing them from “something’s missing” to a “family”.

I am an admitted romantic, an optimist and a lover of happy endings, and as such I am always curious about the dynamics that lead to fairytale conclusions. In this case, I can’t help but wonder if the birth father was in the picture or if conflicts over homework, curfew or driving ever caused a problem. Was the new dad really perfect or did the storyteller have the maturity to not expect him to be?

The next verse fast forwards to this boy’s adulthood. He’s married and standing with his stepdad at the nursery window admiring his newborn baby. His thoughts turn, again, to the gratitude and respect he has for the older man for giving him the original gift of family. He declares his aspiration to be but half as much of a father to his own child.

Brad Paisley is the talented artist who made this recording. I don’t know if it was written from experience or imagination. That’s another one of the questions it provokes! Either way, it describes what I believe is the goal of most men who assume the fatherly role in a blended family.

You may be one of the fortunate stepdads like the singer describes who has been accepted and maybe even appreciated by your stepchild. If it was immediate and without trials, you are truly blessed. If you experienced problems and growing pains but still worked toward being a family, you are to be congratulated for not losing sight of the goal. If your path is still one of trouble and rejection, I encourage you to not give up or claim defeat.

The real message of the song is the acknowledgment that the man did not have to be anything to the boy. He was, after all, just a stepfather. Stepparents have more options and fewer obligations than birth mothers and fathers. They can choose whether to foster close or distant relationships and they can be as involved or removed as they want to be. Integrity and leadership as well as the willingness to love, even when it is not returned, are all traits of an admirable dad. Not because he has to…but because he doesn’t have to… yet does, anyway.

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