My very adorable 5 year old co-child (strange word but surely better than “step daughter”) asked me again today if she can call me daddy. And as with the previous six times she asked me, I stumbled over my words – I can never replace her very committed dad and have no intention to ever do so.
I started thinking, where and how should I fit into her life and what role should I play? What should my influence be as new-comer to someone else’s family structure – to both mom and daughter? I will never be her bio parent, yet I am in her world more days than her bio dad is.
Is this why they also call Blended families an extreme sport?
Initially, we made sure to take things as slowly as possible, almost to the point where this young lady was dictating the speed of our blend. (And often we, the adults, had to byte down and slow down.) It took over a year but we are reaping the benefits, because we allowed her to show us when she was uncomfortable with something. Three steps forward, one step back, and today we have a little girl who is totally OK with this yet-to-be-named man in her life.
I have children of my own who stay with bio mom and co-dad. I love them more than life itself and it still sometimes feel as if I am betraying them, because I am (co-)dad, daily, not to them. Interesting resemblance: Both bio- and co-dads share the daily lives of their co-children, but not their bio children.
Thinking about the importance of father- and mother figures to our children (co or bio), we need to get this right.
And in an attempt not to stumble over my words when asked for the seventh time, here is my promise to my co-child, my partner, my bio children, co-parents, my ex wife, four sets of grandparents, Border Collie, two crazy Spaniels and one cat (now called The Clan):
Tired but happy seems to go with blended families, and I just realised that I still do not have a name!