An Open Letter to My Daughters' Step-Dad

By Patrick Sallee

Congratulations! You have just accepted the best job in the world, getting to be a parent to two of the best little girls you will ever know. 

As a new father yourself to your own daughter, I am confident you can relate to the challenging emotions of not being with your kids each day, and missing the chance to say goodnight to them each night. I know it isn’t lost on you, the deep level of guilt that can leave.

If you hear about me from the girls … believe everything … I am as great as they say I am! If my name comes up from their mom, believe all the good and only half the bad …

While we don’t know each other personally, we most certainly hear stories about the other. So, let me clear some things up. If you hear about me from the girls … believe everything … I am as great as they say I am! If my name comes up from their mom, believe all the good and only half the bad … I’ll let you decipher which half.

Trust isn’t always an easy thing. I can only imagine the feeling of dropping the girls off at college or walking them down the aisle. I assume there is some resemblance to how it feels dropping them off with their mom and you. How do you put your most prized possession, your world, into someone else’s hands?

Divorce is hard, and while it has been two years for the girls’ mom and me, it is painful and difficult. There are still strong feelings of anger and resentment. I can’t envision a time when those feelings go away. The tension still creeps into every day interactions. You and I have never really met and their mom and I hardly speak. That doesn’t have to determine the outcome for these girls. 

I often struggle with the idea that I need to be providing everything for them. It is hard to wrestle with what comes from knowing another man is parenting and providing for your children. The gut reaction is “that is my job!”, which slowly gives way to knowing they are in good hands, then finally builds into an understanding that in fact, you bring things to their world that I don’t…and combining those, give my children an even greater opportunity to learn and experience what this world holds for them. 

While the girls are still young, and there has been a lot of change in their lives, I do have a few requests. 

You are building your own family with their mom and it is great to see everyone happy. Please remember that two important members of that family are also very critical members to mine. It is equally important they have great quality, and quantity, time with me. 

The girls are still at a charming (mostly) age, but that won’t always be the case. I’ve been told teen girls can be a challenge…particularly for their moms. When that happens, please don’t be a bystander. It seems society has gone in a direction people are hesitant to “discipline” someone else’s kid, ignore that trend. Tell them when they are wrong, support them when they are right and be there to hear them vent. Trust me, they have my genes, there will be yelling and venting. 

When they are in your house or with you, you love them, teach them and support them as a father would. You now have the challenge of being a dad and a step-dad … I hope no one can tell the difference!

The final thing is the biggest request I could make of you. When they are in your house or with you, you love them, teach them and support them as a father would. You now have the challenge of being a dad and a step-dad … I hope no one can tell the difference!

You have lived with my daughters part time going on a year now, and not one time have they expressed concern or confusion or hesitance to spend time with you. They smile when they talk about things you all do together, which lets me know they are comfortable and loved when they are with you. Thank you.

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Originally appeared at The Good Men Project

More from GMP:

Being a Feminist Dad Shouldn’t Be Controversial

The Highs an Lows of Parenting in the Digital Age 

Photo—-Jenn Durfey/Flickr

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