Teen shares thoughts on step-parents

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RALEIGH, N.C. – Father’s Day is just around the corner, but what does that mean?

These days, Father’s Day can mean a number of different things to different children – or different things even to the same child, if that child has a stepparent.

Conversation. Take for example the conversation I was having with a savvy teenager who is quite tuned in to the world of step-relationships. He lives with a stepdad whom he says is, “Good.”

Talk to him on the subject of his biological father, on the other hand, and you get quite a different assessment.

Dads who don’t check-in with or -up on their kids clearly get a “Thumbs Down” on their own personal (1-10).

But rating one’s biological father as a “deadbeat” or “delinquent” dad doesn’t tend to make children feel good – about themselves or their dads.

That’s why it’s helpful if kids with deadbeat or delinquent dads have step-dads, according to my teenaged source: “Step-dads are good because they don’t try to force themselves in on the child’s life and know that they can’t take the place of the father, but with time can become a dad.”

My source also gave me some lowdown on another aspect of the fathering role that is likely to give stepmothers pause:

View on step-moms. “Step-moms do just the opposite. By trying to become the kid’s mother they force themselves and their own rules in upon the children and don’t leave any room for transition.

“A new step-mom needs to let the biological dad do most of the rule making and then allow her to make small steps.”

To the above, he added this one chilling reminder for stepmothers: “This just in from your local Raleigh teenager – step-dads in, step-moms out.”

Just to give you some perspective, this teenager was generalizing his comments to the entire field of “all the kids he knows” at his high school.

Personally, he doesn’t have a stepmother. Once did, but you know the problem with those dysfunctional dads. The women they marry wise up; then, they don’t want ’em either.

(Ms. Kaufman is a social worker and author in Raleigh, N.C.)

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