What are a stepfather’s child-rearing responsibilities?
By Cheryl Lavin August 14, 2013 4:40PM
Updated: September 5, 2013 4:33PM
We recently met Holly. She’s the mother whose husband molested her teenage daughters, his stepdaughters. That brought up the issue of stepfathers. What role do they play? What rights do they have? What lines can’t they cross?
MARTA: Holly’s husband violated boundaries that almost always leads to sex abuse. He started taking over as the major parent while the children were still young. That’s way over the line for a stepfather! He had no business trying to take their father’s place, much less their father and mother’s place, the way he did.
He helped the girls get going in the morning? Since when do fathers, much less stepfathers, help little girls pick out their clothes? Where was Holly while he was doing this? I assume she got her kids ready before she married him, so why did she so willingly hand over this and so many of her other maternal responsibilities after marriage?
A stepfather’s relationship to his stepchildren should only be through the mother. If he wants something more than that, he’s violating boundaries. Any time a stepfather suggests taking the kids off the mother’s hands to do something that doesn’t include her, she should tell him no. If his intentions are good, he’ll welcome her coming along on whatever outing he’s planning. While some normal men may volunteer to baby-sit or be playmates, child molesters always do.
The stepfather’s role is to offer advice, which the mother is free to reject.
That business of him coaching their baseball teams rings every alarm bell. Now it’s Holly’s responsibility to contact the sponsoring organization and notify them that they had a pedophile as a coach. There are probably more victims.
ARIANA: Who says stepfathers have different boundaries than fathers? That’s nonsense. Is Marta really saying that a stepparent is not a real parent and, therefore, should not parent? I beg to disagree.
Helping kids get going in the morning does not necessarily involve helping them pick their clothes. I’m a mom and I don’t help my daughter pick her clothes, but I do help her get going in the morning: making her breakfast, reminding her to check her backpack for supplies and homework, preparing her lunch, etc.
As for a male parent spending time with the kids without the female parent being a red flag, I think Marta is way, way, way out of line. Kids should have dad-time and mom-time, and a stepdad who’s been in the kids’ lives since they were 3 and 6 is a dad, not just the mother’s husband.
Is she really suggesting that it’s fine and even laudable for biological fathers to spend quality time with their kids without mom, but not for non-biological ones? Again, I beg to disagree
About coaching, being a stepparent is not a disqualification for coaching sports. Most stepparents are not molesters, abusers, or any other kind of monsters. They just happen to be married to somebody who had kids from prior relationships.
JAQUIE: I personally wonder about a stepfather who does not participate in child rearing. I mean, is he supposed to sit around drinking beer while mom does everything?
What do you think the role, responsibilities and restrictions are of stepparents? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com. And check out my new website askcheryl.net. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM