Step fathers; unsung heroes or villains?

Of recent, there are reports that close to half of marriages end up in divorce. It is a worrying trend.

I don’t think anyone deliberately gets into the marriage institution with the sole purpose of bowling out only a few years down the line. Same thing with relationships, unless you have a few loose screws in your head, sane people generally get into what is termed ‘serious relationships’ hoping that such unions will last a life time.

I am no relationship expert or even a relationship poster girl but it is common knowledge that all animals, including human beings, are very territorial. Animals, especially the male ones, are very selfish by nature and are totally opposed to the idea of sharing. Most rural folk who have had the opportunity to witness two or more cocks fighting over a single hen can attest to this. It is just human nature and this is what defines us as humans.

That notwithstanding, sometimes even the stable of relationships between males and females comes to an end at some point.

Some of them implode or simply just run their natural course and for some people, never mind the cause, this is simply unfathomable and even unacceptable. This is usually true especially for males, because compared to females, males often take break ups really hard. On several occasions I have had to counsel a few male friends because they just could not deal with their break ups and in most cases, they would be weeping like they have been recently orphaned. Men never cry, oh what a blue lie!

When most couples break up, in some cases there will be children involved and this, is the most unfortunate part of break ups, one which I am very familiar with. Most of the time, the children are even aware that a storm had been brewing for some time.

Because life is a journey, more and more couples go their separate ways and ultimately with time, they meet new people and then they start all over again. Now the catch is that some of them already have children and then they find themselves in situations where they now have to go into new relationships together with their children as one ‘package’. This, to a lot of people, is the greatest challenge, never mind the big burger challenge, it doesn’t even come close!

There is no manual for raising children, equally no manual exist for step parenting. Step parenting, like real parenting, is really touch and go. I don’t think anyone ever grows up with ambitions of being step parents later on in their lives, I don’t believe it’s anyone’s destiny either. I believe it just happens, although it is purely a matter of personal choice for each individual.

It is against this background that I decided that this week I would pay tribute to step fathers and step brothers, as some prefer to call them. These brothers, in my view, are among the most misunderstood people of our times. They are often unfairly demonised and labeled, sometimes as child molesters, opportunists and a whole lot of other unflattering labels. In my humble opinion, I really think that these brothers deserve a lot more respect than we often accord them. I am very alive to the fact that some step brothers have been known to be abusive to step children, especially to the step girl-child. While it is no excuse, lately we read about fathers abusing their own blood, God’s flock is not spared either because even His shepherds keep picking from his kraal with abandon.

Would I let anyone step parent my own children? I think it takes a brave man to do that.

*It takes strong man to accept somebody else’s children and step up to the plate another man left on the table.

*It takes a real man to ferry another man’s children to school, while their own father is busy driving girls around town, to hair and nails salons.

*It takes a giant of a man to get up in the middle of the night to take another man’s children to the doctor, while their own father is on some drunken stupor out there somewhere in town.

*It takes a real man to help another man’s children with school work, while their own father is somewhere there, ferrying other women to baby showers and metshelo.

*It takes a strong man to handle a broken woman. Yes, I would.

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