Co-parenting is a difficult skill to achieve. It takes honesty, flexibility and patience. My brother-in-law, Steven, is a wonderful example of a primary custody holding co-parent who upholds these qualities. He is a caring, loving father and husband, and a wonderful role-model to his daughter. Unfortunately, being a male custodial parent comes with a lot of opposition. Here is Steven’s story:
Everyday is a gift for me. I’m in a position that a lot of fathers would love to be in. I have primary physical custody of my 4-year-old daughter, Stephenie…
First, I will tell you a little about my journey to gaining custody. I loved Stephenie at first sight. She was, and still is, my entire world. I was devastated that not even a month after she turned two, I received a notice of relocation from her biological mother in the mail. She was moving to Washington state from our home state of Indiana. That’s over a thousand miles away. What was even more devastating was that I received this notice the day after she moved. I didn’t have an exact address and her mother didn’t answer my phone calls, or reply to my texts or voice mails. Soon after she moved, she changed her phone number and disregarded my messages to her on Facebook. Several times I went back to court to address the situation. I even called the military base she and her husband were stationed at, and they could not do anything. I began to grow more scared as each month passed. I didn’t know where my baby was or how she was doing. Long story short, a year later I found her, got a lawyer, and gained primary physical custody.
Unlike the typical custodial mother, my fight never ends. It’s like being the heavyweight champion- it’s hard to win and even harder to sustain. All the battles I have to go through, all the mothers and traditionalist that look down on me and question how I was awarded custody… I really can’t do anything in regard to raising my daughter that’s not questioned. It’s always “Wow! She must have been a TERRIBLE mother for a DAD to get custody!” Really? Why can’t I just be a loving, supporting, and hardworking parent in order to get the pleasure of raising my child full time in my home?
On top of all the questions, I have to carry around my court orders all the time because I never know when I will need them. My wife has to carry our marriage license and a duplicate copy of our court order if she has to pick up my daughter without me. Several times, my wife has been told that it is just not right for a step mom to have custodial rights. Several times, she has had people tell her that she shouldn’t be involved because she didn’t give birth to Stephenie, yet she is there for her 100% and RAISES her on a near daily basis.
It really is not fair, and it certainly is not right, but what can you expect from a world that is so stuck in its ways and is afraid of the future? What’s so hard about admitting there is such thing as a dead beat mom? What is so wrong with a dad wanting to be a dad? And why do we seem okay with someone who has children solely to get government assistance?
So for once in our lives let’s accept it and come together and support the single father, the custodial father, and any parent that steps up and gives a shit
I would like to thank Steven for sharing this perspective with me and our readers. It is my hope that some day, Steven and my sister will not have to deal with the opposition and judgement mentioned above. I would also like to thank all the awesome dads who take care of their babies- whether its full time, part time, or from afar. You rock!