“When one has not had a good father, one must create one…” – -Nietzsche

As usual, Nietzsche makes a profound point using both a sledgehammer and a slick sense of subtlety. Perhaps it’s odd to quote a controversial philosopher like Nietzsche on Father’s Day, but the two aphorisms I chose to include in this column would be perfect for stepfathers if only the first aphorism read as follows:

“When a stepchild has not had a good biological father, a stepchild must accept their stepfather.”

I am sick and tired of stepfathers getting a bad rap within our culture. Movies like “Domestic Disturbance” portray stepfathers as killers. I’m not aware of any country singers honoring “Step dad and Home.” Even some fathers’ rights advocates write stepfathers off as no good.

I ask, as a stepfather and a man, that we start a serious conversation on why stepfathers often feel like a lottery ticket. Believe me, such a conversation would be a win-win situation. The biggest winners would be stepchildren themselves who just might gain more economic liberty by learning to accept “Step dad” in their lives, no matter when he came into the picture.

Civilized society benefits as well when stepfathers are adopted, if you will, into the ongoing relationship of the biological mother and child. Stepfathers offer the family sound advice and guidance. Stepfathers want, and not just on Father’s Day, to be listened to. After all, there’s a giant difference between being heard and listened to. It’s the difference between success and failure.

In my view, a stepfather offers a special economic and individualist opportunity to their stepchildren. Again, we have the capacity to shape economic liberty and freedom for our stepchildren. We stand proud to watch them become a strong individual outside the home, and equally important, more respectful within the home. Stepchildren and their biological parents would clearly lead less stressful lives, less paycheck to paycheck lives, if only they (and all blended families), simply adopted this rational attitude: “You know, we should really let this guy – in our lives.”

Putting it all together, stepfathers often feel like a lottery ticket because actually being allowed to operate as a fully functional parent is like a million to one shot. If stepfathers were a scratch ticket, the chances of being a big winner are quite few. Stepfathers are forever hopeful of that “jackpot” which is being accepted as a true member of the family. Stepfathers try and try and try – to be accounted for.

However, there comes a time when it no longer makes sense to “play the lottery.” Far too many large losses compared to a handful of small wins. Stepfathers find themselves living in a proverbial trash can because the emotional, financial, and social value stepfathers offer families and society is so easily discarded. Seemingly, any collection of adults and children make up a loving family, so long as it doesn’t include that knight in dirty armour – Step dad.

Father’s Day offers you, the reader of this column, the chance to consider adding stepfathers to the roll call of millions of biological fathers who are due great honor on Father’s Day. Truth is, a stepfather isn’t a replacement dad – a stepfather just wants to be a family man, too.

No matter what the outcome of Father’s Day is this year for the men of this country, it’s stepfathers who must find a way to live out another brilliant Nietzsche aphorism, “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

And so it is with step fatherhood.

Tony Zizza serves as Vice President of the State of Georgia for the non-profit organization, Parents For Label and Drug Free Education.