It’s been said a man’s view of the world changes once he has become a parent.

To some extent, this is true. On the other hand, one’s core values and sense of life become clearer and stronger.

I have been a stepfather for well over three years. My stepdaughter, now 17 years of age, has lived in my home along with her Mom for two years.

I believe being a stepfather is a greater challenge than being a biological father. We always have to prove ourselves and we hear that we are not “real.”

My ultimate high as a stepfather was the realization early on that I could have a positive impact on my stepdaughter. That it was a victory to have her weaned off the antidepressant Paxil, and to know I was a parent in the house ready for anything. And she was happy.

This being said, I have learned the importance of stepfathers is too often lost on the biological parent in the house, not to mention the stepchild. Factor in the societal myths that stepfathers are always potential molesters. One begins to wonder, what have I signed up for here?

I know this as fact, not just as it relates to my own stepfatherhood, but for millions of stepfathers (and stepmothers) in this country – we need the backing of the biological parent in the house.

Especially, when it comes to discipline. The biological parent and stepfather must be on the same page, a united front. I have found that in a sense, the needs of my stepdaughter are more important than her feelings.

She needs discipline in the form of no television until certain expectations have been met. Now, I’ve heard all kinds of things such as a stepfamily needs 4-6 years to fully adjust, and that stepfathers should just serve as advisors, like an Uncle or something.

This must absolutely not be the case when the biological father is totally out of the picture. For years. Children, and in this case my own stepdaughter – as well as her Mom – would be wise to understand it’s not rational to think you don’t need a father. Even if he is a stepfather.

I’m so tired of hearing in this country all of our children are at risk, psychiatric drugs and labels are the answer, and children’s expectations of themselves need to be minimal to ensure high self esteem.

The importance of stepfathers lies in what we have done, what we are willing to do now, and what impact we will have on our stepchildren.

I think this is really key for stepdaughters. There is no better time than now to be a teenage girl. More females than males are enrolled in our institutes of higher learning. I don’t see anyone stopping females from what they want to do.

So I think about this, and would really have to register my stepdaughter’s refusal to let me study with her, as the low of my stepfatherhood.

Studying with me would create a bond and it would be a chance for her to do something she does not want to do. It would make her grow. After all, if she was not failing practically every quiz or test she takes, having her study with me would not even be an issue.

Tutors are great for kids who express an interest in wanting to learn. Tutors are a waste of money until children have a change of heart about their own education. This is the case with my stepdaughter, and she has ultimately chosen summer school, over the “horror” of being quizzed by her stepfather.

I have always believed in core values of honesty, respect, compassion and hard work. For the importance of stepfathers to be realized, stepfathers must be respected.

It’s bad enough many divorced fathers have to play “Weekend Dad” -children and their biological parents must come out of their comfort zones and see a family that respects each other, will ultimately be better off.

Tony Zizza has been a stepfather for over three years. He also serves as the Vice President/Georgia of the non-profit organization, Parents For Label and Drug Free Education. Web site:

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