Life with Two Dads: a Father’s Day story
By Charlene Reinisch
“Wow, I don’t know how you do it.”
This is usually the statement that follows when my husband and I share that we have five children. And of course, I know why people might wonder.
Raising a big family can be demanding. There’s a lot to keep track of and, I admit, it’s totally draining sometimes.
The reason it works?
It’s because there are three of us parenting together: me, plus two remarkable fathers.
There’s Craig, one of my oldest friends and father to my three eldest daughters; and there’s Richard, my husband and father to my youngest two children.
These two guys are extraordinary dads and co-parents, and are the inspiration for me to share our experience as a blended family.
Just after Easter, I posted some pictures and a heartfelt update on Facebook regarding a recent family trip. We spent the long weekend at Mt. Washington and after coming home, I was reflecting on how grateful I was for our time together.
The weekend featured some of the usual—spirited board games, rosy cheeked tobogganing, and plenty of time to just relax. But it also offered something really precious: the experience of being able to enjoy it together—both dads and all of our kids—under the same roof for the weekend.
I shared the post with the hope that it might impact perceptions associated with blended family dynamics. It may seem like a small thing – being able to harmoniously share accommodations for the weekend – but it’s not something I take for granted, nor something I treat lightly.
Blended-family relationships can be complex and emotionally challenging. Realistically, I know it’s not easy for them as fathers, but they know it’s important that we all continue to work at it.
Our weekend away is just a small example of the ways in which we can foster a sense of stability and cohesion within our family, for both the adults and children alike.
Families like ours are becoming more and more common, so I also know we’re not alone. About one in nine Canadian families are blended with step-parents, like ours is, according to Statistics Canada. In 2006, the agency concluded that only about 40 per cent of families are “traditional” – consisting of two parents and their own biological or adopted children.
That would suggest that approximately 60 per cent of families in Canada are living an experience like our own, trying to navigate the complexities and dynamics that come with rebuilding a new family unit.
From the beginning, Craig and Richard expressed their commitment to building something positive together. Though this was always the goal, it obviously didn’t happen overnight, and of course, there have been some mistakes made.
It’s something we’ve had to work towards over the past 10 years, with a give-and-take mentality.
Sharing things like birthdays and holidays, finding space for everyone to be a part of the special moments in our children’s lives, and being responsive and mindful of each other’s expectations often requires a lot of compromise. As fathers, they handle that with patience and understanding, something I’m really grateful for.
I know it’s been tough sometimes, but selflessly, that’s what both of these fathers have done.
They share, they step aside, they give generously, they support one another, and they treat each other with respect.
Most of all, they demonstrate love and have made a strong commitment to creating a sense of security for our children.
As we look to celebrate Father’s Day this month, I have to say, I’m really proud of what we’ve created. More than just co-parents, we’re friends. In the long run, I believe that our kids will all be better for it.
And, beyond just these years of raising children together, I expect we’ll be better for it too.