Two of my friends called for some advice this week. One is a father who is separated from the mother. That have a little girl. The mother has remarried and her new husband and my friend are in constant conflict over the child. So far they have had disputes over visitation, clothing, discipline, medical treatment and sports. As might be suspected, the mother sides with the new husband in these disputes. I have suggested settlement, mediation and a parenting coordinator but the mother has rebuffed all of these suggestions.
My other friend is a stepfather. He married a woman who has a little boy from a previous marriage. The birth father sees the little boy from time to time but he lives far away and my friend really has the day to day parenting role. He and the boy have become quite fond of each other. My friend would adopt the boy if the father would agree. He has all the obligations of fatherhood but none of the rights of a father.
There are two sides to every issue. It would be great if fathers and stepfathers could work together cooperatively for the benefit of the child. But in many cases, there is too much emotion involved to make that possible.