Fun Fact: Parents super don't like "I haven't decided yet" as a joke response.
Dads being investigated, confronted, or excluded for being "suspicious" is depressingly common (for a fun experiment, just Google "man playground suspicious" and see how many police blotters have calls about a "suspicious" man near a playground). And if you have the gall to be taking pictures of your kids, you might well end up having to explain yourself to the fuzz.
Nobody Tells You How To Handle The Breakup
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After two and a half years, my relationship ended. Once we decided to break it off, we had a long, agonizing discussion about how we would explain it to Awesomeface Metalsplosion to minimize the impact on her. She was only 5 at this point and obviously couldn't really grasp the concept of breaking up and the fact that I wouldn't be around anymore. When I said my final goodbye to her, she gave me a curt, annoyed goodbye back because I was keeping her from playing with her friends. That was the last time I saw her.
I quickly discovered that, though there's an endless deluge of information dedicated to the topic of helping children cope with breakups with a step-parent, there's virtually nothing to help an adult deal with a breakup from a step-child. You're already dealing with the emotional toll of a romantic relationship ending, only to find out that nobody gives a hot squirt of piss that you've essentially lost a child too. At the time of the breakup, Awesomeface Metalsplosion was spending more time with me than with her dad, I was engaged to her mom, and I had already come to think of her as my kid. Then, one day, it was all gone.
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And, as mentioned earlier, you don't even have any shotglasses left to help.
The only helpful thing anyone could think to say also happened to be the most insulting: "Don't worry; you'll have kids of your own someday." Most rational people could never fathom telling a parent who lost a child, "Buck up; you can just make a new one!" But you get that kind of response because nobody considers you a parent. Best case, you're a step-parent, and that's only if you get married. If you're just dating or engaged, there's not even a word for how insignificant you are in the parenting scheme.
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You're the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" of parental figures.
By far the most devastating moment was when I realized that because Awesomeface Metalsplosion was so young, she would more than likely grow up without any memory of me -- I sure as hell don't remember my parents' friends from when I was 5. The lack of support for someone in my situation exacerbated the heartache to the point that it felt like some kind of punishment that would be given in Hell, doomed to forever remember and love someone for whom I will be, at best, just a vague memory.
Or, on the upside, she might remember me from the night I made her cry before bedtime, and one day seek me out for sweet, sweet revenge. Complete with swords and lots of back-flipping. It's really the most a sorta-step-parent can hope for.
When he's not dominating children at air hockey, Chris writes for his website and tweets.
Watching someone else's kid can be tough, but watching your own kid can be just as rough. Read 5 Hallmarks Of Good Parenting That Screw Kids Up For Life to see why giving your child a timeout is as useful a punishment as taking away their toothbrush. Or check out 8 Insane Ways Parents Are Politically Brainwashing Children because nothing says "good gift for your significant" other like a politically charged T-shirt about 9/11 for their child.
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