How much say does a step-dad have?
When families blend, it’s a careful balancing act to be fair to both biological and step-dads.
When a relationship doesn’t work out, people are bound to move on with their lives.
Some move into new relationships and get married and start new families. In some cases a man or woman will come with a child from a previous relationship.

I am left wondering whether the new man has a say over his step-child?

As a mother, do you allow the two voices from the two men or does the new partner’s voice get preference? In a case where the biological father is actively involved in the child’s life, what does one do to ensure that both parties are respected and there is fairness?

There might be ego issues as well and you have husbands not allowing their wives to take maintenance money from previous partners.  They do not want ‘ukondlelwa ngamanye amadoda’ (having another man contributing towards the welfare of their family).

My friend Tando broke up with the father of her first born and moved on with her life. She then met her current husband and when they were about to get married she decided to inform her previous partner, also reassuring him that his relationship with his son will not change. She wanted to give him the respect he deserved as a father.

When Tando’s husband wanted the child’s surname to change, she consulted her parents and previous partner to hear their views. A surname change can have serious repercussions at a later stage, especially for a boy child in the African culture. Her husband wanted to avoid having different surnames in his household.

Tando and her family decided not to change her son’s surname and the husband understood. As much as she had to make her husband happy it was important that the biological father also know that he still had a role to play in the life of his child. She says both fathers of her children have a good relationship to the point that they communicate directly with each other.

When step-dad has more say

You do have mothers who listen to the current partner and the biological father might be at a disadvantage. Another mom, Lulu, mentioned that she discusses everything about her child with her current partner as she does not want to jeopardise their relationship. They have a certain way of doing things in their household.

This means that at times the biological father of Lulu’s daughter will have to await the current partner’s approval because he can have access to his child. If she needs to go on holiday, the new partner must approve first.

I am sure this does not go down well with the biological father but Lulu’s current partner is the one who takes the child to school in the morning, goes to school concerts and does many other things. She feels her current partner needs to have a say as he is an active participant in raising of the child more than the biological father is.

I am sure this is not easy for most families but as they say – you cannot worship two kings.

What is the best way to handle this delicate balance between biological and step fathers?

Read more by Masanda Peter

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Are you a sitcom parent?


Want to know what your baby looks like and what you can expect at this stage?




Balance routine and creativity

Little people need routine, but creative play is also essential. Try these activities with them to balance the two.

See more >


Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.