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The Daily Eastern News

OPINION: All kinds of parents deserve recognition

Liz Stephens, Staff Reporter

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My stepdad took on the commitment of being my father when I was almost five years old. It was not until I was almost 18 that I realized how much he knowingly chose to take on when marrying my mom, who had three daughters.

Fathers who are present and active in their children’s lives need to be recognized more than just one day of the year, along with mothers as well. Expressing gratitude toward our mother’s and father’s may seem like something we think we do a lot, but in reality we often fail to vocalize and acknowledge the impact they have made on our lives.

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative , 1 in 3 children in the U.S. live without their biological father in the home. An infographic on the website gives statistics that children without fathers are 7 times more likely to face teen pregnancy, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to go to prison, to commit a crime and are twice as likely to drop out of high school.

Considering these statistics, it is obvious how vital a father is to students and non-students. Students are capable of beating these statistics, but I firmly believe that I would not have the work ethic respect and drive to be successful in college if my stepdad had not stepped in to teach me along with my mom.

There are an abundance of men who have children that celebrate Father’s Day, when they choose to see their children only once a year and enjoy the idea of being a father but do not commit and act it. Being a father is a big responsibility that is much more than just having a child. Instead, it is about actively trying to teach, love, nurture and shape your child to be their greatest self.

The title “father” has become a much greater title to me because of my stepdad.

When I was young and ignorant to how much my stepfather cared, I always shut him out because he was “not my biological father.” I shut him out because I was angry that my biological father was not as present as he needed to be and I felt abandoned by him.

As I grew older, I realized that it was not my biological father, but my stepdad who was teaching me things that a father should and who was at every performance, cheering me on.

It takes a strong man to step in and take the place of a father who is not present, and it takes a strong man to love and treat their stepchildren as their own while the biological fathers are still present.

Celebrating Father’s Day is something that I will forever view differently than students who I formerly envied because their biological parents were still being married. Students whose parents have successfully stayed happily married are blessed, but so are students like me who have a slightly less ideal situation but one heck of a step-dad to help us with becoming adults and even small stuff like hanging a picture or two in our rooms so that they do not end up crooked.

Liz Stephens can be contacted at 581-2812 or ejstephens2@eiu.edu.

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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
OPINION: All kinds of parents deserve recognition