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By Hester Depel & Sanam Mehta Parenthood

Parenthood

This month, we are honoured to give a voice to those who have travelled some of the less-represented paths into or through parenthood. From parents who chose adoption as their Plan A, to proud stay-at-home dads and full-time stepdads and to mums whose routes into pregnancy were far from straightforward, we hear their experiences and frustrations – in their own words.

Ben – UK

Father of 3 kids, a filmmaker and husband to The Pineapple Lounge founder Emma Worrollo.

“I don’t think we should get too carried away with a dad looking after their kid. I hate that term ‘daddy daycare’… I think we’re past that now. It’s just a very normal, lovely thing.”

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Mike – Ireland

Mike has been a stepdad to 2 boys for 8 years and works as a counsellor.

“My transition into becoming a stepdad has been a gradual one, which I think has helped all parties. I was very slowly introduced to the children, initially as Mum’s partner, but over time have had more influence in their lives and have been full time in their lives for the last six years. 

The role as a stepdad is a challenging one and one that I am always learning. I feel at times that I lack a ‘natural ability’ as a parent, and that lack of a biological connection can result in a lack of closeness, when I compare the relationship the children have with their mother, for example. However, over time and now the boys have reached their teens, I feel my role has become more established as someone they can speak to and get advice from if they don’t want to go directly to their mum. Plus, we have great football banter!

A common misconception is people assuming that I am the children’s father, which used to cause a bit of awkwardness for the children in the early days and made me wonder if I should correct the person who had wrongly assumed so. Would that cause awkwardness or embarrassment for the person or the kids or both? 

I think being a full-time stepdad is a great honour and privilege, but it does come with its challenges and it has highlighted to me what a tough job being a parent is. I have huge respect for all the parents and step-parents out there, keep up the good work!”

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Louise – UK

Mum of 4 year old twins, a 2 year old and pregnant with her 4th child, Louise conceived her twins through ovulation induction with gonadotropins.

“It’s really demoralising to someone who’s had struggles with fertility and conceiving to imply that the way they’ve conceived is unnatural.”

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Anonymous – US

Single mom to a 5 year old girl, Anonymous froze her eggs in her early 40s. The embryo that became her daughter was the only successful embryo from her IVF procedure.

“Age-related infertility is real.  The work world has changed in a way that has made career advancement possible for women, but this comes with tough decisions and trade-offs.  Women really CANNOT have it all, despite how anti-feminist that sounds.  The age at which women must make decisions about child-bearing is just about the same age as which most women ascend into the most critical years of their careers.  Silicon Valley (where I worked) is recognizing this tension and providing egg/embryo freezing benefits to female employees to guard against having to make this difficult decision at crucial times of career advancement, but that still comes with risk and peril.”

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Katelyn – US

Mom of Jax, 8 years old, who she adopted when he was 5 years old. Kate follows trust-based relational intervention as her parenting style, rethinking how to be an effective parent and what it means to be a family.

“I think a lot of people think this is the kind of parenting that would just be for kids from hard places… But it’s not. It works for everyone.”