*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Watching your child grow up, listening to their doubts, answering their questions, doing your best as a parent to make sure they have what they need to be successful, and then seeing them start relationships and find the right partner can be difficult, but also very rewarding.
And when the time comes to prepare for their wedding, would you let everything be just the way they want it, or do you think it's ok to intervene if you feel they're being unfair to the people who were there for them?
Is there any competition taking place between parents and stepparents when it's time to take part in a wedding?
My friend Emma has been married to her husband Hayden for 19 years. They didn't have kids together, but Emma had one daughter, Diane, and a son, George, from her first marriage that only lasted one year and a half.
Hayden agreed to be close to the kids, even though he didn't expect them to look up to him as their dad since their father was involved in their lives.
"I expected us to be friends, and I wanted to do what I could to see them happy. Having them call me dad was not one of my goals since they cared about their father very much, and he came to see them every weekend," Hayden said.
Gradually Diane and George grew up; they went to kindergarten, to school, and then to college. And Hayden, their mom, and their dad were there for them every step of the way.
"Aaron, their dad, didn't get married again, and I often felt like we were a team, the three of us. Yes, he did start coming by just once a month once the kids were in high school, but he still called often, and I could feel he cared about them. We didn't get along great, but I looked beyond that and saw they were happy to have him around when he could make it," Hayden said.
Aaron got a job in a different state when his kids were teenagers, so his visits became less frequent, but he still helped the couple with money, wrote letters, and called twice a week to talk to George and Diane.
"He wasn't as active when they were older, but I'm sure it was partly because his work required him to travel a lot. Both kids missed him, though," Hayden said.
In the meantime, Emma and Hayden were the ones dealing with everyday issues, setting rules, and sometimes being disliked for being firm. They made each of the kids pay rent once they were out of high school, and both of them chose to still live at home through college to save on bills.
"We helped them to finish their studies, but they had to get part-time jobs and pay us rent. It was only fair. I think Diane was a bit harsh with Hayden because he came up with the idea, but he was right. We had to teach them to be responsible; it's useful for them in the long run," Emma said.
Diane started dating Brad in her third year of college, and once they both graduated, he proposed, and they set a wedding date in eight months.
As the couple started thinking about the details of the ceremony, the wedding cake came up, the flower arrangements, the guest list, the menu, and the wedding gown.
Hayden and Emma were there for Diane and Brad for each detail. Unfortunately, her dad couldn't add any advice since he had a project at work that didn't allow him to come and visit. He did promise he would be there for the special day and help with some of the costs, too.
"I know he's busy, but it would've meant a lot to Diane if he could just give an opinion on the preparations and treat the wedding as something important to him," Emma said.
As the ceremony was being planned, Diane also thought about who would walk her down the aisle. And she instantly told her mom her dad would be the one. Emma was disappointed by her choice, though.
"I know she loves her dad, but he wasn't here nearly as often as Hayden was. She should have asked him first because he cares so much about her. Her stepdad deserves to walk her down the aisle, not her dad; do I tell her? I keep asking myself that, but I don't want to make her feel she's being ungrateful either," Emma added.
Hayden hasn't said anything about being upset with Diane's decision, and preparations are going forward with no issues. Emma is still going to have a talk with Diane and try and make her see her stepdad should be chosen for that special moment, though.
"I feel she should be aware of how much he's done for her. And give him some sort of recognition," the mom said.
What do you think about this situation? Is the mom fair in expecting her daughter to have her stepdad walk her down the aisle instead of her dad? Does Hayden's dedication during the past years make such a step logical?
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