David Trinko: Salute to those who step up from stepfather

My oldest daughter recently asked me if I’d walk her down the aisle when she gets married next year.

The question jarred me for a moment, as I hadn’t considered the possibility that I wouldn’t walk all my daughters down the aisle. Still, I appreciated the gesture and immediately said yes.

She remembered something I’d nearly forgotten: By birth, I’m not her father. By every other measure, I am.

I’ve been thinking about that a bit as we approach Father’s Day this weekend. There are many men in America stepping up to do a job that, biologically speaking, they didn’t sign up for. Statistics show that 40% of married couples in America have at least one partner with a child from a previous relationship before the marriage.

That’s how I met our oldest daughter. On our first date, I became smitten with my now-wife. On our second date, I became smitten with her 4-year-old daughter, playfully getting the shy girl to like me by showing her the silliest side of me. After her mother and I married, I adopted her, so she never felt less than any other children we had as a family.

Since then, my wife and I have had two girls together, who are both teenagers now. Then, in 2020, we adopted again, this time a foster child we’d been caring for since she was 3. Now 10, our daughter of Hispanic origin rolls her eyes when people ask if I’m her grandfather and proudly proclaims that I’m her dad.

I proudly proclaim it too.

Being a dad is easily the most important thing I’ve ever done.

I enjoy my work as a newspaper editor, and I think it’s an important calling that happens to pay my bills. When push comes to shove, I’ll drop it all to be there for my children when they need me.

I’ve always enjoyed the little times with my girls. So much of my best memories are when we’re in a car, making the short trips to a sports practice or a dance class. I often volunteer to play taxi cab driver. Those five-minute bursts have led to so many shared made-up songs, elaborate handshakes and even the occasional contest to see who can sound the most like a dog.

I hope someday when my daughters take their children somewhere, they’ll think of these little encounters and smile.

I know my day-to-day parenting jury is on its final stretch. As I mentioned before, my oldest daughter is making wedding plans, and she’s already moved out of our house. Her younger sisters are both looking at colleges now.

In eight years, our youngest daughter will graduate high school. Eight years seems like such a long time away, until I think about the 18 years of parenting experience under my belt now and how quickly they flew.

As I once heard someone describe parenting, the days are long, but the years fly by. It’s so true.

It’s just as meaningful for these children that some might label as adoptive or stepchildren.

I sometimes think about the Brad Paisley song, “He Didn’t Have to Be,” which includes the refrain, “I hope I’m at least half the dad that he didn’t have to be.” Society tells us men don’t have to be fully involved if someone else was involved in procreation. Those of us in that club know it’s even more meaningful when a child chooses to love you as their father.

For those dads who step up and treat all their children as if they were theirs from birth, I salute you. Happy Father’s Day.


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.