The Father vs Stepchild: Whose side should the mother take? 


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The Ghanaian society is typically harsh towards the young single mother. She is presumed to have been promiscuous and reckless enough to conceive a child out of wedlock. Most mothers are not open to be in-laws with a woman with a ‘born one’. Their son shouldn’t take on the responsibility for the woman’s missteps. The stigma lingers on but it begins to wear off when the woman decides to ignore the reproach and live her life according to her own terms. 

Some get fortunate and find men who would be willing to marry them and cater for the child as their own. Because of society’s perception of such women, sometimes the men take on the mentality of doing the woman a favor by marrying her. Unfortunately, the once single woman sometimes enters the marriage with the same mentality and thus is at the mercy of the husband. She would do anything to remain in the husband’s good graces sometimes to the detriment to her child.

When a man marries a woman who is already a mother; that should legally make him the father of the child, right? He should love the child and take care of him like it’s his, right? Unfortunately, that’s contrary to how some stepfathers see the child. Because he didn’t biologically father the child in question, he views the ward as an outsider who often becomes a victim of sexual assault. 

Some mothers may be too busy playing wife that they don’t notice what may be going on between the husband and the child or maybe they do see or know of it but choose to look the other way. If the daughter doesn’t gather the courage to tell her that she is being abused by her stepfather, she pretends not to know. And even if she does, she shuts her up saying she’s just making it up; and if she knows what’s good for her, she’d quit with the claims and try to live peacefully with him.

There have been countless stories about stepfathers sexually assaulting and impregnating their stepdaughters in Ghana sometimes to the knowledge of the mother. Most of the time, justice is served on the behalf of the vulnerable minors. But sometimes, such shameless men get to walk free thanks to the testimony of the mothers of the victims.

I understand the tendency to feel like you’ve been showed some favor by being married off with your child coming along to your matrimonial home. But to defend his action of physically abusing and emotionally and psychologically damaging your flesh and blood just so you can remain in his good graces and continue to be his wife sounds like utter betrayal to the child.

I’ve heard of the philosophy that the priority of any married couple should be each other before the children come in. They are just guests; they would leave so what matters is the two people in the marriage. But in this case, is it right for a woman to stand by her husband though he has hurt her child?

I’d love for you to share your thoughts. If you were in the shoes of the mother, what would you deem more important, your marriage or your child’s wellbeing? Would you defend him if he physically and psychologically abuses your child? Do you think it’s a fair price to pay for having been married even though you are taking care of another man’s child? Kindly share your thoughts.
© Josephine Amoako 2016

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. Shahz says:

    I would say definitely a mother should stand by her child if her husband is overstepping his boundaries as a step father.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shahz☺

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Shahz says:

        You’re most welcome my dear.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amanya says:

    Your child is more related to you than your husband.
    The husband should be more like the guest.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      Lol… The guest, huh? I get your point though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Amanya 👍

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ganzymalgwi says:

      No the child is the guest

      Like

  3. somawrites says:

    I couldn’ agree more with Shahz…the well being of my child first!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, 👍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. somawrites says:

        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. NJBraso says:

    Your children should always come first but the mother needs to handle the issue in such a way that there would be no animosity afterwards.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      I agree. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, NJ.

      Like

      1. NJBraso says:

        my pleasure.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Shereen says:

    Child first!! I will personally report him him to the authorities. I think it all just boils down to how women are considered incomplete until they are married!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      I know, right? Society makes it look like marriage is a validation ticket. How unfortunate. 😢

      Like

  6. piratepatty says:

    I re-married when my son was 8 years old. I was very up front about this topic. I am pretty sure I said something like, ” You I can replace. but my son will always come first. Do not every make me choose, because I will not choose you.” Thankfully I never had to make that decision and though my husband died when my son was 16, they loved each other like blood.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      Oh good to know they bonded very well and sorry that he passed.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Roos Ruse says:

    I was not loved or cared for by a step parent. I left a second husband because he had no heart for my sons and thus couldn’t respect me. Sure it was hard and hurtful. My perspective is that my children did not ask to be born. I took the responsibility to make the best life possible for them. When men could not carry their share of the burden I relieved them of it and relieved myself of the extra weight. My sons are worth every hardship.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      Indeed they are. Thanks for sharing your experience, Roos.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. vhuvu says:

    Ooohh he will die. No jokes about it. I can’t deal with men like that. There is a saying my mother told me: “Your husband is not your relative, you do not share any genes or blood, he can disappoint you or leave any time.” and I understand the saying. I can leave my husband but my child is my future, a piece of me in the future going on so why would i let a man I just married hurt my child? I would kill him because he deserves to die for doing that to a child and sadly some women have misplaced priorities and put their new husbands who accepted their children first which is sad. The child suffers in the end. A child is a blessing, and it should stay that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. joseyphina says:

      Indeed a child is a blessing. Men with kids would put them first before their spouses. I wonder why women won’t do same. 😢

      Liked by 2 people

      1. vhuvu says:

        Ahhh women and the need to be loved. Didn’t the Bible say we shall long for a man. That’s it. We long for our men more than anything in the word. The need to be loved is our destruction

        Liked by 1 person

      2. joseyphina says:

        Oh Hmmm… It is well. Enjoy your weekend, dear

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I am a child who was not chosen over. It has had devasting impacts on my life. The one who didn’t chose me, still will not. It’s selfish. The impact is loneliness, isolation, fear, inadequacy and self destruction while trying to figure out how to cope. A child is not a pawn to be used to save a parent. Regardless of the circumstances. It’s sad this is even a question for us all to ponder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. joseyphina says:

      Sorry about what you had to go through as a child. And I agree with you, no child should be used as a pawn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts ☺

      Like

  10. Clinton Moodley says:

    Insightful read Josephina

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ganzymalgwi says:

    God bless you for such a taught provoking post. I’ve read the comments and I can say I have a different view.
    In the society especially Africa we have this stigma on single mother (women in general) like you said.
    I must say the husband is the must important personality to the wife and visa versa. The children are the guest when they are of age the leave you and Clive to their Spouse.
    before venturing into marriage with a child (both the male and female) should make sure you discuss with your Spouse to be about the existence of another child and talk things out about the welfare of the child in question. If there is any objections from the Spouse to be then you have a choice to make, either to or not too. I think our society has made it difficult on us, that we mostly don’t talk about the presence of such a child until in marriage and their by lead to abuse (SEXUAL or PHYSICAL) but with full disclosure before marriage all this will be taken care of.
    Thanks once again for this post.

    Like

  12. afrikainme says:

    Greetings Joseyphina. It is not by chance that I came upon your post. I have recently started a Blog and one of my first three posts is on this topic of stepchildren. Some of the same questions are asked but the situation is somewhat reversed. In the case I wrote about a child was beaten to death by their stepmother.
    I guess it shows that inhumanity has no respect of gender.
    I like your writing style. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. joseyphina says:

      Wow… That was horrible! You’re right. Violence knows no gender. Thanks for reading and sharing your post as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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