Parenting Stories

Becoming A Bonus Dad

happy family with wife bonus dad and child

I became a bonus dad by accident. I fell in love with Layla, my (now) wife’s daughter, day one. I went on a date with Tiffany (my wife), originally just the two of us, and she called me about 30 min before and said, “Hey my babysitter couldn’t make it; I am bringing my daughter.”

To a normal person I think they would have been like, “Oh, no, I don’t want to do this.” But I just said, “Cool, I can’t wait to meet her.”

I held Layla and fed her on our date. I knew right away that I wanted to be in their lives.

The Most Rewarding Part About Being A Bonus Dad

The most rewarding part about being a bonus dad is watching Layla learn and grow. Seeing her accomplish little tasks she has been trying to accomplish is such a great feeling. The best thing she says to me that gets me every time is “Dad, I freaking love you!” She even tells Tiffany, my wife, “Mom, Dad freaking loves me!” when I’m not with them.

Everything about being a bonus dad is rewarding, even when we have to discipline. Fatherhood is a learning experience so I wouldn’t change anything; I love everything about being Layla’s dad.

My Biggest Fatherhood Challenge

My biggest challenge hasn’t happened yet; the biggest challenge I will face is going to be the conversation about her birth dad. I have no idea how it’s going to go, how it will come up, or what we are going to say. You cannot mentally prepare for this. When it happens, it happens and I know for a fact that is going to be the most difficult, challenging part about being a “bonus dad.”

I don’t consider myself a bonus dad, I am her dad and all that she knows.

Otherwise, my other struggles are with my health. After my 9th concussion, I haven’t been the same person. I cannot express how I feel, I have a hard time remembering people, events in my life, I cant go to concerts any more due to major light sensitivity. I went to a place in Orlando, Florida called Plasticity Brain Center in October 2018 because of all of these issues.

What I learned is that I have a traumatic brain injury and I won’t ever really be the same, but I do brain exercises daily to feel a little more normal. I have a hard time communicating and expressing emotions; it’s something I work on daily and Tiffany helps me with all the time. There are even times Layla asks if I am okay.

The hardest thing for me is to teach her to communicate and express her emotions when I have a hard time doing it myself.

What I Wish Non-Parents, Bio Parents & Friends Understood

For non-parents and friends, here’s what I wish you understood: parenting is hard. You never know what to expect and you have to be able to go with the flow and make changes all the time. For biological parents, we need time to set boundaries. We know you want us to be able to discipline and set rules, but know that we do not want to overstep.

If we are timid in the beginning its because we don’t want to cross a line. We love your child like our own but we need time to get comfortable with stepping up into a parental role.

How I Knew This Was Right

Two months after I met Layla, I was in Tiffany’s kitchen and told her I loved her and her daughter, and I want to do this life and this family with them.

Two months after that, I proposed on the beach in Santa Barbara, and in August 2019, I married my best friend and walked my daughter down the aisle.

I have never had any doubt or hesitation about stepping into their lives. It was the best decision I have ever made.

Featured Image Credit: Sarah Young

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