Father’s Day advice – Put your children second
Pediatrician says focus on marriage makes for strong family
Frank McGehee, M.D., may surprise you when it comes to his parenting tips as a father of four biological children and two step kids – he puts all of the children second.
Dr. McGehee, seen here with his daughter Brigid, became a stepfather of two younger girls 15 years ago, after his own four children were nearly grown and out of the house. He feels like the commitment he keeps to his wife, Pam, is what makes him a better father of a strong family.
“I know, to some, it sounds like it defies common sense to say put the children second,” Dr. McGehee said. “But, I think you have to have a strong marriage and a strong bond between the husband and wife. From there, everything grows from the love in that relationship. If the marriage is solid, the kids will benefit.”
That strong relationship between spouses will also be needed, Dr. McGehee said, with the extra challenges that come from being a stepparent.
Children of divorce often have emotional issues, sometimes of abandonment and sometimes of anger against the new father. Dr. McGehee said the parents need to have a unified front in dealing with their kids.
“You have to eventually find that place where you trust the stepparent and their objectivity,” Dr. McGehee said. “The stepparent can look at things with fresh eyes and without some of the emotional entanglement that may be there with the biological parent and the children. Hopefully, the biological parent will find that objectivity helpful.”
And then there’s one more relationship that Dr. McGehee feels stepdad has to at least attempt to make – with the biological dad.
“We have something in common – the relationship with the kids,” Dr. McGehee said. “I would hope that we are both trying to love and nurture the child. You have to try to get along with each other, eventually you will have things like graduation and weddings to attend together. You may not ever be friends, but you should at least be colleagues in raising a child. All the parents involved should have the same goals for the child – making them a happy, healthy and successful person.”
Get to know Frank McGehee, M.D.
Dr. McGehee is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Fort Worth (Magnolia). Dr. McGehee is married and the father of six children, with an age range of teenager to in their 30s. Brigid, seen in the photo in the story, has Down Syndrome and it helps Dr. McGehee work with patients with DS and other special needs. In his role as primary care physician he treats a wide variety of children and helps them with everything from the common cold to complex issues. Dr. McGehee stresses at well-child visits the two most important things a mother can do for a child remain breastfeeding and making sure the baby's car seat is properly fastened.