Father’s Day celebrates fatherhood and honouring the men who raised us.

These men, through their actions, teach their children how to treat others with respect. Fathers teach their sons to tie bow ties and to shave. They teach their daughters to catch a ball or drive a stick shift. Fathers play dress-up and host tea parties to make their children smile. They stay up late, worrying about whether or not their child will get home safely, only to get up early to go to work to provide for them.

But sometimes fathers are absent and a new person chooses to assume the role.

Rod Moore is my stepfather. Like me, he grew up without a positive father figure. In many ways, our fathers were similar. They were both firefighters with tempers. Rod had gone through a trial of fire of his own, and when he came into our lives, still reeling from our own tribulations, he knew how to help.

Since 2005, when he first started dating my mother, Rod has stuck by us. He has given me advice that only a father could give. Though I was 19 when we met, I had much to learn from him. I learned about sacrificing, planning for your future, and owning up to the consequences of your actions. He also taught me about patience and forgiveness and that loving someone means loving them wholly, without hesitation.

In the past 13 years, I have gone from introducing him as the man my mum is dating, to my mum’s husband, and finally to introducing him as one of my parents. Rod has stuck by me and helped me through some hard times, though he had no obligation to do so. He did so out of kindness and that is the sign of a true parent.

We tease each other, like any father and son would. We help each other whenever we can, and I am constantly going to him for advice. Each year I tease him, telling him that I will give him a Father’s Day card the day after the holiday because stepfathers always come second. But I always wish him a happy Father’s Day on that day and even if I am unable to see him on the day, I make a point of seeing him and taking him out for supper and a thank you.

Stepfathers deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. They have chosen to care and their love is an honest love, free from obligation. I have appreciated everything my stepfather has done for me. He deserves to be celebrated on Father’s Day, just as much as any other dad.

Featured Image: Stephen Strand (left) with his stepfather Rod Moore (right). | Supplied