Richie: My journey as a stepdad
Richie Hardcore is an educator, speaker and activist working in the spaces of family and sexual violence prevention, masculinities, mental health and fitness. He’s also partner to Claire and Dad to baby Rafael and his eight-year-old step son Jack.
While many know Richie's story of how fighting (Muay Thai) saved his life or the multiple Muay Thai champion titles he carries, our kōrero looked deeper into his journey of fatherhood. We explored the ways in which Richie seeks to build a positive relationship with his stepson, his co-parenting journey and the advice he would give to new stepdads.
Kia ora, my name is Richie Hardcore.
I am a father, I'm a big brother and a
mentor to a lot of young men."
On-screen text reads "Change is possible. Richie's story".
"I first became a parent when I met my partner, Claire who has a son called Jack.
And he was three years old when we met.
So I've been Jack's dad or Jack's stepdad, I just say dad, for five years.
And then three weeks ago today we had a baby, yeah.
We had our son Raphael. Oh yeah, hand up, hand down, yep.
Make the kick look handsome.
For me, it's about giving my sons an experience of childhood that was completely different to my own.
Growing up for me was difficult. My father, who I love very much, wasn't a good role
model a lot of the time.
And he tried his best with the tools that he had, right.
We didn't talk about trauma in the eighties and didn't even know what that was, right.
But we'd just show up and live unconsciously.
You know, I've had my hiccups in life. I've had my struggles, but I've used all of those to learn about myself.
There are lots of different ways of being a good dad and how that manifests is
different for everyone.
Not every dad's good at sport. Not every dad's good at business.
Not every dad is straight, you know?
So there are lots of good ways of doing that within those different spaces.
I think there are good baselines that we can all broadly agree upon.
The need for like physical touch and emotional connection and how we manage our own emotions in front of our children.
How we teach our children to manage their emotions. My son sees me cry, you know, or he'll see me get sad at a movie or have a bad day, and we can talk about all of that.
If you're finding it hard, just do it slow.
One, pause and think about things. It's a transferable life lesson.
Okay, and then knee.
With a stepson, you always have to consider his dad too, right.
And his partner and some things a bit more of a negotiation.
What do you think about this issue or this happened at school?
Jack's father is a really intelligent, thoughtful dude and while him and Claire didn't work out for whatever reason,
I really respect him 'cause he loves his son.
Like anyone loves his son, right?
Yep. Bah, bah, boom here, right.
It's taken time but like, Jack's dad comes to our house on Christmas.
He comes to our house on Jack's birthday.
Like he came around to meet our son like my son's, his son's brother, you know?
And if I'm a little dickhead about it all, and like running his dad down, for whatever reason I'm actually doing my son a disservice.
And that's always gonna be his father, right?
But how do I walk alongside him as another father figure?
I'm lucky, like my stepson's dad's a cool guy.
So we don't have beef, you know.
But hey, hypothetically imagine if he was a dickhead, right?
Like I would have to learn time and place on when to communicate, how to communicate, what was my responsibility and what wasn't to address?
How do I support my partner navigating a difficult co-parenting situation.
And we have an easy co-parenting situation.
Not everyone has that, right.
I think if you're becoming a stepfather for the first time you need to stay curious about yourself and your own behaviors and beliefs and values and figure out where they come from and be bigger sometimes.
Your step child's dad may not be cool and you have to learn how to be the bigger person in that relationship.
So you need to learn how to communicate openly, and honestly, and healthily.
I really think we need to let go of a lot of the old stereotypes about what being a man is, right?
It's about trying to let that stuff go and give one another as brothers, and fathers, and sons, and friends, permission to be more authentic, right?"
Cut to a black screen. In the middle is the logo for Change is Possible. The logo is in orange and white text that reads "Change is Possible".
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