You're Not My Dad!

01/17/2014 10:30 am ET | Updated Mar 19, 2014

You're not my dad! Touché! Alright, what do you do next? You had better take a deep breath and pause... because you're in a fight that won't be fought fairly. It's part of parenting. Kids get to fight dirty, parents never should. Kids keep their arsenal ready. All the time. And they always use the most damaging ammunition they can find. You don't need to be a step-parent, a foster-parent, adoptive-parent, or guardian for that to happen. Even traditional parents get targeted with non-Geneva-Convention-approved ordinance.

I came from a traditional family and I used illegal tactics all the time when I was a teen. "You're a hypocrite!" "At least I'm not putting on a show for people outside the family!" "I hate you!" Yep. Teens don't fight nice. Being in a non-traditional family isn't really much different other than kids get access to a few dirty weapons that their peers don't. It doesn't matter. If they didn't have those, they'd use others. You're a parent (whether they like it or not) and you are going to spend the next several years in fights where your opponent won't fight fair. Don't you fight dirty, though.

Stay away from the word "real."

When it comes to parents and parenting,

it's pointless in an argument.

Get rid of your own dirty bombs and promise yourself you'll never use them. "Damn straight you ain't my kid!" "I wouldn't want you to be my child!" and other such retorts are examples of weapons you should never use. Lose a few battles of will, and win the war of helping to mold a responsible and compassionate adult. By using inappropriate weapons in battle, you will lose that war.

Stay away from the word "real." When it comes to parents and parenting, it's pointless in an argument. "Oh, I'm your dad, alright. Ask the judge!" I threw back at my own daughter. "We're a family. We have rules, here. And even after you're 18, I'll still be your dad, so get used to it! You're not getting out of this family, Princess."

I have teens. We fight. Nothing on earth is more natural.

Of course birthparents are real parents, whether we like it or not. And personally, I have no problem with that. Six of my children would not even have lives had it not been for real parents that society chooses to call birth-parents. No matter how good or bad they were at parenting, there can be no denying that they are real parents. I'm a real parent too. I'm a real adoptive dad. You might be a real step-mother, a real foster dad, or any number of "real" types of parents. It simply doesn't matter. We are parents and we have parental responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to teach kids by our own examples how to be respectable adults. And we can't do that by fighting dirty, like kids do.

"Anatole is your birth-father. Of course he's your father. I'm your adoptive father. I'm your father, too. Guess which one of us is going to decide whether or not you go to that party, tonight." I have teens. We fight. Nothing on earth is more natural. I always have one goal in mind when I find myself in that situation: No matter how much my child hates me when the fight is over, I want them to understand how much I love them.