​Not every stepfather is so lucky. Chad Carleton admits he’s a blessed man, but he thinks some of the magic may have begun in the kitchen. “We bonded,” he said, “when we started cooking together.”

Chad got to know Jewel, his step-daughter, when he started dating Emily, her mother. She was 12 when they married; today she's almost 16. Any parent will tell you, the pre-teen and teenage stages are not always easy. For step-parents they can be particularly difficult. It takes time to get to know each other, to learn what to expect. The biological parent, who has been around since birth, usually has an edge. That’s why Chad so values his relationship with Jewel as they work side-by-side in the kitchen, preparing meals for the family. He sees it as an opportunity to build their relationship and enjoy time together. He sees it as “incredibly rewarding” to be a positive, significant role model in a child’s life.

Chad is very candid about the importance of being intentional about the relationship with a potential stepchild. He insists, “Any man pursuing a woman with children should recognize the significance of the children out of the gate. You can’t come and go out of a woman’s life because it has a dramatic effect on the children.”

​Chad explains, “I knew I wanted to be with my wife and I knew she had a child, so we were very intentional about me building that relationship. Over time it became less intimidating and it didn’t take long before I wanted another (child).” That child is their eight-month-old daughter, Isla, who loves to wheel her walker close to her parents and big sister when they gather in the kitchen.

Working together is especially important because Chad and Emily are co-owner of Everything Kitchens, a primarily on-line store for almost anything a person might want in his or her kitchen. Chad credits his wife with the store’s success and praises her ability. Given that Chad grew up in a family of all boys and admits to having very little experience with the female perspective, his understanding of how to be important in the lives of the females in his life if commendable. Though he’s young, we could all learn a lot from dads like Chad.

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