If you were asked to guess the relationship between the people in this photo, you might get it wrong.
Yes, it’s true that 5-year-old Willow Mengon of Hubbard, Texas posed with her two dads right before a daddy-daughter dance, but as Dylan Lenox wrote on Facebook, that’s not the whole story.
“No we are not a same sex couple, but we do share a daughter,” wrote Lenox, who also called himself “Bonus Dad.” He continued, “David is Sarah’s ex husband and I am the fiancé. We have molded ourselves into one unique family, of only for the sake of our children to know the power of love.”
David is Willow’s biological father. He split from Willow’s mother, Sarah, several years ago. Lenox is Sarah’s fiancé. The three adults in the situation are well-aware that society expects exes to be jealous and unable to get along — especially once they start seeing other people.
Our daughter Willow. You may never know how your love has changed us all. The guy to the left is myself (Daddy, Daddy…
However, that’s not the case in this family. Lenox wrote that David, “stays at our home when he visits, because family is always welcome. He is not an outsider, he is and will always be a part of my life for the simple fact that we share the same daughter!”
Lenox doesn’t deny that it was not easy to get to that point. David told “Good Morning America”:
“It was hard at first but the longer we got to know each other things just slowly started to fall into place. It took a lot of patience, work and love for our daughter to overcome any personal feelings we had.”
However, he also emphasized that parents should “never stop working” when it comes to getting along with their ex’s new spouse:
“They [the child or children] didn’t ask to be here, and for whatever reason things failed among the adults, you can’t let your child see that. So be compassionate, be patient, and remember that no matter what, the love for the children should prevail over all else.”
In the case of this family, it has paid off with a strong relationship they never expected. Lenox told KCEN that he and David have managed to forge a strong bond:
“He’s one of my best friends. He’s my brother, he’s family. Nothing is going to change that. That’s because she’s not going anywhere and I’m not going anywhere. It’s just a wonderful relationship and I’m so glad we have that chemistry.”
Sarah called it “a dream situation” saying that it’s worth the hard work to create a good relationship between all the adults in your child’s life.
The trio has another reason for making it work. As David told KCEN, they’re setting an example for Willow to follow in the future:
“She’s going to gauge the men that she dates off of our behavior. So, if we treat her with respect and treat her mom with respect in the process, you know it’s one thing to tell your kids something but to show them every day is something different. We want a strong young woman who knows how to be treated and that’s going to be based off the example we set.”
Since Lenox posted the photo online, it has been shared more than 130,000 times. Commenters were quick to compliment the dads for providing such an inspiring example.
As Lenox explained, that was the real motivation for sharing their story — to show how creating a unique family for the sake of their daughter also helped him find a new best friend.
Of course, the real winner here is Willow, who told KCEN how much she loves her two fathers: “They are so nice and they love me, so that’s why I love them.”