Father forbids sons from calling step-dad 'Dad', what do I do about it?

[deleted account] ( 42 moms have responded )

I have two sons, age 6 and 4. Their father and I have been apart since my youngest was 8 months. I remarried and have been with my new husband for about a year and a half. He loves the boys and is very good with them, parents them like they were his own without making any impositions.



They see their Dad every weekend and he is very commited to them. When I became serious with my new husband, I told them that when we got married he would be their step-dad, and they could call him by his name, by Daddy-(+his name), or Dad/Daddy, whatever they felt comfortable with. He was their step-Dad, and yes, that they have two Dad's, (because that is the REALITY!).



One is their Dad, and one is their Step-Dad. They both parent them and love them, guide them and teach them. The difference is that their Dad has more parental rights and responsibilities, being the one who brought them into the world, and their Step-Dad has responsibilities to them as a father because he willingly chose to, when he chose me. I would not be with someone who didn't think of my children in that way.



My youngest son was 2 and a half, my oldest was 4 and a half. The youngest had an immediate bond with my husband and wanted to call him Dad right away. My older loved my husband, and called him by his name. He has just recently started calling him Dad as well.



Their Dad hates it, and won't come to games or birthdays because of it. He tells them they are not allowed to call him that, and they come to me and ask why, and are upset that it upsets him, but they still call my husband Dad. All I say is it is up to you what you want to call him.



I am not sure if this will smooth out, or if the children will become weighted down over time with that responsibility their Dad has given them of not upsetting him.



My husband also has a son from a previous marriage who has a Step-Dad he calls Dad who is very good to him, and my step-son calls me Mom. My husband is thankful for this man, as he sees how happy his son is, and well taken care of. My step-son's Mom said when she heard that he called me Mom that she didn't like it at first, but said 'no, it's ok, if that is what he is comfortable with then that's good'. I tried giving this perspective to me ex, and he just says I am disrespectful to him by letting them call my husband Dad, that I am hurting them by it because he won't be around for anything if we are, and that I am a brick wall about it!

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Rachel - posted on 07/20/2012

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It is disrespectful to the active Bio Dad to have the kids call their Step Dad, Dad. Period. They have a Dad, SD is not the Dad, he is Mom's Husband. I know that's not popular but its the truth. Its not that SD is second class, but he doesn't have the same emotional attachment, memories, legal responsibilities or legal rights! Its too confusing when you have active Bio Parents of any sort in the picture. Now that being said, I countered my kids right from the beginning with "You have a Daddy, let's give him a "special name" and call him Uncle........". That worked from age 3-7, when on a camping trip ALL the other kids had Daddy's and they had an Uncle. Being that their Bio had dropped off the face of the earth, I quit fighting it. Its 20 yrs later and he is still their Dad, Bio never came back into the picture. For my SD, I am the Step Mom and I go by my first name with her, always have always will. Its tough have a blended family, but my mantra has evolved to Not My Kid Not My Problem. It puts you in a place of being supportive to your Spouse, however its THEIR responsibility to raise their children. If they cannot do that without a Steps involvement, then they really should not have had kids to begin with!

Amy - posted on 10/08/2009

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Hi, I've gone through the name-thing...I have a 11-year old step daughter (SD), and she was 5 when I met her and married her dad. She immediately wanted to call me Mom/Mommy, and it hurt her bio-mom immensely. Since then, I've also had 2 children with her dad, and we now have full custody of my SD. The whole name-thing is a very emotional issue for all involved--we've seen multiple counselors and therapists about it...and it all boils down to what THE CHILD wants and is comfortable with...I gave my SD all kinds of name choices, and she was the one who decided she'd call me "Mama", and her Mom "Mom". Her mom didn't like that either but finally agreed to what her daughter wanted. BTW, now my two other children call me Mama too. We are a family, and I think my SD would feel like the outsider if she wasn't able to 1) call me what she wanted to, and 2) call me the same thing my bio-children call me. She already needs constant reinforcement of my love for her. Time is what helped, plus God and prayer, and lots and lots of love. I never use the term 'step' unless absolutely necessary, as in a document or something, and I love all of my children. I have purposely not given you my personal opinion, but only what has been suggested by numerous "experts". Eventually, all step-children grow up into adults, and they will call you all sorts of things along the way. Keep it light and smile and hug them.

Heather - posted on 10/10/2009

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Quoting Marilyn:

This is just my opinion, but I think we need to be careful about labels. - yes, your son's have 2 father figures in their lives, however they only have one dad.
Your new husband is their parent, and it sounds like he is a good one, however, I don't think it is good for the kids to get confused with labels as to who their real biological parent is.
Neither your former husband nor your children asked to have another man in their lives, and although it seems to be working out - it was no one's choice but yours and your new husband. It sounds like your former husband and children have adjusted to your decision and have been very excepting of your new husband, but I think you are over stepping your boundaries allowing them to call your new husband 'dad'. He is not their dad, he is their parent.
As a step-parent I know that I am a parent and not the children's mom - I will never be their mom - they have a mom -and if they were to call me 'mom' I would question them as to their confusion as to who they think their mom is. If their mom died tomorrow I still would not be their mom - I will never be their mom - I look after them as a parent does, but legally I have no rights to them - if my husband died tomorrow I may never see the step-children again if their mother does not want me to - as I have no rights to them.
I think the fact that your children and your former husband have been so accepting is reward enough for you and your husband - you should give your former- husband the respect he deserves and allow him to be the only one called 'dad' as he is the only 'dad' to those children.


Very Well said.  This follows the lines of Lisa and another poster (can't recall name, sorry.) I would encourage you to put your self in their Dad's shoes. What if the situation was flipped around?  It should be made clear that they have one Dad, but 2 male parental figures.  Good luck.  I know this is can be a hard thing to sort out.

[deleted account]

I would hope that when the time comes that my sons' father remarries and they have a step-mom, that she is loving and accepting of them enough that they would want to call her Mom, that she would be a Mom to them alongside their Dad. How could having a secure and happy healthy homelife with two parents be bad?

Lynda - posted on 10/09/2009

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I would NEVER ask my daughter to call ANYONE daddy except her biological father!

She calls my husband by his first name and we have been together since she was 3. (she is 12 now) I would have a problem with her calling anyone mama besides me as well. Her father has never remarried (as of yet) but has been in some relationships in which she called the girlfriend by her first name. Personally I think if your children's biological father is commited to and a part of their lives, then you should respect his wishes.

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Staci - posted on 07/07/2012

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I have a stepson, and I would NEVER let him call me mom. I am his stepmom and he calls me by his first name. He already has a mom. Again, he already has a dad and therefore he doesn't call his mom's boyfriend (who she's been with longer than my husband and I) dad. It would be different if either parent wasn't there for him at all, but they are both in his life. I am with their dad...sorry

Rachel - posted on 06/28/2012

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My husband's ex is on her 4th husband, my husband was the second. She makes her kids call all the new husband's dad. My husband feels this is very disrespectful, and it is. Because they called their new step-dad Daddy StepDad's name, but then were so confused (because MOM didn't tell them truths) they were calling their own father Daddy Real Dad's name. He would have to remind them they only have 1 Dad and 1 Mom, (they call me Mrs. Rachel and I've been stepmom for 6 years). He has full custody now, so there is no more confusion. Except on birthday cards, their step-dad who has only been in the picture for less than a year, writes "DAD" on cards. Their mother is not helpful.

It's not right for your ex to not come to events, but it would be helpful if you stood by their real father on this. I think it would be different if Real Dad wasn't in the picture, but he is and in your words "very committed to them". So respect should be given. Would you like it if they called his new wife Mom? Or even Mommy New Mom Name?

Becky - posted on 11/06/2009

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my 2 kids never called any of their dad's wives--mom--and they have never called my husband dad, they call him by his 1st name, my grandkids call him by his 1st name to even though he was married to me before they were even born, i have 2 step kids, when they intoduce me to a new friend the step son says--this is my other mom but he calls me by my 1st name, my step daughter introduces me as her dad's wife and gives my name--all this is fine with me, i am not their mom and my husband is not my kids dad, if any of these kids had never know one of thier parents then calling a step parent mom or dad would be ok--i do have one question, how did your kids get started calling your husband dad ?? did you refer to him by that name, kids usually call people by the name they hear, if they are small kids any way, example--is that dad i hear coming home--that was dad on the phone, i would not want my kids calling anyone mom no matter how good they are to the kids and my ex felt the same way so when we both remarried we would call the step parent my the 1st name when talking to the kids and the same with the grandkids, they did change it a little, when they wanted him instead of saying--i want grandpa they would say --i want MY(his 1st name) my husband said he liked that better, they had a grandpa but when they added the MY in front of his name it made it special to him

no matter how many people you talk to about this they are all going to have different feelings, its a touchy subject

Renee - posted on 11/05/2009

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We had a similar issue when my partner and his ex-wife went to court ordered mediation. My step-daughter is 2 and before she could say "Nay" she called me mum, then it was "Nay" and now she sometimes calls me "Mummy Nay" but mainly it is still "Nay". My partners ex-wife wanted to have it written in the court orders that my step-daughter would not be allowed to call me mum, or her step-dad dad because she only had one mum and one dad. The mediator told her quite politely that this is not somthing she or the courts can control and children will call their parents, step-parents and grandparents etc. whatever they choose. If my step-daughter feels comfortable calling me mum then I leave that decision up to her, but it is also something her birth mother can't punish. Children create their own names for the important people in their life and it is not something that can be governed by laws etc. I will always make sure that my step-daughter knows who her birth mum is, but I also don't want her feeling leftout from our family as my partner and I are expecting our first child in February and the baby will learn how to say "mum" and "dad". If my stepdaughter wants to do the same I will let her.

Krystyl - posted on 11/05/2009

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This is a very tricky situation, I personally, I've gone through something, Somewhat similar, my Stepson, 3, started calling his stepfather 'daddy' this kind of upset my husband, but we came to the conclusion that this was due to My stepson's younger sister from a new marriage, we agredd that this was normal, and though my stepson was a little confused, we explained to him who -is-who - He now knows that his mommy is his 'real' mommy, that I am his 'step mommy' and that daddy is his 'real daddy and his stepdaddy is his 'stepdaddy' though he calls the stepparents by our first names, if he wanted to call me 'mommy', or his stepdaddy 'daddy' I don't think there is a problem with this, as long as the children know who are their 'real' parents.

[deleted account]

I think it's totally up to the kids and what they are comfortable with.



My daughter (who is 7) calls me mom by choice. She called me Holly Mommy for 2 years, and then all of a sudden started calling me Mommy. I never pushed her and I never encouraged her. She decided on her own that was what she wated to call me. We have her 90% of the time and her bm lives over 1600 miles away from us, almost never calls between visits, and is a total flake. When her bm found out, boy was there he** to pay! The bm called me and started yelling at me, to which I responded by hanging up and not answering when she immediately called back. Then, she called my hubby, while he was at work. She told him she was going to kill herself and he had to step off his jobsite to deal with her. He almost got fired over it! Then, the bm went to the courts and tried to get the judge to make me not let our daughter call me "Mommy." The judge laughed at her, asked if she was crazy, and threw out the request. He told her that she should be grateful there was someone in her daughter's life who loves her daughter and her daughter loves back. He also asked her if she would prefer her daughter have no mother figure (since the bm lives so far away). The whole ordeal made the bm look like a complete idiot who cared nothing for her daughter, only for herself and her image. Because of the incident above, the bm is court ordered to not engage either my husband or myself in any form of conversation. If she calls we don't even say anything to her, we just open the phone (which answers it) and hand it to our daughter.



Saying all that, I know my hubby would be devestated if our daughter ever called her bm's husband "Dad." But, we know she never would, because she understands perfectly what the label (mom or dad) means. She only ses her stepdad for 2 weeks every 3 months and he's not even there most of the time. He has never wanted kids and has even encouraged my daughter's bm to give up the custody fight because he doesn't want our daughter out there "ruining his life." Our daughter knows all this (her bm doesn't bother to take conversations into other room around her or even lower her voice when our daughter is around. The bm is a yeller and a door slammer - one of the reasons my hubby didn't want to take her back after she left - and says everything in frot of our daughter.). She knows her stepdad doesn't want her and has never called him anything with the word "dad" attached. She calls him by his name and that's that.



Like I said before, I think it's all about what the kids feel. My daughter came to the decision to call me "Mom" on her own and if your sons feel like they want to call your hubby "Dad" then it should be up to them, not anyone else. You can't change how your kids feel, and if that's what they feel then that's what they feel.

Melony - posted on 11/04/2009

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All in all, it is only up to the children what they call your husband, if they want to call everyone dad, then so be it. My stepson's slip up sometimes and call me mom, and sometimes they call me Mel. Just let your ex know that you aren't influencing them, and they probably just think that both male father figures are supposed to be called dad. They might grow out of it, but in their little eyes, they probably think that the man with their mommie is supposed to be dad and they don't understand the separation of it. Your ex should be greatful that another man will take care of them like a father should anything happen to him.

Stacy - posted on 10/10/2009

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My step-daughter calls me by my first name, she is always saying I wish you were my mom, I want to call you mom. I love her like she was my own, but in REALITY she's not. She has a mom and dad. She was allowed to call her step-dads family grandma and grandpa and her mother gave her permission to call her step-dad dad until my husband said NO, good thing too because now they are divorced and my step-daughter is having a hard time when she runs into her step-dads family, because now she doesnt want to call them grandma and grandpa and its hard for her to call them by their names. I Told her from day one that she will call me and my family by our names, simply because you never know what will happen. I know you cant live by whay could happen, but sometime you have to think about what would be easier for the kids. I grew up with step parents and I felt guilty when I was asked to call my step parents mom or dad, because I loved my MOM and DAD, I didnt need a new one! I would be very hurt if my child called someone else mom and I would not let my child call someone else dad, it only confuses them. If their dad is there for them and in their lives then theres no need for them to call someone else dad. Ive been there, It will hurt him and them.

Nichole - posted on 10/09/2009

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Well i see it like this , i am a step mom and a mom , no my step kids dont call me mom , they give me nicknames like steppy , or divagirl lol which is fine by me and fine by the girls mother . and for my children they call my husband by first name , but in cards and all they put love you dad or happy birthday dad , and ect ... unfort my childrens father isnt in there lives now he totally abandon them 2 1/2 yrs ago raraly calls them never writes them hasnt seen them in 2 1/2 yrs hasnt supported them . which is sad he says he loves them so much if thats love my goodness i would hate to see hate from him . lol Anyways i totally understand why yuor ex feels the way he does , he feels like your new husband is gonna take the place of him , that the kids are gonna eventually lose the bond they share with him . so do u understand how he feels when the kids call your husband daddy ? now i will say if he doesnt wanna go to the kids games because of all this then thats his loss on that ... he shouldnt let it come between him and his kids functions . he is just letting his kids down by doing so and that in result will make the kids start to drift and thats the thing he fears , so maybe you need to sit your ex down and have a talk with him and explain to him by what he is doing isnt helping him and his kids relationship ! i wish you all the best of luck in this i know its tough !!!

Theresa - posted on 10/09/2009

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It's not up to your ex, it's up to the boys...Maybe they need that connection to feel like all their friends. My kids are older, they refer to their biological as their father but my husband is their Dad. But they call both dad or sometimes they call my husband by his given name. Maybe if someone explained it to the ex that it is about them not him. But you got to admit it would hurt if they were calling his wife Mom??????

Kimberly - posted on 10/09/2009

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I have two stepchildren. Who on the night of our wedding rehearsal (10yrs ago) asked if they could call me Mom. I was not going to tell them no. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. I did not want them to think I was taking their Mom's place.

I learned to appreciate it that they felt we were one family. Turns out their Mom was fine with it to. She even refers to me as their other Mom.

Your husband should be appreciative of the fact there is another man loving his children and treating them well. He needs to understand it is not because they love him more then the real Dad. It is the fact that Stepdad makes them feel loved and protected.

Brandy - posted on 10/09/2009

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Just adding my 2 cents... I am a step-mom of 2 beautiful boys. My husband and I started dating when they were 7 and 4. They are now 11 and 14. We have had custody of the boys for the past year and a half, and their mom lives on the other side of the country. I have told the boys since they were little that they have a mom and a dad, I am their step-mom and they have a step-dad. They still call me by my first name and I would not change that. To tell you the truth, my youngest step-son says that it bothers him if people call me his mom and is quick to correct them, but has no problem with me calling him my son. Part of me says that it is just the pre-teen stage, but he is still really close with his mom. My oldest step-son does not care if people refer to me as his mom, and he does not correct them. He is also close with his mom, but maybe he realizes that I am the one here 24/7 and not her.

I guess what I am trying to say is, if it was your children's decision to call your husband Dad, that is their choice, but if you were the one who suggested it, then you are in the wrong. Honestly, sometimes it does hurt that the boys don't call me mom since I am the one here and she is not, but at the same time, no matter what I do, she will always be MOM. Try to gently remind your children's father that he is only hurting the children by not being there and no matter what happens, he will always be DAD.

Marilyn - posted on 10/09/2009

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This is just my opinion, but I think we need to be careful about labels. - yes, your son's have 2 father figures in their lives, however they only have one dad.

Your new husband is their parent, and it sounds like he is a good one, however, I don't think it is good for the kids to get confused with labels as to who their real biological parent is.

Neither your former husband nor your children asked to have another man in their lives, and although it seems to be working out - it was no one's choice but yours and your new husband. It sounds like your former husband and children have adjusted to your decision and have been very excepting of your new husband, but I think you are over stepping your boundaries allowing them to call your new husband 'dad'. He is not their dad, he is their parent.

As a step-parent I know that I am a parent and not the children's mom - I will never be their mom - they have a mom -and if they were to call me 'mom' I would question them as to their confusion as to who they think their mom is. If their mom died tomorrow I still would not be their mom - I will never be their mom - I look after them as a parent does, but legally I have no rights to them - if my husband died tomorrow I may never see the step-children again if their mother does not want me to - as I have no rights to them.

I think the fact that your children and your former husband have been so accepting is reward enough for you and your husband - you should give your former- husband the respect he deserves and allow him to be the only one called 'dad' as he is the only 'dad' to those children.

Tracy - posted on 10/08/2009

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The boys biological father should allow the boys to call their stepdad whatever makes them comfortable. It should be up to the boys not him. It's his insecurity, not the kids.

Jessica - posted on 10/08/2009

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Speaking as the other parent I would like to put in my opinion. My husband and I have been together since his children were 3 years and the other was 6 months. I went through this with my husband and it hurt him tremendously. Mainly because when he and his ex were getting the divorce they agreed that no one else would ever be Mama or Daddy, well after 2.5 years of being with him, she started dating a guy and got married to him and he was always Mr. (his name), well the day they got married the children were told that he was now Daddy (+ his name) and that is all they could call him. With no warning we go pick the kids up for our weekend and find this out. I think if you are divorced no matter how much you can't stand one another you should try to still get along for the children. The main reason this hurt my husband was because when the youngest started talking she would call me Mom and I would correct her by telling her "no I am not Mom I am Jess". She at 9 months old would reply "Yeah, Mom!" Well from the first time this happened I went to my husbands ex and explained to her what was going on, so that no one would get upset about anything, well 2 years the Daddy name thing happened, she told my husband he had no right to be called Daddy because they were no longer married. We have now been together for almost 7 years and the children now call me Mom by their own choice. They come to me when they were 4 and 6 asking could they call me Mom. I replied with "go ask your Daddy!" I love the fact that they are comfortable enough with me to call me Mom I feel honored!...well their mother still after 3.5 years of them calling me Mom still says I have no right to be called Mom because I didn't give birth. She also says that the children my husband and I have together are her children's step siblings. I do not think any one should ever tell a child this. My children and my extra children are not step-siblings they are half! We actually do not even use the word "step" to describe one another, my husbands children are my "extra kiddos" and if their friends see me with them and ask who I am they say I am their "other mom" even in front of their mother. But as for the Mama or Daddy thing I think it should be the child's choice and the Mama and Daddy should feel happy for their child if they are that happy and comfortable with their "step-parents." Yes it is hard but isn't your main goal as a parent to make sure your children are happy and loved? I feel like I am rambling but this is really something big in our family. I hope everything I said makes sense.

Debbie - posted on 10/08/2009

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I decided with my own childern to leave it up to the kids what they feel comfortable with because when it comes right down to it, its there comfort that matters not ours. But it is inportant not to push it let them do it on their own. I oldest daughter , never called my second husband dad but her dad would have had a fit but the man I was with next I was with for 10 years she called him dad right away and her dad never seem bothered by it. Kids are smart they know who Dad is.

Debbie - posted on 10/08/2009

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Isnt it funny how, we as adults, try to make up for the mistakes our own parents did. I am also a child of divorce, and my stepmother was not the ideal and I never seen my father, he never helped with finances etc. So when I met my hubby I swore I would be different, that I would encourage him to be different than my father was (which he already was) Yet for two of the kids, it didnt matter what we done (besides ignore our kids and spend every cent we had on them) they ended up the same as I did. Hating my father and step mother.
We need to learn to deal with the child and situation at hand! Not make up for something that was not our control

[deleted account]

Perhaps I believe this is something the kids should be allowed to decide because as a child of divorce I know the pain and powerlessness the child feels. This is something we put into their lives, without their choice. Forcing them one way or another about the name thing just seems like one more thing that is unfair to the kid.

[deleted account]

Hi Debbie :) I am very familiar with PAS. My step-mom influenced me to cut my Mom out of my life for 16 years. I know what it is to live with parents who are so divided, which is why I work very hard to encourage my ex to spend as much time with the boys as possible. To take them for stat holidays. I have had several conversations trying to get him to call them every day, so they would have daily contact with him. Even tried to set up so they could do the vid converstion thing. Tell him all the time, hey, if you have the afternoon off why don't you come pick the boys up and take them to the park or something? I have been working for years trying to build a comraderie with him so that hopefully some day we could all spend casual time together, have bbq's, get together at siblings for dinner etc. I never give up on this no matter what, as I have lived through the other option growing up, and it is still hard that my parents have nothing to do with eachother.



BTW, I never called my step-mom Mom, because she never felt like one. Even when she told me I could, I tried to for about 2 years and ended up just calling her nothing. I see my kids calling my husband Dad because he feels like one to them, and that is something that evolved naturally. I would have to agree with the experts that say this is something that should be left at whatever the child feels comfortable with.

Debbie - posted on 10/08/2009

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Quoting Ashley:



Quoting Lisa:

So, I spend most of my time discussing step issues on a legal issues board, and I will tell you that legally, dad is right. Courts and judges do not approve of moms (or dads) encouraging children to call anyone other than the Dad by that nickname. They see this as mom alienating dad by pushing someone else into the kids life as a dad. Courts see that kids have one dad and one mom. The steps are legal strangers.

So, that being said, as a step, I understand the emotional bonds that exist between a step and their sks...I understand that my step is my daughter, and my step, for years, considered me a mom to her.

But I do think that since dad has a sincere problem with another man being given the respect that the name "Dad" connotes, that you should work with the kids to find a name that is special for step-dad, but still different enough that Dad is respected in his special role.

And consider this... if you think dad is just making things difficult for the kids, consider that you might be doing the same... dad does not want to be in a situation where he has to hear his kids, who he doesn't get to tuck in every night or see every day, call another man by his name, so he refuses to go to games, etc... as a step, I see the pain my husband suffers by not being a daily part of his daughter's life... not giving dad this consideration means that you ARE hurting the kids too, since dad's absence hurts the kids.

Just some food for thought...





I think this is the most well thought out, rational and constructive post on this topic I have read to date. This topic just keeps coming up and it always seems to turn into a hard-headed yelling match. Thank you, Lisa, for bringing a rational approach to this discussion.





I too would have to agree



It is also one that I can say I have experienced, by the way of the 'alienation' thing. I have 4 sk raised two from teenagers-adults and the other two holidays/weekends. One of the first call me 'mum' never ever have we encouraged it, but didnt discourage it either, he needed the mum's love, she wasnt around. All the rest called me by my name and that was just fine, I am me and I am not thier mum, doesnt mean I dont do mum things or love  them any less.



The two younger ones have a crazy mum that has done so much to us, she has finally won, the kids hate us now. But one of things was to force them to call someone else Dad and call Dad by his christian name. Also tried to change surname.



 



I understand Miriam that you are not forcing your boys, and you are allowing them the choice, but between the lines, are you infact starting to alienate them from Dad? Just something for you to think about.  www.paskids.com   have a look here, it will explain 'alienation'

[deleted account]

Quoting Lisa : "And consider this... if you think dad is just making things difficult for the kids, consider that you might be doing the same... dad does not want to be in a situation where he has to hear his kids, who he doesn't get to tuck in every night or see every day, call another man by his name, so he refuses to go to games, etc... as a step, I see the pain my husband suffers by not being a daily part of his daughter's life... not giving dad this consideration means that you ARE hurting the kids too, since dad's absence hurts the kids.

Just some food for thought..."

I can see the perspective that I would be hurting them by allowing it, which would create those feelings in their Dad that he wouldn't want to be around, I just don't agree with him doing it and justifying himself because he's saying 'you did this to me'. He is an adult and responsible for his own actions, no matter how he feels. He is acting like all that matters here is him and his feelings, not considering the complicated feelings and relationships of all the other people involved, firstly, how his kids feel.

Alisha - posted on 10/08/2009

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Im in the same boat, expect I have only 1 kid, he has 3 kids, we all live together.

However there is no calling me mom from the other kids, or mine calling the other dad "dad". Its up to you, your kid, and the husband. I dont belive in it, I think its kindof weird, but hey kids know who is there and whos not!! Just let it be!!

Betty - posted on 10/08/2009

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It would probably help the boys if you just told them to stop calling their step dad "dad". Give them another name to call him like "papa" or something. When my step daughter came to me wanting to call me "mommy" I simply told her not to out of respect to BM and gave her some ideas for what she could call me instead. By telling the boys that they can decide what to call him you are holding them over a barrel because they have to worry about BOTH of their daddy's feelings. They want their step dad to be happy so think they should call him 'dad' but they want their father to be happy so they are unsure of what to do. The best thing your husband could do is sit them down and let them know that he wants them to call him one specific thing instead of 'daddy' and tell them that if they do that it will make him the happiest. That way the boys wont have to worry about this anymore.

Ashley - posted on 10/08/2009

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Quoting Lisa:

So, I spend most of my time discussing step issues on a legal issues board, and I will tell you that legally, dad is right. Courts and judges do not approve of moms (or dads) encouraging children to call anyone other than the Dad by that nickname. They see this as mom alienating dad by pushing someone else into the kids life as a dad. Courts see that kids have one dad and one mom. The steps are legal strangers.

So, that being said, as a step, I understand the emotional bonds that exist between a step and their sks...I understand that my step is my daughter, and my step, for years, considered me a mom to her.

But I do think that since dad has a sincere problem with another man being given the respect that the name "Dad" connotes, that you should work with the kids to find a name that is special for step-dad, but still different enough that Dad is respected in his special role.

And consider this... if you think dad is just making things difficult for the kids, consider that you might be doing the same... dad does not want to be in a situation where he has to hear his kids, who he doesn't get to tuck in every night or see every day, call another man by his name, so he refuses to go to games, etc... as a step, I see the pain my husband suffers by not being a daily part of his daughter's life... not giving dad this consideration means that you ARE hurting the kids too, since dad's absence hurts the kids.

Just some food for thought...


I think this is the most well thought out, rational and constructive post on this topic I have read to date. This topic just keeps coming up and it always seems to turn into a hard-headed yelling match. Thank you, Lisa, for bringing a rational approach to this discussion.

Lisa - posted on 10/08/2009

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So, I spend most of my time discussing step issues on a legal issues board, and I will tell you that legally, dad is right. Courts and judges do not approve of moms (or dads) encouraging children to call anyone other than the Dad by that nickname. They see this as mom alienating dad by pushing someone else into the kids life as a dad. Courts see that kids have one dad and one mom. The steps are legal strangers.

So, that being said, as a step, I understand the emotional bonds that exist between a step and their sks...I understand that my step is my daughter, and my step, for years, considered me a mom to her.

But I do think that since dad has a sincere problem with another man being given the respect that the name "Dad" connotes, that you should work with the kids to find a name that is special for step-dad, but still different enough that Dad is respected in his special role.

And consider this... if you think dad is just making things difficult for the kids, consider that you might be doing the same... dad does not want to be in a situation where he has to hear his kids, who he doesn't get to tuck in every night or see every day, call another man by his name, so he refuses to go to games, etc... as a step, I see the pain my husband suffers by not being a daily part of his daughter's life... not giving dad this consideration means that you ARE hurting the kids too, since dad's absence hurts the kids.

Just some food for thought...

Robin - posted on 10/07/2009

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I wasnt trying to mean, please understand but I would be VERY upset, no one else in the world could love my son the way I do, and like I said, I would have no prob letting them have a relationship with their step parents, I too have a step mom and it was very difficult for a number of reasons, one of which is that she is only 10 yrs older than me (not a prob now but when I was younger) but one day she said I love you like a daughter, and I was FURIOUS, I said you arnt my mom, of course I never had a mom ( I was adopted and it was a horrible home then later got to live with my bio dad, long story) but it was not the same for me, and I wanted to know why MY mom wasnt there, and once again there was good reason, but either way no one can take the place of a bio parent even if they are absent or a bad one.

To this day I think I get along better with my step mom at times than my dad, I wont ever be able to see her as a mother figure in my life, but I do respect her as my dads wife, and we are good friends. And she had done SOO much for me I could never repay her, but its not the same.

I am my childs mother and if something happened between hubby and I, that would never be acceptable, my hubby agrees too.

[deleted account]

Wow, I am surprised at how many people think it's more important to keep that title for the original parents. It's not like I can't relate to the hurt feelings I felt that way at first too, until I started seeing families who didn't restrict such titles. From what I observe, it is very positive. Robin, I am not intentionally hurting my ex, I have no intent of paining him at all. I do not look at being a parent so much that these are MY children as much (of course some) but more that I am THEIRS. And when their Dad and I didn't make it work, we provided for them the situation of having step-parents, who are also THEIRS. My relationship and bond with my children would never be any less if they loved their step-mom as a Mom enough to call her so. Again, love does not divide, it multiplies. And again, I understand the hurt. I don't see anything I can do except what I have, to tell him I have no intention of hurting him or disrespecting him and that the kids know the difference between their Dad and step-Dad, they just accept each person for who they are and loving them.

Robin - posted on 10/07/2009

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I only read through part of it, because this really gets me, what if they had a step mom, wouldnt it hurt your feelings that they call her mom, they are YOUR kids, that YOU love and care for, that YOU carried for 9 mo, I WOULD BE CRUSHED, mind you I never said they cant love their step parent, but they ONLY HAVE ONE MOM AND ONE DAD

The only way I feel differently about this is if the other bio parent is NOT in the picture 100%, I am a step mom, and I would never try to take that away from my SD mom, I love her and care for her as she were my own, but I know how I would feel if someone did that to me,

People say it should be up to the child, NO, as kids they are EASILY INFLUENCED, and confused, and its the parents job to keep them clear on WHO IS WHO, you even said that the dad is a big part of their life and a good dad, so why would you intentionally hurt him like that?

[deleted account]

Every blended family is going to be different, and how the children cope will be different. That's why I left it up to them. I didn't define a step-dad for them, that relationship evolved between them to be what it is. I believe it is very important not to be imposing as a step-parent, just loving and accepting, gentle but firm. With my step-son, I am a Mom to him and he loves me as such. He and I also don't have the expectations that I will parent him the same as his Mom or even Dad will. I am not responsible for his rules, eg. whether or not he is allowed to play certain kinds of video games. I support and enforce the decisions his b/p make for him. I do say that there are certain rules that might not fit at our home, like if there is a violent video game he wants to play, we just don't play those at our house, he can play when he gets home. Allowing him to call me Mom gives him security in our home, he knows he is loved by me and secure in this home where his Dad lives and takes care of my children. Call me crazy but I think this is ideal (after having the original nuclear two parent home). Whenever you look at it from the kids point of view, and it is what they want, because they feel loved. I don't believe a title of love takes away the specialness of the love that already exists with the original parents. The kids certaintly don't see it that way. Love does not divide, it multiplies!

[deleted account]

I am a step-mom and I have been in my step-son's lives now for five years(they are now 9 and 7 years old) and they call me by my first name. I made it clear to them when my husband and I got married that I was there step-mother and I was not trying to take the place of there mother. I told them that they have one Dad and one Mom and that they had me there step-mom and if they chose to call me there step mom that was fine or if they felt more comfortable calling me by my first name that was fine too. I agree with your husband in a way because of the fact that he is active in the childrens lives and by them calling your now husband Dad is kind of in a way saying that what he does is not special. I commend your husband for stepping up and taking your kids into his heart as he has, but at the same time no matter how much he does for them he is only there step-dad, just like I am only my step-sons step-mom. No matter how much I love them and care for them.

I know to you it may not make sense at all, but try to look at it from his point of view. Really listen to him.

[deleted account]

Thankyou for all your comments :) Calling s/p's by other kind of name could be an option to give the kids too, but they already call him Dad or Daddy, and trying to make them call him something else would be forced and unatural. They call him what they want to. I do not feel any spite or desire to dis my ex, I just don't think I should change things just because he says it is disrespectful. It's not about HIM, it's about the kids. Perhaps this may become an option if the kids get more stressed about it though, to give it to them as an option if they wish.

Latarsha - posted on 10/07/2009

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See if your husband likes to be called "Pops". My Dad, My children, and my friend's children all call their Step Dad "Pops".

Heidi - posted on 10/07/2009

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My situation is very similar to yours as well. I have a stepson that calls me by my first name, but I think thats because he is almost 19 now and I came into his life when he was barely 10. He has lived with us since he was 12. Mind you when he introduces me to his friends and co workers he says "this is my mom, Heidi". Makes me so proud of him. Also I have a 10 year old son from a relationship that calls my husband dad and his bio dad daddy. He has being do this since he was 4. It was his choice. My husband is always there for him for everything and his bio dad rarely shows his face at all( twice a year) and not on birthdays, christmas or any other holiday, only when it works for him and that is it. My ex won't let my son call my husband dad in front of him and around his family members. I think that is very selfish of him because my husband is the one that is here for him ALL the time and does father son type of things with him, not him. He never really has and its gotten worse over the years. My son also has a stepmom and half sisters that he rarely sees, talks to or anything else. My son does not call his stepmom Mom just by her first name. I asked him once why and he told me its because she is nice and all for the most part, but he hardly ever sees her so he doesn't think he should have to call her mom. That was enough explanation for me and I haven't asked him again.

I think it should be up to the kids to decide not us as parents. It should be what they are comfortable with.

[deleted account]

I have a similar issue. My step-children's mother has told them not to call me mom. They were 4 and 6 when their dad and I married 8 years ago. My SD is finally at the point (at age 12) that she doesn't care what her mother thinks, and calls me mom whenever she feels like it. She also told her mother recently that she didn't want to live with her full time anymore, and we go to court soon to make it official. I'm sure her mother is livid at the idea of her calling me mom, but I have never told them what to call me. Her mother 'fobidding' her to call me mom has most definetely caused a rift in their relationship, but a good parent would want their children to be around loving, supportive adults no matter what name they are referred to.

[deleted account]

Your s/d mother is wrong to force her to call her Dad by his name, that's emotional/psychological abuse. It seems usually the best way to deal with someone trying to hurt you is not react or engage with it. It's just worrysome what damage is being done to the child, can you just not engage when the child is involved like that??

I mean as far as it goes it is a parents job to sacrifice for our children, so when they have a loving step-parent and want to call them mom/dad, isn't our job to suck it up for their sake? This should be a choice given to the child. I am just so upset that their Dad is trying to force them to go against their emotions and taint something so good. We can do nothing and just BE the loving parent that evokes that endearment, but they will still feel the internal conflict and that is painful to watch, because it isn't coming from themselves, it is coming from them trying to take care of their Dads emotions.

[deleted account]

I don't really have any advice, just to add my two cents. My husband tells me it's a 'guy' thing having their kids call some other guy dad. He too thinks it would be disrespectful to him if his daughter (my SD) ever called some other man dad. But that's mostly because her mom is crazy and he feels SD would be pressured into doing it (like SD was forced to call him by his first name for the past year or else her mom would get really mad at her). As a step-mom I personally feel I wouldn't want my SD to call me mom. She called me "step-mom" for a few visits then told me her mom told her she couldn't call me that anymore because it wasn't my name.

I think names of endurement like Daddy (name) or a special name for their step-parent are fine but ultimately I guess try not to make a big deal about it. Soon the kids will be old enough to make their own decisions and seeing the way their dad acts will probably not be good for him and his relationship with his own kids. I know it really hurt my husband when his daughter was calling him by his first name but he was just patient with her, would gently correct her and tried not to make a big deal out of it. And sure enough she was telling us she HAD to call him by his first name because her mom said she had to call him that. Sorry.. just a little of my thought.

[deleted account]

Additionally, I would hope that when the time comes that my sons' father remarries and they have a step-mom, that she is loving and accepting of them enough that they would want to call her Mom, that she would be a Mom to them alongside their Dad. How could having a secure and happy healthy homelife with two parents be bad???? Doing the single parent thing with added spouse in the house doesn't seem like good role modeling to me. How would the kids learn about respecting the parental unit? So if you are a parent, why wouldn't you be addressed as one?? Just because of the original parents feelings???? If they are told they are not allowed to call that parent mom/dad, what happens when they grow up and get married?? Are they also not allowed to call in-laws mom/dad? If they are allowed won't they feel awkward, seeing how they don't even call their own very loving involved parent mom/dad?

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