The step children issue - what is your view on calling step parents Mummy/Daddy?

[deleted account] ( 19 moms have responded )

I am currently in a relationship with a young single father. I love his daughter to bits, but as her father and I get more serious it is starting to play on my mind what will happen as she grows older.

At the moment she is a couple of months away from turning 2, and calls many people and objects Mum/Mummy when she wants attention or to direct people's attention. However, I was wondering what people felt about children calling their step parents mummy or daddy?

This is a big issue for me, as I believe that the children should choose (once they know what the word means!). However, my situation is rather complicated. My partner did not become a single dad out of choice, as his wife passed away. This means that if his daughter chose to call me Mummy, it could potentially cause problems not only with his wife's family, but also with him as it may bring up painful memories and he might not want his daughter calling another woman mummy.
To make things even more complicated, his wife was a good friend of mine. So I'm not sure how even I would react or feel if his daughter chose to call me Mummy.

I'm not sure if it's important to mention or not, but I don't yet have any children of my own and am quite young myself. I've also never been in the situation of being in a relationship with someone who has children before.

Any suggestions/advice/comments would be most welcome!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Firebird - posted on 10/01/2011

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This is one of those things that you might just have to deal with when it happens.

Shauna - posted on 10/07/2011

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First of all, talk to your boyfriend. See what he thinks & how he feels. Try to have this discussion when the child is not present or is asleep so that you two can calmly discuss the issue & how each of you feel without being interrupted.

I will tell you that it isn't an easy position to be in...I know this first hand because my daughter is not mine by birth, but by marriage. My husband did not choose to become a single father either; however, his 1st wife didn't pass away, she chose (when their child was 2 months old) to walk out on both of them. She did re-enter their lives (mainly for child support, since she didn't want to work, & to use the child for attention). The baby was 16 months old when her father & I began dating, & since she mainly lived with her father, I was with her all the time. When his job changed to 2nd or 3rd shift, I was the one getting her from daycare, bathing & feeding her, & putting her to bed. If she was sick, her birth mother wanted nothing to do with her. At most, the birth mother only saw her once or twice a week (sometimes only for a few hours at a time). When the baby began talking, she called her birth mom "Mommy" & me "Mom". I was shocked (& scared) the first few times she did this, & I tried to get her to say my 1st name; she was adamant that I was "Mom". This is what she was comfortable calling me; she also had clearly defined names that differed between me & her birth mom. (I'll also let you know that her birth mom heard her once call me mom & totally flipped out, screaming & cursing & threatening to attack me). Just after the child's 2nd birthday, her father won full custody. Her father & I never lived together until we married. Even before we married, I was the "mom" at all school & sports functions; her birth mother went to 2 school events EVER (my daughter is now in 7th grade). My husband & I have always had to put out the fires that the birth mom has caused; now our daughter is old enough to see the problems that have happened & call her birth mother on certain issues. We still have custody, but she does still see her birth mom periodically...the last time was over a month ago; the last phone contact was over 2 weeks ago, & only lasted 5 minutes. Our daughter recently wrote a school report about the history of her life. She was VERY candid...it warmed my heart, & broke it at the same time, reading what she had written about me being the "real mom" that her birth mother has never been. I'm not going to lie to you, Ms. Nevin.

It is a very difficult road to walk when you are raising a child you didn't birth. I understand your hesitance about how your boyfriend's deceased wife's family would react. Hopefully, they will realize that the child is blessed to have someone willing to raise them & love them. If you treat the child as your own, others should be thankful. (We've always wanted our daughter's birth mother & her family to see it that way, but they refuse.) I wish you much luck in your decision. This little girl will not remember her birth mom without help from her father & the rest of her family. Hopefully you (or whoever fills the mother's shoes) will teach the little girl that she is loved, no matter who is beside her in life. It is very very hard; about the time you think it is getting better, something will knock you off your feet. If you love the father & love the daughter, it is worth it. If you & your boyfriend share the same feelings about each other & his child, if you two can come to an understanding on how the child should be raised & what place you'll take in her life, then hopefully her mother's family will agree too. Good luck!

Tina - posted on 10/03/2011

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As the mother of a child who has been jointly raised between me and my ex and a stepmom since she was a toddler, it was difficult to hear my daughter call another woman mom...at first. But now that my daughter is almost a teen, she knows the difference, loves us both and is proud to say that she has two moms, one who is her step, who loves her just as much. It will definitely take time for those who were close to the bio mom, to get over the sting of hearing another woman being called mom, but that is their issue. Hopefully they will realize that you don't have to have born the child to be a mom. There are a lot of adoptive moms and dads out there who are no less and if not more than the bio's who conceived the child. Don't discourage the child or else she will think it is wrong. Be open and honest about the bio mom, allow her to have pictures and open discussions and just enjoy the relationship that you have with her. Not allowing her to call you mom, especially should you have children with the father, will make her feel like an outsider. My only caution is this, IF you don't plan on making this relationship THE ONE, don't give the little girl false hope. Be realistic in the future with this man because it is his child who will suffer the most. Good luck!!!!

Carla - posted on 10/02/2011

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I have a step daughter who came into my life when she was 6. She now 13. She calls both her birth mother and I mom. We have no problem with it and in the future if she choses to call me by my first name I am OK with that. I think young children are more comfortable calling the woman in charge of them 'mom' because there is less explaining for them and it is so important to not be different from their peers. In my opinion, especially if she is living with you, you are in fact mom.

Firebird - posted on 09/30/2011

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I think you should discuss it with your partner. Just tell him what you told us, and get his opinion. Then you'll both have a good idea of how you'd like to handle it if (and when) his daughter calls you mom.

19 Comments

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Kyleigh - posted on 10/07/2011

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When it comes to Step parents and the (step) child if he/she prefers to call them mommy or daddy I believe it should be fine, but shouldnt be punished if they choose to call them by their real name or a nick name , so not forced, its the childs wishes :)

[deleted account]

Thank you all so much for your replies.
Her bio mum is definitely still a part of her life. There are pictures up around the house for her, we talk to her about her Mummy all the time and as she grows older she will definitely always hear lots of stories about her Mummy. Her mum's parents are still also very much involved in her life and I wouldn't want it to be any other way. If they have a problem with me then that's fine but I won't have it affecting the little one, that just isn't fair on anyone.
I realise it is a life committment and I am willing to take that step. I have started raising the issue with my partner and he has agreed that once he can think through his feelings we will sit down and talk about it seriously.
As long as he is ok with it, my feelings are that she should decide what to call me. Fingers crossed there aren't too many bumps and hurt feelings along the way!

Jada - posted on 10/03/2011

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depends on the daughter/son... once they know what the word means they should decide. A more neutral name may be easiest...

Brittany - posted on 10/03/2011

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I would want my daughter to have a mother figure if i passed i want her to know the unconditional love a mother can give a daughter birth or otherwise. Do not take on the role as mother unless you plan on being there for life. It wouldnt be fair for the child to have to loose her mother twice. If you and your spouse decide to get married talk to him about adoption and be able to talk to her parents about keeping a relationship going they are still that babies family weather the mother is there or not and she is all they have left of their daughter. Your at a point where you need to make a lifetime commitment. Its important to keep her real mom part of her life in stories and pictures. My cousin died of lukemia when her babies were just 6 mo old and 2 years old they love hearing stories about their momma but are very thankfull to have a stepmother in their lives . There are just somethings a girl needs a mother for. You have big shoes to fill . Love that baby with all your heart and you will do fine.

Rebecca - posted on 10/02/2011

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My parents were divorced when I was 5 and my dad had custody. My step-mom came into our lives when I was 12. I have always called her by her name even though my mom is an absent parent. As I got older I became a step-mom to a 2 and 4 year old girls. I was always called Becky. On the rare occasions they slipped and called me Mom I would correct them. I had 2 boys with my husband and there was never an issue with them calling me Mom and the girls calling me Becky. It is a different situation but love can be attached to any name. My step-mom is my mom for allpurposes but I feel that my bio-mom earned the name Mom when I was born and no one else can have that title.

Rmg - posted on 10/02/2011

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Hu a bit difficult but its nice for u if the kid call u mummy its will make u husband to be felt blessed you for his daughter and love u as his previous late wife. Go ahed!

Kristin - posted on 10/02/2011

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How about referring to her bio Mum/Mummy or Angel Mum and yourself as Mama or something like that? For all practical purposes you will be her mum, by having the two names she can remember the woman who gave birth to her, and show respect to the woman raising her.

Lady Heather - posted on 10/01/2011

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A friend of mine is going through the same thing right now only she is the bio parent. It's such a tricky situation. They plan on having more kids so obviously the younger ones will call them mum and dad. Her little one's father passed away before he was even born so her fiance is really the only dad he'll ever know in person. I think in these situations when the kids are so young it may become natural for the child to choose to call the stepparent mum or dad.

I think it's something you should definitely talk about with your partner because his daughter might want to call you mum. She will see other kids with their mums and probably think of you in the same light. The fact that you are worried about the effect on everyone involved shows great respect and I think her bio mum would be very happy to know that her daughter has you in her life. I know my friend was worried about what it would mean for her husband to hear his son call someone else dad, but honestly if it was me who'd passed away I'd be very happy to have someone take on the mother role with my daughters.

[deleted account]

Connie - Don't worry I am definitely aware that it is a package deal! I love her to bits and have no problem being a role model to her. I would do anything for her. It's really just the pain other people might be caused that I'm worried about.

[deleted account]

Thanks for your replies. I have tried to broach the issue with my partner, but he doesn't want to talk about it (not surprising!). When asked how he would feel if his daughter called someone else Mummy he simply said 'I don't know' - well at least he's honest. I'm thinking maybe I should let it lie for a bit and try bringing it up later?

Krista - posted on 09/30/2011

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I agree with Joanna. Talk to your husband, and mention that you are worried about it hurting him or his deceased wife's family.

I commend you for being so sensitive about this...I'm guessing he'll appreciate your empathy.

Constance - posted on 09/30/2011

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As long as all parties are ok with it then it is fine. If shestarts calling you mum then you need to make sure it is ok with he BIO mum.

Connie - posted on 09/30/2011

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Children apply names as they see fit, out of love, and respect. I would not force or try to force a child to call someone something they were not comfortable with but at the same time not allowing them the freedom to decide for themselves is just as damaging. If she chooses to give you such an honorable name cherish it. I am a mom and as hard as it is to hear my oldest daughters call their stepmom mom, it also brings me a measure of comfort because I know they wouldnt do it if it was not comfortable for them. I also come from a divorced family and my biological father I call dad because that is who he is by birth...but the man I call my dad out of choice I did not meet until I was a teenager. the love of a child is priceless and should not be limited by titles, it will grow to encompass as many as it can, it is not limited to a certain amount. If you choose to be in a relationship with someone who has children then you must understand that it is a package deal. you comit yourself to not only the person but their children as well. if you are not ready for the resposibility then please leave before she is too attached. remember, a parent is the ones who love you, who watch over you, who pick you up when you fall and lift you up when you are down. they are the ones who set rules for you and love you no matter what. do your own soul searching then talk to your partner. good luck and God bless!

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