“Can I call you ‘Dad’?”

6 Aug

We knew this day would come, but I figured it would be years from now.  My 7-year old daughter popped the question to DH a couple of days ago: “Can I call you ‘Dad’?” 

As many of you know, DH and I are not legally married, but throw around terms like “husband”, “wife”, and “stepchildren” quite liberally.  However, when it comes to the terms “mom” and “dad”, we get a little fussy.  From the very beginning we decided that our kids would only use those terms with their biological parents.  DH maintains that “Dad” is a special name and that he doesn’t want to take away the title or the honor from my ex-husband.  On the other hand, the thought of my children calling someone married to my ex-husband “Mom” makes me sick to my stomach (Iike I’ve said before, DH is the kind of guy that makes you want to be a better person).  My ex-husband hasn’t been in a serious relationship since we split up, so I haven’t had to cross that bridge yet, but just thinking about it bothers me.

Early in our relationship my youngest SD said, “Since you’re going to be with my dad, does that mean I have to call you Mom?”  Here’s what I said, “You have ONE mommy who loves you very, very much. She’s the only person that you should call Mom forever and ever.  Same goes for Dad.  Just call me by my first name.”  This one was easy to solve since we have the girls EOW (every other weekend) and we really don’t have a close stepmom/stepchild relationship (even after 4 years).

However, there were a few things we didn’t take into account like time invested.  Our four-year anniversary is coming up.  My soon-to-be 8-year old daughter has now spent more of her life living with DH than she has with her biological father. Not to mention that over these last four years, he’s the one that she’s learned to count on.  DH has become the father figure, not because he’s trying to, but because her dad just hasn’t been emotionally available.  DH and I also have a 2-year old daughter together, so it probably makes sense to a little person for all the kids in the house to call DH by the same name.  When it came up, DH handled it very gracefully.  They talked about why she shouldn’t call him Dad and then talked about alternative names, which of course, got really silly. 

Today, she’s back to calling him by his first name, but I’m sure it will come up again.  DH says that 10 years from now if they want to call him Dad (and their father continues to fade into the sunset) he may let it slide, but for now we need to keep it on a first name basis. 

How do you handle the maternal and paternal titles in your home?  Is “Mom” or “Dad” sacred?  Does the stepparent have a different name like “Pops” or “Momma (Your Name Here)”?  If you’re a family with two mommies, are you both “Mom”? 

If the stepparent in your family is called “Mom” or “Dad”, how does the biological parent feel about it?

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7 Responses to ““Can I call you ‘Dad’?””

  1. Teri August 6, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    I personally believe it’s up to the child. My stepson has always called me ‘Mom’ of his own choice. He called his first stepfather “Daddy” though with stepfather #2 and #3, he just uses first names (that we know of).

    I think it’s kind of humorous though. When I first went with Hubby (then just friends) to meet my now stepson, I told him to give something to Daddy (meaning hubby). BM pipes up with “He’s probably going to give it to (#1) because he calls him ‘Daddy’ and calls (hubby) ‘Dad’. To my eternal delight, SS (then only 2) went straight to Hubby!!!! Now this is the same female who, the following year after Hubby and I were married, threw a royal B fit when she heard SS call me “Mom” for the first time. (he’d been doing it almost since he met me just never around her…we discouraged it until became engaged and was close to wedding, he never listened. my opionion is that he though since he called #1 ‘daddy’ and he was with his bm, of course i’d be ‘mom’ since i was with his bf)

  2. Stepmom Central August 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    Touchy subject thats for sure.
    People never agree with me on this topic, I always say it really depends on your situation.

    My SD’s call me mom or by my first name, its not a big deal in our house. The kicker is the situation is kind of reversed, they call me mom and they call their biomom by her first name(she left them when we got custody)
    Now 5 years later she is rebuilding her relationship and hates the fact that I have the title of mom. But my SD’s are older and one of them told her mom straight out if she wanted to be called mom, she needed to step up and actually be a mom. That didnt go well with the BM, but sometimes the truth hurts.

    I think the bigger deal all the parents make out of it, the bigger deal the children will make out of it. I know parents and step-parents that won’t answer to anything but what they want to be called, I say as long as its respectful than let the rest slide.

    I have been criticized because I allow my stepchildren to call me mom and I don’t correct them. They are preteens, they know who their “real” mom is and that I am their stepmother. The difference is that we are not a walking encyclopedia, we don’t need to define who we are to each other by titles.

    Do I think that a parent with 20 Bf and gf shouldn’t not be allowing their child to throw those titles around, No definitely not. 🙂

  3. Stepmom Central August 6, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    ‎*the last part of my post is a little jumbled, I mean to put, I dont think that a parent that has multiple bf or gf should allow their child to call them mom or dad and then a month later call another mom or dad.

  4. knittingbetweencultures August 6, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Oooh this is a very touchy subject indeed! When my son’s biodad had a wife and my son would refer to her as a stepmom it would bother me to no end. I always said that a mom (even in the sense of stepmom) was a sacred term and not to be used loosely. I figured that she was not raising him (he was rarely there- not even EOW), therefore did not deserve the title. I come to this conclusion because I have an AMAZING relationship with my dad’s second wife– my TRUE stepmom. I do not judge how others decide to use the words- this just rings true to myself.

    On the other hand, when my son calls my DH (we have been married for nearly 7 years and he has been the father figure since my son was 6) “papi” or “papi-first name” it does not bother me at all. I believe that it is a title that he “earned” by being the man in his life and being emotionally and physically available to my son since he was little. When my husband introduces my oldest DS, he always refers to him as his son and not a stepson, but it depends on my oldest ds’s mood as to whether or not the term is reciprocal.

    I have noticed that my DH has been called a few names and it really depends on my son’s mood, whether or not he is getting his way, wants something or is angry. Those names vary from “first name”, “papi-first name”, or “papi” and occasionally “dad.”

  5. BioStep August 7, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    My mom married my stepfather when I was 10, but I didn’t live with them full time until I was 13 (I chose to live with my grandparents). I called my stepfather by his first name until he decided to adopt me when I was 16. He’s been “Dad” ever since.

  6. Steve November 16, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    i have recently married a widow with an 8 year old son (my stepson). I made a big mistake as it turns out when stepson asked me “shall i call you dad” and i said no ‘cos i’m not your real dad. Mom thinks i have been unkind to him and now says i dont deserve the title anyway. I want to be everything he wants in a dad without actually beeing called dad

    • BioStep November 17, 2010 at 8:57 am #

      I hope that one day your wife will come to understand that your intention was not to be unkind to your stepson, and how wonderful it is that you want to take on the father role. At some point down the road, you may have this conversation again with your stepson, and you may end up negotiating a title that suits you both. Just keep working on building the relationship and don’t worry about the titles!

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