I don’t know about you, but when I hear a child call an adult by their first name, you may as well be scraping the chalkboard with your fingernails. OUCH! So, in a step-child/parent situation to be fair to all parties involved, what should the kids call the step-parents? This is quite a sticky situation with so many different, yet valid answers. However, one solution never fits all.
Recently, my son has decided to call my husband by his first name. For the past 10 years, he has called my husband (his step-father), “Dad”. This was something established by my son at a very young age. No one coaxed him or coached him to use this term. My husband was indifferent about it. My son’s biological father, who also claimed this title, has always played a very active role in my son’s life and was not very fond of the idea. I was confused. Spectators were critical. Now that my son is older, he would like to call my husband by his first name. Frankly, I don’t like the idea. If this was established at the beginning of our marriage, then that’s another story.
Well, as with any blended family situation, there are many facets to this name game with so many emotions and feelings that are involved. Whatever the real reason for my son wanting to be on a first name basis with my husband, I don’t think this should be allowed. My husband seems to think it will confuse and water-down his role with our other kids who will want to do the same. I am trying to put myself in everyone’s shoes and its making things quite difficult. Let’s take a look from different angles:
First, my son: At 3 years old, he felt comfortable calling my husband, “Dad”. I guess we were just trying to appease him, because he was such a young child, being presented with a new adult in the family, a new family structure, and I personally found it to be respectful and accepting. We talked it over with his biological father, explaining that it was NOT to slight him. He expressed his disdain, but we allowed it anyway.
Now, the step-parent: If I were a step-mom, I wouldn’t like to be called “step-mom”. It sounds cold and removed. I guess if the step-children are [young] adults, then this would probably be more easily accepted. In addition, I wouldn’t like to call my step-children, “step-children” no matter what – especially if they were young and spent a substantial amount of time with us. When discussing them, you should call them “your children” and include them in the number of “children” you have, when asked. I have a close friend that says she has a “bonus-son”, NOT A STEP-SON. I love that! Now, on the flip-side, I wouldn’t like my step-child to call me Mom without discussing the implications of this with the biological mother first. If they insisted on calling me Mom, Mama, Mommy, Mama Sheree, then I would have to re-assure the biological mother hat I am not trying to take her place, EVER!
Then, the (non-custodial) biological parent: I am confident enough in our mother-child relationship to allow my child to call his new step-mother whatever makes them feel comfortable, and is respectful. Would I prefer him to call the step-mother by their first name? No. Do I mind at all if it my son calls his step-mother, “Mom”? No, not at all. But that’s just my opinion. There are so many other issues that need attention than to obsess over a title/name. However, if you feel like there are some underlying implications to these titles, then all parents need to discuss, resolve, and be done!
BMWK, in your blended family situation, do the kids call the step-parent by their first name? If you’re not in a blended family, what is your take?
Checkout other Blended Family articles on BMWK