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What Should My Stepchildren Call Me?

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 14 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
What Should My Stepchildren Call Me?

While becoming a stepparent can present all sorts of challenges, one of the most common hurdles early on can be deciding on a name that the stepchildren are comfortable using in addressing the newest member of their family. Both generations are likely to find this an important topic and since it’s often one of the first decisions made by the newly formed family unit, it should be one that is done with care and consideration for all members.

Asking For Stepchildren’s Input

Kids are often every bit as opinionated as adults and when it comes to settling on names for the children to use when addressing their stepparents, the kids should be allowed input. Stepparents should not expect their step children to call them Mum or Dad, as doing so is likely to be considered disrespectful to the kids’ natural parents and the last thing that newly blended families need is an easily avoidable difficulty with exes.

In many families, stepchildren are allowed to address a step parent by their first name, yet even in these casual times, some adults find this practice unacceptable.

Requiring A Respectful Address By Stepchildren

In stepfamilies where the adults consider it disrespectful for children to call them by their first name, other options may be considered that are agreeable to both generations. Sometimes, an endearing version of the stepparent’s given name may be used, different that what the adult uses in their daily life, yet a natural derivative of their real name. That seems to work well in many families as it allows familiarity without sacrificing principle.

Avoiding Hurt Feelings Of Natural Parents

While some fortunate stepfamilies are able to operate without any drama involving ex-spouses, most are not so lucky. Even the most well-meaning adults can be jealous at times, especially when it comes to the relationship that their ex’s current spouse has with their children, and that jealousy can manifest itself in a number of unattractive ways.

In order to minimise the difficulties and promote healthy family interaction, stepparents should make it clear that they have no desire to undermine the children’s natural loyalties to their parents and merely hope to be a supportive and loving adult in the children’s eyes. Simple actions, such as encouraging the kids to use a name that isn’t normally associated with the parental role can help to assure parents that their children’s stepparents understand and respect them and their place of importance in the lives of their children.

Taking Time to Adjust As A Stepfamily

When couples decide to marry, it’s not unlikely that any children they bring into the relationship may feel awkward with their parent’s new mate for a period of time. Just as the romantic relationship needed the opportunity to grow and deepen, forming a loving family unit takes a while, too, and step children should be allowed sufficient time to adjust to their changing family.

In most cases, children learn to love and respect their step parent, but if the bond is forced rather than allowed to develop naturally, the kids might behave as their parents wish, but their hearts may not be in it. It is far better to take things slowly, and asking kids to choose (or at least approve) the name that they are to call their stepparent sends them the message that their feelings and input are both appreciated and valued.

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My stepfather, whom my mother met before my 1st birthday, was always "daddy" in some form or other while I was growing up. If I got mad at him and tried to call him by his first name I was corrected with a quickness by my mother, who was adamant I would NOT disrespect the man raising me. Yes my biological father knew and complained several times, even telling me on rare phone calls that that man "wasn't my damn daddy" to cause drama and unnecessary problems, but it wasn't his household to run. It was my stepfather's household, he was the man actively raising me 24/7/375, and he deserved my appreciation and respect, so he was daddy or at least "daddy Tom", but NEVER just Tom. He was my parent NOT my friend! Now, on the other end of the spectrum I think a woman should NEVER have another woman's child calling her 'mama', because doing so crosses a sacred boundary and completely tramples upon the all important mother/child bond. You aren't that child's mother and shouldn't try to be either, because it wasn't your womb that nurtured that child. Using the case in the comment above as an example, the only way a stepmother should be addressed as is Mrs. <>.
Khadi - 14-Aug-17 @ 8:51 PM
My brother has a 3 year old who has just calling his new partner that he is marring mummy Sam and because of this his ex will not let him see her unless he tells his daughter off for calling his partner this. What can he do?
Sharlene - 18-Oct-14 @ 8:29 AM
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