32 answers

What to Call Dad/Stepdad

My husband and I would like to find something that all the kids can call him. We have two kids from my previous marriage (that we share 50:50 custody with my ex-husband and his wife) and one (5 months old) that is "ours". Right now the older 2 call my husband by his first name, but we'd like to find something that, once the little one starts to talk, all 3 could call him. There are a couple of reasons for this-- 1) we want to minimize the "familial differences" between the older 2 and the youngest and 2) we don't want to confuse the little one with him trying to call his dad by his first name. We, of course, would talk to the older kids and see if they were ok with calling him by something other than his first name, but we don't have any ideas even as to what to suggest. We were thinking that maybe "dad" in another language might work. Any suggestions? Anything that has worked for the other blended families out there?
Thanks in advance!

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I have a 15 year old stepdaughter and two younger daughters with my husband (3 and 11 mos) My stepdaughter has always called me by my first name, and I think it would be very strange to have asked her to call me something else. My 3 year old does not seem confused when her older sister calls me by my name (although yes, I did worry about it when she was a baby). Now it;s not a problem, but I did ask my stepdaughter to please refer to me as "mommy" when she's talking to my daughter (for example saying "go ask Mommy" instead of "go ask A.") She had no problem doing this and completely understood my feelings. However, I think it would have been a little much to ask her to start calling me something else entirely.

3 moms found this helpful

My adopted daughter came to live with me when she was 7. She called me Mom M. and her birth mother Mom Michelle.

Now she has children with 4 grandmothers because of 2 different father's. They've attached their name to Grandma. they used two of the grandmothers' last names. The other two have first names. The kids themselves chose to do that. I was hoping that we would have different Grandma designations such as Nana, Grammy or some other loving nick name. Now I'm used to being Grandma M.. If I'm the only grandma there they drop my name from Grandma.

I'm now mostly just Mom to my daughter. I like that.

Addition: My daughter has remarried and her kids call the step-father Papa and their birth fathers Daddy. My granddaughter calls her brother's father Daddy Scott. Her birth father lives in a different state. Her brother doesn't know him.

2 moms found this helpful

I was much younger when my step dad came into my life and my mom had 100% custody of me so it's a different situation. But, I always called him dad when in that family and referred to my biological dad as "Daddy Doug". Then when I was with my biological dad and step-mom, I called them Dad and Jean and referred to my step-dad as "Daddy Bill". It just depended on who I was talking too. To me now, they are both my dads, just different kinds - one who raised me and one who is my biological dad. I have a friend whose 12=year-old calls his step-dad "Daddy-o" Kind of silly but it works for them. Good luck!

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Great question, Emily- and I'm 64 and still hope to grow up and become something even better '''when I --- ''' - like that.

I've had several friends caught in this dilemna - and the toughest part is --how does your older children's Dad feel about it?"'' -- -the KIDS might be fine with calling him 'Pops' - or 'Poppy'' ( Hispanic children seem to call their Dad''' Poppy''' which I think is nice )- however - I had a dear friend ( now graduated to a higher plane ) who was appalled and very upset when her ex-husband encouraged her sons to call his fiance '''Mom''' - it hurt her terribly- really was so painful--- so - first step-- is find out where their Dad stands. Second--- I have seen MANY ''his, mine, and ours'' families both in my own extended family--- my church family- and the 100s of families I worked with over 40 years of doing special ed, preschool work--- the children hearing their older sibs call Daddy ''' Scott''' do fine--- in THEIR eyes it's just

"""""I call Daddy--- Daddy- and big sister Isobel calls him Scott--- why is that odd??'''---- NOTHING is odd to babies and little children until we teach them that it is--- and believe it or not-- your baby will extend some kind of kinship to her older sib's Dad --- My own youngest asked me of her older sibs' father ( who was not hers --- ) '''' who is Ben to me?''' I replied --- '''he's a connection''' That was fine with her ( she was 4 at the time) ---

Blessings, dear heart- you'll work it out fine-

Good luck on ''when you grow up'' - trust me, there's no rush

:-)
J.
aka- Old Mom

5 moms found this helpful

I have a 15 year old stepdaughter and two younger daughters with my husband (3 and 11 mos) My stepdaughter has always called me by my first name, and I think it would be very strange to have asked her to call me something else. My 3 year old does not seem confused when her older sister calls me by my name (although yes, I did worry about it when she was a baby). Now it;s not a problem, but I did ask my stepdaughter to please refer to me as "mommy" when she's talking to my daughter (for example saying "go ask Mommy" instead of "go ask A.") She had no problem doing this and completely understood my feelings. However, I think it would have been a little much to ask her to start calling me something else entirely.

3 moms found this helpful

Well, I have a "half" sister (my only sibling, so I don't really think of her as half. We share the same dad. Anyway, she is older than me and called my mom by her first name until I was about 5 or so and she was 8. When she felt comfortable, my sister just switched. Maybe it was because I always called her mom. I don't know, I should ask her.
I don't think it is a good idea to force the label thing on your older kids. I never called my mom by her first name or was confused.
My daughter has tried out the calling both her dad and I by our first names, just because she hears other people using them. I think that is normal. We just correct her.
My sister still calls my mom mom and her kids call her grandma, because she is. She has earned that after many, many years. There will always be differences. My sister has a mother that is her own. She also has a special relationship with her step-mother. That relationship is totally different from my relationship with my mother. Some of that is due to the natural born and step thing. Some of it is just due to personality differnces like it would be with any set of siblings.
This is a hard stuation. You should talk to the older kids. Maybe they would like to be part of deciding what they call him. They may want to comtinue to call him by his first name and you should respect that. However, maybe it has been long enough that they would like to switch, but don't know how to do it either.

2 moms found this helpful

it really needs to be up to the kids what they call their stepfather, because it depends on their level of comfort. if they're fine with calling him by his first name, then don't push the issue. if you push the issue you run the risk of making them feel like they're replacing their father, or making them love their stepfather more than they're ready to. it can also cause a lot of resentment, especially since their father is still in the picture, and make them feel like they aren't allowed to love their father anymore, because you're taking a title from their father and giving it to another man.
http://www.successfulstepfamilies.com/view/73 is an interesting link.
i would sit them down and talk to your kids and see how they feel. you mention that you're newly married, so you might want to shelve this idea for a while.
blending families is tricky, and how the parents handle it makes all the difference. my mother tried to make me call my stepfather "dad", and i cannot express to you how angry it made me. again, see how your kids feel and base it off of what they say.
that said, my daughter opted a year ago to call my SO "daddy". this was only after she slipped up and, instead of calling him by name called him "daddy", then corrected herself. we sat her down and told her after this happened on a daily basis that if she wanted to call him daddy that was fine, if she wanted to call him by his name that was fine too. this was all well and good, until a few months ago when my ex's parent's found out she refers to my SO as "daddy" (while still calling her bio father "daddy"...that's never changed) and now they spend their time with her telling her that my SO isn't her "real" father and he doesn't matter and she doesn't have to love him, etc. oddly enough, my ex is totally okay with her calling my SO "daddy" and totally supportive of my SO's relationship with our daughter.
as for your "combined" son, if you and your husband refer to him as "daddy" when speaking to him, there won't be any problem. eventually all children learn their parent's first name and most go through a (brief) stage where they call their parents by name. but hearing other kids call your husband by his first name, or uncle so-and-so, or mr. suchisthat isn't going to make the baby refer to his father by name. just keep calling your husband daddy when you're talking to your baby and it'll all work out.

2 moms found this helpful

I think you need to have a talk with your ex-husband. His title, his name, "Dad, Daddy" is one he shouldn't have to share with your husband. What do your kids call their step-mom? Probably her first name. There is nothing wrong with your kids calling their step-dad by his first name and your baby calling him Daddy/Dad. Divorce is hard enough, and it's almost like an alienation of love/respect to ask them to call their step-dad "Dad". I've seen my brother's kids struggle with this issue as their Mom passed away when then were 11 and 6,(they are 14 and 10 now) and he has a significant other now who wants the kids to call her Mom (she has a 21 yr old son). The 14 yr old tells her that she's not his Mom, his Mom is in heaven. This is a title, a name of the woman who is Mom. If anything, let your kids decide what to call their step-father.

2 moms found this helpful

My adopted daughter came to live with me when she was 7. She called me Mom M. and her birth mother Mom Michelle.

Now she has children with 4 grandmothers because of 2 different father's. They've attached their name to Grandma. they used two of the grandmothers' last names. The other two have first names. The kids themselves chose to do that. I was hoping that we would have different Grandma designations such as Nana, Grammy or some other loving nick name. Now I'm used to being Grandma M.. If I'm the only grandma there they drop my name from Grandma.

I'm now mostly just Mom to my daughter. I like that.

Addition: My daughter has remarried and her kids call the step-father Papa and their birth fathers Daddy. My granddaughter calls her brother's father Daddy Scott. Her birth father lives in a different state. Her brother doesn't know him.

2 moms found this helpful

Good for you for wanting to find ways to blend the families! As I am sure you are aware, this is not always an easy task. I'm glad you want to include your older children, because they're feelings and opinions are valid and important in this process.

Since you are already planning on talking to your older children, you might ask them what they think. Sometimes kids have wonderful ideas of their own in situations like this, especially if they have friends from other cultures and have been exposed to other words for mom and dad. They may have heard something in school that they really like and may want to use.

Another thought...have your kids done any research or are they aware of the cultural heritage of your family? Maybe you could look into the country of origin of some of your ancestors or your husbands family and then look up the name for dad in the language of your or his ancestors and use that. That way your kids might find some connection that way. (I hope that makes sense!)

The more you involve your kids in the process, the better and more connected they will feel to you and their step dad. Be prepared, though, for the transition to a new name to take awhile. Changes like this can be a challenging for kids, but I'm sure you won't pressure them into making a change they aren't ready for.

Good for you for being supportive, it sounds like they have a great mom! :)

2 moms found this helpful

I always called my biological father 'father', and my step-dad, 'dad'. As an adult, i call my step-dad 'dad', and my father by his first name. This, i think, largely reflects how comfortable i feel with my dad, and how absent my father was.... He is my friend, but didn't play much of a parental role.

Anyway, my point is, these names and habits evolved naturally. It is what we normally felt comfortable with. I think you may have better luck with something sticking if you ask your two older kids for suggestions. I love your idea for using the title from another language - maybe your kids would get into looking them up and choosing one that fits for them.

2 moms found this helpful

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