Define Step-Dad?? What Am I Doing Wrong?

Updated on October 05, 2015
B.S. asks from Chicago, IL
22 answers

Hi, I'm brook, 24 with a 1 year old and 5 months pregnant. There are a lot of details that go into this one great question but, I'll try and keep it short.
I'm pregnant by my boyfriend. My children don't have the same father. My first borns father abandoned me through pregnancy and all; skipped town for and entire year and lead me on for the first six months. Of course being 22 and pregnant for the first time I had only high hopes. That was naive of me.
I met my boyfriend when my son was around 5 months. Around that same time is when my sons bio'father made his first visit to see what he'd created. That was thanksgiving. Then he left. My sons bio'father next visit was christmas. Then again in January for my sons christening at 6-7 mo. He officially moved back in February with his mom. (boy-boy).

From November to February my boyfriend was there for me on the rollercoaster of whats the right thing to do, whats wrong, what's ideal, and what's really gonna happen in reality. Even to the point that He'd take me and my son to visit his bio'father. He's been amazing. He is amazing!

My boyfriend and I decided to be together officially in march. My boyfriend has really been there for me and my son. All of his actions have said without question that my son is his. When I haven't had the means in any way he's helped me and provided.My sons birthday passed in June. Since then the major problem in my relationship has been the "dad" word. And it has lead up to my relationship going completely downhill a few times. My son calls my boyfriend Dad. And I very well think he should. He's earned that title in every way. But my sons bio'father... When he calls or comes to get him every blue moon I say "talk to dad"... My boyfriend goes into a frenzy when I do that. I don't know what else to tell my son to call these two men, other than who they are and try to be. Rightfully admitted my boyfriend has done so much more than his father! But I don't want my son calling my bf specifically by his first name. We have another baby on the way. (and yes I can hear many of you moms saying that I moved way too fast... Trust me I know.) When this child comes into the world I want everything to be unified and right in whatever way possible.

It hurts right now because my boyfriend is trying to end our relationship over the right to be called dad. I'm in denial, I dont want it to be over. He feels that I put my sons dad on a pedestal above him especially when he hasn't done as much as possible or whatever it takes to be "dad". I understand my boyfriend's anger and disappointment towards me. I do. But I don't know what to do and there's nothing I can say to save myself and the family that I'm creating/or created.

I've had my real dad my whole life. I can't imagine who I'd be without him. I don't know whats its like to have a step-dad or whether I really want my son to use that term towards my bf. I see the man that I'm with now as hubby material. I don't have to want or ask for anything with him. Neither does my son.

But does that give me the right to say to my sons "bio'father" "I'm happy, we don't need you. Go hard for our/my kid or go away"...? Even if this man is trying to be here... No matter how pitiful his attempts... Sigh...

I hope you guys understand me here... Please what is a step-dad? I need clarity and advice.

Signed,

I'm too young for this... πŸ’”πŸ’Œ

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

i'd have no trouble having the baby call his bio-father 'father' or 'dad jim' or something OTHER than daddy. i get why it torques your bf.

but having a meltdown and ending the relationship, when you're pregnant with his child, means that you have picked a second loser, and right after the first.

i'm struggling to hold back a tirade. i'm so over women getting pregnant wantonly and irresponsibly, and with losers. women can do whatever they want, but screwing over kids this way is the ultimate in grrrrrr for me. the 'nothing i can do to save myself and my family' makes me tear my hair. you can't speak? you can't reason? you can't have an adult conversation? you can't schedule a session with a relationship counselor? you can't think for yourself? you can't make a mature decision with validation from a man? you can't help your confused tiny boy with something as simple as 'this is daddy. give him a hug. now come talk to your father on the phone'? you're utterly helpless in making any decisions about your life and that of your children? just a leaf in the wind?

i mean, you can cave (and at this point it would be caving, not compromising maturely) and do it your boyfriend's way. but doing that to pitifully keep him at your side sucks. since you have tinies who need adults to take care of them, i guess you do what you gotta do.

i called my stepmother by her first name all throughout my childhood. she never complained. when as an adult i started calling her 'mumsie' (to differentiate from my deceased mom) she was so thrilled.

as to your question, a step-dad SHOULD be someone who is dependable, sensible, and drama-free. this one might be 'amazing' but i fail to be amazed by someone who is abandoning the woman he impregnated, the unborn baby AND the little fellow who calls him 'daddy' because he's piqued over terminology. a step-dad should be sensitive to the issues of having a bio-dad in the picture, and be man enough to get over his own widdle hurt feelings and talk through issues.

and most of all, he needs to stand by his own decisions, and i doubt anyone had a gun to his head when he chose to have unprotected sex with a woman who wasn't strong enough to insist on it.

if you choose to keep loser #2, i suggest you learn how to set boundaries and demand certain standards of behavior. you've got kids to whom strong and thoughtful behavior MUST be modeled.
khairete
S.

14 moms found this helpful

O.H.

answers from Phoenix on

1. Stop having kids before you're married.
2. Go to court and get some child support and visitation in place.
3. Take some parenting classes, you, your ex and your boyfriend.
4. Read some parenting books on blended families and/or step parenting.
Good luck.

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R.B.

answers from San Francisco on

God this pisses me off. There's nothing that screws up a boy more than not having a stable male role model who is there for him while he's growing up.

What do you mean there's nothing you can do? Seriously? You have another baby on the way. Grow up.

First of all, MARRY your boyfriend, so that he really is "dad." What are you waiting for? And then stay committed to the relationship, and make it work. Your children need stable homes. They also need a "dad" in the home. Dad is not some nebulous figure outside the home, who sometimes shows up. Dad is right there for your child. That's what "dad" is.

Second, let your son call your boyfriend dad. (This assumes you are marrying him, right away. No point in your child calling him dad if the two of you are just going to be flakes who keep moving on to other relationships and messing up your kids' lives.) Refer to his bio-dad as "your father," or "daddy (insert first name)". No, bio-dad does not need to "go away" over a label. You can come up with names for both of them. Kids do this all the time for grandparents, to distinguish them from each other.

Maybe you can brainstorm with your boyfriend about what he would be comfortable with your child calling his bio-dad.

The "dad" is the person who is there EVERY DAY and who is doing the job of a dad, which at this point is your boyfriend, not bio-dad. But marry the guy already, and make it official. Go down to the justice of the peace if you need to. You have another kid on the way. Time to stop playing around.

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J.F.

answers from Las Vegas on

ETA: Your boyfriend hasn't "earned" the right to the title of "step-dad." He's been in your life for what, 7 months? It's nice what he's done for you, but legally he only gets the title of step-dad when you two marry. He TRULY earns that sacred title over a lifetime of loving, nurturing, guiding, providing for, and caring for your son. But wait, you say he's now willing to walk away from you and your son over what your son or you call biological dad? That does not describe someone who's earned the sacred title of "step-parent."

Being a parent, step or biological, means putting the needs of the children first. He's not doing that now, and worse, he's doing this over something so petty. Being a parent involves sacrifice in lots of different ways. It means putting aside what we might want when it conflicts with what is BEST for the children.

I don't mean to be harsh. I do feel for you, but you have to realize this tantrum your boyfriend is throwing and his willingness to walk away from you and your son and your unborn baby over this does not make him good step-parent material.

Not saying he can't become a good step-dad, dad, or husband, but he needs to rearrange his priorities and take his selfish ego's needs off of that list.

I really hope he will stop and search his heart and put his own selfish insecurities aside and be the man, step-father, and soon to be father that he needs to be.

ORIGINAL:
I'm a step-mom, and we have a blended family, so I speak from experience.

Your boyfriend, however great and generous he's been, doesn't get to dictate reality or the law.

The reality is that your son's biological dad is just that. No amount of support, financial or otherwise from your boyfriend can change that reality. Bio dad is and will always be bio dad. That's reality.

As the biological father to your first son, your ex has legal rights. No amount of support, whining, temper-tantruming from your current boyfriend can change that. Even YOU don't get to change that. Only the courts can change that. Unless your ex is willing to terminate his parental rights through legal channels, or unless the court puts limits on his rights, bio dad, no matter how inconsistent he is in visits or financial support, still has legal rights.

Get yourself an attorney and get your custody plan legally defined. You NEED this to protect the interests of your child, and if your current boyfriend doesn't grow up, you're probably going to need another one for your next baby. I can tell that you haven't even thought through all of the implications of your situation. You're just getting started with this parenting thing, and there are so many decisions you're going to have to make over the better part of the next two decades. Don't get side-tracked. Look at the big picture. You have to do this for your children.

Your boyfriend sounds immature and insecure and has his priorities all mixed up. He loved you enough to take on the responsibility of helping to raise your first son AND to create a new life with you. Now, he wants to tantrum because of what the baby calls him? Currently, he's not even a step-parent because you're not married. Even though he is fulfilling the financial role of a parent or step-parent, he is not legally your first son's step-dad. He needs to get that reality through his head.

You and your boyfriend need to sit down and talk through this calmly. Because all of the "adults" in this case are young and inexperienced, I think all of you should seek the assistance of a family therapist to help you navigate life in a blended family. All of you need to realize that it's the CHILDREN's bests interests that should guide your behavior and decisions and you all must work together to make a healthy blended family system for your children.

If your son's dad remains in his life, he'll call him dad. You can certainly refer to your ex as your son's biological father because that's what he is. As to what your first son calls your boyfriend? Easy---"Daddy Tim" (whatever his name is).

Please ensure that once this new baby is born, you have reliable birth control in place. You have enough on your plate to deal with right now.

Good luck, and I hope this "wonderful" boyfriend will calm himself down, get a grip on reality, and mature before the baby is born. He is, after all, going to get what he wants and be "DAD."

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E.B.

answers from Austin on

"All of his actions have said without question that my son is his."

You wrote that. But it isn't quite accurate, is it?

He hasn't married the mother of his soon-to-be born child and he hasn't promised you and your first born child and your second child (when the birth happens) that he will be there forever - through the pre-school years, the "let's try taking off the training wheels from your bike" years, the Little League years, the pre-dawn hockey practice years, the awkward middle school years, the getting-a-driver's license years, the nervous how-to-ask-that-cute-girl-out-and-act-like-a-gentleman years, the applying-for-college years, and beyond. He hasn't committed to a lifetime of family.

That's a dad. A daddy. A real father.

If you want both of your children to call him "dad", then refer to the absent biological father as "your father", and stop confusing the issue with your little boy. He's only 1? You can come up with any name at this point and your son will follow your lead. Does your ex call and specifically ask to speak to the boy? I would imagine at this point these are not in-depth conversations. Why would you hand the phone to your son who's drooling and teething and banging on pots and pans and say "here, talk to dad." Most 1 year olds are babbling and repeating and saying cute nonsense, and they don't comprehend phones except as colorful things to dip in their bowl of Cheerios and then Mommy freaks out, or they play funny songs. They can't understand a true phone conversation at age 1. He certainly didn't come up with the word "dad". He might have said "dada" but unless he's really advanced, he will not be having a phone conversation that goes something like "hey dad. How's it going?" If your boyfriend is going to become your husband and become a steady dad, start referring to him as Daddy. Most little kids do not use the word "dad". They say "dada" or "daddy" or "papa". Your boyfriend can be "Daddy" and the bio-father can be Dad Greg or Dad Joe.

Have this conversation NOW and you'll know if your kids will have a true Daddy in their lives.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Seems to me that you have a kid and are having a kid and you are WAY more in to having a boyfriend - ANY boyfriend - than raising your kid(s).

You can't just say ""I'm happy, we don't need you.".
If you want bio Dad out of your and your child s life you are going to have to request he legally sign away his parental rights and by doing that you will get no child support from him.
And - he can say no - he may NOT sign that right away just because you ask him to.

A step dad is the man you marry who legally adopts your kids and who isn't the biological father of your kids.
If you're not married - he's not a step dad - he's the boyfriend de jour - and he could walk out of your life at any time.
Please - get on some reliable birth control.

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J.S.

answers from St. Louis on

My kids call my husband what they want to call him, end of discussion. If your child wants to call him dad that is their choice, if they don't, they won't. More than likely your child will call him dad because he is the only dad they know.

Also how odd it would be for the new baby to call him dad but their sibling will not.

It is not an issue of defining step dad, you are actually defining dad. As an adopted child I have a dad, he raised me, I am also well aware that I have a bio dad somewhere.

Just an FYI, a child is capable of calling two dads dad.

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E.J.

answers from Chicago on

So your boyfriends commitment to you and your first child is only based on what title you decide to call him?

You are calling out the biological Father for not being present in his son's life, while this boyfriend is going to 'dump' you after only being official for six months because he doesn't have the "title" he wants?

Your boyfriend voluntarily started a relationship with a single mother with a complicated situation with her child's father, and then impregnates you and is now going to abandon you pregnant with his child because he doesn't have the title he wants?

He has only known yous son for what...9 months?

Honestly I don't think he's been anymore present then the biological father.

Step parent relationships take YEARS to build.....healthy relationships take time to build and that is under the most optimum circumstances.

There is no deadline, except for the one created by your boyfriend, for his official title in your relationship. If it was truly important to him the the goal would be to make you an official family not abandon you because he is not getting his way.

Please read what Elena B. and Osohapi wrote.

And also, this biological father is going to be in your life for a long time. So keep this in your future plans.

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O.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

Everyone has O. father. You didn't choose well for your son's dad. Now you get to live with that.
Honey, 3 months of "what's wrong, what's right" is hardly a roller coaster OR an indicator of lasting love.
He sounds like a child...that he would abandon you, his child on the way and a little boy that's been taught to call him "dad" WAY too prematurely because he demands to be called "dad"!
Do you see the real issue here? If you think you're "too young for this" them please stop having babies with any man thT pays you the time of day.
Get child support from BOTH dads, get whatever assistance you can, get an education and a job and raise & support your kids. You. You're their mom.
Stop looking for a man o pay your bills and put on your big girl panties and do it yourself.
Hard? Sure.
But better than this type of drama.
Please stop introducing your kid/s to men until you've got a ring on your finger and a wedding date set.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

How old is your son? My answer is based on him being very young. 2 or so. He's too young to understand any of this. He'll call his bio dad whatever you call him. His step-dad has been and is continuing to provide the role of dad. In my opinion, he should be called Dad.

There are several names for father. My grandchildren call their step-father papa and biological father dad. The small girls call their father daddy.

My grandson's father requested that he call his step-dad by his given name. His step-dad is as much a dad as his bio dad. Still it's not a problem. Both men have their own roles no matter what they're called.

I suggest calling both men by the same name is confusing to your son. Each man has a different relationship and different roles. I suggest that the 3 adults get together and decide on different names for the fathers. I had a foster child. She called her birth mom "mom Michelle" and me mom M.." Perhaps you could use Daddy first initial for his biological father and the father who was there full time, Dad.

I also suggest that what his stepson calls each of them should not be serious enough to cause trouble in a relationship. I suggest that there is something else bothering your boyfriend. I wonder if he feels his role as a dad is unappreciated because the dad who wasn't there to support you and your son is also called dad. I would feel insecure in my relationship if you insisted the ex also be called the same. Doing so in the way you describe the situation makes me feel that you're giving both men the same importence. I can see why your boyfriend could feel hurt.

I suggest that the dad living with you providing physical and emotional support is Dad. He was Dad before your ex showed up. Your son's biological father has an entire different role.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Um, yeah, if he's willing to end his relationship with you over something so trivial and petty he is clearly immature and not someone you can count on.
Sorry, I hope you use birth control with the next guy :-(

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J.P.

answers from Lakeland on

Since your bf is so upset about your son calling his biological father "dad" then you have bigger issues.

A step father is a man that you would be married to not a boyfriend.

I will advise you to be done with both of them, get your own self together, get on birth control and then in the future find a good man to share your life with who will love you and your children.

It doesn't matter now if you're "too young" for this, you made your choices and now you must live with them. It's time to grow up and not blame others for your bad decisions. Your children have to live with those choices too, so think about what you do and how it effects your children, they should always come first.

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J.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Suz t. nailed it. Not much more angers me than grown adults not giving children what they deserve (either through stupidity, selfishness, or irresponsibility), which is 2 loving parents committed to each other.

1 - You need to first stop the behavior that is getting you into these messes. PREVENTION. Your children (and heaven-forbid any future offspring you may produce), don't deserve this mess. Don't do it again. Since you seem to not have a strong judge of character, take your time to truly get to know someone before committing to him. And only then should you marry that person and have children with him. If you can't do this, then you need the strongest birth control available. If you can't do that, you need to get sterilized. I know this sounds harsh, but KIDS DESERVE BETTER

2 - Get professional counseling with your current baby-daddies. Both of them. OR put your kids up for adoption. There are so many loving married couples who cannot have children of their own that would love those kids with all of their might and give them the home and upbringing they rightfully deserve.

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S.T.

answers from New York on

Yes - you are too young for this. But you're trying to be the best mom you can be to your child. Youf BF isn't mad at you about what he's called or what your ex is called - he's upset about not feeling respected. Men need to be respected more than they need to be loved. I strongly suggest that before baby #2 arrives that you and your BF get into couples counseling. If you both go into it recognizing that you're both probably partially at fault you can both find a way to mend your relationship and have a shot at future success. As for your ex - is he paying child support? If not he doesn't really have many rights. But if he's going to show up every so often and come in and out of your son's life it is going to be disruptive for your son. TAlk to a lawyer about that and what his rights are going to be, and talk to a family counselor about how to help your son deal with all this disruption.

Ideally, it seems your bf is a better option as a dad for your son that your ex is - but the law always gives preference to bio dads over your new bf. ALso keep in mind that you and your bf haven't yet been proven over time. So caution is needed - as much as patience and showing eachother grace.

Finally - your son will being to call the men in his life what he wants to call them. Why not call one of them daddy and the other Papa or Pop?

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J.G.

answers from Chicago on

You are too young. You're walking down a dangerous road and I hope you pull it together so your kids have the stability they need. Whatever you do, use birth control after you have your second child.

You both really need to grow up here. You don't threaten to break up over something like this. That isn't how mature, committed people behave. You are young, but you can still be mature. So be mature. Sit down, pick a date to get married, figure out what to call everyone that everyone is happy with, and start focusing on building something stable for the kids. If your bf isn't able to grow up, then you have a real issue here. Your first child has every right to have bio-dad in the picture, so I hope you can work out a way for bio-dad to be an active part of this child's life. If bf can't handle that, then you have a really serious problem.

Until you are married, I don't think your child should call your bf dad. He isn't dad. You aren't related, he's just some dude. So if he wants to be called dad, then go to the court house next week, get a married cert, and get married.it really isn't that complicated. We went one week to get the cert, and then got married the next week. We then had a religious ceremony and party a year later.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

If a man is about to end his relationship with you, and you are about to have a child with him and he considers himself your son's father in every sense - isn't that the bigger issue?

I keep wondering if these posts are real. If it is I apologize. But at your age, I was much more mature than this. Honestly my advice is that both these men sound completely immature. There are bigger issues than what will I be called when you bring children into the world.

I suppose I would have your main father figure be called Dad if that's what your son has already been calling him, and have your new baby also call him that - for the sake of consistency. As for bio-dad, my friends who have been adopted often call their biological mothers "my mother". Mom is the one that they consider to be their mom (who raised them). They all just do this without thinking. I would think "My father" would be fine. If your current boyfriend has issues with this, there's not much you can do.

Good luck

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

He's only been there for 7 months and isn't married to you. Further, he doesn't want to be called Dad. Call him by first name. Don't push the dad title on a man who doesn't want it yet.

RE: his biofather, get a court order and get that all clarified.

A stepfather is a man who is married to the mother of the children.

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J.F.

answers from Las Vegas on

ETA 2: Since this question posted several times, and I first responded in one of the others with only a few responses, I'm guessing those others will be deleted. I cut and pasted my response from the other post and added it here so it wouldn't get lost when the others are deleted.

ETA: Your boyfriend hasn't "earned" the right to the title of "step-dad." He's been in your life for what, 7 months? It's nice what he's done for you, but legally he only gets the title of step-dad when you two marry. He TRULY earns that sacred title over a lifetime of loving, nurturing, guiding, providing for, and caring for your son. But wait, you say he's now willing to walk away from you and your son over what your son or you call biological dad? That does not describe someone who's earned the sacred title of "step-parent."

Being a parent, step or biological, means putting the needs of the children first. He's not doing that now, and worse, he's doing this over something so petty. Being a parent involves sacrifice in lots of different ways. It means putting aside what we might want when it conflicts with what is BEST for the children.

I don't mean to be harsh. I do feel for you, but you have to realize this tantrum your boyfriend is throwing and his willingness to walk away from you and your son and your unborn baby over this does not make him good step-parent material.
Not saying he can't become a good step-dad, dad, or husband, but he needs to rearrange his priorities and take his selfish ego's needs off of that list.

I really hope he will stop and search his heart and put his own selfish insecurities aside and be the man, step-father, and soon to be father that he needs to be.

ORIGINAL:
I'm a step-mom, and we have a blended family, so I speak from experience.
Your boyfriend, however great and generous he's been, doesn't get to dictate reality or the law.

The reality is that your son's biological dad is just that. No amount of support, financial or otherwise from your boyfriend can change that reality. Bio dad is and will always be bio dad. That's reality.

As the biological father to your first son, your ex has legal rights. No amount of support, whining, temper-tantruming from your current boyfriend can change that. Even YOU don't get to change that. Only the courts can change that. Unless your ex is willing to terminate his parental rights through legal channels, or unless the court puts limits on his rights, bio dad, no matter how inconsistent he is in visits or financial support, still has legal rights.

Get yourself an attorney and get your custody plan legally defined. You NEED this to protect the interests of your child, and if your current boyfriend doesn't grow up, you're probably going to need another one for your next baby. I can tell that you haven't even thought through all of the implications of your situation. You're just getting started with this parenting thing, and there are so many decisions you're going to have to make over the better part of the next two decades. Don't get side-tracked. Look at the big picture. You have to do this for your children.

Your boyfriend sounds immature and insecure and has his priorities all mixed up. He loved you enough to take on the responsibility of helping to raise your first son AND to create a new life with you. Now, he wants to tantrum because of what the baby calls him? Currently, he's not even a step-parent because you're not married. Even though he is fulfilling the financial role of a parent or step-parent, he is not legally your first son's step-dad. He needs to get that reality through his head.

You and your boyfriend need to sit down and talk through this calmly. Because all of the "adults" in this case are young and inexperienced, I think all of you should seek the assistance of a family therapist to help you navigate life in a blended family. All of you need to realize that it's the CHILDREN's bests interests that should guide your behavior and decisions and you all must work together to make a healthy blended family system for your children.
If your son's dad remains in his life, he'll call him dad or daddy "John" (whatever his name is). You can certainly refer to your ex as your son's biological father because that's what he is. As to what your first son calls your boyfriend? Easy---"Daddy Tim" (whatever his name is).

Please ensure that once this new baby is born, you have reliable birth control in place. You have enough on your plate to deal with right now.

Good luck, and I hope this "wonderful" boyfriend will calm himself down, get a grip on reality, and mature before the baby is born. He is, after all, going to get what he wants and be "DAD."

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Unfortunately, I don't think your bf has "earned" the title of "dad" unless and until he is your husband. Please do not get your son in the habit of thinking of your boyfriends as dads. That leads to a bunch of abandonment issues when/if you guys break up. Which is about where you are now. And that is exactly what I would tell bf - he is not yet in a position to be called "dad." If/when you ever get married, then you will figure it out.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

There is no reason your son can not call them both dad, but in the end it should be up to your son. It feels natural to him for him to call your BF dad, and that is okay. Bio dad needs to grow up and realize he is never going to be the only man in his son's life because he left, end of story. I would tell him that you understand his discomfort, but that BF is there every day doing the things a dad does and so it is normal and natural for your son to refer to him as dad, and that it only makes sense for the siblings to both call BF the same thing, and that bio dad is going to have to find a way to be okay with that.

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T.D.

answers from Springfield on

have the child call the bf dad. as for the bio dad the child can call him by his name, father, or find the word for dad in a foreign language and use that. (examples here: https://tteokbokki.wordpress.com/2008/06/13/45-ways-to-sa...)

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M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

This is kind of unreal to me. When I was 24, I had my 3rd child, was married for 3 years (same dad to all 3 kids) and was starting the process of building my first home. I guess I don't understand why people of 24 can't be mature enough to know right from wrong.

Your 1 year old calls your boyfriend dad because someone told him to. He's not the dad, his dad is the one who left you during pregnancy. Unless that dad terminates his rights and walks away, no one else gets to be called dad...how very immature of your boyfriend.

1 mom found this helpful
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