New Blended Family Struggling with Names vs Titles
August 20, 2009
Grand Prairie, TX
My husband and I were together for 4.5 years before we got married in July. He has a 9 year old son that has stayed with us almost every summer and winter breaks. Now we are struggling with what our blended family titles should be. I have always been called by my first name, and never really liked it since I do not allow other children to call me by my first name. Now he has my parents as step grandparents, and we're not sure what he is supposed to be calling us. I would prefer not to be called by my first name, and I definitely don't want him to call me 'mom' unless he is really comfortable. Any name/nickname suggestions for new step grandparents and step moms to a 9 year old?
I don't really understand why people get so upset over names. This is a big change for this little boy and whatever he is comfortable with...is what needs to be used (as long as it isn't disrespectful). Good luck and congrats on the new marriage.
My father was married 3 times and my mother 5 times. So I have quite a bit of "name-calling" in my family. Basically, I call all my step-parents "mamma-nat" or "Daddy-Al" to deliniate. It never bothered me as a child or as an adult. Grandparents have always been that way too: "GrandmaSmith" or "GrandpaJones" when referencing, but just Grandma/pa to their faces. Seems to work well to keep everyone straight.
FYI, I also have 2 brothers named James Michael, try thinking of ways around that, haha! :-D
My grandkids have several sets of grandparents due to my husband and I divorcing years ago. He has remarried and so have I. There are also grandparents on my son in laws side. My daughter solved that by callin everyone their name with Grandma or Grandpa in front of it. It would also work with step parents by just putting mama or daddy in front of the name. It hard when there are so many and steps also. Good Luck
I had two stepfathers and two stepmothers with all of the 'extra' relatives like grandparents and aunts/uncles - I called all of them by their first name. What did he call you before you got married? I'm not sure where your going with this request, it seems there is a hidden issue. Maybe you worded the request wrong. But you chose to marry a man with a child, they are package deal. He is 'your child' now, your dependent not 'other children'. This is his decision - he will choose what to call you. This is a part of parenting.
my step kids call me M. and I have never thought of them using anything different. They call my mom nanny, because that is what EVERYONE calls her. They call my dad by his name and neither has ever been offended. Im not sure why that would offend your mom. I think you should let him call you and your family whatever feels comfortable to him. Its hard enough to be in a blended family, let him choose this one.
As a stepmom myself for 14 years; here's my opinion: I think the best thing is for your stepson to call you by your first name - but only he can do that; not his friends if you don't like that. That's also good because he has been calling you that for 4.5 years; so less change is good for him at this time. Unfortunately for us stepmoms; it's not really about what we want necessarily; but what's best for the child - and the smoother the transition the better. Or if you just can't live with that - ask him what nickname he thinks would be good for you - something special just for him to call you. Your parents should be called the same thing that their other grandchildren call them; no informal or other names needed there. I hope this helps; and good luck!
My son on his own decided to call my mom's new husband Grandpa Frank and that stuck with all the grandkids. I think that is what he should call your parents grandpa and first name and grandma first name. As to you my step son called me by my name. You are not his mom and do not have to have that title plus it always makes the real mom mad. I would let him decide. If you do not like being called by your first name then tell him that and let him pick what he is comfortable. Just because you changed your marital status and nothing has changed then he should be calling you what he always has. Yrs ago we always called my parents friend by their names then one day in an adult discussion was brought up that the lady did not like kids calling her by her name. So Mom told us to call her something else and I could never get used to that. Turning around in the middle of what we are comfortable. I think he should be comfortable with what he decides to call you. If he wants to add a more formal by putting miss in front which does not seem to be what a child should call an family member. In the North West no on uses MISS anything unless they are a unmarried woman. It is no slap and should not be a real issue. What is more important is that he feels comfortable to care about you as being in his life. G. W
My mother was married 2 times after I was 10 years old. I called the husbands by their first names. Unless a child knows only you as the mom, there's nothing wrong with first name basis. It's not a sign of disrespect. He should be the only child that can call you by your first name because he IS family. All non-family children should call you Miss A. or whatever you prefer.
As for the grandparents, they are now his grandparents, so they can be called what everyone else calls them.
I was with my husband for 3 years before we got married and when we met, my stepson was almost 2. He has never called me anything but J., BUT he does refer to me as his mom when talking to others. What's the big deal if calls you A.? You and he both know that you are his other mom. As for the grandparents. My stepson went from calling my mom and stepdad Sharon and Bill to Grandma Sharon and Grandpa Bill. Now that my son has come along, he calls them grandma and grandpa with no first names. The whole blended family situation has got to be a confusing thing for the little ones regardless of how often you have them. I know for me and my hubby it's hard to hear my stepson refer to his stepdad as Daddy, but that's what he's comfortable with. Why pressure them to call you a certain thing if they aren't comfortable with it?
When our family got together I became mama S. (my name)to his children & their mom was mama Becky when referring to her in our home otherwise she was just mom. After a while they just called me mama in our home but to distinguish between they still added our names when talking to someone else. My daughter even started calling their mother aunt Becky. My parents became papa paul & big Granny. If the child is comfortable doing this there shouldn't be a problem with the adults. After all whats in a name/title except hopefully love.
What a great question. I see you already have a resolution and that is wonderful! We actually will be entering a blended family phase of life in 4 weeks when my sister marries her sweetheart of 19 years ago. He has two kiddos, an 8 year old daughter and 16 year old son. Even though we met only once it was love at first sight for all of us. They are great kids and adored our family as well. Sarah (my sister's soon to be step daughter) and my girls were already asking to be cousins. My Mom of course said Sarah should call her Grallie (which is what her grandkids already call her) and she calls my sister Tara (her first name). I think calling her Mrs. James would be awkward for her step child and my sister adores her anyway. Most importantly, I love how my sister and her soon to be husband have done what is best for the child and not for the adults. I'm sure they will have some bumps along the way. My sister's soon to be husband has his kids weekly so they have a lot more time with his kids. I hope all works out well for your step son!
It is probably hard on all accounts. As far as your parents are concerned have them sit down with him and talk about what they want him to call them.....As far as your concerned consider the fact that he isn't other children.. he is your stepson and may not feel comfortable calling you mom. when you call people by their name that shows respect. I would tell you to sit down and discuss it with him.and pick out a name together... Do you and your husband have children together or do you have children from previous marrige ? What do your children call your husband?It is hard to blend families so as long as you get along together and love each other don't make it a big issue
There are lots of variations. I gave my stepmother her own name which was just a different part of her name really....but it was MY name for her, not Mom as I had a Mom, but a respectful and special name. Like A., what if he called you Amby or something like that just something you're both comfortable with. And grandparents, my grandchild has lots of them; we all have our own names...Grammy, Granny, Lolly, Gramma; Pop, Poppy, Grampa, Grandad.....or use an old nickname. It's not really the actual word that's important but the respect that is given to it. My stepchildren have called me by my first name since they were 3 and 5 years old, they have always said it with love and respect and it never bothered me that they used my first name because, well, that is who I am, it's reality. They have a mother who uses and is entitled to the title of "Mom". They refer to me as their "stepmom" when talking about me to others. The kids are almost 30 years old now and it's always worked for us although I will admit that now that they have children it has cropped up again, so I am Gramma or Gramma P. depending on how much the little kids feel like saying. Their Mother is Grammy. We just allowed the actual Grandparents to pick their name first and we all selected after that. It doesn't need to be complicated; there are enough things to stress us out when families go through changes. Best of Luck to you and remember it's the love behind a name that counts.
I have always told my kids that blood doesnt make you family, love does. Talk to the 9 year old one on one and ask what he's comfortable with. A friend of mine uses mamie and yet another has a pet name that her step son made up for her when he was little. Go with what works for you and your family.
Guess I don't really know what the big deal is either with your step son calling you A....I know several blended families and the kids call the step parent by his/her first name. As far as the older family members, the suggestions before mine sound good. But at this stage, whatever your stepson has been calling you for the past many years should stay, that's just too weird for kids to ask them to suddenly call you something different. Don't let this bug you too much, as long as he's respectful and doesn't treat you badly like some step moms on this site complain about then I think you got it pretty good...
A., it looks like you have gotten some of the some good advice. I come from a blended family also from the South as some others. Of course this didn't happen until I was in college, but my step-sisters are really like sisters to me. I have always called my step-mom by her first name. My bf who also had a step-mom really young always called her by her first name as well. Being from the south we never said Mr. Smith or Mrs. Smith (unless they were teachers etc) our neighbors were always Miss Nancy or Mr. Bill. I called my step-mom's parents Mawmaw and Pawpaw like their other grandkids (they requested it after I tried to call them Mawmaw and her name. My step-mom's brother and sister are Uncle and Aunt. I don't know if this helps, but also ask the 9 year old what he would like to call them or ask your parents if they would rather be called grandma (name) and Grandpa (name). Talk with him to about it being respectful to older people. Good Luck! It probably isn't as hard as you think.
We're a blended family and my kids call my husband's family their existing titles (they have 2 grandkids who are much older). Also, what's wrong with just using "Grandma/Grandpa [last name]?" That is what we did growing up back before all this "Mimi, Mumzy, etc." names were so popular.
Does it really matter as long as he is respectful? Let him do with you and your side of the family as he wishes. Kids in a blended family have enough to deal with so don't sweat the small stuff.
My husband and I blended a family of 7, 19 years on the 24th and we still struggle. If your biggest problem is he calls you by your first name, you have no problems.
PS All my Grandkids call me MIMI. That's when it is really special.
My best friend has gone through this same thing. Since he is your stepson, and that makes him special above other kids, you might consider letting him call you by your first name. My friend's step children call her by her first name most of the time, but on extended visits, sometimes they call her mom or mommy. She feels the same way as you about their calling her mom - that they can when they're comfortable. Do your parents have other grandchildren? If so, in order to completely include your stepson in the family, I would recommend having him call them by what their other grandchildren call them. I have 8 nephews, and I've found that they even call their friends' grandparents what their friends call them, and my friends' kids call my parents "nana" and "papa" just like my son and nephews do. I hope this helps. Good luck and congratulations on your new role as stepmom!
We have friends that are like grandparents to our kids but are not. My kids call them "Grand mommy Ann and Grand daddy Jay" and that works out just fine and does not interferes with her own grandchildren that call them the same minus the first name.
Now for the other issue - you have allowed him to address you by your first name for a long time and want to change now? Kids don't really understand all the legal issues in marriage and joining families. They see it like it is. He's not someone else's kid and with you has had the privilege of calling you by your first name where other children did not. If you must, maybe you could ask him to call you Ms. A. instead. Gives it a formality yet does not force him into calling you 'mom' which you are not.
Remember - he has had no choice in the relationships his father has chosen. He will need security, understanding, and compassion and you have the 'privilege' of being that person where his parents may not be able to be. I hops you see it like that. What a blessing you are given.
I had 3 step-children when my husband and I married 25 years ago. The oldest step child lived with us and has always called me "Ma", he calls his own mother "Mom". I didn't mind as long as he felt comfortable. My other two step-children have always called me by my first name which was okay, at the time they were only 5 and 6 years old.
As for my parents, they were known as "Nana" and "Bampa", so the kids followed the other grandkids and called them that also. If they're are no other children but the 9 year old, then just ask your parents what they want to be referred to as grandparents, whatever name your own children will call them should be what your step-son calls them. You certainly don't want him to be left out. I know your treading in unfamiliar waters, but as long as he feels like he's part of your family, the name titles shouldn't be such a difficult issue. Good Luck!
My step daughter calls me by my 1st name & it does not bother me in particular, but I can understand why you are somewhat bothered by it. She however calls my mom Grandma Willa, which works for us. If she called my mom by her 1st name it would not be very respectful, but putting grandma in front makes it ok for us.
My sister has a blended family ---- his 3 girls call my sister by her 1st name, and my sisters 2 girls call her husband by his 1st name..... AND all the kids call the Grandparents by their given grandparent name, MawMaw, Nanna, Pappa, or whatever.... they have been together 10 years and it works well for them..
I say for him to call your parents by the same name as their other grandchildren. I don't have a blended family and didn't come from one but I look at it as what I call my husband's grandparents - I call them the same name he does. AS far as your name that is something you and your stepson will have to work out but I think it would be hard for him to call you something more formal after 4.5 years of calling you by your first name.
How about a nice nickname? My children call my mother by a short, cutesy version of her first name just to avoid the whole "Grandma Last Name" thing. Perhaps you can come to a consensus about a reasonable nickname stemming from your name. It would be a term of endearment, but he wouldn't have to call you Mom. Here's a link with a few suggestions: http://wickedstepmom.blogspot.com/2006/04/stepmom-names-f...
As for your parents, talk to him about their names and see if he wouldn't mind just calling them Grandma and Grandpa (or whatever they are used to being called). Before I married my husband, I called his grandparents these names because it seemed awkward to call them Mr and Mrs when I was developing such a close relationship with them (we see them weekly). Even my husband's friends in high school called his grandparents Grandma and Grandpa, as they drove many of them home after school. Kinda like calling a family friend "Aunt," even though there is no relation. I wonder if you could have a straight forward conversation with him and explain that they really just love to have their position in life recognized, even if they aren't his grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa are nice names for people of that generation and these names aren't as exclusive as the one and only position that can be filled by "Mom."
Are their other grandchildren? What are they called now or what would they like if you had a baby? He could call them the names they already are known as: if this happened to us, we are already Nana and grandpa and he would call us that. It is special and he would feel included.
As far as you are concerned, whatever makes you feel comfortable-Mama Two or Ms. A. or perhaps a nickname.
Hi I also am in a blended family, I have been in my step sons life since he is 1 & now is 11. I have two daughters as well who are 1 &4. I was raised in the South wheer yes maam & no maam was a must. So when I became in a blended family I never thought I would allow my step son to call me by my first name. He has called me by my first name as soon as he could say my name. I think it depends on eac hfamily & really on teh child. Wha tdoes the child feel comfortable with. This is about the child feeling comfortable not anyone else. It is already hard for children to be in a blended family, we really jus thave to nurture these children in a positive way, so they one do not feel left out on both sides. Unless you have been in one, you will not understand wha tthis child is going through. I do I was in one. :)
Also when it comes to chores & rules the hubbie has to be involved 100%. Mine made a board and he knows to follow the rules of the house.
He is of age so I would maybe just talk to him about it and see wha the says.
Most importantly, you and hubby should talk 1st and come up with some ideas that both of you could live with, then talk to the child and get his opinion. He needs to feel comfortable too.
I would think that it would be easier to call grandparents whatever the other children call them...maw maw, mimi, nana, etc. If he isn't comfortable with just that, maybe Maw Maw Pat or Mimi Joan to make it a little less familiar. As with you, it's really hard to change something that has been going on for 4.5 years, but same thing. Just say "you know, there is something I'd like to talk to you about. I don't allow other children to call me by my first name because I think it's a little disrespectful. I know that is always how you've known me, but do you think we could come up with something different now that dad and I are married?" See what the child comes up with, or offer the suggestions that you and hubby had discussed. I think the name for you would be the hardest b/c Ms. Mary is so distant, although Mary is so familiar, and Mom would only be appropriate if he feels ok with it. Even Momma Mary would only be ok if he is ok with it. Good luck!
My son calls his stepdad "Big Daddy!" Although "Big Momma" probably isn't any better than your first name....have you though about asking your stepson what HE would feel comfortable calling you? In all honesty, if using your first name is what HE is most comfortable with that's what needs to happen.
Ask him what he would like to call all of you. That opens the door for compromise and makes him feel like his opinion matters. I'm sure together, you can come up with some name/titles you can both live with.
My daughter has a very large extended family on both sides. She has a step mom that she calls Mimi and a Step Dad that she calls Papa. She calls all 8 grandparents by the names that the other grandkids call them. All the Aunts and Uncles are called Aunt ??? and Uncle ???. She is now 22 years old and feels very fortunate to have so many parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that she is so close to. To her, everyone is her "real" family.
I actually have a lot of experience with this. I have had 2 step-fathers, 1 step-mother, and several step siblings. All of my "step" families (extended or immediate) I have always called by their first names. It never occured to anyone in my family to call them by anything else. I would not have been comfortable calling them "mom" or "dad." Or the grandparents "grandma" or "grandpa". I don't feel like it is inappropriate for family members (whether they are children or not) to call you by your first name. This is your step son, not a neighbor kid. If he has been calling you by your first name all along, I would not try to change it now.
Of course one other suggestion...my best friend's kids call their step-dad "Daddy Scott" But I would only suggest that if your step-son is comfortable with it.
Good luck. I know it is always hard to figure these kinds of things out.
I had the same situation only reverse. My husband and I were together 7 yrs before marriage and our children. My daughter had conflict with the issue when she hit about the same age. We made a party of it (pizza, cupcakes & icecream, deco & all). The game portion of the party was to put nick names in a funny hat (including daddy). We made a list of everyones formal names and as we drew nick names we matched to whomever everyone voted for.
You can make your own rules, I just wanted to make a light/fun situation out of something that really is more painful to the child than we could ever realize. Good luck, S. ** oh yes, we settled on Daddy Sam, Gammie Hope, Mimi J, Mamaw Kit, Gampi Ray,PapPap Jack,
Our boys just thought since she was older she could use the added first name.
Before you read my response understand that my issue was a cultural one as well.. chinese and european.. having said that ...Don't force the boy. I was put in the same situation and hated it & it eventually caused a lot of problems with people upset on both sides. You lot are old enough to realise the difficulty of the whole situation, he is a child that will only feel forced... so unfare & unnecessary. My husband wanted his son to call me Mom, I was horrified that he would put that pressure on his son so I insisted on my first name. I plan to do that same when I am a step grandparent. For me it was about his son feelings, not mine.
I had the same situatuion. What worked great for us was:
I was called "Mama C.". My parents were Gramma mary and Grampa Merv.
If you're not comfortable with Mama _ _ _ , ask him what he would like to call you. So long as his mother is alive, I wouldn't want him calling you 'mom' unless you'd raised him from an infant. At 9 years old, he's old enough to have that conversation. Explain to him that you're uncomfortable with him calling you by your first name and why. It may make him feel better to have a voice in it.
I was forced to call my step-mother Mama. I hated it. She was NOT my mom - I already had one!
If you don't like the step-grandparents, try something like MeeMaw and PawPaw or something - what does he call his other grandparents?
Hi A. I feel your concerns with this. I too am a step mom as and we found it was really easy for the kids to refer to as Momma D. My name is D. so this was a good fix for them. The grandkids call me mema. I hope this helps
I too was raised that children do not call adults by their first name as it is a sign of disrespect. My mom would say "put a handle on that name". Why are people more worried about kids feelings and comfort than the children being respectful. My sister married a gentleman with 2 sons. Prior to getting married they called her by her first name. After they married, they asked the kids what would they prefer to call her (you give the options Mother A., Mom, etc.) no first name only option. The boys decided to call her Mama. They have had no problems and call me Aunt K. as my other nieces/nephews. They call my mom Granny, but have the option of saying Granny J(last or first name inserted). Talk about it as a family and you can all agree on it together. Your Mom should be offended, no 9 year old should be calling a grandmother by her first name for any reason. Her boys are sweet and well mannered. They are family and we love them dearly. You want to help raise mannerable, respectable boys not children conforming to societies "let them do what makes them feel good" system.
If you have been with your husband that long before marriage, the child is already used to calling you by your name. He probably also knows the rest of your family as such. It is hard to suddenly expect them to be comfortable calling you something different. He is not just any child that you would not allow to call you by your first name. I would make an exception and have your family also deal with it. If that's the biggest problem you have with this child, you are very lucky. I'd be more concerned with him accepting me as part of his life than what he calls me. But that's just me - I'd bend that much for his sake.
Whatever the other grandchildren are calling your parents should be what he calls them. If there are no gchildren, then I would suggest "Grandma+first name. We adopted our first daughter, got to know her bio-mom 17 years later. Now my grandchildren call her Grandma Bea.
My grands have always called me Memama, and most of their friends all through school did, too.