Stepson Was Calling Me MOM, Now His Mom Yelled at Him and He Won't

Updated on May 18, 2010
S.D. asks from Coopersville, MI
19 answers

Some quick background. I came into my stepsons life before he was 2, so at his dad's house, he has never known me not to be around. He called me by my first name. My husband has talked to him in the past about calling me 'mom' or some other name, as we expect our children to call me mom. And my daughter has been calling me by my first name because she sees her brother do it. So about 6 months ago, my husband and him sat down and he said that he wanted to call me mom. He has been doing that more and more lately. Well, last night, my husband dropped his son off, and his mom told my husband, that the son is not comfortable calling me mom, and that she has told him that he doesn't have to. So now our problem is, that he has been doing it, without reservations, and we aren't sure of what else he can call me. My stepson has not said a word to us about it at all. I know that this is his mom talking about not him. i know this becasue since I started dating my husband, she has been very vocal to both me, my husband and her son, that I am not his mom and she won't allow him to call me that. i feel she is wrong, in that my stepson made the decision no one else. So we have him this coming weekend and are going to talk to him about it. So any sugggestions on what else he can call me that won't make his mom so mad at him. i think he got in trouble for it.

A bit more background the ex has always been against me. I think it has to do with that I am more into spending time and teaching my stepson, where she just sits him in front of the tv all day. he is now 8, and that's all he ever does over there. he does have an older sister at his mom's house. His older sister calls her stepmom "mom" and nothing has ever been said about that one. So i know he is feeling conflicted about everything. We know he wants to call me mom, as he has told my husband that, he has also told his grandparents that's what he wanted. Wheneverr my husband spoke to him about this, I was never around. I made sure of that, so he wouldn't feel pressure at all

When we talk with him this weekend, I would like some other ideas of what he can call me. But i have no clue what other names to come up with. If he choses to keep calling me mom, we are going to tell him that he doesn't need to tell him mom, as he is 8 can make decisions such as this for himself. And my husband said if it comes to it, he will speak to the ex, and tell her that his son made the decision. in no way am i trying to be his mom, and he knows that. My stepson and i hae talked about that before. That he has a mom and i am just his mom while at dad's house, but that his mom will always be his mom. I even help him make things for her for mother's day, and have told him, he doesn't need to do things for me.

What can I do next?

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answers from Dallas on

I don't think he should call you mom, he already has a mom. Decide on some other name he can call you, I don't think he should be put in the middle of this by sitting him down and telling him to call you mom, that's ridiculous. I agree with his mom, if he is not comfortable with it he shouldn't do it. and by saying she is lying about him being uncomfortable you're saying that his relationship with you is stronger than his relationship with his mom, I believe he is more comfortable with his mom and that's why he told her that in confidence.
good luck,

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answers from Albany on

In a very non-threatening manner, ask HIM what he would like to call you, whatever he feels comfortable with (regardless of the reason) is what he should be calling you.

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answers from Augusta on

k here's the deal.
You aren't his mom you shouldn't be called "mom"
I have both a step mom and a step dad , I have never called either one mom or dad. They aren't my mom or dad. They didn't earn that name. If the mom wasn't in the picture at all there might be something to your case.
You shouldn't encourage him to keep stuff from his mother, that is VERY wrong.
I always called my step parents by their first name.

How would you feel if your child called someone else mom? I don't know about you but it would bother me ALOT.
Drop it, don't put this child into the situation of forcing him to lie to his mother.
I my kids have multiple grandparents on both sides and for my dad it's Papa _____ , possibly could he call you mama S. ? instead of mom , mom is a reserved name.

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answers from Kansas City on

All children go through a stage of calling their mother by their name. They think it's cute and you can break your child of that without requiring someone elses child to call you mom. It's highly inappropriate to expect someone elses child to call you mom. That's just my opinion. I'm sure that in some families it's done. But I don't get it and never will.

I wouldn't care if my son wanted to call his stemother mom or not. I wouldn't tolerate it! Thankfully, I'm no one stepmother and my husband and I are together.

I did have 2 of the worst stepparents EVER. Maybe that's why I feel this strongly. So don't take it personally if my view is the minority.

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Beth. You may have been in his life since he was a baby and that might be a part of why his natural mother has always been against you.

I can see there's more going on here than meets the eye. You've spent some time putting the natural mother down (deserved or not), while building S. up, to point of coming off like a bit of a martyr. (i.e. "I even help him make things for her for mother's day, and have told him, he doesn't need to do things for me.")

You and Dad need to speak with your own child about what she is to call you and why. Let your stepson call you by your first name. An eight year old is not old enough to make important decision, especially a decision that will cause conflict between his father’s home and his mother’s home, putting him in the middle.

Lastly, it would be perfectly fine if your stepson recognized you on mother’s day. There are wonderful Hallmark cards that express heartfelt sentiment for stepparents. I do acknowledge that in some cases the stepparent is the better parent.


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answers from Baton Rouge on

I was the step child many moons ago and I'm not sure who was the one trying to make my siblings and I call our step mother "mom". But she is not my mother and I did not want to call her MOM. She didn't deserve to be called MOM by me anyway. Our Mom was still a part of our life but we lived with our dad and step mother. Needless to say we did not call her mom cause our mom had a fit and that was the end of that. My step mother was not a very loving or caring person to us. She was great to her own children.

Fast forward a few years and I met a man who had a son and I vowed to love him and care for him as if he were my own. He called me MOM the first date we went on and no I was not ready for that. After we were married and I had him full time then he began calling me mom and we were fine with that. His mother was not a part of his life except when it suited her. His mother even introduced me to her now husband as my step son's mom. That was a weird situation. So our son has always called me mom and her by her first name until just before his 12th birthday. She wanted him to come stay with her for the summer and we agreed after talking to him about what he wanted to do. He came back from there a different child. She filled his head full of all kind of lies and turned him against us. And it worked in her favor because then he wanted to go live with her. Against my wishes his dad let him go. He still lives there at 19 but he still calls me mom when he sees me. Although everything that goes wrong is always my fault ultimately he knows I have always been the constant in his life and I will never stop even when he treats me badly. So does a title really mean that much? No, not to me. As long as he knows you love him and you are there for him that is what is important. He can call you Ms. S. or momma S. or meme. I know a family that does it this way and they all get along good. The birth parents are mom and dad, the step parents are meme and papa. Good luck to you and your family.

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answers from St. Louis on

I have mixed feelings about this. Both my parents are remarried and I call my step mom and step dad, mom and dad.

But in your case, you said you you have been in his life since he was 2. It just seems like if he never called you mom before he shouldn't be asked to now. You said your husband had a talk and asked him to because your daughter was getting confused and called you by your name.

I think it would've been better to just tell your daughter not to call you by your name. By talking to your step son, he may have been put into a position that he wasn't ready for. Usually kids in this situation will ask the person if they call them mom or dad, if that is something they want to do.

The mom getting upset is probably anxiety. He baby is calling someone else mom. That has to be hard. She may feel like you are tryign to take her baby away form her. It's a mothers instinct to come out with claws showing. It may not be right, but it can be expected.

I hope all this gets worked out. It must be very difficult for the child involved. All he wants to do is please everyone and this must be very hard for him to go through.

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answers from Killeen on

I don't understand why you are suddenly trying to change what he calls you. It is kinda crazy to make an 8 year old suddenly change the name he has known you as all his life. I understand about your daughter, but you just have to let her know the situation and let her know that your son has 2 moms, and he call his other mom "Mom"- so he can't call 2 people mom.

You are putting your son in a very strange and uncomfortable situation. Soon he won't be calling you anything. Trying to get him to call you some made-up name or "something else" seems like it would be very difficult. Try calling him something else, it is not as easy as you think.

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answers from Savannah on

I think if the boy wants to call you "Mom" than his Mom will have to accept it. I can probably understand how that would be hard for someone to have their child calling someone else "mom" though. So you might want to be a bit sympathetic about that. Have your husband talk with his mom about this whole situation. Exes tend to have something against the stepmom regardless of how wonderful you are to their children.

I do have a question though....what's so wrong with his son calling you S.? Why does he have to call you "mom" or some variation? I'm just curious because I have a stepmom that I love dearly, consider her to be my mom, yet I still call her by her first name. When I talk about her to other people I do call her my mom...but to her I just call her by her name. So I don't understand really why you guys have to have him call you another "mom" name just because your children call you mom.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't think it's appropriate for him to call you Mom. Your not his mom, and his mom is still in his life. He also shouldn't be calling you mom and then lying about it to his mom. Both are wrong. I'm sorry. Yes, I am a stepmother and have been for almost 18 years. I had that delusion of being "mom" for about 30 seconds when he was 3. Anyway, he has always called me Miss P.. We never came up with anything better, and it never bothered me. You can talk to him, and try to come up with something less formal, and more endearing. Let him be a part of that.

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answers from Los Angeles on

hmmm...this young boy has 2 women who he has that love him and care for him and that he can call mom, how blessed he is. So many kids out there don't even have one. In my opinion everything is about perspective. You feel one way and the ex feels another. It is the same situation, but the feelings change. Divorce is hard enough on the kids let alone having the parents quibbling about titles.

Here is my perspective:
What does your stepson want? He is the only one who matters. He is 8. It is time, like you said, for him to make his own choices. Yes, he needs to be respectful of his other mom, but truly, if he feels connected to you then mom should be your name. (I am 42 and every single one of my friends moms, I call "Mama Jo", or "Mama Chris". I have ever since I met them. They are special in my life and I want them to know it)

S., the bottom line it this. It may just be time to sit down as a family - yes all of you and be clear on what is going on. Let the boy tell everyone what he wants.

And as for the "he doesn't have to make anything for me on mother's oh wonder there is confusing. Either you get the title with the role or you don't, you need to be clear. He is 8 now, what happens when he is a teenager and testing his boundaries...what happens when you have sent mixed messages about what "mom" means and he pushes you? Something to think about.

Family Success Coach

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answers from Orlando on

I agree with Suzi. Also, in my experience there have been several times my 7 year old daughter begs me to tell her Dad when something is bothering her but she won't tell him because she doesn't want to hurt his feelings. So it may not be all his mom not wanting him to call you mom, although I'm sure that's part of it.

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answers from Atlanta on

I have been in a similar situation, and I have watched step-siblings go through it, too. I know you don't intend to, but, by constantly having these conversations with your step-son, you are creating pressure on him. I remember the day my step-brother (I usually refer to him as my brother.) asked my Mom (and me) if it would be okay if he called her Mom and told everyone she was his Mom. It added a new level of comfort to the blended family. He doesn't have contact (by his own choice) with his bio-Mom, though, so that was different for him; he was filling a gap, to some extent, of his own volition. My step-sister began referring to my Mom as Mom but only at home, which was fine. (My step-dad had full custody.) She seemed very torn about it, and I think she did it to fit in. It caused trouble between her and her Mom, but she continued doing it, because she later said she didn't want to upset anyone. It created a scenario where she seemed to live a double-life depending on who she was with, although my Mom and step-Dad repeatedly told her it was okay to do whatever she felt comfortable with.

My Dad remarried when I older, and his wife started introducing me as their daughter", which upset me horribly. I felt that she was taking credit for someone else's work; when I discussed it with them she got upset and it caused tension that took years to resolve.

Maybe you could tell your step-son that you love him regardless, because the title isn't important. Ask him what his feelings are and then just listen without interrupting. If he is interested in picking out a special name for you, then maybe try using the internet to look up words/names that mean Mom, etc. in other languages.

I would not encourage him to do anything behind his Mother's back; I feel that it is a parent's job to teach children to respect their parents and others, and lying by omission is not a pattern you want to create. And, if the main issue has arisen because your daughter was calling you by your first name after hearing your step-son, then maybe this would be a good time to begin teaching your daughter what is appropriate for some if not appropriate for all. i.e. You wouldn't let her eat bread if she had a wheat allergy, even if your step-son was eating bread, because there are different circumstances; same thing with the name situation.

I hope this helps; good luck, and kudos for being a good Mom and step-Mom.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I am 28 and my step dad had been in my life since i was 8. He is the only father i have ever known and i still have never called him dad. I have always called him by his name. I love him dearly and i consider him my dad just have never called him that. Now that i have kids i call him grandpa. I dont feel there is anything wrong with him calling you by your name. If he truley does want to call you mom then he shouldnt have to hide it. I know i would HATE it if my kids ever called someone else mom. I am married but if anything were to happen i would not want them calling another woman mom. I am thier mom, so i kinda get why she wouldnt want her son doing that. It is however the childs choice, but maybe back off of the subject for a while and just have him call you by name. Its not that horrible if he doesnt call you mom is it? It is a touchy subject and a tough situation, and i hope you can all come to an agreement that will make everyone comfortable. Good luck!

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answers from Cleveland on

My nickname or petname is "Huffy" and sometimes my kids call my by it or they will also call me "deer" (yes as in the animal). We strongly believe in animal totems and the whitetailed deer is my totem - so which is how I got the nickname "Huffy". The kids also sometimes call their dad by "Kitty" since his animal totem is a Leopord & we also call our kids by their totems sometimes - we have a wolf, ferret, monkey & owl.

When I was growing up I lived with my mom & step-dad... I called my real dad "dad" and my step-dad "daddy". Yes, it is almost the same, but it was enough to keep me from being confused when I talked about them & also helped others to understand who I was talking about. When it come to step-moms - their was never one in my life long enough to call them anything but by thier names... which caused a lot of issues with my dad's 2nd wife - cause she did try forcing us to call her mom & we wouldn't. Actually we went home many times black & blue backs & butts because we would "show her respect & call her mom".

If your stepson wants to call you by another name other then the one you were given at birth - he will figure out one he is comfertable with in time. My stepdad married my mom when I was 18 mo. old & has beenl in my life eventhrough their divorce & remarriage & divorce & now living together... so in many ways he is my dad & my real dad understands that.

But I did look up mom words on the net & this is what I found...
•madre (Spanish)
•mama (Spanish and English)
•mutter (German)
•maman (French)
•ma (Southern U.S.A; orgin)

Personally, I would sit down with him - you included & let him know how you feel, why you feel the way you do & also that if he choose not to it's ok. Let him make the choose on what he wants to call you. He is in a hard spot right now - he wants to make you, your hubby & his mom all happy - and their might not be a way of doing that. Please try to see his side of the situation as well.

Good luck & take care!



answers from Tulsa on

Sadly, you are not his mom and you do need to tell your daughter that you are not his mom and she is to call you mom and not by your name. What are her little friends going to call you? Mom? She will hear people call you by other names her whole life.

I understand his mother's reaction. She is his mom, not you, and she has a right to say no. My daughter lived with her dad and step mom, while I went to college and lived in student housing, and I was jealous and refused too. I eventually understood what an asset her step mom was and didn't care what she called her stepmom, as long as it was respectful. She called me momma and her mom. What about calling you mama S.? My grandkids call my best friend mama*****. It confuses people at McDonalds when the kids start running around being goofy and yell something to her. I think they must think she and I are a couple or something but in your circumstances it wouldn't matter.

But it all comes down to his needs. His mom is going to stay on this and you have to decide that he needs to call you S.. What if it comes down to her grounding him or punishing him for calling you mom. You need to decide to make his life easier. He can't call you mom right now, he is having anxiety and stress over this and you have the power to make it stop. Tell him it is perfectly fine to call you S. and that's that. That way his mom will back off and the child can simply enjoy his time with both families.



answers from Tulsa on

let the mom feel superior and don't force him to call you mom. if you do he is caught in the middle. Let him call you what he is comfortable with if that is not mom know it is to please his real mom not hurt you. what about ditto? it means repeat (repeat mom or second mom) let him make the choice so it takes pressure off of him let him come up with a nickname for you and accept it as mom.


answers from Stockton on

I was the mom on both end in this case at one point. My Step Son asked me if I would mind him calling me mom, and I told him to call me whatever he felt I was to him. He started calling me mom. His mother did not like it in the least. I understood that it was her feeling threatened by the thought of sharing the role title with someone else. Now mind you he lived in our home and she was rarely around... but still I understood. My husband and myself told him that still he was to call me what he felt comfortable calling me, If he felt bad knowing his mother was uncomfortable with him calling me mom and felt the need to not call me by that name anymore... it would be fine with both of us... either way... needless to say, I'm still mom but see.... it was HIS choice.
Now with my son, his father remarried and had a unstable relationship to say the least. At a drop off/pick up one weekend he he was getting in the car... he says to his dad... Can you tell MOM I said bye and I love her. OOOok.... Now my wheels are turning and my 4 year old son asked me from the back seat... Mommy, are you mad?..... Mad? Mad about what?? was my response. "That I called her MOM" .... No way buddy! (I was a bit hurt and caught off guard) but I told him just like my step son... as long as it is YOUR CHOICE than it's alright with me. See to me... just because your daughter calls you mom... doesn't mean your step son has to. You have a blended family, that comes with some confusion naturally... your child knows that her brother has a different mother but it doesn't weaken the bond. Tell his dad to lighten up... It shouldn't be forced... Mom is earned not forced


answers from Austin on

I am a child of divorce and my dad tried to get us to call our stepmom "mom". There was NO WAY anyone else could be our "Mom". I was shocked upset and so mad.... My younger sister out and out said she "would NEVER call anyone else mom".

We all went to family therapy and the therapist told my father and his wife, expecting this was unacceptable. No one would ever have the honor of being called mom by us.

I remember always trying not to hurt my parents feelings so sometimes doing things they wanted me to do just to be polite and not rock the boat.. Consider your son is very fond of you, loves you, respects you, but cannot tell you he just wants you to be S..

We called our stepmother by her name and have continued this tradition with each stepmother that came along.. hee, hee.. We are good friends with all of them, but it does not change the fact we only have one mom.

It does matter what the childs mother feels about this. She is really his mom and no one should be allowed to take on that title without her permission.

To start this so late in the game is just cruel.. It is as though the adults have dragged and then placed this poor child in a terrible, emotional situation and this is the last thing the adults should ever do. Your little girl should be told to call you mom, you are her mom. You are S. the wonderful Stepmom to your son and you should be very proud of that.

Imagine your baby girl calling another woman mom! I would be appalled..
Please drop this. Give the gift of peace to your family. This is not a healthy choice.

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