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#1 Apple14

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:09 PM

So I just got a txt from my ex and thought I would see what people’s opinions are.

My ex has an issue with our daughter (5yrs) calling my DP ‘dad’.
Said he’s uncomfortable with it. Ok.
Also said  ‘I am her father and I think that title should be mine only’ -direct quote!

My partner has been around since before she was 2yrs old. We live together and he also has children (he has sole care of them) calling him dad, so she started probably a year ago.
My children are with their father 4days/month plus 4dinner dates, so with my DP a lot.
The dad thing was not initiated by us or encouraged, but not discouraged either. We think she can call him whatever she likes (and she does swap between dad and *real name*)

So what do you think??? Should the mum and dad title be for those genetically responsible for the children, or am I in the wrong for not discouraging it earlier?

#2 Ozquoll

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:20 PM

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There’s no right answer for every situation, but I must admit it would break my heart to hear my son call anyone but me ‘Mum’.

#3 Apple14

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:28 PM

Thanks Ozquoll. I don’t have that feeling.
If he was in a healthy relationship, years long and my daughter felt that his gf was a ‘mother figure’ and called her mum, I wouldn’t have an issue with it.
She often tells people she’s lucky because she has 2 dads. I think that’s so lovely. I just think of it as more people loving her.
So if she had 2 mums and 2 dads, she would be super lucky!

#4 seayork2002

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:29 PM

My step father was in my life when I was 5/6, so was my dad, I loved my stepfather more than anything in the world, he was wonderful to me but I have only one 'dad' and my stepdad was always called by his first name from me.

But then that was 100% my choice, I guess if I chose anything different not sure if my parents would have questioned it

I was born to my mum and dad and would never ever think of anything else.

#5 FloralArrangement

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:30 PM

As a birth parent and foster parent I’ve faced this. Grandparent got upset that child was talking about “I did this with mum” and “mum took me to get this” etc. Child meant me. Grandparent raised it with DCP and she was told that it was the child’s choice and that it made he feel part of our family, imperative for her mental health and what they had done to her while in their care.

Your ex sounds the same, it can be very confronting to know that a child calls someone else dad or mum, I get that. Frankly, if it’s the child’s choice he needs to be the adult and accept that this was always likely to happen given the circumstances, he needs to be the grown up in this situation.

I would never tell a child “you can’t call me mum” if that’s what they had chosen to do in the same situation.

I get there are feelings around this but that’s life in families that have new partners.

I don’t think you are wrong the child has every right to make her own choices in this circumstance.

Our child has been with us for 8.5 years now and it would be weird to have her call me by my first name and all other children call me mum. She came to us at two. It gives her a strong sense of belonging. She is also very clear that she has two mum’s and two dad’s.

#6 bikingbubs

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:33 PM

I would feel the same way as him if my kids called someone else mum.

Could you choose another name she could call him?

#7 SkeptiHandsOnMum

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:40 PM

I would have been heartbroken to hear my children calling someone else "Mum". Even moreso if the children were spending more time in that person's company than my own, due to care arrangements (not sure if this is the case here).

While you say that you would not be bothered, I think it is appropriate to consider that your ex is not just being difficult here, but has reasonable feelings around this.

Can you bring in another "nick name"/term of endearment for your partner?

#8 ERipley

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:41 PM

View PostApple14, on 09 July 2019 - 04:28 PM, said:

Thanks Ozquoll. I don’t have that feeling.
If he was in a healthy relationship, years long and my daughter felt that his gf was a ‘mother figure’ and called her mum, I wouldn’t have an issue with it.
She often tells people she’s lucky because she has 2 dads. I think that’s so lovely. I just think of it as more people loving her.
So if she had 2 mums and 2 dads, she would be super lucky!

I agree with Ozquoll. I just would not be ok with my kids calling anyone else “Mum”.

#9 Apple14

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:43 PM

View Postbikingbubs, on 09 July 2019 - 04:33 PM, said:

I would feel the same way as him if my kids called someone else mum.

Could you choose another name she could call him?

We didn’t choose for her to call him dad. She calls him by his name and now also calls him dad.

Maybe I don’t see the issue because I wouldn’t have an issue her calling someone else mum.
Perhaps that’s where I differ.

#10 SkeptiHandsOnMum

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:47 PM

View PostApple14, on 09 July 2019 - 04:43 PM, said:

We didn’t choose for her to call him dad. She calls him by his name and now also calls him dad.

Maybe I don’t see the issue because I wouldn’t have an issue her calling someone else mum.
Perhaps that’s where I differ.
That is okay, not to see the issue for yourself. But I think that you still need to respect that it is an issue for him, and one that is likely seen as reasonable by many.

If my kids had started to call my partner at the time "Dad", I would have gently steered them away from it. If they accidentally did, we all would have a friendly "oops", and use the term we chose for him instead.

Edited by SkeptiHandsOnMum, 09 July 2019 - 04:48 PM.


#11 bikingbubs

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:48 PM

View PostApple14, on 09 July 2019 - 04:43 PM, said:



We didn’t choose for her to call him dad. She calls him by his name and now also calls him dad.

Maybe I don’t see the issue because I wouldn’t have an issue her calling someone else mum.
Perhaps that’s where I differ.

Very much so I think. I think it is up to you to explain to her that he is a special person in her life, but her dad is her dad. And  I think it is important to respect his feelings over another man being called dad.

But that is just my opinion (I am separated,  both repartnered happily get along) but they aren't mum or dad to my kids.

Eta: My partner has a daughter that is not biologically his. Her actual dad fled whilst in utero. He met her mum when she was 1, and has always viewed her as being his daughter. She is 16 now, and when she was 11 asked if he would mind if she called him dad. Up until then it was his name.

Edited by bikingbubs, 09 July 2019 - 05:03 PM.


#12 hills mum bec

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:50 PM

I get where your ex is coming from.  I would be heartbroken if my child called another woman Mum.  As for the fact that your DD chose to call your DH Dad, she is 5, you do have a certain amount of control over this.  Does this give her free reign to call anybody in the household any name she likes?  What if she chose to call you by your first name instead of Mum?  I would be choosing another name whether that is his first name or a nick name to encourage her to call him.

#13 Melbs2010

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:53 PM

I agree with others that it would be heart breaking to hear someone else called Mum/Dad.  I had the reverse at one point where I was demoted to being called "first name" one mother's day when cards were being made at school.  It stung a little.

But I also feel that it's ultimately the child's choice.  I don't think kids should ever be told or forced to call a parent in a separated scenario something else.  Which goes in both directions.  I don't like it when one side forces a child to refer to a step parent as Mum/Dad in order to get back an ex or to cement a new relationship.  And I don't like the idea of a child being told they can't use Mum/Dad if it's come about naturally.  It's confusing for a child who is already dealing with a confusing situation.

If as you say you haven't encouraged it and it's come about naturally I wouldn't try to make the child change.  Heartbreaking as it is my feeling is always that the kids should be left to do what they are comfortable with.  If your ex is that bothered by it he is free to discuss it with your child as well (which he may well do). It doesn't have to be you that addresses it on his behalf.  He could start the conversation as well if he insists it changes

#14 EsmeLennox

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:55 PM

I think I’d say ‘DD has just started doing this organically, it’s neither encouraged nor discouraged by us. We prefer to allow her to make her own choices about names for those who are close to her. However, if you’re uncomfortable with it, you should discuss it with her and explain your preference for her to only call you Dad.’

Lob that ball right back.

And whilst I think it’d be difficult to have my children call another woman ‘Mum’, if that person has been in their lives from such a young age, it would also be completely understandable. It’s possible to be *too* emotional about these things, and in my mind, the child’s wishes are paramount.



#15 Lou-bags

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:57 PM

View PostApple14, on 09 July 2019 - 04:43 PM, said:



We didn’t choose for her to call him dad. She calls him by his name and now also calls him dad.

Maybe I don’t see the issue because I wouldn’t have an issue her calling someone else mum.
Perhaps that’s where I differ.

With all due respect, it’s easy to say that in the abstract isn’t it?

I would not be ok with my child calling another person mum or dad (beside my DH and I), and I would speak to my child about it if they did. I’d ask them to consider how it might make mum/dad feel to hear or know they call someone else by that name.

In your shoes, I think I would allow my child to decide but only after explaining how their dad feels about it.

#16 born.a.girl

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:58 PM

Agree with the pps.

If he's been in her life since she was two, she's not really 'making a choice' of calling him Dad, she's just calling him what the other kids call him.


You can gently steer her towards calling him Fred rather than Dad by always referring to him that way yourself when you talk to her.

Our daughter as a toddler started calling her Dad by his first name because that's what I did.  I think it's pretty common for them to copy others.


There's no doubt sensitivity about him not being as involved in her life as her step dad is, which I think is perfectly human.

#17 EsmeLennox

Posted 09 July 2019 - 04:59 PM

Why does the OP have to explain it? Surely he child’s father can pop his big-girl panties on and have the conversation himself? The OP’s household is not the one with the issue.

#18 steppy

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:00 PM

I think it's best to call stepparents by their first name if there is a living and involved parent. By involved I just mean, they are in the picture and are visited and seen.

#19 SkeptiHandsOnMum

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:01 PM

View PostMelbs2010, on 09 July 2019 - 04:53 PM, said:

I agree with others that it would be heart breaking to hear someone else called Mum/Dad.  I had the reverse at one point where I was demoted to being called "first name" one mother's day when cards were being made at school.  It stung a little.

But I also feel that it's ultimately the child's choice.  I don't think kids should ever be told or forced to call a parent in a separated scenario something else.  Which goes in both directions.  I don't like it when one side forces a child to refer to a step parent as Mum/Dad in order to get back an ex or to cement a new relationship.  And I don't like the idea of a child being told they can't use Mum/Dad if it's come about naturally.  It's confusing for a child who is already dealing with a confusing situation.

If as you say you haven't encouraged it and it's come about naturally I wouldn't try to make the child change.  Heartbreaking as it is my feeling is always that the kids should be left to do what they are comfortable with.  If your ex is that bothered by it he is free to discuss it with your child as well (which he may well do). It doesn't have to be you that addresses it on his behalf.  He could start the conversation as well if he insists it changes
I think that there are ways to encourage other names without being dictatorial and saying "right, that is it, from this moment you never call X Dad again", ways that will not be damaging for the child. Pick a nickname/name version that comes up and use it more frequently.

The kids shortened my partner's name to a very unique version of his name - it became a term of endearment. I encouraged its use by referring to him as it when talking with them. I do not think it damaged them any to be gently guided to use it.

#20 Lou-bags

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:02 PM

View PostEsmeLennox, on 09 July 2019 - 04:59 PM, said:

Why does the OP have to explain it? Surely he child’s father can pop his big-girl panties on and have the conversation himself? The OP’s household is not the one with the issue.

Yes he could, and should. I would.

But I don’t agree that the OPs house is not the one with the issue. The way my kids behave and how their actions make others feel is my issue regardless of where the other people reside. I’d teach them sensitivity and to consider the impact of what they do on others no matter who those others are.

#21 steppy

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:05 PM

Mine wanted to call me mum when they were little and I was the one who said no and insisted on my first name. Not worth the drama. I'm sure if that had happened their mother would have spoken to them about it too and it wouldn't have done anything at all for the already weird relationship between us.

#22 EsmeLennox

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:08 PM

The child isn’t making him feel anything. She’s just doing what is normal to her. He has an issue, he needs to deal with it. If and when my DD came home and said ‘Dad has said that he doesn’t want me to call step-dad Dad’ would be the moment I’d have the conversation about sensitivity and considering his feelings, and perhaps offer some alternatives for step-dad. There’s no way I’d open this conversation, it needs to come from him. Why does the mother always have to be the frigging negotiator?



#23 Apple14

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:08 PM

Thank you all for your opinions. It’s great getting a variety of different opinions on topics like this.

Just to clarify, my daughter initiated and started calling him dad on her own, no input from either of us. Very organically, and when it 1st happened we did say oh you mean *real name* and then she told her father she has 2 dads (she had never said that to us and at the time he agreed and said yes you’re very lucky. She was 3ish)

Yes her father has less time with her than my DP-his own choice though. He likes his own time, so our consent orders reflect that.

View PostEsmeLennox, on 09 July 2019 - 04:55 PM, said:

I think I’d say ‘DD has just started doing this organically, it’s neither encouraged nor discouraged by us. We prefer to allow her to make her own choices about names for those who are close to her. However, if you’re uncomfortable with it, you should discuss it with her and explain your preference for her to only call you Dad.’

Lob that ball right back.

And whilst I think it’d be difficult to have my children call another woman ‘Mum’, if that person has been in their lives from such a young age, it would also be completely understandable. It’s possible to be *too* emotional about these things, and in my mind, the child’s wishes are paramount.

I did exactly this. His response was I will not bring it up with her as I know it’s been her choice, that it is something she has chosen to do and you guys haven’t pushed her to do it. That DP is indeed a positive role model and that just because he has some sort of feelings about it, he’s not going to put them on her.
So great response!
I think her asking to call DP after he finishes work tonight hit a nerve. And I do get that it would upset some people.

Again, thanks for all the different insights. It’s sometimes hard to see why it’s an issue when if the shoe were on the other foot it wouldnt be.
Thank you!

Edited by Apple14, 09 July 2019 - 05:11 PM.


#24 EsmeLennox

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:10 PM

It is a great response!

#25 born.a.girl

Posted 09 July 2019 - 05:12 PM

View PostEsmeLennox, on 09 July 2019 - 04:59 PM, said:

Why does the OP have to explain it? Surely he child’s father can pop his big-girl panties on and have the conversation himself? The OP’s household is not the one with the issue.


I guess because it's not happening on his watch?

This isn't a ten year old, it's a five year old who's probably still coming to terms with their family setup.

No doubt they've copied the other kids calling him Dad, without thinking about it.  To a kid that age, it's just a name.

You can gently encourage it by letting it happen when it does, or gently discourage it by only referring to that person by their first name (or whatever) to the child.

The father isn't on the scene to do that. Suggesting he discuss this with a five year old seems totally inappropriate to me.




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