Calling stepdad 'dad' :(

(26 Posts)
newbiestepmum Fri 29-Nov-13 22:09:16

This is my first posting here so be gentle with me please! smile

I'm a stepmum of a 12 year old girl. Married her dad a year ago. She lives with her mum and stepdad but visits us once a fortnight. Anyway tonight was the 2nd time I've caught her referring to her stepdad as 'dad'. She checked herself and tried to cover it up but I caught it. Tbh I think it went over her dad's head but I heard it and it hurt me on behalf of her dad. I don't know what to do. Should I talk to her about it privately? Let it go? Talk to my hubby? I don't want to hurt him by bringing it up if he's blissfully ignorant. But it doesn't feel right.

I am struggling with the whole stepmum thing besides all this but it's great to know from the forum that it's not just me and that others understand my situation. I don't have any friends who are stepmums and it can be quite isolating.

newbiestepmum Sat 14-Dec-13 21:51:53

Thanks everyone. It's interesting to see different perspectives. I find I am constantly treading on eggshells wondering whether something is worth raising or not so I like the idea of making a joke out of it rather than bringing it up as a heavy topic. I do feel that it's disrespectful to my husband and I know that her mum does everything she can to bring him down in her daughter's eyes - despite the divorce being as a result of the mum's repeated infidelity. Go figure.

The most important thing is my stepdaughter grows up as well adjusted as possible so that's the ultimate aim.

It was said early on in this thread that my stepdaughter must be fine as she appears to be coping and a pleasant girl on the whole. Having been a step daughter myself I can say that it's never that simple. Children can be people pleasers and what lies beneath is not always as healthy as it appears.

We can but do our best I guess!

Thanks again for your input.

tribpot Tue 03-Dec-13 12:50:49

I would never call my step-dad 'dad', and correct anyone who does so, even though my step-dad has been in my life for 35 years and is the best father and step-father anyone could wish for. (My dad on the other hand .. well, he's not the worst in that we're still in contact but in no way on a par - pun intended!). But that's not the point. One is my father and one is not my father.

I make no such distinction about step-siblings and half-siblings (and my full sibling) incidentally. We are all just brother and sister. But I don't like to hear parental relationships misnamed, unless one parent is completely out of the picture, perhaps.

In this case it may have been a simple slip of the tongue (my ds calls me 'Dad' sometimes! I am his mum) but if the mum is trying to edge the dad out of the family it's worth making a bit of joke of it happens again.

Kaluki Tue 03-Dec-13 12:36:11

DSD had to do her family tree for homework a while ago and while looking through her book DP found it - it was as though DP and his whole family had been wiped off the planet and replaced with her stepdad and his family. DP was devastated and texted his ex who took great delight in telling him he was nothing to do with her family anymore!!
Stepmooster your DSS's stepdad sounds horrible. The only saving grace of DPs ex's husband is that he seems to genuinely care for the dc, he just constantly oversteps but I think this is because he is bullied -into-- it encouraged to do so by his wife.
angry

benid Mon 02-Dec-13 13:40:19

I have no kids of my own by the way which obv makes the situation a lot less complicated. And I'm aware that lots of SM's are part of the kids' families - that's just not how it works for us.

benid Mon 02-Dec-13 13:39:12

I struggle with not knowing where I fit in with this family as it seems to be a role you have to work out over time. Sometimes it doesn't feel like my home just because I don't fit in

I really struggled with this at first - we have the same EOW arrangement as you and SD is the same age as yours (also have SS). In my case I have come to terms with it by realising i am not part of the kids' family. It doesn't mean I don't like having them around, spending time with them - I do. But it does mean that I'm not beating myself up for not being able to slot into a place in their family that doesn't exist. They have a mum and dad and I'm their dad's wife. That's all I am or will ever be to them and that is fine with all of us.

On the subject of your OP, I noticed SD had her school homework diary at ours and in the front they had a space to fill in "mum" and "dad" details. Under "dad" she had filled in Stepdad's details. I assumed this was for ease in case the school needed to use details to get in touch. She definitely doesn't consider Stepdad her dad but I also made sure DH didn't see it as he would have been upset. I think you should just leave it and not say anything to your SD or your DH. x

stepmooster Mon 02-Dec-13 13:34:36

if the stepdad hadnt threaten to assault DH in front of DSS, or prevented contact. He claimed ownership of all DH's posessions etc to DSS and when DH was granted access to them via court order, they had been left out in the rain and DSS was made to be present when DH went to collect them, for maximum humiliation to DH.

Its enough having to listen to the parroted btchy comments about DH, me, children, our home, lifestyle etc.

We dont talk about the ex or stepdad in a negative way, we are positive and try not to project DH's emotions onto DSS. Unfortunately it is not recipricated and in such circumstances I think we can be allowed to be thankful DSS does not like this vile man.

stepmooster Mon 02-Dec-13 13:22:22

thankful that my DH doesnt have to deal with his son loving this man as his daddy and not him, that all attempts by the ex to replace him has not worked.

elliebellys Mon 02-Dec-13 12:48:35

Gay,bit below the belt that one.stepmooster why are you thankful ss hates stepdad ,surely it would be better thst they got on ok.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 12:45:32

If your DSD is checking herself and being sensitive to her dad's feelings, then I wouldn't bring it up and upset everyone. It sounds like she is doing her best to manage a delicate situation.

If she's living most of the time with her stepdad, and he is in a "dad" role, then surely it's a good thing for her to feel close and comfortable with him? At 12 her feelings do count too, so it wouldn't be fair to tell her she is wrong to call her stepdad by whatever name she wants.

Kaluki Mon 02-Dec-13 12:40:58

100% agree Stepmooster.
DPs ex tried to change their name too when she remarried and DP rightly refused. She does use her husbands name on certain things unofficial though and makes sure DP knows about it.
Your first paragraph is exactly the situation DP was in when his ex left him and it very nearly destroyed him. sad

stepmooster Mon 02-Dec-13 12:33:54

Gay40 - Hmmm so you think it's fine then that a man whose wife leaves him for another man, should not only lose the title of husband but also father? To some people, mainly women, father figures can be picked up and discarded whenever they feel like it. Not only do these men have to get over the grief of losing their marriage, more often than not also their home, they also have to live with EOW contact knowing a complete stranger who is happy to conduct an affair and is perhaps not the sort of person they want as a father figure is now raising there child. Then to cap it all off they get a bill for child maintenance, which is entirely right so long as it is genuinely going towards the children and not say, couples holidays and expensive presents to the new partner, yet all decisions on education etc are made at the maternal home.

Last time i checked most couples choose to raise a family together, why the hell that has to stop because you want to divorce I do not know.

Just because my babies came out of my vagina doesnt mean my husband is any less their parent as I am. And seeing how so many on MN get their knickers in a twist over the whole 'birth mother' debate, maybe we can all agree that there is only one mother and only one father. The ones who provided the sperm or egg, or the ones who have legally adopted the child.

It drives me flipping mad when I hear my DSS's stepfather, calling DSS, "son," and trying to be daddy in front of my husband. How my DH actually doesn't lose it I don't know.

Thankfully for DH, DSS can't stand his stepdad, hates him in fact. He has to pretend to like him and call him dad for his mum's sake. Perhaps the only thing that DH gets to have a say in, is that his son keeps his surname. The words, 'over my dead body' were uttered and it has never been brought up since.

I don't care how difficult it is to explain to your children, but there has to be some respect for the parents. Fair enough if daddy or mummy is happy to share the title with someone else, but if they are not then you have to respect that.

Kaluki Mon 02-Dec-13 10:51:27

"As opposed to the bloke she sees once a fortnight."
What a horrible thing to say Gay40.

OP My DPs ex made the dc call her now DH dad from the moment she left DP for him. It has broken my DP's heart over and over again to hear the man who broke up his marriage try to take over his role in his dc lives too.
DSD got confused and thought she had to call me Mummy but my son set her straight - he said it wasn't allowed because I am his Mum - not hers and how would she feel if someone called her Mum "Mummy"? I think it hit a nerve because she hasn't referred to her stepdad as her dad since then.
I think they still call him Dad to his face but with us he is referred to by his first name!

AliceinWonderhell Mon 02-Dec-13 09:45:38

As opposed to the bloke she sees once a fortnight

Thank you for confirming that my DSCs mum is not alone and that there is indeed a section of society who believe that that the "man has done his job" and is disposable.

Lets hope family courts are a bit more enlightened, eh?

Gay40 Mon 02-Dec-13 08:59:24

If she visits you once a fortnight, then the man who is doing all the day to day daddy jobs is actually her stepdad. So I don't think it's unreasonable for a child to call him Dad. As opposed to the bloke she sees once a fortnight.

CountryGal13 Sun 01-Dec-13 21:02:06

Newbistepmum - I also have a 12 year old step daughter (and one of 16) and I can totally relate with all of the difficulties you're having. Ive so often felt uncomfortable and like it's not my home when the dsc visit. I also struggle to bond with the the girls who have completely different personalities from me. (and their dad for that matter)
Their mum is always telling them that their dad doesn't give her enough money (he does) and when they're feeling jealous and insecure she adds fuel to the fire rather than reassuring them.
Im almost 5 years in and it's sooo tough! x

riverboat Sat 30-Nov-13 10:43:23

Are you sure it wasn't just a slip of the tongue? Occasionally my DSS calls me mum, but then we both laugh and he corrects himself. He definitely doesn't think of me as a mum, it's just that sometimes the wrong word comes out when he's excited and talking fast.

Morgause Sat 30-Nov-13 08:02:33

My niece's children call their stepdad "DaddyMike". He has been in their lives since they were small. They call their father "Daddy". They know who is their "real" father and that's all that matters.

What they call their step father is up to them. They slipped into it without any adult input after their half sibling was born.

Everyone seems happy with it.

AliceinWonderhell Sat 30-Nov-13 07:57:16

My partner used to complain a lot about his ex... looking at the children, I couldn't possibly believe that she was as bad as he said. Such well rounded children couldn't be the product of an unreasonable, vindictive and controlling parent, parents like that can't raise children like the one you describe.

I was the same. My DSC were (on the whole) well behaved and a credit to their parents.

I had not appreciated that it can take years for that damage to manifest itself through behaviour. Unfortunately, both my DSC are displaying risky, criminal and violent behaviours that appear totally out of character to people who have known them well for some years.

MeMySonAndI Fri 29-Nov-13 23:04:13

You know, it is impossible to raise happy children when both parents are struggling at being angry with each other. He may be angry with her for very good reasons, and she may be angry with him for some equally valuable reasons. But, the fact that the child is lovely and seems well natured means that your DH and his ex are being nice kind people who can raise a child well.

My partner used to complain a lot about his ex... looking at the children, I couldn't possibly believe that she was as bad as he said. Such well rounded children couldn't be the product of an unreasonable, vindictive and controlling parent, parents like that can't raise children like the one you describe.

I know it feels difficult to fit in, especially if your DH feels tempted at times to take the role of Disneyland dad (I felt a bit out of place when children were allowed to call the shots non stop when they were visiting) but the important thing is to relax and take the things one at a time. And if there is a situation that is really making you feel uncomfortable talk it through with your DH, nicely but firmly. I have realised that most of the times I felt I was not getting along with the children, it was not the children that I was in disagreement with but their dad.

newbiestepmum Fri 29-Nov-13 22:48:33

Thanks for the different perspectives. Interesting that the mention of 2 equally loved dad's does tug at my heartstrings. I agree that it's her happiness which needs to be put above the adults. But I guess that just hit a nerve at the injustice of it all. I see how much it hurts her dad not being able to be a full time parent. And I see the games her mum plays with both her daughter and us. Her stepdad sounds like he's a good egg. But it seems evident that her mum is trying to put stepdad in dad's place by a few comments that have got back to us such as how stepdad provides financially this that and the other (her mum always wants more money off my hubby and I take it that's a sore point transferred onto her daughter)

Anyway it's hard to try to prioritise what I'm struggling with the most really. My SD is a lovely girl. Really nice natured and I know I have it relatively easy when reading around this forum! But I struggle to bond with her as I think we just don't have much in common or click as personalities. I struggle with the difficult ex who is unreasonable, vindictive and controlling.

I struggle with not knowing where I fit in with this family as it seems to be a role you have to work out over time. Sometimes it doesn't feel like my home just because I don't fit in, don't know what is ok to insist on or what I should let go....

Probably doesn't make much sense but it's a confusing role and I wish I found it more enjoyable.

MeMySonAndI Fri 29-Nov-13 22:32:19

My son calls his stepdad 'dad'. It was his choice, he asked him if he could call him that, stepdad consulted it with me, and we decided that we couldn't make DS feel rejected by asking him not to call him dad when he really wanted to do it. They are close enough for DS to see him as a 'dad'. DS is however sensitive of his other dad's feelings and wouldn't use the word in front of him.

I have been called "mum" by my partner's children and I don't think for a moment I am taking the place of their mum. She is their mum, the one they love the most, and always will be. I feel however happy that they felt comfortable enough to call me that.

I know DS called a woman in his old nursery 'mum', he told us he had two mums when he was 2. I thought it was very sweet and a good sign that he was properly taken care of by that nursery nurse.

Stay out of it, you will cause more damage by trying to fix this than for letting it pass. It is not your call anyway, when she calls you mum you can say whatever you want but trying to rectify her for calling stepdad dad, is going to hurt her and your DH more than just letting it be, it may be that for her, her stepdad is one of 2 equally loved dads.

purpleroses Fri 29-Nov-13 22:29:03

If she caught herself on then sounds like she already knows it would upset your DP if he heard - so I'd be inclined to say nothing to either of them. Just make sure you refer to your DP as "dad" when talking to DSD and refer to her stepdad by name.

TiredDog Fri 29-Nov-13 22:26:37

My children occasionally call me Grandma in a moment of forgetfulness if they have been with her. Any chance it's same error?

Beamur Fri 29-Nov-13 22:22:10

Tricky. I'd ask your DH (without saying you heard DSD saying it) and see how he feels.
I'm a stepmum and I've never been 'Mum' to my SC's and they refer to their Mums husband by his first name.
However, I'm not sure I'd make too much of this - in a way it's a good thing that she has a good enough relationship with her stepdad to call him Dad - I would put her feelings and needs on this ahead of the grownups. Don't make her feel she is saying/doing the wrong thing - she knows who her Dad is.

needaholidaynow Fri 29-Nov-13 22:17:11

Hi!

You're right it's not right for her to be calling her stepdad "dad". I've never heard my sd refer to her stepdad as "dad", but if she ever did I would be hurt on my DP's behalf just like you are and knowing me I would probably tell her that she's in the wrong. I wouldn't like her to call me "mum" at all because that's not who I am.

What are you struggling with regarding being a stepmum? It's hard work isn't it?

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