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To gnash my teeth, clench my buttocks and wince each time my son calls my stepmother 'nana'?

(108 Posts)
BusyCee Sat 19-Oct-13 13:12:36

So, I'll try to be brief. DF left my mother, sister and me when I was 3 for OW, who quickly became my stepmother. My relationship with her was always dreadful; I just don't think she liked me, and it really showed. I won't bore you with the details, but my self-esteem really suffered, as a result I behaved in a way that didn't make me happy during my 20s & early 30s, spent time taking anti-Ds and have spent a fortune on talking therapies of one type or another.

In the meantime, my mother (who did an amazing job bringing us up on her own, sacrificing lots and working bloody hard at home and work) dies suddenly of a brain haemorrhage 7 yrs ago

Since then my relationship with DF and stepmother improved;partly because I felt suddenly that life's too short to hold onto grudges and partly because, I think, they both retired and were overall more relaxed. Still found stepmother hard going (spiky, sharp, rude, defensive, self-righteous) but made the best of it.

5yrs after DM died my son was born. DF and stepmother assumed she would be 'Grandma'. Absolutely not appropriate for me in part because of the crap relationship with stepmother, but also because it sort of writes my mother out of history, and shows shocking lack of respect, IMO, from them for the job she did in bringing us up.

Wanted to address it the correct way, making sure they knew they were to be a big part of his life, and that my decision not a reflection on her, but directly related to my DM. So wrote a letter and has mugs made for them with their names on and footprints of DS1....all hell breaks lose. She storms into my house shouting the odds, DF goes into panic mode and effectively begs me to reconsider so as not to upset her. Ill abridge from here, but suffice to say it took about 18-24 months to get over it. With the end result that my DF press-ganged me into 'accepting' Nana, as a compromise.

The thing is, I don't think it's a compromise. It's from the same family or words that suggest to my son (and anyone else) that's she's my mother and has a genetic relationship to him. To anyone who knows the story it suggests that we're all happy family's (we're not, and definitely not with this rumbling on). And to me it feels a bit like I've betrayed my mother, and also my own principles. We don't see them very often, but are with them for the weekend now, and i had to say, for the first time, time today 'DS1, give it to Nana', and I honestly had a bit of a physical reaction to it - sort of disgust

So. After that essay. AIBU to hate it so much? And what the hell do I do about it, because its eating me up, affecting the (already not great) relationship with them and possibly starting to infect my son...

Tin hat on. Give it to me straight...

RandomMess Sat 19-Oct-13 13:17:43

Hmmm, as time goes on you can tell your ds the truth - you will talk very warmly of your mum and how much you loved her, the absence of what you say about nana will ring and clear! She may actually turn out to be a good "nana" to him though.

redexpat Sat 19-Oct-13 13:20:33

YANBU. It's very easy to see where you're coming from.

A friend of mine is MummyName to her stepdaughter whose mother died. Could your SM be nanna name? Includes her as part of the family but differentiates slightly.

pianodoodle Sat 19-Oct-13 13:22:00

YANBU to feel like that.

She should have been sensitive enough not to be so insistent but she obviously isn't...

Similar situation with me expect my DM is alive but living much further away than my DF and his partner.

I initially felt uncomfortable with any name for her other than just her name but have settled for Nana xxxx because my own mum is "nanny". Her mum was Nanny, and unreasonable or not of me, in my mind there is only one "Nanny" smile

FlapJackOLantern Sat 19-Oct-13 13:22:28

This is what happened to me. My Dad died 18 years before my son was born. My Mum married again (to a wonderful man). We just compromised by calling him Grandad Firstname. No problems.

My son did not know my Dad and, although I talk about him, it really doesn't mean anything to him......only me.

Is it the fact that she was the OW that is really at the crux of the matter?

AgentProvocateur Sat 19-Oct-13 13:22:53

You really want it straight?

OK. I understand your situation, and I have a lot of sympathy for you. It's obviously affected your life considerably.

BUT, with respect, your DM is no longer with you, and your DF has been with your stepmother for over 30 years. You yourself call her your "stepmother" not your father's wife.

I think that the role she will play in your DC's life is that of a grandmother, and that she deserves an appropriate title. FWIW, my DH had 4 "grandmothers", two of whom were step.

pianodoodle Sat 19-Oct-13 13:24:19

It took a while though as I kept getting cards from Dad and partner signed Granda and Nanny. In fairness I think it was my Dad who wrote the cards not his partner!

I kept responding with cards to Grandad and Nana (partner's name) and it seems to have sunk in smile

TheOpposibleThumb Sat 19-Oct-13 13:24:58

YANBU. It's clear that your DF has and always will put her wishes ahead of yours. He should have taken the opportunity to stand up for you but didn't. So you have a stepmother that you don't really like and a father who isn't there for you when you want. Personally I would cut contact, but it seems you want your DS to have some sort of relationship with them. Can you name (even if it's just in your head just now) what your DS would have called your DM if she had lived - grandma, granny etc? Then when he is older he can see pictures of her and call her that. Maybe that will help you think of the word nana as less significant in the meantime.

xCupidStuntx Sat 19-Oct-13 13:27:16

Oh God not at ALL!!! I have the exact same situation, my dad's "partner" made my life a misery for years but when my mam died, like you I felt life was too short. I now have a 2 year old DD and my dad's partner will always buy her birthday, Christmas presents, bring her home things from holidays, ask how she is etc but I would never allow her be called nana or anything of the sort. My DD knows that her dads mother is granny and from pictures around my house that my DM is other granny.
My dad's partner might be all interested now but she definitely doesn't deserve the role of grandmother.

holidaysarenice Sat 19-Oct-13 13:28:25

Just use her first name, eventually ur son will do the same.

What can she say that she also wants you to call her nana?

SauvignonBlanche Sat 19-Oct-13 13:30:27

I had a step-grandfather, I never knew my actual grandfather so any relationship I had with him is from visiting his grave, seeing his photo and listening to my mother's limited memories.
I had a wonderful relationship with my Grandad, I knew from an early age that he was Grandma's second husband but that makes no difference to a child.
Whilst I'm very sorry that you've lost your Mum, I'm still grieving for mine, I think you may need to try and see this from your DS's point of view.

Methe Sat 19-Oct-13 13:31:56

Just use her first name. She is not your sons grandmother whatever he may want to be.

HavantGuard Sat 19-Oct-13 13:34:50

Agree. Use her first name when you're talking to your DS at home and if you're with them avoid calling her anything. Your DS will pick up on her name. Mother is an earnt title as is grandma.

BusyCee Sat 19-Oct-13 13:36:41

Flap - it's not so much that she's the OW that's the problem (although I've no doubt that colours my view too). It's more that so much has been on their terms in the past, I've compromised 'my truth' to fit in with what they want (a version of happy families where my sister, x2 stepsisters and our families are all delightfully one big happy family). And in the past its fed into my self-esteem issues - you know the routine, my happiness isn't important enough for me or anyone else to stand up for, and should be tucked away to create atmosphere they want

I wonder if I should have the courage of my convictions now- for me, my son and my mother?

Or, as noted up thread, be realistic that my DM is no longer here and the living (fire) breathing stepmother is a better for my son. And know he'll make his own decisions about relationships in his life.

Caitlin17 Sat 19-Oct-13 13:37:18

YANBU. I don't actually get why she wants to be referred to as the grandmother of a child of whom she is not the grandmother.

If it were me I'd refer to her by her first name.

I don't think the fact you've referred to her as"step mother" on here means anything more than she is your father's wife. I bet you never called her, nor would she have expected it, "mother"
Being married to your father does not make her your son's grandmother.

DIYapprentice Sat 19-Oct-13 13:37:49

I agree with 'nanna <NAME>'. It differentiates her from a 'real' nanna, as it were.

I gather you call her <name>? That will come easily for him.

marcopront Sat 19-Oct-13 13:37:56

What did you want your son to call her.

My DD knows she had two grandmas, both called grandma first name. Unfortunately both my Mum and my step mum died, but I think children are quite accepting of multiple grandparents,

SeaSickSal Sat 19-Oct-13 13:38:43

My Step-Great Grandfather had a terrible relationship with my Gran, his stepdaughter, and also my mother. However he was very kind to me.

However I wasn't aware that any problem existed until I wS an adult. I think this was kinder to me and spared me a lot of angst, guilt and fractured relations. It may have silently frustrated them to see him play grandpa but it really protected me from ill feeling and confusion that would have been difficult to process at that age.

I think as far as possible children should be kept out of adult ill feeling. So tolerate it but know that you are doing it for your son's sake, not for her.

auntmargaret Sat 19-Oct-13 13:39:23

Oh, you poor thing. What does DS call your dad? I also had a rubbish relationship with a horrible stepmother, and my own much loved DM died when I was a child. DD1 did call my stepmother "Gran' but it didnt bother me because she called my dad "Grandpa" and she knew she had a Grandma in heaven, so in my head, that "went" with what she called my dad and the "gran" was the odd one out, iykwim ? But I was much further down the road than you are, my DM had died 20 years before. It's hard, be kind to yourself. Maybe attach her name to the word Nana, to differentiate it for you? I must admit, when I talked to DD1 about my stepmother, I always called her Grandpa's wife, rather than any association with me. DD1 knew exactly what the dynamic was. Trust your DS, he will understand too. And talk to him about your mum, and show him pictures. She will only be written out of the family if you allow it.

SaucyJack Sat 19-Oct-13 13:41:11


I don't think the biology/genetics is the issue, so much as the simple fact she was a cow to you. She does not a pet name from you or your children.

I agree life is too short, but for me it's too short to doormat myself and my feelings to people who have previously treated me like something that needed scraping off the bottom of their shoe.

Apileofballyhoo Sat 19-Oct-13 13:41:52

Keep using her first name to your DS.

StUmbrageinSkelt Sat 19-Oct-13 13:44:38

I'm the stepmother and I have a very troubled relationship with my DSD. She believes that I was the OW (it's complicated).

I cannot even begin to imagine the degree of entitlement your stepmother feels OP to think she has the right to demand to be called Nana. Just awful. If my DSD does have a child, she's the one who will decide what access I have to her child and what the child can call me.

I'm lovely BTW but we have had for various reasons a very difficult time over the last 2 decades.

sneezecakesmum Sat 19-Oct-13 13:45:38

Wow! I think you just need to be pragmatic or you'll drive yourself mad. If it carries on you will end up estranged from your father, which I assume you don't want. I suppose you want DS to have a relationship with him? I would not force him to choose between you.

Try telling yourself it is only a word and means nothing. It's not a betrayal of your mother. For your DS a 'nanna' in the here and now is usually good for a child - extended families and all that. For your part I would just call your SM whatever you have always called her, no need for you to call her nanna. Is DS doesn't get it at first just point! He will cotton on its her. A toddler is just not going to 'get' your DM yet so it's something for the future.

If the SM behaves like she did to you, your DS will just not respond to her so it will work itself out in the end.

YippeeTeenager Sat 19-Oct-13 13:46:25

I really sympathise with this. My stepmum wasn't the best while I was growing up (I lived with her and my Dad for 3 years) and it was a very sad and difficult time. You don't ever forget when someone has hurt you and when I had my daughter the thought of her having a cosy, Nanny relationship with my new baby made my blood boil. BUT, I really think you have to see this from your DS's point of view. I kind of decided that the more people that loved and cherished my DD the better, and that putting obtacles in the path of family love and support wasn't up to me. Since then, DD is a teenager now, my DS has been wonderful. She's spent hours cooking and doing craft with DD, and is another 'trusted adult' in her life. And I've realised, as I've got older and had some experience of being a SM to teenagers that it isn't actually that easy. I would make sure that you have lots of photos of your mum in your home, choose 10 good stories or memories about her that you talk about often, so that your DS grows up feeling that he knows her and then embrace having someone else to watch out for him, even if they aren't your first choice. Calling her Nana and whatever her name is and then calling your own mum Grandma or whatever you prefer means that your DS will grow up knowing, and as gets older, understanding, the distinction. And if she turns out not to be the best Nana in the world, he'll work that out for himself too xxx

DoJo Sat 19-Oct-13 13:46:42

I suggest that you choose a name that you are happy with and stick with it. I have the opposite problem, in as much as I wanted my son to call my stepdad Grandpa because I didn't want to distinguish him as 'not a proper' grandparent because I don't have anything to do with my dad and he is a much bigger and more important part of my life. However, as things have turned out my son has his own special name for him which is actually the first name he managed to say of all his grandparent's names so it worked out pretty well.

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