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What to call step-grandparents

(39 Posts)
Seriya Tue 01-Sep-09 20:55:01

My parents separated ten years ago; it was a pretty amicable split. My dad remarried a couple of years ago and my mother also has a well-established new relationship, but my parents remain in regular and reasonably cheerful contact with one another.

When our dd was born 2 ½ years ago, obviously you start wondering what she might call the various grandparents. My dad – who at that time was just about to remarry - was uncomfortable with my mum’s new partner being called “granddad” (well, since they live in Germany, the term’s actually ‘Opi’) -, in his words “especially since they’re not married”.

My mum and her new partner, F, found this deeply hurtful, especially since he loves children and is not likely to have any grandkids that are biologically his. While we as the parents tried to respect my dad’s wishes, my mum & partner have been quietly insistent that he be called granddad, signing every card, dedication etc with “Opi F,” and making a point of calling him that to dd’s face – initially mainly out of our earshot but now increasingly open. I thought it was a bit underhand way of going about it but seeing how much dd means to her step-granddad I’ve not intervened; my dad’s safely away in Asia and thus unlikely to find out about this anyway.

Now my mum & F are planning to get married; my mum told my dad via email and just HAD to add the dig “I trust that this makes it now acceptable to refer to F as Opi F”. My dad, having initially replied simply “congratulations!!!!”, followed this up with to send a pretty pointed reply of “You may note that my wife is only ever referred to as auntie V” – and he just told me on the phone he’s still not happy with my soon-to-be stepdad being called Opi, married or not.

Now I know that the only reason my Dad’s new wife is called Auntie is because of her age – she’s much younger than him; when they got married I automatically asked if she’d be “grandma V” from there on in.

Personally, while I love my Dad dearly, I find his attitude a bit petty; it’s as if he’s trying to exclude my mum’s new partner from the family. My husband on the other hand reckons whether we like it or not, we should respect my Dad’s wishes.

I personally just wish my parents could sort this without falling out with one another for good, and without me ruining my relationship with either. Sadly I’m really scared that this issue is so deep and emotive that it really could all go horribly wrong.

Has anyone got any sage advice? Gone through similar stories? Come up with good naming alternatives for step-grandparents?

Ewe Tue 01-Sep-09 20:58:35

Don't know, I just refer to my step parents by name so I assume that is what DD will pick up.

Calling them all Grandad and Nanny would mean 6 grandparents, along with 5 great grandparents all being called variations of the same name, I think it would be too confusing!

TheFallenMadonna Tue 01-Sep-09 20:58:40

Mine call their step grandparents by their first name. Any idea I had that this influenced how they felt about them was put straight by DS who has made it clear that they are grandparents to him, and it doesn't matter what they are called.

rubyslippers Tue 01-Sep-09 21:00:43

why do they have to have alternative names?

My DS has 3 grandpas (1 step grandpa)
2 grandmas and 1 nana (1 step nana)

seems to work fine for us and DS

they are rarely in the same room together grin

PortAndLemon Tue 01-Sep-09 21:01:02

Why does your husband think you should respect your father's wishes rather than your mother's wishes?

StillNorks Tue 01-Sep-09 21:01:28

My stepmother is Nanna M
My father is grandpa

My stepfather is Grandad M
His partner is Known by her christian name

My MIL is Nanny
My SFIL is Grandad

Kids are fine with it all
They also know that my mother Nanna K died
My grandparents are Nanna N and big nana

I think it is down to the individuals and your relationship with them what you and your DC address them as and should not be influenced by others

PortAndLemon Tue 01-Sep-09 21:08:14

FWIW, my DCs call FIL's wife by her first name, which is what she prefers. I think if you like the person then the what he / she prefers principle is generally good manners, in the absence of some huge and important reason for departing from that approach (which "my father doesn't like it" wouldn't be in my book).

And unless your father has actually, through some bizarre set of circumstances, married your SIL, I think he should quit complaining about step-grandparents being given titles that biologically belong to someone else. "Opi" is no more unreasonable than "Auntie", IMO, and a heck of a lot less confusing for a child trying to work out why their grandfather is married to their aunt.

Seriya Tue 01-Sep-09 21:10:16

PortAndLemon, that's because he's the granddad by blood - if a similar question had arisen between my mum and my step-mum, he'd give more weight to the wishes of my natural mum.

At least there's logic in there

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 01-Sep-09 21:19:19

Message withdrawn

llareggub Tue 01-Sep-09 21:19:50

My father remarried and we all call her by her first name. Like a previous poster, she is quite a bit younger than my father with children of her own. I suspect she wants to be called granny by her own grandchildren first and I respect.

My mother, on the other hand, insists that all her grandchildren call her "mam" which irritates me beyond belief, particularly when my DS called me mama. I find it very contrived as it is not a name that we used as children and my children find it a bit confusing as it sounds so much like mummy or mum. I know my SIL hates it as well.

llareggub Tue 01-Sep-09 21:22:07

Just to clarify, my stepmother treats my children as grandchildren and they have a lovely relationship. I just think that she wants to be called granny by her childrens' children IYSWIM. Step-families require quite a bit of sensitivity, I think. I wouldn't mind if my children called her by a special name but also have a feeling that my step-siblings wouldn't like it much.

mrsjammi Tue 01-Sep-09 21:24:26

Message withdrawn

giantkatestacks Tue 01-Sep-09 21:26:27

We are the same as StewieGriffithsMom - all told my dcs have 7 grandparent figures - the steps are ok in terms of names (they have mostly selfidentified what they want anyway) - its the exdps parents that we struggle with.

For example my dds relationship to my ds' grandparents who she does see a few times a year...what will she call them as she grows up? If the same as my ds' to my dd's grandparents then they should be granny x etc but they almost certainly won't want that...

allaboutme Tue 01-Sep-09 21:29:41

I think its up to YOU and your DC what they call their step grandfather
My kids (and my nieces and nephews) all call my Step Mum 'Nanny', exactly the same as what they call their actual Grandmothers.
In fact my DCs have 3 Nannys and 4 Great Nanny's - all who get called 'Nanny X' (X being their name obviously, not actually Nanny X lol)
Not confusing at all.

My Mum doesnt like my Step Mum, but if she ever told me not to let my children call her Nanny then I'd be fuming.

Your Dad is being an arse. Tell him to grow up smile

PortAndLemon Tue 01-Sep-09 21:33:00

Just say "We'll make sure [mother] and F are aware of your feelings on the subject" and refuse to discuss it further. Your DD does already call your stepfather "Opi F" and it's pretty much too late to do anything about it, short of just not seeing him or your mother again (which I imagine even your father would think was a bit of an overreaction). And you really can't control how your mother refers to her husband in front of your child. If your parents want to fight about it, let them. If you get involved it won't improve the situation one bit.

crokky Tue 01-Sep-09 21:37:20

Well here's my opinion:

MIL and FIL are still married, but my parents are divorced. My dad is married to a woman 25 years his junior. My mum lives with her partner (male, same age as my mum if you consider it relevant).

So they are called (not their real names lol):

FIL: Grandad
MIL: Nanny Kate (her choice, fine by me)

My mum: Granny (her choice, fine by me)
Mum's partner: Grandad Tom

My dad: Grandad
My dad's wife: Nanny Lisa (her choice, fine by me)

So I really consider my kids to have 3 sets of grandparents. My kids are 3 and 1 and I don't think it is helpful to see it any other way at this stage. The 3 women grandparents chose their names, the 3 men got theirs dictated to them by their women grin.

Equally, I have 3 siblings and DH has 1. DH's brother is actually a half brother (MIL's relationship before FIL), but I am hardly going to tell my kids that this is "half uncle harry" am I lol! All our siblings/half sibling are just called uncle x and partners (either live in or married) auntie x.

Wonderstuff Tue 01-Sep-09 21:38:53

My step-dad, who has no children of his own recently decided he wanted to be called Grandpa, wouldn't occur to me to discuss this with my dad, the way I see it I may only have one dad but my dd has 5 grandparents, she is actually closer to my step dad than my father, he finds small children easier than my dad. My stepdad is a lovely guy and has a lot to deal with my family, if he wants to be grandpa in return thats fab.

My dad is Welsh so is Datcu, dh's mother is Granny and dh's dad is Grandad. My mum is Nana J because my brothers childrens mother is also Nana.

PinkyRed Tue 01-Sep-09 21:41:50

Isn't it helping that you can use the German word, so that your dad can keep Grandad just for himself? My DH has a step-dad and step-mum, and we use the Welsh words Nain and Taid for them, keeping Grandad, Grandma and Nanna for my parents and his blood parents (they're English speakers). Everyone is happy with that.

Hulababy Tue 01-Sep-09 21:42:35

I think it is up to you and your DH what your child calls her grandparents, regardless of whetehr married or step or whatever. You just have to tell your dad that ths is the cse, and it in no way affects his own relationship with your DD.

As for lots of people with the smae "name" - definitely not confusing.

My DD has 3 nanas and a grandma (2 grandmas until a year or so ago) and 4 grandads. Neer been a problem.

crokky Tue 01-Sep-09 21:43:39

and I haven't quite finished...

OP - I think it sounds rather incestuous for "grandad" to be married to "auntie" grin. Your father and his wife should both be grandparent type names.

Your mother's husband can be opi, no problem.

Just have 3 sets of grandparents.

Your dad has been silly trying to influence the name of your mum's new partner. he has also been silly calling his wife "auntie" as that puts her in the wrong generation, regardless of her age. People don't have their ages written on their foreheads! He got divorced and he remarried a younger woman. He needs to suck up the consequences and stop behaving like a spoilt brat.

weegiemum Tue 01-Sep-09 21:43:44

My Dad is Grandpa
My Stepmum is Gran

My Mother was (no longer talk) Granny
Her husband was Grandad

MIL is Grannie

FIL (divorced from mil) is Opi (German).

Never been an issue with it!

Seriya Tue 01-Sep-09 21:48:37

PortAndLemon, that's pretty much what we'd been considering too. Any direct involvement we take is only likely to backfire on us. Just debating whether to just let things go quiet or ask them to just go sort it out between themselves and inform us of the result grin

twelveyeargap Tue 01-Sep-09 21:49:32

Let your children call them by whichever names make them feel comfortable.

My grandad's wife was always "Auntie X" to me, but is "Granny X" to my children.

Really, your dad ought to be less insecure. Why on earth does it bother him so much? I find it odd, tbh.

Would your dad's sister (if he has one) be offended by the fact you called his then-girlfriend Aunty so-and-so?

It's a term of endearment as much as a official title and has a use in explaining to the children where each person fits into the family unit. I can understand how your dad would be upset if you were calling your step-father "dad", but since everyone has more than one grandfather, does it really matter if they have more than two?

hayes Tue 01-Sep-09 21:50:53

we are an extended family. all our kids refer to grandparents as Grandad and Grannie (with the initial of their surname so we know who we're talking about) My sd's grandparents are dead so I think its lovely they can still share this relationship with my children. However my children from my first marriage call their step mum's parents by their first names, don;t know how this came about.

I hope when our children have babies that we will be refered to as Grandad and Grannie regardless of who the birth parent is....I'd be upset if I had to be called by my first name as not to upset my dh xw.

Rindercella Tue 01-Sep-09 22:00:57

We refer to step FIL as 'Uncle xxx' to DD who has just turned 2. She points at a photo of him we have, says his name (a very short palindrome) and then hisses and then bursts out laughing. Because whenever he sees her he hisses at her. hmm He does it regardless of the fact that as soon as she sees him enter the room she screams her head off. hmm

However much DH likes his step father, I don't think he could ever quite accept our DD (or his DS) calling him Grandpa! grin

DSS doesn't call my parents anything. He would walk on white hot coals to avoid calling them by their names.

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