Kids calling the stepparent “Mom” or “Dad”

Ending a relationship or marriage is tough for most parents. It’s especially painful when your children refer to your spouse’s new significant other as “Mom” or “Dad”.  These parental labels may be at the urging of the parent or inadvertent by the child.  Either way it can be hard for the real “Mom” or “Dad” to accept and there isn’t much that can be done about it.

Recently, one biological “Mom” in New Jersey decided to seek the Court’s help in restricting her ex-husband’s fiancé from also being called “Mom” by the parties 8-year old son. In that case, the parents shared legal custody but Father had primary physical custody of his son. Both Father and Father’s fiancé was a actively involved in the child’s life.

The Court, however, refused to regulate the 8 year old’s word choices. “At this challenging point in his growth and development, he certainly does not need his parents, or a stepparent, or the court, hoisting further unnecessary burdens upon his fragile shoulders by micromanaging his words and thoughts, or commanding him how to address his stepparent in order to please his mother or father,” stated the Court.

Father also sought the court’s permission to have his fiancé more involved in the child related decisions. Mother objected to this request and the Court agreed and ruled that only the child’s parents should be involved in the decision making process.

Do you think the Court made the right decisions? What if Father was pressuring the child to call his fiancé “Mom”? Would that make a difference?

One Reply to “Kids calling the stepparent “Mom” or “Dad””

  1. Very interesting. I agree with the Court’s reasoning, but I think a lot of the time the child is calling a stepparent or new girlfriend boyfriend “Mom” or “Dad” at the urging of their significant other/bio parent or they themselves. This is very confusing for children when they have to call two people “Mom” or “Dad” and it can be emotionally upsetting for the child as well. I have had judges admonish a bio parent for “allowing” their significant other to “make” Johnny or Susie call them “Mom” or “Dad,” although I’m not sure how provable or enforceable it is.

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