A Rose By Any Other Name?


So what do kids call their step families?
Should they have to refer to mum's new mother in law as "Grandma"?
Should they call Dad's new wife "Mum"?

Is it easier to blend families and step-siblings if they all refer to the same people as grandma/ uncle/ grandad / aunti etc?

Does it depend on the age of the child?

Who should decide - the parent with the new step family, or the other side of that?

Sorry for being a bit nosey, but I have a bit of a situation here and want to try and get a few different opinions about it before I make some decisions.

Maybe it depends on the age of the child, but no Im not and dont want to be referred to as mum. Not because they arent my bio children but because they have a mum. Maybe it would be different if they lived with us and their mum wasnt in their life, but thats not the case.
Es calls OH by his name, even though he's no relationship with his bio dad.
OH's sisters refer to themselves as es' aunts too, es just calls them by their names but he also calls my brother by their names. I actually think es would be more comfortable refering to sil's as his aunts before he'd refer to OH as a dad. OH has been the only man in es' life but he was 7 before he met OH so he was older, maybe if he'd have been a baby it might have been different but es is very clear that he has a dad of his own even if he doesnt have a relationship with him, but he would definitely point out that OH doesnt treat him any differently than any of our children or his own.

My dad is on wife number 4 (my mum was number 1, number 2 is dead and number 3 was off the scene before the girls were born) and my girls were at their wedding. They (and my brother's 3 year old) call my step-mum by her first name. My mum is very much part of all the children's lives and DH has been very determined that she can't be offended by what the children call my step-mum. My girls are 10 and 7 and my step-mum has been around since about the time when the younger one was born.
My step-mum's mother is still alive and lives close to my dad and step-mum so when the girls have their week in the summer at my dad's they see her too. DH and I always refer to her as Mrs ~~~ when we talk to the girls about her (and that's what I would call her to her face although I would use her first name when talking to my dad about her) but she refers to herself to the children as "Great Granny ~~~" which we have to watch as the girls have a great gran (MIL's mum) so they have been told that they should call her Mrs ~~~ when they are with my mum or PIL so as to avoid causing offence.

I was 14 and my brother was 12 when my dad married number 2. We always called her by her first name. She didn't have children of her own though.

My children call their dad's partner by her first name. I think they also call her parents by their Christian names.

My elder children always called my ex by his first name, as they did his parents too. I also think it depends on the age of the child.
I know if I every get involved with anyone again, I wouldn't expect my son to call them anything other than their first name. I also wouldn't want a new partner of my ex expecting my son to call her mum.

Right, thank you ladies.

I've had a bit of a to-do with the Ex and I just wanted to see if I was in the wrong before I stuck to my guns.

He was very cross with me because I told our 2 children that his new parents in law are not their grand parents and that they don't have to call them grandma and grandad. I also told my kids that they didn't need to call their new step uncle "Uncle".

He responded by telling me that I was in the wrong, that these people are now related to my children and they should be calling them by these titles. He also said that both children had asked to call his new wife "Mum" - that one will be literally over my dead body. He told me that there was "No reason to get upset" after he had dropped that gem onto me!

Am I being unreasonable? The kids are 8 and 5.

Nope. Not unreasonable at all.

The situation here is entirely different because Olly was 18 months when I met DH, and at that point his Dad didn't have much to do with him at all. So DH has eventually become either N or Dad, depending on Olly's mood, and DH's Mum is Nanna. I don't think we ever said to Olly 'call x,y & z auntie or uncle' though, it just happened naturally. Another hugely different factor is that Olly lives full-time with DH and I, so it's more likely he'd see DH as 'family' than a traditional Step-Mum and her family.

I think neither of you should need to tell the girls what to call their new extended family, they're old enough and bright enough to make their own choices after building their own relationships with them. For their Dad to insist on certain names for certain people is rude, and forcing it.

I do think though that he knows very well how to push your buttons. The 'mum' comment is obviously total bullish!t, so rather than let it get to you, just explain to your girls that they have one Mum, and they can call their Step Mum whatever they like, but that they'll always be your girls and you won't mind them getting to know and love her. It's crappy, but better for the girls that they get on with her. So even if they did call her Mum for a while (most likely at his insistence) it would never lessen how important you are to them. Not even for a second. You're doing a wonderful job in the most utterly crap of circumstances. Hold your head high and don't let silly games get to you.x

I agree with everything OA says. Couldn't have put it better!

If my DD had her biological grandparents, who she called Granny and Grandad, I don't think I would mind if she called her new step grandparents Granny Jane and Grandad John if she was happy to do that, and they were happy to be called that. Similarly, if she called her new step uncle Uncle Jack etc. But she only has one mum, and that would be how it would stay, given her age (13). I think it is different if the children are very young. To be fair, I wouldnot want or expect her to call my new partner dad.

I think it's up to the children entirely. However as adults we tend to 'guide' by how we refer to people.

I have been through this three times now (oh the shame!) and had the biggest humdingering row when I caught my ex husband's mum instructing my children that they were to call her granny and her husband grandad (they were a out 4 and 5).......... she was bless her trying to be 'inclusive' and I was trying not to erode the VERY tenuous relationships they had with their biological father.

It's not about your ex, or his new in laws, it's about the kids.

HE has chosen to join this family, that's lovely, that's his choice and he gets to choose for himself. He does not get to choose for your kids. They may or may not want to be part of these people's life, they may or may not even like them - and that's up to the kids.

For my part now SD doesn't speak to me, both SS's talk to me by name, but youngest SS will refer to me as 'mum' if he's talking to anyone else, because he's lazy and it makes it easier for people to work out social expectations. Oh will say 'your mum' if he's talking to my daughters and use my name if he's talking to his kids.

My kids both call OH by his first name - obviously his son calls him 'Dad'. If they are talking to each other they just say 'mum' and 'dad'. Rather than 'your dad says' - but sometimes they put the 'your' in front.

However I have had two fairly long standing relationships (one was a marriage) since I split with my kids dad. i have the dubious history of having split when they were one and two. As they are now 16 and 17 there is a fair amount of water under the bridge.

Anyway, I have been married, and lived with someone (who also had kids) for about four years - prior to OH.

The 'in between' exes have no contact with my kids - they have chosen that not me. No cards, no birthdays, no how are yous - and their parents cut of contact too, almost as soon as we split and in the case of my ex husband as soon as the divorce was final.

History teaches me that no matter how constant WE think other adults may be in the kids lives, ultimately if they are not biological when it goes wrong they can just walk out the door and not look back.

To create unreasonable expectations for children, to teach children that 'family' can be that extensive and that optional is, I think, reckless. No matter how enthusiastic we are with our 'new' family, we cannot impose that on our children and you are COMPLETELY right.

SS only refers to me as mum because his is dead - I haven't had that with any step kids who had a parent to be offended and upset. You just wouldn't generate the confusion.

His new wife definitely has a role in your children's life, but obviously your ex (and her) will have issues with her finding her boundaries on this. Her role is NOT to parent your children. HIS role is to do that alongside you. She is a significant adult, she can offer a lot of things that you, as parents, cannot, but she cannot be a parent - and to create that expectation for her, and for your kids, is setting them all up for failure. He is out of order trying to play 'happy families' at that level.

Stick to your guns babe and give him both barrels. You absolutely have to accept that this woman has a place in their life - but you don't have to give her YOUR place, she has to get her own!

It's a tough one, and as Corris says, needs to be down to what the kids are comfortable with.

YD started calling my BF 'Daddy' within a few weeks, and as neither of us were comfortable with it I made a joke of it and pretended that she was forgetting. She soon changed back.

I can't see your two ever calling another woman 'Mum'. If they don't want them to use first names then they need to find an alternative.

I'm assuming prior to marraige they called her something, they can continue calling her that. Hubby has never ever called his father's second wife by anything other than her given name, he was 10 when his parents split, as he said 'I only have one mum'
As for the grandparents, erm they aren't related to your children in any way shape or form, they just happen to have a father who is