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Ladies, help a hurt father. daughter calls stepfather 'Daddy'

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Well the title of this thead kind of says it all. My daughter is eight years old, her mother and her stepfather have been together since she was about one and a half. I have always had half custody of my daughter and exercised that custody, so I've always been there for her, which is why this bothers me so much.
It would be simple enough to explain if I had been absent from her life, why she would call her stepfather daddy, but why would she do that if I have always been a good dad?

My daughter does spend about sixty percent of the time at her mothers and forty with me, so she sees her stepfather probably more than me.

It just kind of breaks my heart I guess. I know she has been calling him Daddy since she was three, but she probably started earlier than that, I just didn't know about it. I think my ex kind of tried to keep it on the down-low because she figured I would get upset. I did get upset when I found out and I confronted my ex. She basically told me that I was being jealous and possessive of my daughter. That it was our daughters choice who she wants to call daddy. That all that matters is that our daughter is happy and feels safe whever she is, case closed. I can understand that, so I don't really make an issue of it anymore, though it still causes quite a bit of tension between my ex and i, and especially between me and the stepfather.

My daughter usually calls me Daddy as well, or dad. I don't like it when she calls me dad because it seems colder and more distant than daddy, and I start to get upset that she probably never calls her stepdad 'dad', but always daddy, whereas I'm regulated to sometimes Daddy, and sometimes dad. But i know I'm overthinking it.

The only positive thing is that when her stepdad and me are in the same place (which happens very rarely because we avoid each other) she calls him by his first name, and calls me dad or daddy. I really appreciate this when she does it (in fact, it makes me glow), but I worry that she must have picked up on my bad vibes to have realized that she should call her stepfather by his first name when I'm around.

I'm glad she has another strong male role model in her life but I just want to be the strongest and I'm afraid in time she is going to come to regard him as the primary male influence in her life. I'm afraid that he is going to ask him to walk her down the aisle one day, and not me.

So help me out ladies. Have any of you ever had any experiences like this? Whether from the mother point of view or especially from the daughter point of view. Did you call more than one man 'daddy'? How did your fathers/ex husbands/ex-boyfriends handle it? What was the outcome?
post #2 of 33
Love is not a cup of sugar that gets used up.

I think supporting her in her choice of language while maintaining that special connection you have is the best way to go to ensure you're going down the aisle.
post #3 of 33
i had a mom and a step mom. i called them both mom. they would both answer to it. my mom never said anything about not liking it. she was just glad that my SM loved me enough that i felt comfortable calling her that. but i also lived with my mom.

my DSD calls me mom. it used to upset her bmom but since DSD lives with me, it happened anyway.

i can understand how you feel. if my bio-kids called someone else mom it would hurt. that is a natural reaction. my only advice is to make sure that when you do spend time with her you make it fulfilling. plan stuff. build memories. and try to let go of being upset about her calling him that. it might be hard but she will appreciate it. my DSD was very grateful when her mom stopped getting mad about it. she felt better around her mom and didnt feel bad about loving me anymore.

i am not saying spoil your child or buy her love. i am saying to build special memories. take her fishing (if you like that sort of thing) yk activities that allow for bonding. that is what DSDs bio mom does and it has made their relationship very strong.
post #4 of 33
I have a stepfather who I think of as "dad". I also have a stepmother who I think of as a "bonus mom". How and why are irrelevant to your situation. What I can say, from the daughter's perspective, is that:

First, how I see my "steps" is not a reflection on my relationship with my parents. It is 100% a reflection of my relationship with the individual "step" in question and in some ways a reflection of my relationship with the step's spouse. In other words my relationship with (step)dad is a reflection of my relationship with him and with my mother. (Not a reflection on my relationship with my father.)

Second, my positive relationship with my (step)dad has only enhanced and improved my relationship with my father. It in no way lessened or undermined it. It also enhanced, enriched and improved my life as a child and today as an adult.

If someday my own daughter comes to call her father's girlfriend by some variation of "mommy", I will most likely feel some measure of jealousy and insecurity. After all, I am human, and not a saint. But I hope that I can move past those feelings and remember that overall it is a good thing for her and in no way a "bad" thing for me.
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
thank you Ione for your post. It has given me much to reflect on, and what you said about how it enhanced your own relationship with your actual father gives me much hope.
And thank you to the several other women who have posted. I cannot tell you how valuable your feedback on this issue is to me.

Its just....I am so proud of my daughter, I don't want anyone to think she is not mine. My daughter must call him daddy when they go out in public, so all those strangers must think they are really father/daughter. And it bugs me. I don't know why the opinion of strangers should matter to me. I guess its just because I'm so very very proud of her I want to take credit for her lol. Part of me also feels humilated when she calls him daddy in front of mutual friends of my ex and me. I feel like it must reflect on me in a negative way. I suspect they are thinking that I must not be as much of a man as her stepfather if my own daughter calls him daddy too. I know these apprehensions must be unfounded but I cannot deny feeling them anyway.
post #6 of 33
Quote:
I suspect they are thinking that I must not be as much of a man as her stepfather if my own daughter calls him daddy too.
Why would you care about the opinion of someone who thought that way? What would it cost you and your daughter to gain the respect of someone who thought that way?

When I hear children call more than one person Mom or Dad, I always think the same thing; "Good for the adults for putting the kids first. Those are secure, happy kids who were not forced to take sides or responsibility for the adults feelings."
post #7 of 33
None of my kids call their stepdad 'dad' or 'daddy' and people still assume he's their dad when we're in public. We've even had people tell my daughter how much she looks like her 'dad'.

As long as your daughter isn't being told she HAS to call him dad when she really doesn't want to, I'd let her continue to do so. As for your feelings - it sounds like you're well aware of them and the fact you should probably not let on about them to your daughter. That's a huge step for you and you sound like a great dad.
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by alastair View Post
Its just....I am so proud of my daughter, I don't want anyone to think she is not mine. My daughter must call him daddy when they go out in public, so all those strangers must think they are really father/daughter. And it bugs me. I don't know why the opinion of strangers should matter to me. I guess its just because I'm so very very proud of her I want to take credit for her lol. Part of me also feels humilated when she calls him daddy in front of mutual friends of my ex and me. I feel like it must reflect on me in a negative way. I suspect they are thinking that I must not be as much of a man as her stepfather if my own daughter calls him daddy too. I know these apprehensions must be unfounded but I cannot deny feeling them anyway.
I'm not in your situation, and I can hear your pain.

I have a 2.5 year old son, and I live with his dad (my husband) and one additional male friend (we had the space, he needed a room, he's been a good friend forever, so we rent to him). There are people in my neighborhood who are pretty sure that DH and this housemate are a gay couple with an adopted son. I'm, I dunno, the housekeeper or something. My point is that, in any situation in which a child appears with a male adult, people will tend to assume that the male adult is the child's parent. The presence of additional male adults doesn't seem to stop this. More and more people understand that family life is not simple.

I think your reaction comes from a place of regret that you aren't more involved with your daughter, and that's a reasonable thing. I know how obsessive it is possible to be about parenting, you could be with her every waking moment and still miss her while she slept at night. And there's her stepdad, who has some of the moments that you wish you had. Just remember that what she calls the two of you won't change the emotional realities. How you react to it could, but what she calls you won't.
post #9 of 33
I can tell you from the perspective of being a daughter to divorced parents that what I call my step dad doesn't change how much I love my bio dad. I call them both dad and I have a great relationship with both. When I was a kid my brothers and I lived with my dad and called him that in our native language even though we lived here in the U.S. Then the other kids in the neighborhood thought that what we called him was his name and started calling him dad in our native language as well. Before we knew it the mothers and everyone in the neighborhood called him that and he sort of became the father of the neighborhood. That didn't mean that they didn't love their dads any less. What matters the most imo is the relationship you have with her. I agree with pp you sound like a great father.
post #10 of 33

You are an involved and loving dad, right? NOTHING the stepdad does will ever undermine that. Heck, he could be a saint, and you could be a nasty drug abuser, and kids still feel loyalty to their parents over stepparent. Regardless of what they call you.

more hugs
post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 
I honestly haven't felt this reassured and confident in my relationship with my daughter in years. The kind words you ladies have given me are exactly what I needed. I know I am going to be coming back and reading and rereading this thread for a long time to come. Whenever I'm feeling down about this particular subject, all I'll have to do is read some of these posts.

my spirit kind of already knew what you ladies have been telling me, but there is always this nagging doubt which gives me no rest. But hearing it from people who were once the same little girl my daughter is now or with other fundamental experiences concerning my problem to share, it just puts all my doubts to temporary rest. thank you again.
post #12 of 33
Growing up- I call my biodad-dad (he gave up his parental rights) I call my adopted dad-Dad. And I call my inlaws mom and dad too as well as their spouses. As child it would have been horrible for me to mix up their given names. So "Dad" just works and having slipped and seen the hurt on one's face when I called one by the wrong name...Oh boy. Icky.

As for her not calling you Daddy anymore. Your little girl is growin' up. She'll probably only call you daddy when she wants something. I am no longer called mommy unless my older kids are particularly sick or vulnerable or asking for something totally ridiculous.

I can hear my half sister now saying "Daddy buy me a pony." and in divorce guilt he DID!

But yeah I imagine if I were in your shoes I would hate it if my kids started calling some other woman mom, but otoh I know my kids and they would only be comfortable calling her that if they felt she'd earned their respect. Otherwise I'm sure they'd have to use her given name or I'm afraid what they might come up with.

My kids do not respect their dad and it kills me what they call him these days.

It sounds to me like you two have a close relationship. (hugs)
post #13 of 33
I didnt have a step-parent (while my dad admitted he and mom didnt get on well, he wouldnt "violate" her as a mother by having another woman helping to raise us while with him) until after i was a parent in my own right - but for as far as in-laws, etc.. it's just mom and dad. My husband came from a VERY mixed family (his, her, theirs, his aunt had custody for a few years so he only had visitation at his parents) and it's always just mom, dad... my SILs call my sister (*glow* - since i grew up with only my dad and 2 brothers!), etc.. you get it. We only say step- or half-, if someone asks for the full run down of it all - LOL.

Anyways - we have and do see it as family, is family, is family... no step, no half... you're just... family! and i am sure to her, being both major male figures in her life, you are both very much family for her.

Anyways - i have to agree with everyone else that - it sounds like while you may regret not having 100% of the time you want with her, you 2 have a wonderful relationship and i am sure you are just as much the apple in her eye, as she is to you. I know my dad was...

Sorry - this is longer then i intended!
post #14 of 33
My parents divorced when I was 2 and my mom remarried when I was three. I lived with my mom and step-dad and saw my dad 6 weeks in summer and two weeks every other Christmas. My step-father took me to gymnastics, signed my permission forms, helped me with my math homework, picked me up from school when I was sick, etc. He taught me to drive and took me to get my driver's license. He helped me buy my first car. He drove me to college.

But my step-father isn't the one I talk to on the phone every day, or text several times a day.... that's my dad. He's not the one I call when I hear something that makes me laugh, or the one I call on my way home from work when I've had a rough day... that is my dad. He's not the one who video chats with my kids. He's not the one who's last name I gave my kids. He's not the one who walked me down the aisle, or who I called first when I was in labor with my babies. That was my dad, too.

There has never, for one minute, been a question in my mind who my "real dad" is. Not once did I think my step-dad was a "replacement" for my father... they both have their own place in my life and my heart. Just as the birth of my second child did not detract from the love I have for my first, the addition of my step-father didn't detract from the love I have for my dad. I have a great relationship with my step-father, and I always have... he's just not my dad.

Just love your daughter, be proud of your daughter, and be the best dad you can be. She will benefit not only from having more adults to love and guide her through life, but will benefit from having a father who she knows loves her unconditionally as she figures out the rest of the relationships in her life. It's not just a compliment to her relationship with him, but her relationship with you that she feels secure enough in her relationship with you that something as little as what she calls someone can't take away from that.
post #15 of 33
also i want to add... feelings are just feelings. they happen. do not feel guilty for your feelings. it is your actions on those feelings that matter not that yyou had them in the first place. we can not control what feelings pop up, we can only control what we do with those feelings.
post #16 of 33
Do her mother and step dad have kids of their own? In my family's experience once mom and step dad had a child of their own the step child started calling step dad, just dad because the other kids did. It was just easier in the kid's mind to call them all the same thing. I have a friend who calls her dad's "daddy at mommy's house" and "daddy at daddy's house". It's weird, but also pretty clear who she means and her relationships with both of them.
post #17 of 33
wow that is sad
post #18 of 33
FWIW, I have a father and a (now ex-) stepfather. Mom married stepdad when I was 2. I called them both dad growing up, but I have absolutely no relationship with sd anymore, and never loved him like I love my dad. I think I was responding to his expectations when I was a kid. I always called him by his first name when talking to my dad, though they were never in the same room together. I called my dad "my dad" in front of sd, though.

I don't know if it hurt my dad to know that I called sd "dad," though it certainly wasn't a reflection of my feelings.
post #19 of 33
Within reason, I don't think it's wrong to let kids in on the truth: their parents are people with feelings, too! Obviously, your daughter already realizes this, if she doesn't call her step-father "Daddy" in front of you.

It's one thing for a parent to say, "It hurts my feelings that you love your other parent, even after he/she divorced me. If you really love me, you'll stop wanting to see him/her."

It's quite another thing for a parent in your situation (i.e., you have been "Dad"; you're not getting jealous over a name you haven't earned and another man has) to say to his child, "Being your father is the most important thing in the world to me. In my whole life, I will only ever have one daughter (Jill). Likewise, "Daddy" and "Mommy" are incredibly special names that people traditionally use for only one man and one woman in their life. I know (Jack) is important to you and it's OK with me that you love him and that you want to have a special name for him. But it hurts me to know that you call him Daddy. I can't control what you do when you're not with me, but it would mean a lot to me if you would choose a different special name for (Jack) and only call me Daddy."

Unfortunately, at the age when she started calling her step-father Daddy, she was too young for you to have that conversation with her. Your ex-wife should have - and could have - put a stop to it then. It was pretty hostile (and inconsiderate of your daughter's relationship with you) that she didn't. If you wait until your daughter's a teenager to have this discussion with her, she may use it as emotional leverage against you. But many 8-year-old girls are sensitive, caring, innocent, fair and wonderful people, who would be quite capable of understanding and responding reasonably to such a request, if you are careful to phrase it in a way that's honest and considerate of her relationship with (Jack) and that doesn't brow-beat, shame or manipulate her.

But once you state things so clearly, don't keep revisiting the subject and nagging her. She'll either do as you ask or not. Keep in mind, she may feel she's created such a precedent by calling (Jack) "Daddy", that he may be hurt if she stops. Plus, who knows how her mom will react? If she stops calling her step-dad "Daddy", your ex may assume you're being controlling or competitive and she may make your daughter feel guilty about giving in to it. And you're not looking to tear your daughter apart, by getting into a war with her mom. You want your daughter to know she IS so important to you that you're NOT indifferent to her calling another man by your name... regardless what your daughter may have believed, up 'til now. Right?
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
Within reason, I don't think it's wrong to let kids in on the truth: their parents are people with feelings, too! Obviously, your daughter already realizes this, if she doesn't call her step-father "Daddy" in front of you.

It's one thing for a parent to say, "It hurts my feelings that you love your other parent, even after he/she divorced me. If you really love me, you'll stop wanting to see him/her."

It's quite another thing for a parent in your situation (i.e., you have been "Dad"; you're not getting jealous over a name you haven't earned and another man has) to say to his child, "Being your father is the most important thing in the world to me. In my whole life, I will only ever have one daughter (Jill). Likewise, "Daddy" and "Mommy" are incredibly special names that people traditionally use for only one man and one woman in their life. I know (Jack) is important to you and it's OK with me that you love him and that you want to have a special name for him. But it hurts me to know that you call him Daddy. I can't control what you do when you're not with me, but it would mean a lot to me if you would choose a different special name for (Jack) and only call me Daddy."

Unfortunately, at the age when she started calling her step-father Daddy, she was too young for you to have that conversation with her. Your ex-wife should have - and could have - put a stop to it then. It was pretty hostile (and inconsiderate of your daughter's relationship with you) that she didn't. If you wait until your daughter's a teenager to have this discussion with her, she may use it as emotional leverage against you. But many 8-year-old girls are sensitive, caring, innocent, fair and wonderful people, who would be quite capable of understanding and responding reasonably to such a request, if you are careful to phrase it in a way that's honest and considerate of her relationship with (Jack) and that doesn't brow-beat, shame or manipulate her.

But once you state things so clearly, don't keep revisiting the subject and nagging her. She'll either do as you ask or not. Keep in mind, she may feel she's created such a precedent by calling (Jack) "Daddy", that he may be hurt if she stops. Plus, who knows how her mom will react? If she stops calling her step-dad "Daddy", your ex may assume you're being controlling or competitive and she may make your daughter feel guilty about giving in to it. And you're not looking to tear your daughter apart, by getting into a war with her mom. You want your daughter to know she IS so important to you that you're NOT indifferent to her calling another man by your name... regardless what your daughter may have believed, up 'til now. Right?
Well said!
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