Name Calling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 06-04-2012, 12:43 AM - Thread Starter
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When my step-daughter got married and had her first kid, they asked me what I wanted to be called.  I repeated my name, Dan.  That is what she by choice had always called me and we were both fine with that.  Her husband said how about Gran Dan, I said no, I would prefer my name and he brushed this off, even after I mentioned that again I would prefer my own name.  There is more to the story of my dislike for the name, but that was unknown to them and irrelevant except for that I just didn't like it.  It made me even like it less that they he brushed off my objection.  We at the time lived far away and I thought it was of little consequence, so I foolishly let it go.  As fate would have it we moved to the same town as they were, and I saw them more and more.  As my fondness for them grew, so did my dislike for the name.  I brought it up again to my step daughter and talked about changing it.  In the end, again, I just let it go, I really wanted to try to be bigger than that.


While having some "spirited" words with my wife one day, my step daughter and her now two kids show up.  Of course, saying the name repeatedly, this should have been a happy  moment for us to share, but instead it was the very breaking point.  I asked them to not call me that anymore, that really I would rather be called Dan.  Amazingly, one of them instantly did call me Dan and I gave him a hug.  Unfortunately, one is a bit "willfull" and chose to ignore me and actually repeatedly overuse the name.  I came up with the brilliant and mature plan of saying, "If you don't call me by my name then, I guess I'm not answering you."  I admitted and admit that this was a poor way to do this and that I was thinking more about my own emotions, but this one singular action, along with the fact that I won't be called that anymore has all but ended the relationship with these kids and severely strained the one with their mom (my step daughter).  This may be typical dysfuntion to some, but this was a girl that I thought I had a strong relationship with and was regrowing that again after about a decade of living far apart. Never mind the gran(d), just don't forget the step, I guess.

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#2 of 9 Old 06-04-2012, 01:50 AM
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I'm sorry Dan.  I understand that it's up to you what you would like to be called.  It's not fair that they are pushing their wishes on you over something you're obviously uncomfortable with.  At this point do you think you would mind expressing your discomfort rather than just saying don't call me that?  It may help them understand.  And sometimes it's best to let people know that your wishes should be honored as well.


I don't think there was anything wrong with telling them to call you by your name and letting them know you won't answer to any other.  I'm sorry things are not going well for you.  Good luck.

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#3 of 9 Old 06-04-2012, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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That would have been good advice and in fact I did express that I didn't like being called that.  I left out any details that would help make that post shorter and accurate portray the situation.  I am a poor typist and it was getting late.  In review in the morning of the post, I would have to say that I did speak sternly (not shouting or any other "mean" words) to the kids, and they had never seen that. Thank you for actually reading the post and your kind thoughts.

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#4 of 9 Old 06-04-2012, 05:35 PM
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I think that trying to have a private conversation with your step daughter would be good. Explain why you do not want to be called the name.


My thinking, is maybe/possibly she wanted you to be called "gran" something to show her kids that you are something to her?! Maybe she thinks of you as one of their grandparents and not just "Dan". You are her step dad, and maybe Dan was fine for her to call you because you came into her life at a time when calling you Dad or something wouldn't be comfortable or natural to her. Maybe she wants the Gran part in there to have her kids have a relationship with you that she feels....that you are a special part of her life and another father to her?


Maybe your rejection of being called Gran and just wanting to be called Dan made your SD feel like you wanted to be nothing more special than a neighbour or aquaintance in her kids life...that you did not consider her your daughter or her children part of your family?


Or maybe your family is like mine and they just do it BECAUSE you don't like it and they like to be pains in the butt?


So, maybe there is some name that you can think of that you would like to be called that will convey a special family relationship but not be Gran Dan?


Either way, it does sound to me that your SD is a special person in your life and that you would like her children to be special people in your life. So maybe just talking to her and hearing her reasoning behind wanting to hear the name can help ypu both come up with a title for you that you are both comfortable with and that will convey the relationship that you all have/


Good Luck.

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#5 of 9 Old 10-03-2012, 11:34 PM
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I agree to talk to your stepdaughter. I have a stepmother who DEMANDS she be called Grandma. There is no compromise with her whatsoever (not even Grandma First Name) and I am not comfortable even saying Grandma when referring to DD. I would've loved it if she would've been okay with just her first name, but she says how thats disrespectful. So who knows what DD will end up calling her. I wish SM was the type of person to have a reasonable conversation with, but she isn't. So if you have a good relationship with your SD definitely talk to her. I so wish my SM had come to me when I was pregnant and we could've compromised on a name instead of her just assuming and demanding to be called Grandma.

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#6 of 9 Old 10-04-2012, 05:33 AM
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In all honesty, I think it's silly for adults to get this worked up about what their grandkids call them. As silly as I find it for adults to choose what pet-name kids will call grandparents, aunts uncles, etc. My parents are called what the kids came up with. Dadoo.. LOL Silly name. He's loved it for going on 21 years. Seriously - deal with it, Dan. And enjoy your grandkids.

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#7 of 9 Old 10-04-2012, 05:48 AM
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Are you opposed to any Grandpa name, or just Gran Dan? 

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#8 of 9 Old 10-04-2012, 03:33 PM
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 This may be typical dysfunction to some, but this was a girl that I thought I had a strong relationship with and was regrowing that again after about a decade of living far apart.


You have a strong relationship with your stepdaughter, but don't want her kids to address you with a typical grandparent name? 


I understand that it sucks when other adults are insensitive to your wishes. Your wife and your stepdaughter should have taken you seriously years ago when you first voiced a preference. But now you've got little kids in the picture, and you shamed and pointedly ignored one of them for calling you by the name he was trained to call you by. That's inexcusable. 


Talk to your stepdaughter and tell her the whole truth. Tell her why "Gran Dan" bothers you. Make her understand that it has nothing to do with a lack of love for her and her kids. And then agree with her on a grandpa-name that you are both OK with. I suggest "Grandpa." 

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#9 of 9 Old 10-08-2012, 08:02 PM
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I am a big believer in teaching kids to make amends for their behavior by modeling it myself. In your position (which I've been in before with my kids, including my step-daughter, as well as other people's kids) I would probably let them know, "I'm sorry I got so upset when you called me Gran Dan. I was feeling frustrated because I didn't feel like people were listening. You might not have realized how strongly I felt about it, and I'm sorry I got so upset with you, since I know you are just calling me what you always have. But I DO feel strongly about it, and I would rather be called just Dan, Would that work for you guys?" Then I'd be open to listening to whether or not they are, and give them an opportunity to tell you why if they aren't. If there is a reason they aren't comfortable with it, you might all have to think outside the box and find a compromise you can all live with. 

I am a big believer that the only people who the name should matter to are the people using the name and the person being called the name. My husband's ex hated (maybe still hates) the name my step-daughter uses for me, but I don't think it is up to her... I think it is between me and my step-daughter. And my step-daughter doesn't care that her mom refers to me by my first name, or that the other kids (my biological kids) alternate between their name for me and her name for me... she calls me what she wants to call me. And if, one day, she decides she is uncomfortable with it, it will be between me and her to decide on something that works for us both (just as my own step-mother and I did when I got older and felt uncomfortable with my childhood nickname for her).  What I'm saying is, I don't think your step-daughter has to be on board with it, if you and your grandkids agree to something... she can call you whatever she wants and the grandkids can make their own decision. Kids are remarkably adaptable with names, and you might be surprised at how understanding they are about your strong feelings about what you are called. 


Good luck. I imagine everyone is a little shocked, and putting it out on the table by way of a gesture of making amends will go a long way toward healing the wound for everyone. 

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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