Issues with DSS's mother - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 10-04-2005, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
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A little background...DH and I have been together for 6 years, married for 5. DSS is 7, so he was a baby when DH and I first got together, and I have had a maternal role with him since the beginning. We've always had 50% custody, so his time with us is equal to his time with his mother and stepfather. We taught him a nickname for me, and that's what he called me at first when he learned to talk. The thought never even crossed my mind for him to call me "mommy" or any version of it. Well, 4 years ago, DD was born. He still called me by my nickname at that point. Of course we taught DD that I was "mommy", and when she started talking, that's what she called me. I think DSS got confused by that and would tell my DD that I wasn't "mommy". We explained to him that I was her mommy, and that it was ok for her to call me that.

At some point, DSS began calling me "mommy" too...and we told him that he could call me that if he wanted to (again, I NEVER suggested it to him or told him to call me that). Honestly, I think it was just easier for him to call me "mommy" since DD was. That was over 2 years ago. So for the past 2 years, DSS has called me "mommy". There is no question of who his "real" mother is, and I've never tried to take her place.

Maybe 1 1/2 years ago, his mother heard him refer to me as "mommy", and she flipped out. Crying, hysterics, the works. She had her husband call DH, and he explained to him that DSS had started calling me that on his own, and that it wasn't anything personal, that he knows who his real mother is, and that it was just easier for him since our DD calls me that. He told DH not to even worry about it, that she would calm down and this wouldn't be a problem.

Well, apparently, it IS a problem, even after over a YEAR. Almost every weekend, on the first day of our visit, DSS will call me mommy and then put his head down and say something like "Oh NO, I forgot." and then he'll start crying and saying that he's not supposed to call me mommy and that it will break his mother's heart and he will be in so much trouble. So DH and I will reassure him that he can call me whatever he wants to and that he's not going to get in trouble with us, no matter what. Then for the rest of the weekend, he will happily call me mommy and that will be that. (I should add that he has always been a little verbally slow, so I really think it's just plain easier for him to call me what his sister calls me.)

I just don't know what to do. I can understand why she would want to be the only one called mommy, but if I were her, I would try to understand and just let it go. I feel terrible that she is apparently making a very big deal about this with DSS, to the point that he spends half the night crying because he's afraid he's going to get in trouble with his mom. I don't think it would be right for me to correct him every time he calls me mommy though...that would only confuse him as well as my DD. Also, talking to his mother would be pointless. She won't even talk to us about his schedule. She has her husband call my DH, and that's it. Are we wrong for allowing DSS to call me what he wants to call me? I thought we were doing the right thing by not making a huge issue out of it.
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#2 of 3 Old 10-04-2005, 04:51 PM
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I think it is a double standard thing. My older kids call me mommy, their step dad, daddy and their bio, Tom.

If it were reversed, as in they called me by my given name, and a step parent by mommy or daddy I would become unglued. It is not a rational thing, but more emotional reaction.

For us, step dad is more involved, loving and spends sooo much more time with the kids, THEY decided they wanted to call him daddy. They do so in the company of their bio. I have never asked him what he thinks of it, as I really do not think that a father who only sees his kids 20 days a year has much to say about what they call him. Kids crave the "typical" family, I remember calling all my step dads (three of them growing up) daddy. But I called no one mommy but my mom. Even know, I have the worlds best MIL but I call her by her name. Mom is a special title, and I would not cheapen it by calling anyone else mom.
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#3 of 3 Old 10-04-2005, 05:12 PM
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Poor little guy! Of course you didn't do anything wrong. When a child's parent and step-parent have another child, things change, and it's totally understandable that he would want to signal his inclusion in the family by using the same name for you as your daughter does. In my family, my daughter has started calling me by my first name because my stepdaughter does! :LOL Goes both ways, I suppose.

I'm not sure how to suggest dealing with his mother. She sounds very difficult, something I'm familiar with from our situation. I suppose you could try a note saying that he seems to be having a hard time with this and suggesting she lay off the pressure. Otherwise, I'd just concentrate on helping him feel ok - maybe reassure him that it's fine, and that that's his name for you when he's at your house, and that it's ok for him and his other mom to have a different name for you at his other house (a NICE name, I hope )?
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