Blended Family: Should Kids Call their Step Parents Mom or Dad?

step-parents mom or dadA blended family is a family joined together by marriage. The woman or the man or both come in with kids from a previous relationship. Just think “The Brady Bunch” or in modern times the “Kardashian-Jenners.”

So how do blended families decide what the new parents are going to be called? Depending on the offspring’s age, I personally think the much older kids should be allowed the liberty of a personal preference in deciding if they choose to call their step-parents mom or dad. Kids that are much younger may not have the liberty of choice like older kids but ultimately it is still a decision that should be made as a united front. It is also a decision all parties should be comfortable with it’s outcome. Depending on who is looking at it, the decision to adapt to calling your new parent mom or dad may serve to unite the family more and complicate things less.

I recently saw the Disney movie Zapped starring Zendaya.  She played the character  Zoey Stevens whose mom married a man with 3 kids of his own.  Her character had a difficult time adjusting to her new family. One thing I noted in the story line was that her “new dad” wanted to be called dad but Zendaya’s character was having a difficult time making that transition. The step-dad did not pressure her and eventually things fell in place and she did call him dad. The look on his face when it happened was priceless. It got me thinking, is it really important to step-parents to be called mom or dad?

I know that everybody’s story is different. You have some situations where the other biological parent is active in the child’s life and would not appreciate his/her child being called mom or dad by the other parents spouse. When such situations arise, I feel it is best to respect the other parents wish or at least sit down and try to reach an amicable resolution.  You also have some instances where the other biological parent isn’t active in the child life, and the step-parent steps in to take responsibility as the other parent. In this type of situation, I think it is only fair that the step-parent is addressed as mom or dad. I also believe (and this a personal belief) that biological is in reality, what it is. It does not always define who is your mom or dad will end up being, technically-. Yes it tells us who biologically created a child, but it does not guarantee who will end up nurturing the child into adulthood.  If we want to look at the true sense of the word “Mom” or “Dad” I believe a mom or dad is somebody that stands in there for you and raises you to be the best that you can be, be it’s a stepparent, a foster parent, a guardian, etc.  So what do we call such a person? Mom? Dad? Uncle? Mr? Ms? etc.

Like I stated earlier, every situation is different and I feel it is left to the family to decide how they wish to coordinate their blended family. I also believe to make things flow a little better, especially if the step-parent is extremely active in seeing that this child is getting the best that they can get, they do deserve the title mom or dad. This leads me to ask, when you have a situation where the stepparent is not being called mom or dad does that make them feel bad? I feel this is another question blended families usually have to address. It is wise to be honest with yourself and ask, how does it make me feel that my step daughter or stepson that I take care of does not call me mom or dad?  Is it a big deal? Again,  I think  it depends on who you ask. Some people may think it’s a big deal and some people may not think it’s a big deal. Just like some people don’t like you calling them by their first name, where as, some people do not care if you address them without a prefix.

For those who are having a difficult time with their blended family, I would like to recommend the book The Secret to Blended Families Marriage and Parenting Success by Daren Carstens. It is a book written by someone who has first hand experience with having a blended family.

One very important thing to take into account is that before you embark on having a blended family, sit down with your future spouse or partner and decide “what are we going to be called.”  If you have older kids, find out how they feel about it first, if your previous spouse or partner is active in the child’s life, do not exclude him or  her. Communication is key.  It is always good to communicate these things at the very start so nobody feels offended. Ignoring it is not a wise move.

So if you had a blended family, would you want your kids to call your spouse mom or dad? Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section.

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