Let The child be your guide
You have mom, and then there is dad. Two very typical socially known titles for the two individuals who parent us. Parents don’t have to figure out what their children are going to call them, it is what it is.
When it comes to being a step parent and your namesake to your stepchildren you’re stepping in territory that you may want to stay clear from for quite a while. However it is inevitable to come up into conversation.
I remember sitting at my mother’s house, drinking a cup of coffee, while my son, and the new little humans in my life played together, when I was approached with the daunting question of "can we call you mom?" There in front of me sat two bushy tailed, wide eyed sweethearts, what was one to do. Not knowing what to say, I simply diverted it to their father, "let’s ask your dad when he gets home”, I muttered to them. I didn’t really know how to react, I mean I was new to these two, as they were to me. I wasn’t their mom, I mean I acted as one by merely playing the role when their father was at work. Many questions started running through my head at that moment, Was it that they heard my son call me mom? Were they confused? What was the right thing to do? What if their father and I break up?
None the less, this is a tough situation yet using the child as your guide can really help direct how all parties involved should handle the matter. Adapting to a new family dynamic is hard enough, expecting too much could be just that, too much. Pushing the children out of their comfort zone could cause them to retaliate and go in the absolute other direction. Children don’t ask for their parents to split, heck they want anything but that so ensuring that this transition is the most comfortable for the children should be priority. My step children refer to me as mom, they are comfortable with this, and their father and I both agree and don’t mind. However, because mom is generally a title that is given once you birth a child, for their biological mother this was quite daunting. It’s hard for someone to hear their child call someone else mom. I was never there to replace her, or resolve who she was in there lives, I was a different mom in a different family dynamic, I wasn’t her, and I think making that clear is very important.
In the name of respect, I have offered the children alternatives to calling me mom thinking that the alternative would be the better. Mama Sara, Sara, etc. The children always made it clear when they were in our presence that this is what they wanted to address me as.
The topic of what the children called me had come up on several occasions by their mother. She really felt compelled in the argument that I was not their mother, and she wasn’t totally wrong. I could never argue her on the fact that I didn’t birth them, however due to our living arrangements I was in sort the children’s mom. I felt compelled in allowing the children to call me mom because my roll was full time, having them a substantial amount of the time, and with a combined family, all children calling me by the same namesake less complicated things, and gave us our own type of bond. What really motivated my husband and I in allowing the children to call me mom, was it was their request. Again, making the children as comfortable in the process can really ease their acceptance and limit the emotional stress that it will have on the children.
My son is a very shy kid, he is sometimes afraid of his own shadow. It takes him a really long time to get use to something, change is not his friend. He really is quite the opposite of my step children. A strong relationship with his father he did not have, but loyalty was there by default. The topic of what he was to call Billy never really came up, he still to this day calls him Billy. Just as we did not address my step children on the matter, we don’t plan on doing so with my son. It’s important to realize that each child is different, and the child should not be pushed out of their comfort zone especially regarding something as sensitive as this.
Before taking on a title so privileged as Mom or Dad, or even one remotely close, really ask yourself a couple of questions.