The Other Daddy


I may need a reality check here so correct me if I am wrong.  If a father is very active in his kid's life and even has primary custody should the children call their step father, daddy?  I know there are situations out there where step dads become the regular dad becuase he isn't around and I think that is great.  However, I can see my ex really getting my goat by convincing my daughter to call her step dad, "daddy".  I think she should call him by his first name.  Do I make an issue out of this or let it go?  However, it does bother me a bit, okay more than a bit.


HarleyQ said...

Interesting issue but this is more about the adults in the child's life than the child. I do not believe it is appropriate for the step to be called 'daddy' especially if you are involved. Perhaps another affection term. But I suspect that your child is encouraged to call her stepfather 'daddy' which means this is an issue to discuss with your ex and her hubby.

Anonymous said...

My children live with me and go to their father and his girlfriend's house every other weekend. The very first time they went on a visit with their father (2 weeks after he moved out and a year before our divorce was final), my 3 year old son came home saying that he has two mommies now. I didn't correct it because I felt if I did it would only show that it upset me. No matter what a child is told to call someone, they will discover over time what impact that person has on their life. The fact is that my husband left me when my sons were 1 and 3, and if they stay together his girlfriend will be as much of a mother as he is a father to them.

Jason said...

After I calmed down a bit I could see in my over active imagination how my ex was trying to annoy me. She is trying to create the family she has always wanted but whether what is being said is appropriate or not I know Madalyn and I will have a great relationship and I will be her one true daddy. As she gets older she will make her own choices and if she chooses to call another person daddy then at least she will know what that signifies. The timing of it was just odd - I should know by know to not let things get to me. It really doesn't matter and it will work itself out.

Vivian said...

Well. You know what? I actually have something to say on this matter.

That title belongs to you. You are the "daddy". You are the "daddy" for more reasons than just the custody and the biology. You are the person who cares for your daughter. That title belongs to you and you alone.

This is also confusing for your daughter. I know because I experienced it myself. I was a teenager and I'll just share my story.

My parents seperated when I was 13. My dad wasn't my biological father BUT he was dad. I have never met the man who gave me my DNA. The divorce was long and nasty. I found myself fatherless. A man I had known and loved as my dad was no longer my dad. When I was 17, Mom dated this fellow who I liked very much. She wanted me to call him "dad". I did. While I was away at college, they broke up and she became engaged with someone else. Another round of "call him dad". They married. Then I married. But still the psychological game really got to me. They divorced. I was adult with 2 children. She dated this one fellow for 3 years. She wanted my children to call him "papaw" and would get very upset when I'd insist on them calling him by his name. They never married. She's now married to the man she divorced in the first place.

It's a mind game! A game that really caused a lot of damage on my end. I was much older than your daughter. If it confused me, what is it to do to her? I really wanted to be the "good daughter" the obediant, not like the other teenagers. I caved because I wanted to please my mother. Your daughter will do the same. The bad thing is ... it's a terrible game to be caught in.

A girl needs security, clear boundries. A girl needs to know that the man she calls "dad" is the man she can trust to call her beautiful, hold her when she needs those moments of engulfing strength, who she knows she can turn to no matter what she does wrong. You're her dad, not the other guy. He just needs to be called by his first name.

Piper 2. said...

PART 1. My wife left me around 7 years ago whilst I was away on a work trip. I had arrived home to an almost empty house. She had taken our daighter, not left a note nor any message she had simply decided to move out. As traumatic as that was for me it would have been nothing in comparison to the effect on our little girl. This takes on more importance as I hope you will see as you read through this comment.

The calling of another man Daddy is an issue that raised itself last year. I had taken my then 5 year old daughter on a short camping holiday and we were having the best time.We had been away for a couple of days when she suddenly and without any prompting burst into tears. I remember her words very clearly, 'I don't want to call him Daddy, he's not my Daddy, you're my Daddy, Mummy shouldn't make me call him Daddy!' I calmed her down and it turned out that this was not the first other man she had been told to call Daddy. There had been others including one whilst we were still together as a family which I had no idea about at the time.

My daughter then told me between sobs that her Mummy had told her that when I had gone away to work, her Mummy had said that I wouldn't be coming back ever and that she needed a new Daddy because everyone had to have one.

The issue here is that to my mind is that this is emotional abuse of the worst kind; to actively try to manipulate a child in this way cannot be seen in any other way.

In this case, the man she had been asked to call Daddy was the third in the time since our original separation.

How is a little child expected to cope with that? What is she expected to learn from that? What value will she put on relationships with men as she grows older?

More in Part 2...

Piper 2 said...

PART 2. I am not a Psychologist or qualified in any academic way but surely the separation, divorce and subsequent custody battle processes must always take a toll on a child. Adding this extra level of uncertainty and insecurity can equally surely only amplify the effects.

I can't deny that it is tough having your child taken from you and that family you thought you had.

It is also tough coping with the fact that you stand to be wrongly accused of domestic violence and dragged before a magistrate and having to defend yourself for being a Father to your child.

It's extra tough watching a string of men pass through your little girls life each one of whom didn't have to go to court or ask permission to see your little girl, that right was given automatically by your ex and an antiquated legal system.

But overiding all of that the bottom line is that this is not about you nor about your ex. This is about your child or children and their health and emotional well being. You have to be strong and fight, not for your rights, but for the rights of the little ones who didn't ask for nor deserve any of these dreadful events.

For the record, our little girl called her Mummy whilst we were away and told her straight out that she only has one Daddy and she wouldn't be calling anyone else by that name. She wasn't prompted nor coerced in any way, it came from her heart. The ex still tries to get her call the current new man Daddy but to my knowledge that hasn't happened.

All I can say is that as a Daddy, keep the faith, love your children and let them know it and show it as often as you can.

Nigel said...

You know ,everyone has different ideas on this ,including all yhe step kids I know. I'll never forget the knife in my guts when my son came down the steps on an access visit and said "daddy Tony said..." Its raelly often about the child fitting in and you cant blame the ex for that ( but she was on her fourth bloke with 3 kids to different dads by then),Im still his DAD 20 yrs later and I dont regret not making an issue out of it. Im "dad" to my two step sons and my 3 biological kids all aged between 30 and 17 and we're family.I hugged them when the other wasnt there ,Itold they were good men and strong I went to the principals office when they stuffed up and later on I bailed em out .Who was DAD?They've got their fathers in their lives ,they're adults 'they choose to call me dad and they're my sons and i'm proud of 'em.

Jason said...

The situation with my ex is confusing for me I imagine it must be for our daughter as well. My ex has had 4 different husbands and with each a child. Most of them have children from other relationships and to have to call so many people brother and sister when not in the normal family setting must be a bit confusing. I hope this marriage works out for my ex for the sake of our daughter and when she gets older and still wants to call him daddy then I will have to accept it. I do worry my ex is cohersing her in order for them to have one big "happy" family.

Summer said...

I am a stepmom to three. My stepchildren specifically asked if they could call me "Mom" after my husband and I married, and I said no, that I felt it would hurt their mom's feelings. They call me by my first name.

On the flipside, my hubby's ex-wife moved a guy in with her two days after meeting him, had the kids calling him "Daddy" and calling my husband by his first name, and married him 5 months later...the marriage lasted all of 11 days, and the children were very confused and traumatized over the loss of their "new daddy."

My husband and his ex-wife are the biological parents, and the ones who will be in their children's lives no matter what. I have no right to take the title of "Mom" from the ex-wife, nor do any of her paramours have the right to steal "Daddy" from my husband. You are not overreacting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. My ex is just now starting to date again and I'm finding myself dealing with a lot of feelings I thought I had previously dealt with, but this topic has me thinking.

I do believe that if you are an active part of your children's lives, the title of daddy belongs to you. To me, it's a simple matter of respect.

Both of parents remarried and my step-parents have been a part of my life since my early childhood. I love and respect them both. One of the things that I respect about both of them is that they have never tried to replace my parents. They have always been there for me, but I call them by their first name. I'm always respectful, yes sir, no sir and yes mame and no mame, but the mom and dad title are reserved for mom and dad.

Pamela said...

I will comment as a Marriage and Family Therapist, a mom and a daughter of divorced parents.
The child should have the biggest vote in what she calls the new person in her life. Children are very creative in finding solutions that make sense to them. "Papa Jim" "Daddy Bill" "Colorado Mommy" Children are much less likely to be confused if they have a say in the matter. Parents should not categorically decide for their child, rather have a discussion about the possibilities. "Dinosaurs Divorce" by Marc Brown is a good book for children and parents as they navigate family transitions.
When all is said and done its the relationship that matters, not the title. So, continue to build a great relationship with your child or stepchild. Children need as many safe loving adults in their lives as possible. Their hearts have no finite capacity.