There is no question that some children find it difficult to accept their new stepmom or dad in the beginning, especially if they are still in regular contact with their biological parent who no longer lives with them. It can also be difficult to know when and if it is appropriate to be called mom and dad by their stepkids.
Modern relationships includes features like online divorce and if that is the scenario that you are dealing with, then there is every chance that you will be walking into a stepparent arrangement at some point after that.
Playing the name game
There are a number of dilemmas and issues to contend with when you start a new family life, and one of the classic problems that has to be addressed is whether a stepparent should be called mom or dad.
You may well be taking on the role of parenting a child that is not biologically yours, but your or the kids involved might not feel that comfortable with the arrangement in the beginning, so is it fair or right to expect to be called mom or dad?
There are a number of aspects to consider when trying to find the right answer to this conundrum.
Relationship takes priority
Probably the most fundamental point to take on board is not directly about what name the stepchildren call you by, but more importantly, what sort of relationship that you have with them.
Many stepparents would happily confirm that what the stepchildren call them is secondary to how good the relationship is that you have formed with them.
It can often be the other relationships that the kids have in their lives that are the determining factor as to whether they call you mom or dad anyway. If the children still have their biological father very much involved in their lives, then quite clearly, the dad name tag is already spoken for and that might end the discussion there and then.
What the kids think
One of the best ways of approaching the naming dilemma is to ask the kids exactly what they think.
You can find that children will instantly make their own mind up about what to call you from the minute that you come into their life, and that name just sticks and carries on.
It seem a bit awkward to you that you have a family home where some of the kids are calling you by your first name and others are calling you daddy, but you will often find that many children will think that is just normal and if they think that is ok, then it might pay to go with the flow.
Evolving family life
Some parents have strong feelings about being called mom or dad, even by their stepchildren, which is fair enough if you feel that way, but the main thing to remember is that the labels used by your children are largely irrelevant to making a success of your family life.
You can find that the name game changes over time as your family life evolves and you grow stronger together, resulting in you becoming mom or dad on a permanent basis.
If you remember that love and support is more important than what the stepchildren call you, this can help you to overcome what is a classic modern family dilemma.
Sebastian Brookes is a psychologist who writes about blended families. His articles appear on a wide range of websites as he writes about the common problems that step-parents face.