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Need advice about my kids wanting my SO to be their dad more than their real dad

I have two girls, ages 5 and 4. My ex-husband lives only 5 minutes away and fought with me for months to get me to agree to him having visitation every weekend, however they girls don't like going to his apartment because they don't like his girlfriend. My ex also has not kept up with the visitation he supposedly had to have - I haven't heard from him in 3 weeks and even before that he'd take the kids only once every couple weeks and usually came up with some excuse to bring them home early or pick them up late. I've been with my SO for almost a year and today my kids told me they want to call him dad and my 5 year old wants us to get married and they both want me to have another baby! They have a 1 year old half-sister from their dad and his g/f who they never talk about and I know that's because they rarely see her. I don't know what to say when they tell me they want to call my SO dad, I tried telling them he isn't...

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Asked by Anonymous at 1:25 AM on May. 17, 2010 in General Parenting

Answers (9)
  • .... their dad and they just say "I know, but I want him to be." My SO loves the kids and if my ex were to ever sign over his rights my SO told me he'd adopt my kids in a heart beat and be their dad no matter what happens with us. My SO and I have only recently begun to talk about moving in together and any plans for marriage and a baby are a long way off. I was hoping someone had a good suggestion for another nickname my kids could call my SO since they refuse to call him by his name anymore.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:28 AM on May. 17, 2010

  • I called my step dad, dad. I was 3 when they started dating and just shy of 5 when they married. My bio father was a in and out of your life kind of guy and was fully aware that I called my step dad, daddy. My bio father was okay with it but they had an understanding and got along very well.

    Personally I wouldnt start it unless this is a man you are going to marry and make a permanent part of their lives otherwise they will have a huge sense of loss and abandonment if he is suddenly gone one day.

    like the old saying goes...any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a daddy. Just make sure you know what the long term plan is so that your girls dont get hurt down the road.

    Answer by 3_ring_circus_ at 1:30 AM on May. 17, 2010

  • OP: I do have that fear that if we break up my kids will be heart broken which is part of the reason we've taken things slow and I also know that just because he says he'd still be around for the kids even if we don't work out it doesn't mean he'll keep his word. I can see myself marrying again and having a child someday with my SO but my marriage to my ex left a lot of damage and I try not to assume I'll have a happily ever after no matter how much I want it. Part of my issue with the kids calling my SO dad is that my ex will flip out, he's the kind of dad that even though he doesn't act like a father he thinks because he shares DNA with my kids that they should'nt be calling anyone else daddy.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:46 AM on May. 17, 2010

  • The previous advice was good advice so I won't repeat it. In the short term, you don't have to argue with them, you can just say that's nice what they think and maybe someday you will get married and have a baby, but not now. As for what to call him- you also don't have to say he is not your dad. Instead just say that he is a special person in their lives and you are happy about that- wouldn't it be nice to come up with a nickname just for him? Then brainstorm with them- maybe "papa" or something similar. This may be helpful if you want to avoid issues with their real father if he finds out they are calling your SO Dad. It''s hard to know if he will ever sign over rights... so he may always be step-dad and that's okay. You aren't married now so he can't adopt them anyway so no need to make that argument with their bio dad.

    Answer by Bellarose0212 at 1:46 AM on May. 17, 2010

  • If you're not married to him, then no. They should not call him dad, this will be very confusing and upsetting to them if you guys break up. Just explain to them that they cannot call him dad because they have a father.Who else suffers from daddy issues? Me, but I will never allow my kids to call my boyfriend daddy. How do you deal with them? Have you ever confronted the father?Do you even know if the boyfriend is okay with them calling him dad? If you come from a happy home, have you ever dated someone that had daddy issues? How did those issues effect your relationship? Do you believe that it’s impossible to have a healthy romantic relationship if you haven’t dealt with unresolved issues with your kid's dad? These are questions you should ask yourself, I do all the time. My only child is 15, and I have custody of my nieces, so you can imagine what I go through, but I'll never put that pressure on my boyfriend.

    Answer by ambr2006 at 10:05 AM on May. 17, 2010

  • I would not let your SO be called Dad. And even if you were to marry him, find another term for him. Papa, Pops, Da.
    As for the girlfriend at the would make it hard for you if you are living with your SO, BUT you can have a clause in your custody agreement stating that there are to be no spousal opposite sex overnight guests. My SIL's then boyfriend (He's now her husband) had weekends with his son and when he did, my SIL would go home because of the no over night clause.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:54 AM on May. 17, 2010

  • I agree that they shouldn't call him Dad until you are married, but after that, I think it's their choice. My son was 5 when I married my husband. He started calling him Dad on his own, and at first I wasn't sure that he should, but my husband is the one who fixed his broken toys, coached his little league team, showed up to every teacher's conference, etc. My son is now 27, and if you ask him how his Dad is, he'll assume you're talking about my husband. He's the one who acted as Dad.

    I understand how you feel about getting married. When I met my husband I was afraid as well. My parents had just gotten divorced after 25 years, and my father was cheating....his parents had gotten divorced after 33 years...has father was cheating, and I had a cheating ex. I've been happily married to my current husband for 21 years.....

    Best of luck to you, and your girls are lucky to have a man they love as a Dad in their lives.

    Answer by ohwrite at 11:30 AM on May. 17, 2010

  • OP: My boyfriend would love for my kids to call him dad, but he knows they shouldn't at this point because of how I feel. He knows how absent my ex is from my kid's lives and hates my ex for everything he's put me and the girls through. My parents are still happily married but my childhood left it scars because my dad wasn't always a law abiding citizen and spent a good amount of my childhood in prison, but when he was home he was an amazing father and still is. I don't consider myself to have daddy issues and I don't think my kids will have them since despite their own father rarely being around they have my SO and about a dozen other men (my friends and brothers) in their lives who treat them like they were their kids so they certainly aren't lacking for a father figure. I have no unresolved issues with my ex, he lives his life and I live mine. If he doesn't want to act like a father that's his choice.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:57 PM on May. 17, 2010

  • OP: Oh and in response to getting a no sleep over clause in our custody it's probably not a possibility since my ex has a 1 year old daughter with his girlfriend and he tells me he is going to marry her this summer - though I hope not since all that woman does is treat him like crap but if he wants to be miserable all his life than good for him.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:59 PM on May. 17, 2010

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