I have a feeling this title might generate some bad blood, but I wasn’t sure how else to put it. “Mommy” and “daddy” belong to biological parents.
Before I explain and before you start blowing up the comments with snide remarks, hurt feelings, and/or death threats (you know … comment sections can get out of hand fast) let me say this: if a biological parent does not attempt to fill the role of mommy or daddy to the best of her or his ability, and another loving individual has stepped in to fill that void, the biological parent might forfeit the right to “mommy” or “daddy.”
So to all those stepparents or girl/boyfriends that have stepped in to be a parent – thank you and yes, you may have earned that title if that’s what your family has decided. And if you’re an adoptive parent, it goes without saying you are mommy and daddy.
What I’m arguing against is the use of “mommy” and “daddy” by stepparents and SO’s without the consent of the biological parents. When this happened to me, I was first really shocked and then doubly shocked to find so many people with similar stories. When I reached out to other single moms for advice, I heard similar stories time and again.
The stories went like this – one biological parent insisted the new stepparent or SO use the title “mommy” and “daddy” with the child(ren) regardless of whether the other biological parent wanted this. Or, many times even when the biological parent specifically requested not to use those terms. In my case, my ex asked me what I preferred and I stated anything other than “mom” or “mommy.” He then ignored what I preferred and insisted my daughter call her soon to be stepmom, “mommy.” Why is this a problem?
Biological parents that have shown up and taking on the role of co-parent deserve the respect of being called “mommy” and “daddy.” What we call each other comes with heavy connotations and layers of meaning. Doctors work years upon years to earn the title “Doctor” and this title represents not only that hard work but their status in our professional system. Elected officials are called “Governor” and “President” and “Councilwoman” for a reason. The right to be called “Mommy” and “Daddy” should be reserved for the woman that conceived and nurtured that child for ten months in womb and for the man that was essential in that conception.
I’ll be the first to admit the word “mommy” has a strong emotional attachment in my relationship to my daughter. Single parenting is hard, but it has also created a very strong bond to my child. It’s often just the two of us. Every time I hear her say “mommy” I feel like my heart swells a bit. The sound of that word on her lips makes me perk up. It makes me smile. She is my child. I gave birth to her and I alone should carry the title of “mommy.” Does this mean this is what actually happens? No, in my case it isn’t. And like all single parents know, sometimes you have to let things go. There’s no point in arguing something that has already occurred. But I can at least voice my opinons here.
Calling two adults by the same title can be confusing to children. My daughter went through a period where she started to call my sister and brother in law “mommy” and “daddy” on occassion. We spend a lot of time together and she started to believe that every woman/man in her life was “mommy” and “daddy.” I voiced my concerns to her father and they began using a different title “mommy – first name” for his new wife. That, and my daughter getting older, seemed to clear up some of the confusion for her.
Now, if you are totally fine with your child using “mommy” and “daddy” for multiple adults … good for you. But engaged, active biological parents should have the ultimate voice in the use of the most important words in a child’s vocabulary. Have a similar story? Do you have other ideas for why the terms belong to biological parents? Share in the comments.