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What’s in a Name?

I’ve seen several questions from people seeking advice on what the stepparent or partner should be called.  This post will give some answers.  

The Pretty Lady and I were both raised by old school parents – a child should never, ever address an adult by their first name.  Early in our relationship the Pretty Lady children’s, ages 10 and 14, called me Mr. Campbell or Mr. Gerardo.  When we started making wedding plans we discussed what the children should call me after we jumped the broom.  At the time, the Pretty Lady had joint custody with her ex so being called dad or another father derivative was not an option. 

You're Going to Call Me What?

The kids also agreed.  I felt it sounded too stuffy to continue with Mr. Campbell and Mr. Gerardo so I asked to be called by my first name – so much for my old school training.  I guess Gerardo was a mouthful for everyone.  Eventually, everyone began calling me, “G” which continues to this day.  After Nathaniel was born the kids referred to me as Daddy when speaking with Nathaniel.  Now that Nathaniel is a wise teenager he frequently calls me “Old Man.”  😥

Question 1: Should I Force my Children to Call my Boyfriend Dad?

I have been with my boyfriend for a few years now.  I have 2 kids (12 & 16yrs) from before and we have 1 together.  My kids do not want to call him dad until we get married, I allowed them to make that decision.  Since he still hasn’t asked me to marry him we don’t know if or when that will ever be. I don’t feel I should force them to call him dad but he does and has a lot of resentment for my decision. He said I asked them to be my daughters and they said no not until we marry.


Absolutely no, you should not force your 12 & 16 year old to call your boyfriend dad.  You should praise your children for their wisdom in wanting to wait until you are married before calling him dad.  Again it should be your children’s decision.  Also, you shouldn’t be surprised if they decide not to call him dad after your married.  Your boyfriend needs to understand your children already have a dad and he is deserving the title.  It’s troubling he would make an issue about being called dad yet not even proposing or discussing his intentions toward you and your children.

Question 2: What Should my Son call his new Stepfather?

I’m remarrying.  What should my son call his new stepdad.  My son is 5.  My son’s father is very involved in his life.  So I don’t think Daddy or Dad is appropriate, but calling his stepdad by his first name seem a little to informal and mature for a 5 year old. What do you suggest?


I agree, your son calling his new stepfather Daddy or Dad isn’t appropriate.  The title of Dad should be reserved for the biological dad.  It would be up to your son to decide if he eventually wants to call his stepdad, “Dad.”  I also agree five years old is too young to be calling adult by their first name.   Your son could call his new stepdad,”Pa,” “Pop,” “Daddy G(first initial of first name),” or adopt a foreign version of dad, for example, Padre or Papi (Spanish), Otosan (Japanese) or Papa (French).  Check out the following link for more ideas, father in different languages.

I suggest first running the names past your fiance to identify the pool of names he likes and then present them to your son and leave it up to him to pick the one he wants to use.

Question 3: What does my 18 month old call his step Grandma?

My son is 18 months old and we’ve gone far too long without having a “name” for him to call my father’s wife.

I don’t consider her a stepmother since my dad married her after I was already grown and I refer to her by her first name. It doesn’t seem right for my son to call her “Grandma”… he already has 2 of those.

She is a big part of his life. She definitely loves him a lot and does a lot for him so this is something that I really want to figure out but I just can’t seem to think of anything clever.

Anyone have suggestions for alternative “Grandma” names?  


If your father’s wife is a modern grandma she’s probably interested in a name synonymous with fun and joie de vivre.  Some modern names for Grandma include: G-Mom, MayMay, Mimi, Nina, Bella and GiGi.  If she’s more traditional minded you could call her Nana, Granny, Gamma, Grandmama and Gran.  You can also consider adopting a foreign version of grandma.  There’s Hebrew for grandmother, “Bubbe,”, Italian is “Nonna,” Greek is “Ya-Ya” and Spanish is “Abuela.”  Having lived in Germany for five years I’m partial to “Oma.”

William Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  In the context of stepparents it means, What matters is who you are as a person, not what your called.”  Although we may never be called, “Dad” or “Mom” we  choose to be and act like one deserving of the title.  

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