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Grandfather being called Dad
An_246292 posted:
My boyfriend and I are expecting our first child together late this fall. I have a 7 year old from a previous relationship and he has two daughters from a previous relationships and a 9 year old grandson. With the help of his mother he has been raising his grandson. His daughter has all legal rights to her child, but has no real obligation to take care of him because my boyfriend and his mother don't expect her to. My concern is that my boyfriend refers to his grandson as 'son' and the grandson refers to him as 'dad'. I am very uncomfortable with this situation. I feel like the child should be broke from calling my boyfriend dad. Although my boyfriend is the father figure in his grandson's life, I think that it is important for his grandson to have a clear understanding on what the family structure is and what everyone's role is. Is it just me or is this situation weird? Should the grandson be calling his grandfather dad, even with his mother in the picture and should the grandfather/my boyfriend be referring to him as his 'son'?
Roy Benaroch, MD responded:
It's a crazy, complicated world. There are many non-traditional families, with kids having 1/2 siblings and different relationships with people from different generations. I don't think there are any "definite rules" about what kids ought to call what adults in these sorts of blended families, but I'll suggest a few:

* Kids ought to be respectful.

* The person fulfilling the male role of raising the child is DAD, regardless of biology.

* The person fulfilling the female role of raising the child is MOM, regardless of biology.

* The child and the individual he or she is talking to are the best ones to settle on the "title." Everyone else will have an opinion, of course, but belaboring this decision will not end well. Let the kid decide, and move on. Stop focusing so much on the words. Instead, focus on doing a good job in raising the child, whoever you are, and whatever you're called.

I expect many people might disagree with what I've said. What does everyone else think?