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When it comes to stepdad, what’s in a name?

Updated: November 2, 2012 6:11AM

DEAR CHERYL: My first husband died, and I married a man who adopted my five children. He also died after we shared a wonderful marriage. I was very lonely after my children married, and I married for the third time to a wonderful, caring man.

The problem is: What should my children call him? He’s their stepdad, and I believe that, out of respect, they should call him Dad. But they insist on calling him by his first name, Tim. My 10 grandchildren also call him Tim, even though they love him very much. This has been a point of contention.

Every greeting card I receive is addressed “To Mom and Tim.” That seems so very cold, almost as if they’re keeping him out of the family.

When I spoke to our priest, he said Tim is my husband and my children should honor him with the name Dad, especially since he’s there for them when they need help. Is he right?

Tim has no children or grandchildren of his own, and I’d love to share my happiness and my family with him, but he feels like an outsider since the family doesn’t accept him.

A Rose Is a Rose But Is a Dad a Dad?


If ever there was a situation that called for a compromise, this is it.

I can see why your children are reluctant to call a third man Dad. In my opinion (and I hate to disagree with your priest), they should be allowed to continue to call your husband Tim.

On the other hand, your grandchildren should be encouraged to call him Grandpa. Have their parents explain to them that it would make Tim happy since he considers them his grandchildren.

Please explain to Tim that the way your kids and grandkids treat him is a far better indicator of how they feel about him than what they call him.

There are far more meaningful ways to show respect than a name.

Got a problem? Or a question? Send it to cheryllavin

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