When Julie White’s stepson started calling her ‘Mamma J’ She thought it was sweet. A year later, her husband was in Sacramento County Family Relations Courthouse defending the name of ‘Mamma J’ against allegations of Parental Alienation Syndrome by the biological mother. The biological mother of Julie’s stepson had a problem with the name that 11 year old Kyle had come up with. ” I never really thought about it as being a problem, I never had a preference one way or another, so I just let it go. I had no idea it would end up in court” White says.
The biological mother’s allegations of Parental Alienation Syndrome stem from the child having a special name for the stepmother, but not the biological mother, allowing the child to feel closer to the step mother than he would his own mother. While a biological mother will always be known as ‘mom’, is having a special name for a stepmother crossing the line?
Some say yes, some say no. It’s of course up to the individuals and their situation. If someone is not comfortable with an endearing nickname of a child and a step parent, rather than running straight to court, perhaps it’s an idea to analyze why it’s a problem.
” I hate it.” Says a mother of two. ” My kids call the step mother ‘mommy’ and it bothers me. I’m their mother, I gave birth to them, only I deserve the title of ‘mommy’. My ex encourages it, to make them more of a family, but she hasn’t earned the right to a title, no matter how much she does for the kids.”
” I like it, because it’s something special that only refers to me. I know I’m not this kids mother, I know I didn’t give birth, but it’s nice to have a tiny bond, plus it helps with the awkwardness of what she call me” Says Maria Simone, a stepmother.
Sarah Porter, aka “Sarahmom ” is outraged when her stepkids nickname for her gets thrown in her face.
” It’s all jealousy. She [biological mom] can’t handle that her kids and myself are close. I’m not trying to replace her in any way, but were tying to come up with a livable relationship, the name helps establish that I’m Sarah, but I’m also a parent figure”
“ When my daughter was really little, I hated it. It made me crazy that she called her step mom mommy. But I got over it. My daughter knew who her mom was, it was my own insecurities and jealousy. It was really stupid behavior on my part, but I got out of it.” Says Laura Miller of North Highlands.
Perhaps there’s nothing more to a name than words. A child calling a step parent ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ isn’t necessarily translated into ” I like you better than my real mom or dad” it’s simply a way of being close to a person- an additional person to care for a child. One could only hope that a parent would appreciate the closeness of another person in their childs life.
Perhaps a simple nickname that has nothing to do with the word ‘mom’ might be an acceptable alternative. A stepmother, who is known to her step kids as ” Tinki” states ” It’s a nickname only the kids use. I don’t mind, they came up with it. Any name they call me has nothing to do with their mother, it’s about my own relationship with the kids. I don’t need to be called ‘mom’ to know these kids love me. They love their mother too, there’s nothing wrong with that”
Step parents don’t want to replace a parent. They want a normal relationship with the kids in their lives. Regardless of the words they express to address the person, kids know who is mom, they know who is step mom. Mothers and Fathers need to realize that in nearly any circumstances, children do know who their parents are. They know the step parents and the roles that they create. Most kids are usually just trying to meet in the middle and please everyone.