My Stepson Calls Me Mom, and Here’s Why

In the step-family community, there is heated debate on what stepchildren should call their stepparents. True, a child can have only one bio-mom, but does that mean a stepmother isn’t a mother? Can a child be loyal to both dad and stepdad without hurting either parent?

People are passionate about their children, and when you factor in a blended family, it can be difficult for a child to decipher what he should or shouldn’t do and say. Parents in a blended family all have their own opinions; they each genuinely believe they know what is best for the child; and they all come from very different backgrounds. With these opinions comes polarizing debate on what exactly stepchildren should call stepparents. 

Whatever the case, my stepson calls me mom. Here’s why.

Blended is All I’ve Ever Known

When it came to what my stepson would call me, I referred to my own life experience and background. 

I grew up in a blended family and I often felt that if I called my stepfather dad, that I’d be betraying my father. While Dan (my stepfather) came into my life when I was very young, my parents’ divorce did not end in a happy co-parenting relationship and I felt as if I couldn’t love both men without betraying the other.

Dealing with those feelings was hard enough on me as a child, and I never truly felt free to love my stepfather for fear of hurting my dad. Whether that meant calling Dan dad or not, the feelings were raw and real, and feelings I knew my children and stepchildren would feel when I remarried to a man with three children from two women. 

We Did What Was Best for OUR Family

My husband and I dated for a full year before marrying, and we both brought children into our union. I had a son with my ex-husband and he had three children of his own.

My stepdaughters were older and the transition was fairly simple for them. Their mother and I have an open relationship and we all co-parent together, keeping the girls’ best interests at the forefront.

My stepson’s mother did not welcome me into the family and for a couple years, we didn’t speak at all. My stepson was just one when I met him for the first time and two when I married his father. I was there for his first steps, dirty diapers, late nights, and first words. First words that he mimicked from my son, Collin, who is just six months older. One of those words was mom.

For several months, we corrected my stepson. Trying to replace mom with my name, Holly. Eventually, after months of correcting, my stepson frowned one afternoon. “Not Holly. Mom,” he told me. For me, the message was received. I remembered my feelings as a child. With life already so confusing for him, we made the decision to allow him to call me whatever he felt comfortable with. And that was mom (and still is).

Every Family is Different

It’s important to clarify that what your stepchild calls you should be based on your individual family’s situation.

If you divorced and then remarried when your child was a teenager, they probably won’t feel comfortable calling your new spouse dad or mom. If you came into your stepchild’s life early and they have step-siblings calling you mom, they’ll probably believe that to be natural and use that as a way to be connected as a family.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t have the opportunity to have a conversation with my stepson’s mother about how she felt or what she’d like to do, but you should also consider consulting with your stepchild’s bio-parent before committing to anything.

If mom or dad isn’t an option, but your stepchild wants to connect with you in a special way, try some of these names out instead:

  • Miss/Mister H (your first initial)
  • Mama/Papa Holly (your first name)
  • Mimi/Pop
  • Dad or Mom in another language

My stepfather came into my life when I was five. I felt disloyal calling him dad and my mother never pressured me to call him such. Now that I’m an adult and I can look back on my life, I recognize that he raised me, fathered me, and loved me just as much as my bio-dad did. He is my dad and my bio-dad is my dad.

It took me a long time to realize and accept that having two dads was not only okay, but actually a blessing. Raising my stepson, I want him to feel free to love his mother and me without thinking he’s betraying either of us. This is why my stepson calls me mom and why I hope that when he is grown, it will leave him well-adjusted and happier for knowing his love was received and embraced by me. Whether that means I’m mom or Holly.

Blended families don’t have to mean anger and resentment. To get the Real Deal on Divorce, check out our post on The Real Deal on Divorce and Co-Parenting. 

Photo Credit: Holly Sosa

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Holly Sosa

I’m Holly, a SoCal Mama with a Michigan heart. A mother in a blended family, I am passionate about normalizing stepmother and stepchildren relationships and bringing awareness to the ever growing blended family lifestyle. I am a lover of holidays, stationery addict, and food is my love language. The way to my heart is through the color lavender and florals. Grab a cozy afghan and visit my blog, Let’s be friends.

Comments (3)

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    Great article. I have two girls from a previous marriage that did not end…one positive note. My wife came into my girls’ lives when they were still young 3 and 5. They call her mom because that is what they want to call her, how they feel about her, and what she truly is to them. I feel 100% that this is title is well-earned and well-deserved. All she does, she does naturally, without forethought. She wants to make the girls happy above all things. It is remarkable.


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    My step-daughter wants to call me mom but her bio mom won’t let her. When I asked her why she wants to call me mom her reasons were exactly what you stated – because I do everything a mom should do. We now have a 8 week old baby in our family and I know it’s rougher for her referring to me as mom in terms of baby but not herself.
    When I asked why she doesn’t want to call her bio mom’s new husband dad she said it’s because he doesn’t act like a dad. 🙁
    I’ve been in her life since she was 2.


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