April 2013 Moms

Advice on Stepdaughter and In-laws

Yesterday we had "Thanksgiving" with my step-daughter (4 yrs old) and in-laws. I believe my in-laws go by the names "Pap Paw" and "Grandma". My stepdaughter, who adores my FIL, attempts to call him by his name but it winds up coming out as Papa. It's really cute to see them together but I noticed she has picked up on him calling my MIL by her first name. Every time she referred to my MIL yesterday, she called her by her first name. I cringed and prayed someone would say something but they didn't. When we left, I informed my DH that it bothered me as I felt it was disrespectful. However, I don't know how to explain this to a 4 year old that it is okay to call her stepmother, me, by my first name but not other adults. I'm also unsure other than "I'm the adult and you're the kid" how to explain why it's fair that I get to call them by their first names but she doesn't. My husband agrees that he feels it is disrespectful but he doesn't know how to address it either. Has anyone experienced this before? Any advice?

As a side note: We do not have custody of the child. We take her about 3-4 times a year to DH family functions and all the other visitations are either just with DH and I or just with the in-laws. Not many opportunities for behavior modification. Should I just leave it alone and hope she calls her by "grandma" or "grammy" or something when she sees our baby starts doing it?

Re: Advice on Stepdaughter and In-laws

  • Why not have her just put Grandma in front of your MIL's name? That's what I always did growing up. However, it's probably just a phase, and seeing as though you don't have her more than a few times a year, I wouldn't sweat over it. She'll probably forget about it by the next time she sees your ILs.
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  • My family is really big on not calling adultsby their first name. I still call my aunts and uncles unlce___. My niece is three and she attempts to call people by their first name to see if she can get away with it. We usually just correct her. For example she tried to call my husbad Drew the other day. I just looked at her and said "it's uncle Drew" and then waited for her to repeat.  If you give those reminder she may get the point; however, the adults all have to buy into it. If the grandma allows it them it may be hard for her to correct.
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  • image DarlingNIkki1028:
    Why not have her just put Grandma in front of your MIL's name? That's what I always did growing up. However, it's probably just a phase, and seeing as though you don't have her more than a few times a year, I wouldn't sweat over it. She'll probably forget about it by the next time she sees your ILs.

    Thanks. I hope you're right and that it is a phase. I did the Grandma Ann and Grandma Cat thing when I was growing up and it worked well. I do this when referring to my husband's grandmother. I think I'll try this with MIL too.

  • image vickel08:
    If the grandma allows it them it may be hard for her to correct.

    Exactly my point! She sat there and didn't say a word. I think we're going to have to have a convo about it.

  • This sounds innocent as can be. I wouldnt correct her just say you mean grandma? Why let her think she is being "bad".

    She is four shell grasp their "names" soon.
  • Also "behavior modification"?!? What a peachy term.
  • image silverfanatic:

    image vickel08:
    If the grandma allows it them it may be hard for her to correct.

    Exactly my point! She sat there and didn't say a word. I think we're going to have to have a convo about it.

    You see your step-daughter 3-4 times a year.  I think your time is better spent on bonding than correcting what she calls her grandmother.  Seriously, you prayed someone would correct her?  It's all very pearl-clutchy.

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  • I would just tell your SD what she shoud be calling her grandmother -- with your MIL's input.

    I don't think this is a big deal though, she's probably just mimicing what she hears other people call her.

    My grandma's were both named Marge, so we called them Grandma (Last Name).

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  • image vickel08:
    My family is really big on not calling adultsby their first name. I still call my aunts and uncles unlce___. My niece is three and she attempts to call people by their first name to see if she can get away with it. We usually just correct her. For example she tried to call my husbad Drew the other day. I just looked at her and said "it's uncle Drew" and then waited for her to repeat.  If you give those reminder she may get the point; however, the adults all have to buy into it. If the grandma allows it them it may be hard for her to correct.

    I agree on how to go about the correction of names. (I still call my relatives Aunt & Uncle out of love and respect.)  But only if it bothers the person she's nameing "incorrectly". If grandma doesn't mind, then leave it be. Also, everyone needs to call grandma by that name, not by her first name if you want her to pick up on it.  When around my niece who is 7 and nephew who is 10, I always refer to my FIL as grandpa, not his FN.

    When your step daughter is older and better able to understand, you can explain how people have different names in different situations for example the same person can be called Dad, grandpa, brother, son, cousin, friend.

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