Who should be called “Dad”?

The Pediatric Insider

© 2012 Roy Benaroch, MD


This question was posed on a public bulletin board: “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 previous relationships and a 9 year old grandson. With the help of his mother he has been raising his grandson. My concern is that my boyfriend refers to his grandson as ‘son’ and the grandson refers to him as ‘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. 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’?”


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 adults in 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.

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One Comment on “Who should be called “Dad”?”

  1. Lisa Shooman Says:

    Nice post.
    Lisa Shooman


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