Calling a Stepfather “Dad”

An Appeals Court just ruled on a father’s motion to stop his child from calling her stepfather “Dad”.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

It’s easy to understand why a father who felt his ex-wife was trying to alienate his daughter from him would be furious that his ex-wife would not correct their daughter when the child called his ex-wife’s new husband—the daughter’s stepfather—“Dad”, so he filed a motion to put a stop to it.  The trial court ruled that the biological parents should not encourage the child to refer to anyone other than the two of them as “Mom” or “Dad” and that the child was to be corrected if she referred to her stepfather as “Dad”.

The mother appealed. The appeals court just ruled that it was more likely parental ill-will that led to a lack of healthy relationships with the child—not the terms the child used to refer to her parents or stepparents. As a result, they tossed out the restriction that prevented the child from calling her stepfather “Dad”.

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