MIL wants me to call them Mom and Dad

posted 3 years ago in Family
Post # 3
795 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

They seem like a strange bunch. May I ask how old you were when they asked you to call

them Mr and Mrs? I can see it of you were 16 but I can’t imagine doing that to an adult.

Post # 5
1644 posts
Bumble bee

According to tradition, the “proper” titles one uses to address one’s inlaws are “Mother Lastname” and “Father Lastname”. In your shoes, I would adopt this old custom. It sounds awkward and stilted, I know; but then your father-in-law has created an awkward and stilted relationship by insisting on generational privileges. And it has several advantages in your situation.

First, it is unusual enough to throw your in-laws for a loop the first two or three times you use it, so by the time they figure out how they feel about it you’ll have already set a pattern. Second, it acknowledges your father-in-law’s stuffy request to be addressed by his title and surname — it just changes the title to reflect the changed relatioonship. Third, it acknowledges your mother-in-law’s request to have the parental relationship recognized, without giving her the pet-name “mom” that you reserve for a much closer relative.

I asked some of my nieces about this, and with one voice they agreed that what to call the inlaws is one of the great awkwardnesses of early marriage. One got married “because she had to” as the saying used to go, so she moved right away to calling the inlaws “Granny” and “Gramps”. The others agreed that having children solved the problem in much the same way. One niece — who tends to be a very formal person, if that helps — did go the “Mother Smith” and “Father Smith” route and then after twenty years suddenly decided to change to “Jane” and “John” and was gratified that the inlaws breathed almost audible sighs of relief to be addressed in a less awkward form; the others made do with first names until the grandchildren came along.

Incidentally, there’s nothing wrong with a person deciding they want their relationship with someone else to be on a last-name-and-titles basis. I presume Mr Lastname referred to you as “Ms Fiveonefive” in return? Because insisting on the privilege of title and surname, without returning the courtesy, is ill-bred and boorish, and I would hate to assume such a thing about your father-in-law.

Post # 6
1491 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Similar to what the PP said, my cousin calls her inlaws “Mama Lastname” or “Papa Lastname” if you don’t want to be as formal as “Mother/Father X”  

This way they get that honorific of “family” while not being straight up Mom and Dad, which as you said, is a special name you call your parents.  


Post # 7
642 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@Yellow515:  I feel your stress and pain as I am in the EXACT same situation! My FI and I have been dating for 8 years, and the first time I sliped and called hi mother by her first name, both my FI and his older brother scolded me like I was a child (I was 25 at the time – but that’s a whole other arguement haha) and told me I was never to be so informal. So I have either just not said their names, or called them Mr. and Mrs.

Now that we’re getting married, FI (and his parents) are expecting me to call them “mom” and “dad”. I straight up told my FI that is was never going to happen – they are not my parents and I won’t address them as such. When we have kids, then I’ll call them Nana and Papa as the grandchildren do, but until then, they’re Mr. and Mrs. He broke the news to him parents and while his dad is ok with (or seems to be), his mom always signs her emails and texts with “Mom” so I know she’s not happy.

Unfortunately, sometimes people just have to learn to respect others boundaries and comfort zones. Granted, I’m not really into coddling people and giving in on things that make me incredibly uncomfortable. I still respect them and let them know that I love them as the parents of my FI and the grandparents of our future children, but they’re just not MY parents and they just never will be. It’s interesting to me too because they never did this to the other two sisters-in-law. Guess I’m special because I’m marrying the baby of the family? Who knows haha!

Good luck!

Post # 8
1312 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - NH

I don’t think I could do it, but I do call FI’s parents by their first names.  We’ll see what happens in the future though!

Post # 9
2111 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I’ve known FI since high school and, being from the South, typically we refer to adults we don’t have a formal relationship with as Mr./Ms. First Name. So I’ve been called them Mrs. T__ and Mr. T__ for a long time. As far as I know, they haven’t said anything about changing that. I once referred to them by their first names and FI looked at me like I was crazy, “Don’t do that, it just sounds wrong.” Because of our relationship, I’m ok with doing some form of mom and dad. It’s just an awkward transition.

If y’all’s relationship is more formal, I’d call them Mother and Father.

Post # 10
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

I just avoid calling mine anything, Once the baby’s born, I’ll call them “Grandma and Grandpa (LastName)”!

So if MIL was one of those creepy “My grandkids call me Mom” people, I’d be able to keep correcting them!

Post # 11
8680 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

I currently call them FFIL and FMIL.. They call me FDIL.

When talking to my fi about them, I prefer to them as “your mom/dad”, and talking to others I refer to them as “scott’s mom/dad”.

And if i’m talking to a stranger i’ll use their first names.

Post # 12
259 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2015 - Country Club

If it makes you uncomfortable then by all means don’t do it. I sure as hell dont, but not because I simply wouldn’t do it, but because my relationship with my in-laws is just not to that level. 

My DH on the other hand calls my mom, well mom, and same thing with aunts and uncles. 

Post # 13
575 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@HonoraryNerd:  I started to do that with FI’s parents before we were dating, and they hated it.  They’re from California, and apparently, Mr/Mrs FirstName isn’t done there at all.  My options were either first names right away, or Mr/Mrs LastName, which is what I opted for because I didn’t know these folks well at all!  We’ve since moved to first names, but it’s been awkward.  Moreso now because of how much they resent me, but that’s another matter.

OP, I think the Mother/Father LastName might be your best bet.  Or the Mama/Papa version.  You get to decide who you call mom.  Nobody else.  Acknowledge the relationship, if it’ll keep some feathers from getting too ruffled, but save mom for the woman in your life who fits the bill!

Post # 14
304 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

My in-laws never told me what to call them when I first met them. DH and I started dating 3 years ago, got engaged after 2 years and got married about 3 months ago. Since his parents literally NEVER told me what to call them, I just always called them Mr. and Mrs. Lastname. New England is generally very formal so I figured that was most appropriate. If I were in California (where I’m from) I probably would call them by their first names. Right before we got married, MIL implied she wanted me to call them Mom and Dad and signs all her emails, even the crazy ones, with mom and Dad.

I told DH I don’t feel comfortable calling his parents mom and Dad and would rather call them by their first names. He doesn’t have a problem with it, but we don’t see his parents much so I have no idea what they think of this (right now they aren’t speaking to us). 

Post # 15
661 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@Yellow515:   I do the same as @PeachSnapple:  said… DH’s parents are “Mama B

” and “Papa B

“…. When our baby is born in June we will probably start calling MIL “Nana B

“…. I might occasionally slip a Mom or Dad… But I think that’s happened maybe once a year? Maximum…


Post # 16
641 posts
Busy bee

If kids are a part of your plan, I would say hang tough and stay polite until you begin trying to conceive, then have the talk with them about what grandma and grandpa names they want (tons of people are wanting weird alternates these days.)  Once they have that figured, just call them by those nicknames and the issue will settle.

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