- 8 years ago
- Wedding: July 2010
Hi all! My husband’s parents got divorced when he was in middle school, but have managed to stay good friends and have a wonderful relationship. It was a classic case of two good people who make great friends, but lousy spouses. They both remarried lovely people, and all four of them get along great, and of course love my husband, which is fantastic. My husband and I have been together 5 years, so I’ve had a chance to build good relationships with all of them, as well. My parents have been married for over 40 years, and they get along great with everyone too. Let me start by saying that this is obviously the most important part, and we feel hugely blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives who all love us and love each other on top of that!
But since we’ve gotten married we’ve started talking about one thing that’s just a little sticky. What the heck do we call them all? In my family, everyone calls their in laws “mom and dad” once they’ve gotten close enough to feel comfortable doing so (usually within the first year or so of getting married). I know not everyone does this, but I grew up with that, and I think it’s a great way to show that love and respect to an in law who is going to be in your life forever. I think of my mom and my paternal grandmother – sure it might have been weird for them to use “mom” at first, since my mom had only had one mom for the 20 years up til the wedding, but then they had a great, close, mother-daughter relationship for the next 40 years, so by now it’s the most natural thing in the world. It would seem strange, to me, for her to still be calling her by her first name. Ever since I was little I just assumed that my one day husband would call my parents mom and dad, and baring any true evil/craziness that I’d call his parents mom and dad, too. The hitch in all this is what to do with the wonderful step parents.
The problem for me is that since I’ve known his biological parents and step parents for an equally long time, it seems weird to “elevate” (not the perfect word, but I hope you get my meaning) his biological parents to mom and dad, while still calling his step parents Joe and Sarah. But, since my husband’s always called them Joe and Sarah, it’s not like he’s going to suddenly start calling them mom and dad, too, then it would be weird for everyone invovled if I were to call them mom and dad while my husband (who’s known them longer, and has the more direct connection to them) continues calling them Joe and Sarah. For the record, since everyone gets along so well and are such great laid back people, I don’t think Joe and Sarah would really mind if I did call his bio parents mom and dad, and not them, but I would still feel weird about it…
On the other hand, my husband’s said he’d feel weird about “elevating” my parents to mom and dad, when he’s known his step parents for longer, and had more of a parental relationship with them, and they’re still Joe and Sarah. For example, he lived with his mom and stepdad for all of high school, and his dad had to move to another state for work. So while his dad was still firmly actively involved and totally his dad, his stepdad was the one to teach him to shave and drive and whatnot. So from his perspective, if he’s going to call another person dad, it should be Joe, his stepdad, more than my dad. And I completely understand that, but I guess to me there’s also the difference in expectations between an in law and a stepparent. Maybe I’m way off base here, but I don’t know any step-parents to kids with two active parents who expect to eventually be called mom or dad, regardless of how close they are to the child (obvious exception if dad is out of the picture and step-dad totally filled that role). But with in laws, maybe not everyone does it, but it’s certainly not unusual for them to be called mom and dad eventually. Anyway, I digress. I certainly don’t want the step-parents to feel slighted by my husband, and he’s said the only reason he wouldn’t call my parents mom and dad would be to avoid hurting his step parents. But it makes me sad to think of us still calling each others parents by their first names in 20 years, when we’re all already so close. Plus, since my brother in law calls my parents mom and dad, its going to make me really sad at family gatherings when everyones calling them mom and dad except my husband.
For those of you who are still here, thanks for sticking it out til the end, and sorry for the epicly long post! Basically I’m just looking to hear from people who have great step-parents-in-law and get any advice on what to call them, and how my husband and I should handle this in general. Everyone’s “mom and dad” when we’re with them individually, and then all but the respective bio parents go by first names when more than one set of parents are together? Some kind of nickname for the step parents (the way kids call one grandpa “pop pop” or something)? Any advice is appreciated!