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Can a parenting consultant rule that a stepdad be called "step-dad" instead of letting the child call him Daddy?

Saint Paul, MN |

My significant other ( I call him my husband) is known as Daddy to my 2yr old. My child's biological father, who has 25% visiting time, calls himself papa and is mad that our child is calling my significant other Daddy. Me and my SO have another child together and he will be called daddy to all of our children. So what is the research and law on titles for another person who is in a definite parenting role?

Just to clarify, it's my child that chose to use the parental term Daddy, not us. We told my child that she could use his name too. All childhood educators that I have contacted, all say the same thing, 'let the child chose what they are comfortable with. It's what makes them happy'. And it is not in our contract for the PC to rule on. It's a stupid battle by my ex that all of the sudden came up literally over a year later. It makes us sad, since he keeps forcing our child to not say it at all, and she gets mad and cries about it. Thanks for all of the feedback.

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Attorney answers 3


Attorney Sinclair provided an excellent answer. I'd only add to your question, a PC has the authority that the parties grant to him or her. So, if such a naming issue is in the PC contract you all signed, then yes they can.

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Child development experts speak of preserving the role of bio-parents and finding other names for steps and close friends. Although a child may on its own choose to call a step-father "Daddy," most frequently that naming starts with the mother. There is no law in the form or statutes or regulations on this subject, but courts in case law have acknowledged this very naming issue as evidence of parental alienation. Nor is there any requirement that all the children in one home call the adult male "Daddy."

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But the same goes to force a child to say something that they don't want to say. It alienates them out of the family.

Paula Brown Sinclair

Paula Brown Sinclair


If that is your opinion, you are poorly informed and may be contributing to your child's distress.


The earlier answer on parenting research is spot-on. That said, however, I question whether or not there is an solution to this issue. I say this because, basically, the child is going to call your SO whatever they wish to call them, and no "parenting consultant" or court can change that fact. And, frankly, if the baby-daddy and/or you want to constantly take this back to court over such small, impossible-to-resolve issues, you are in for a long additional 16 years until the child is an adult. My advice would be that this continued litigation and conflict will cause more harm to the child than any "parenting alienation" claim either of you can make. There is no statute controlling this kind of thing, and, even if there were, it would be totally impossible to enforce.

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Agreed. Petty, selfish, jealous thinking by ex.

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