Forcing the child to define the nature of the relationship with the new person in the parent's life often proves to be counter-productive
When it comes to dating, single parents are often extremely cautious about introducing their child to a new love interest. It is important to give the child time and space to decide for themselves the nature of their relationship with the new person in their parent's life and trying to force a bond between them often proves to be counter-productive. Reddit user u/justconfusedfather faced the same conundrum when he started dating his current wife and decided to wait a year before introducing her to his then 3-year-old son.
Luckily, the little boy adored his father's new partner and things sailed smoothly for the next few years. However, the problem came years later when the Redditor's wife demanded that her step-son start calling her "Mom" in return for everything she's done for him.
Taking to the r/AmItheAsshole subreddit with his conundrum, u/justconfusedfather wrote: I’m 31 and my son is 7. My fiancé, his mom, passed away when he was born due to complications. I wanted to keep her memory alive so since he was an infant, I told him all about his mom and constantly showed him pictures of her. I always told my son she went up to heaven and is now watching over him. We talk about death whenever he has questions about it so it’s something we‘re open about. He also has a really great relationship with her side of the family so that’s another way he’s connected to her.
I started dating my current wife when my son was just 3 but we waited a year before she officially met him. They both bonded instantly and my son adores her, he explained. Fast forward 3 years later, we’re now happily married. This issue happened right after her parents moved closer to our city. They were previously living across the country, so the only time they met me or my son face to face was at our wedding.
The Redditor revealed how an innocuous comment made by his son blew up into a major issue when his mother-in-law took issue with the fact that the boy called his step-mom by her nickname. They came over for Father's Day for a small brunch. While we were all chatting, my son came in and asked "Mimi (my wife’s nickname) can you help me set up my PlayStation please?" Her mother immediately expressed how bothered she was that he still doesn’t call her mom even though we’ve been married for over a year. I didn’t feel like it was a big deal but she refused to stop talking about it and it kinda ruined the afternoon, he explained.
A few days later, my wife said her mom keeps calling her over this and now she sort of agrees too. She said it’s hurtful that he still doesn’t see her as his mom after everything she’s done for him and doesn’t feel appreciated because I haven’t encouraged him to do so. My son does appreciate her though. He makes her cards every Mother’s Day and tells her how much he loves her. And it’s not like I never spoke to my son about this, the Redditor clarified. It was brought up at our wedding. He asked me if this meant he had to start calling her mom. I said only if he wants to and that I know mommy would be okay with him also calling my wife his mom. Just so he wouldn’t worry about that.
He said okay and ran off to go play with his cousins and didn’t mention it again. I figured now that he knows it’s okay, he’ll call her mom when/if he was ready. She knows all this but said she still feels she deserves to be called “mom” especially since she’s been in his life longer than his mother. That comment struck a nerve and I told her to never say anything like that again. We had a big argument over this and now we’re not talking, the user revealed. She still thinks she deserves for me to get him to start calling her mom and I believe he should do it on his own if he wants to. I understand where she’s coming from but I also don’t want to pressure him if that’s not what he wants to call her.
What do you think? Is she right?