Faux Pas Fix: Don’t Call Me ‘Mom’

by epi on August 2, 2011

Q: At my stepdaughter’s school open house, her teacher refers to me as “Annie’s mom.”  Do I correct her instead of staying silent and letting the mistake slide?

A: Yes, but not in front of the other parents or children.  Later, when she can focus on you, pull her aside and say, “I wanted to mention that I’m Annie’s stepmom, not her mom.”  Or, send her a thank-you for her open house hospitality, and mention your relationship to Annie then.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate August 2, 2011 at 8:45 am

The teacher may be trying to be sensitive to the relationship. If the mother is not in the picture, the step mother may be the “mom.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with correcting the teacher, but I wouldn’t see the address as a negative thing either.

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Rusty Shackleford August 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

I suppose the good news is that this is a step up from the old days when a teacher would automatically call you Mrs and your stepdaughter’s last name. But awkward nonetheless. Normally, students fill out an index card with their parents information at the beginning of the year so a teacher knows how to address the parents. Probably, the best way to approach this, assuming you are comfortable, is to introduce yourself to the teacher, and say “my name is Jane, I’m Jenny’s stepmom.”

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valerie August 3, 2011 at 12:47 am

Maybe your step-daughter talks about you as “Mom” to the teacher and the other students. My daughter refers to her step-dad as “My father” or “Dad” at school. At home he’s Joedad, but at school and church she refers to him as her father to avoid confusion.

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Ruth Peltier August 4, 2011 at 4:33 am

I hesitated about answering this because this may not apply with stepparents but here goes. I would ask the child what to do in the future. All my children have been foster kids. They had strong feelings on both sides of this issue. Some wanted the issue clarified right at the time it happened. Some vehemently wanted me to leave it alone. In fact, several asked me ahead of time to PLEASE let her tell her friends and teachers that I was her mom. It just depended on the kid. So I think the only expert in this discussion is the kid herself.

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SP August 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I think this is an excellent suggestion since it’s most important for the child to be comfortable with the situation. It may upset a child if you correct the teacher, leaving them feeling less important being called out as a “step” child.

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Pam March 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I have been a step-mom for 4&1/2 years now. One of my friends calls me “mom” when referring to me to my step-son,she’ll say,{eg.} “ask your “mom” & dad if you can come here after school” because her son and my step-son are good friends. I’ve told her that I’m the step-mom,not mom and she argues with me and says,”same thing.” I want to make it clear to outsiders looking in who’ve never been in a blended family that it’s not the same thing. Step-parents don’t have the same roles as bio parents,nor do they have that same bond with the children. I get very annoyed at people who force their opinions on us and our family life and wish they would respect our stance on the matter and accept it.

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Elizabeth March 14, 2012 at 12:28 am

I’m just curious – how would you prefer she refer to you?

“Ask your stepmom!”
or
“Go ask Pam!”

I think that if you make your preferences clear (which I would think also line up to how your stepson is used to addressing you), she should respect that – it’s not that hard to remember, and this just seems like she’s pushing some kind of agenda or bias that she has on you.

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Pam March 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I agree. I have been a step-mom for 4&1/2 years now. One of my friends calls me “mom” when referring to me to my step-son,she’ll say,{eg.} “ask your “mom” & dad if you can come here after school” because her son and my step-son are good friends. I’ve told her that I’m the step-mom,not mom and she argues with me and says,”same thing.” I want to make it clear to outsiders looking in who’ve never been in a blended family that it’s not the same thing. Step-parents don’t have the same roles as bio parents,nor do they have that same bond with the children. I get very annoyed at people who force their opinions on us and our family life and wish they would respect our stance on the matter and accept it.

Reply

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