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jeanc
jeanc asks:
Q:

My 2 yr old is calling my boyfriend daddy. What do I do?

I have been dating my boyfriend for a short time; he is a wonderful man that has fallen in love with me and my son.  My 2 year old son recently started referring to my boyfriend as daddy.  My son does not know is biological father and never will due to extenuating circumstances.  My boyfriend has said he is willing to take on the father role, but we are not sure about my son calling him daddy and because of his age I can’t explain why he doesn’t have a daddy. What do i do?
In Topics: Blended families
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Jun 22, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Thanks for posting your question. I can tell that you are a very careful and thoughtful mother who is very sensitive to the importance of male role models in your son's life.  
 
There is no right or wrong, easy answer to your question. As you mentioned, because of your son's age, he won't be able to understand complicated explanations to his biological father's whereabouts, but I think that you can begin to explain things to him in a simple way at this point. Explain to him that, like all children, he does have a father who helped "create" him (whatever language you feel comfortable with), but for a number of reasons (remain vague), he is not available to live with the two of you. It is natural for people to want to spend time with a partner, and you have begun spending time with [boyfriend's name here]. Although he is not your son's daddy, he cares about your son very much, and he enjoys spending time with him. If you and your boyfriend are comfortable with your son calling him daddy, tell your son that he can do that because you understand why he would wish to have a daddy in his life.
 
As your son gets older, he will understand the nuances of the situation with greater clarity, and I would encourage you to always be honest with your son (of course, no need to tell him sordid details, if they exist, until he is in his tween or teen years). Secrets have a way of creating problems in families.  
 
Take care and best wishes.  
L. Compian, Ph.D.
Child Psychologist
Education.com

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Additional Answers (1)

LouiseSattler
LouiseSattler , Child Professional writes:
Your son's calling of your boyfriend "daddy" is actually normal for a toddler.  This is called "over-generalization"  or when a child names all women "mommies" and all men "daddies".  Sometimes a child will call all people "mommies".  Correcting him in a negative manner won't really help the situation and may actually continue the problem longer than if you use this simple technique. Simply refer to your boyfriend during normal conversation by his proper name.  For example, "Jack (boyfriend) wants to know if Joe(son) wants to go for ice cream".  As your son matures, he will start to call people by their correct names and decrease the over-generalization of pronouns.

As for "he doesn't have a daddy... what do I do".....  Your son's maturity will not process the complicated information of your situation for quite some time.  When he does start to ask questions at a later age then there are many professionals, such as in schools to help you out.  Also, a simple and honest answer can be the best.  ("You only live with mommy who loves you very much.")  Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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