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Judge rules: stepmothers should not be called mothers

The mother made two requests to the court in North Holland: she wanted permission to enroll the child in a specific elementary school, and she wanted her ex-husband to stop referring to his new girlfriend as ‘mama’.

Confusion and sadness

His son now said ‘mama’ to his new girlfriend. Painful, the mother thought, and confusing for the child. He also disliked the fact that his father had allowed it. The man himself did not really see the problem: the child would have simply taken control because the others in the family also called his new girlfriend.

According to the father, the child knows that he can call his stepmother by name, but he would not do it alone. According to her, it is clear that the child has one real ‘mother’. But the court ruled in favor of the mother: only she could address or call her ‘mama’ by the father. People outside the family should also know this.

People in the area may otherwise get confused, says child psychologist Tischa Neve. “If a child talks about mom at school or in daycare, others may think it’s about the biological mother when the child means stepmother,” she explains. “It could also be that strangers talk to the bad person about the child because they hear him say mommy.”

conflict of loyalty

But with the child himself, it is actually not wrong. Neve says: “If contact with her mother is okay, she knows very well who owns her mother,” says. He called these situations very complicated. There are many places in it and often many emotions are involved. “A child does it anyway not to be annoying, but out of habit and open mind, he doesn’t think about the impact on his real mother.” Keep discussing the subject away from your child and see how you talk about it with him: “Children may feel guilty or get into a loyalty conflict. That’s really not desirable.”

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How can you prevent this? Communicate, both between themselves as parents and your child. “In a case like this it’s important that you emphasize as a father that your child only has one mother. And never actively tell the children that they can call someone a mother, because that’s very complicated and sensitive. “If you start with her yourself, you can explain to her that she has only one mother and together they come up with a different way to address her. It’s also important that the father doesn’t actively talk about ‘mama’ if not the mother.”

Neve especially advises to talk about it calmly and find a way together that is okay for everyone. “Try to keep thinking about your child’s point of view and its importance and also put yourself in your ex’s position. It’s good to share your own feelings about it as much as possible. No matter how difficult sometimes.”

Replace or threaten

That own feeling probably plays a big role in a case like this. Janneke van Bockel, a parenting expert, explains, “It’s often about feeling replaced or threatened, or taking your place.” How you deal with it as a biological mother depends a lot on how you feel. “

Because you are older, even if your children are no longer with you. “When there is a divorce, you divorce as a partner, but not as a parent. Once you’ve grown up you can never put that aside, it changes your sense of identity.” And that feeling can be touched when someone else comes into the picture. “Often there’s more than just what the lawsuit is about: a person may, for example, not feel seen as a mother.”

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The mother’s lawyer could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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