Her son never met his biological father, and now that she’s in a new relationship, she refuses to pressure her child into doing something he doesn’t like. However, her partner thinks she’s doing something wrong!
Just the Two of Us
OP (Original Poster) is a 26-year-old woman with a 6-year-old son. The biological father of her son had never been in his life, and her son didn’t even know what his name was or what he looked like.
Back on the Scene
She’s been going through things alone, but three years before she posted this story, OP decided she would get back to dating. As a single mother, OP said she was always looking for a “serious relationship” with an eye toward marriage.
It didn’t take long for OP to find a great guy named Fred. Fred told everyone on Facebook that he had a crush on OP forever, and they decided to become a couple after only a few dates.
One Step at a Time
OP was clear from the beginning she wouldn’t introduce Fred to her son until she was confident the relationship was serious and going to last. The last thing OP wanted was for them to become close or bond and then be heartbroken when the relationship didn’t work.
Proving Himself Worthy
After OP had been with Fred for a year, she decided to introduce the two of them. She and Fred had so much in common, and their future looked bright.
OP told her son that her boyfriend’s name was Fred. She also noted that she called him Fred, too, never “baby,” “honey,” or anything of the sort because everyone called him Fred, including their friends and both families.
To her, it felt “weird” to do so when everyone else called him by his name.
A Father Figure
According to OP, Fred had been great with her son. He helped teach him things like being respectful, and if discipline were necessary, he would ask her to take charge so he didn’t overstep any boundaries.
Slow and Steady
OP waited until she had dated Fred for three years before moving in with him. That is when he finally asked her why she didn’t “encourage” her son to call him “Dad” instead of Fred.
Hold up a Second
However, OP told Fred that her son knew what the word “dad” meant and that it was up to him whom he would refer to as his dad. She knew that if and when her son was ready, he would use the word on his own, or he would continue to call Fred by his name like everyone else did.
A Little Salt
Fred was upset by OP’s answer and accused her of waiting too long to introduce them. OP wrote, “He says that somehow it’s my fault for not introducing him sooner in the relationship and for not telling him that he is his dad.”
For Fred, it was “not like he would know if it was true or not” since her son didn’t know who his biological father was anyway.
A Red Flag
OP didn’t know what to do upon hearing that. She doesn’t want her son to feel obligated to call her boyfriend dad, and she doesn’t want to lie to her son.
The Simple Truth
OP also noted that her son knows he has her last name and that Fred had a different last name.
So, would she be wrong for not forcing her son to call Fred his dad?
In one of the comments, she explained, “I’m honestly nervous about having this talk with Fred. I am lowkey scared about how this will end. Some situations like this could be the dealbreaker, and I just feel we are all too attached at this point.”
Then, in an update, OP explained that she found out her mom was behind everything.
She wrote, “After a serious talk with my mother, she admitted to putting pressure on Fred about putting pressure on me to take the initiative for my son to start calling him dad and to propose to me already and make everything official—husband and father. She went on about how she’s doing me a big favor and that I should marry him as soon as possible!”
What Redditors Have to Say About the Issue
Reddit came out overwhelmingly in support of OP.
One Redditor said, “You’re not married or engaged. You’re dating. Fred is not even a stepdad. Let this be your son’s choice. You would be an a**hole if you forced him to call him dad. This is premature at best.”
Another Redditor spoke out, saying, “Not the a**hole. Dad is a title that is earned. If your son wants to start referring to him as ‘dad,’ then fine. If he doesn’t want to, that is also fine. Not the a**hole for refusing to prompt your son to call a man you are dating ‘dad.’”
Brute Force Won’t Work
For users, OP was correct to think labels weren’t something she could force on her child.
One user wrote, “Not the a**hole. ‘I told him that it’s not my call; it’s my son’s.’ This is the full long and short of it. You can’t force it to happen. It’s concerning that Fred wants to try to. Plus, your son is only six; this sort of decision will probably come later for him. Hopefully, you can explain to Fred that he just needs to be patient and supportive.”
“Fred needs to understand that as much as he wants to be called ‘dad,’ forcing your son to do so can further harm their relationship. Your son already sees him as a father figure but hasn’t fully accepted him as his dad yet. He may never, but that’s his call to make, not yours and not Fred’s,” commented one woman.
Is OP right about this? Should she make her son call Fred “dad,” or is this a stepfather who is going too far?
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This post first appeared as She Refused to Pressure Her Six-Year-Old Son Into Calling His Stepfather His “Dad.” Now Her Partner Says It’s “Her Fault” They Didn’t Bond Deeper! Was She Being Overprotective? on Quote Ambition.