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What Should Step Kids Call Their Stepmom?

author image Cynthia Measom
Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.
What Should Step Kids Call Their Stepmom?
Children's comfort levels differ when it comes to naming their stepmom. Photo Credit: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

What step kids should call their stepmom depends largely on each individual child's situation. Variables such as the child's age and comfort level come into play. In addition, the quality and length of the relationship between the child and the stepmom and the vibe between the child's birth mother and stepmom have significant impact. However, if the biological parents and the stepmom can work together, and respect the child's desires, it will keep this minor issue from becoming one that is serious and disruptive.

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The Biological Parent's Feelings

Biological mothers who realize that their child has begun to call their ex-partner's new wife "mommy," might take issue. Hearing her son refer to another woman as his mom can cause the biological mother to feel threatened. A biological mother needs to realize that her child must go through a period of adjustment, and even if her child feels comfortable enough to call a stepmom "mom," it does not diminish her relationship with her son. Instead of making her child's choice of names an issue, she should focus having on a loving and supportive relationship with her child.

The Stepmom's Feelings (And Those of Her Biological Kids)

If the stepmom is not already a parent, having the name "mommy" bestowed upon her immediately might be awkward or uncomfortable. A stepmom may enter the family with her biological children in tow. Additionally, if her new stepchild calls her "mom," this might cause emotional turmoil for her biological children, because they are not used to sharing their mom with others. Or, a stepmom might feel slighted if a child decides to call her "Stepmom" or by her first name, instead of using a more endearing term. It is important for anyone who is a stepparent to realize that she should allow the child to choose the name he wants to call her and not take offense if that name is not what she prefers, advises therapist Ron L. Deal, author and president of the Smart Stepfamilies organization.

The Children's Feelings

A child's feelings about her stepmom will likely evolve over time. For instance, a child may call his stepmom by her first name for a period, and then he might call her "Mom," if he develops a strong emotional bond with her. Small children tend to have a more simplistic view of the world. A "mom" can be any female parental figure, so calling a stepmom "mommy" may come easily to a child of this age. Older children and teens are unlikely to start calling a stepmom "mom" or "mother" partly because of their fear of disloyalty to their biological mom. It is vital for all parties involved -- biological parents and stepmom -- to support their child's choice of what to call the stepmom. Becoming angry or resentful about a child's decision to refer to his dad's new wife as "mommy" only serves to confuse and alienate the child.


Rather than using the term "stepmom," children can refer to their dad’s new wife as "my second mom," "my other mom" or refer to the person by her first name. Other options -- usually for younger children – include the term "Mommy" followed by the person's first name," "mama," "mom" or "mother.”

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