“Mason is going to be so confused with two dads. What will he call you? How will he tell you apart?”
After Mason was born, a few people in our life asked us that exact question. We get it…this was a different experience for much of our family and friends. No one knew how to navigate a two-dad family. But we were surprised that this was one of their first questions after his birth. What is he going to call us? We had no idea either but that wasn’t one of our top concerns. He was only a few days old. I don’t think he cared who was who or who was caring for him. And we were too exhausted from the sleepless nights to care! We just knew we loved him and nothing else mattered.
But 6 months after he was born, we did begin to think about what we were going to call ourselves. We started to think about the purpose of parental names. The name that a kid assigns to a parental or guardian figure has nothing to do with their love or respect toward that person. It is simply a label that we assign. In most societies, people use the terms mom and dad or some other versions of those words.
But Michael grew up with a mom, a dad, a step-mom, and a step-dad. His step-parents became a part of his life at a very young age. He has always called his step-parents by their first names. Using their first names didn’t undermine his love and respect for them.
Many same-sex parents will intentionally choose names to differentiate them to their kid(s). Many two-dad parents use terms, such as dad, papa, or daddy. They will assign one of those terms to each dad to differentiate them.
But we didn’t think it was really that important to force Mason to call us a certain name. So, after a lot of thought, we decided to let this issue resolve organically. When talking to Mason as a baby, we referred to ourselves as dad or daddy, but we never used terms to distinguish the two of us.
I am not sure at what age it started, but Mason started calling us Daddy Mike and Daddy Matt without prompting from us. This labeling system works well for us. Friends and family who are in our lives know that these are the names that we use in our household.
I suspect this labeling system will evolve as Mason gets older. I doubt he will want to refer to us as Daddy Mike and Daddy Matt when he is 16 years old. But we will cross that bridge when the time comes. And lets face it, regardless of the family type, 16-year-olds probably want to use a few other terms to refer to their parents! Kidding aside, I know that whatever label Mason chooses to assign to us as he gets older, it will never change the fact that we are his parents. A label will not change the love we have for each other!
Love, M & M & M