Watching the process of my son's pain up close and personal day after day after day at times proves more than I can bear.
When I left my home with what I could fit in my car while 8 months pregnant with twin boys and our 15 month old blonde haired, blue eyed son in tow (at my husband's request), I was devastated. I still held out hope that we would be able to work things out and be a family again. After months of struggle, we divorced and that dream was gone for good, as he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and had her living in the home I left behind. Now they spend their time raising their two sons, and after months of struggling with child support payment or nonpayment, getting rare phone calls and even rarer visitations with the boys, I have watched my boys grow up not really having a relationship with him.
Now that they are 7 and 6, they are in school and have formed their identity without their Dad's presence or influence (by his own choice). Now I am married to a wonderful man who loves the children like a son, and they chose to call him "Daddy" after knowing him for only a few months after we were engaged. We prayed about how to address this with the boys, but being that my fiancé was extremely comfortable with the title and grateful to the point of tears for their acknowledgement, we allowed it to continue and were grateful that the boys took to him so rapidly. It was everything I had hoped for them to experience; genuine love for someone who came into our lives without obligation, but full of love and commitment to the lives of my children.
Unfortunately, my ex and his family did not take this response from the boys very well, despite his five year absence from their daily lives.
In fact, when my sons started talking about their "Daddy" in front of his grandparents, they told them that they weren't allowed to call him that. We talked to a mutual friend about how to handle it, and he explained to them that this was very harmful to the children. 6 months later, during their Dad's first visit in over a year, both he and the children's grandparents again forbade them from calling their step dad "Daddy". They came home in tears, and have been upset ever since. He has been complaining of stomachaches, has been melancholy and has been crying alone on the playground.
The thing that makes me the most frustrated is that this doesn't hurt Rob, it just hurts the boys. It puts them in an awkward, painful position where they are having to change their words and behavior based on the "feelings" of adults who are supposed to love these children unconditionally. We are at a loss as to how to proceed, and are currently praying about the process to resolve this for the boys in a way that is fair to them and makes them feel comforted.
Have you run into this problem? What did you do to resolve it?