The Name Dilemma

by Kent Darcie

I’ll always remember the initial meeting with my first step-mom. She and Dad were already married and I was spending a week with them. She introduced herself as I hopped into the back seat of my dad’s Chrysler. That innocent greeting created a years-long dilemma for this teenage boy; how do I address this person?

Lest you fail to appreciate the depth of my quandary, consider these factors. This encounter occurred in the 1970’s. A young person who called an adult by their first name was inappropriate. Mr, Mrs, Miss, and later Ms, always preceded a last name when speaking with “an elder”. Though common today, using a first name to address my step-mother was unthinkable.

Multiple closed roadsAdditionally; my mother forbade me to call “that woman” Mom.  Mother, Mamma, Mommy, Mumsy, Madre, Mzazi, or any other word which applied to a human being who bore a child, was off limits as well. So what could I do?

I didn’t call my step-mom anything. Honestly, for years I never addressed her. For example, if she was needed for something while on the other side of the house, rather than shout “mom”, I’d go where she was and we’d speak directly. I’ll grant you it was inconvenient. My predicament almost seems silly now… almost. However, it served as a solution.

I’m amazed how lost I was in those post-divorce years. Ministries like DivorceCare4Kids and Focus on the Family were not yet created. The “silly” questions went unasked as a result. Thankfully, I can see the Lord’s guiding hand on my life during that time of questions without answers.

Also, in case you are wondering, the day finally arrived when I started addressing my dad’s new wife. I used her first name… but after I was in college.

Did you experience a situation, created by your parent’s divorce, which seems silly now?” Share it in the comment section.  You’ll find you’re not alone.

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