Is it disrespectful?
The title of dad or father is a sweet and respectful way to acknowledge a child's special bond with their male parent. It signifies love and respect and shows appreciation for his role in their life. But the title works both ways. The term dad reminds fathers of the responsibility to guide and protect their kids.
The importance of the unique role dads play in their kids’ lives is why a father named Steve was upset with his wife for repeatedly using his first name when referring to him with their preteen children.
The father vented about the situation and asked if he was wrong in a Reddit post with over 10,000 responses.
“My wife recently started using my first name when referring to me to our preteen kids, as in ‘Steve's gonna pick you up from school tomorrow,’” the father wrote on Reddit’s AITA forum. “I asked her not to when I first heard it, saying I don't really like when you use my first name to the kids. Can you say ‘your dad’ or ‘dad’?”
The mother initially replied, “Steve is your name, I don’t see the problem,” but later came to his way of thinking. The problem for Steve was that she didn’t stop the habit altogether. She continued to refer to him as Steve and after he brought it up again, she gave a relatively weak apology.
“It's totally subconscious. It's not like I mean to,” the wife responded. “You're probably going to have to remind me again like 50 times.”
The husband was upset that he got such a wishy-washy response to his request. “That's not really acceptable,” he told her. “If you hear me and respect my wishes, it doesn't need an excuse or hedging; you can just say OK.” The wife got upset and doubled down, saying she “can't control” referring to him by his first name while talking to the children. He ended the conversation by saying he’s “sure” she will “try” to stop but feels sure the issue will crop up again.
Is he wrong to have a problem with his wife referring to him as Steve in front of their kids?
“She's spent all this time referring to you as ‘dad,’ but now it's Steve and she says it's subconscious and she can't help it? That's not how people's brains work. I get that it's now a habit, and perhaps it is very hard for her to remember, but that does not explain why she started in the first place," godsonlyprophet responded to the post.
Some saw something nefarious about the mother's behavior.
“My immediate reaction is she is distancing herself from you and trying to lessen/remove you from co-parenting. That something is definitely not right here,” Airable_Sun_5891 wrote.
Some people said he should give his wife a break.
"It is completely natural to momentarily slip up and not call you by your title of ‘dad’ and call you by your given name. You’re lucky she didn’t call you by another family member’s name because have you heard of the phenomenon where we mix up the names of people we love," Expensive-Lie1127 wrote.
The overall thoughts of the commenters were that the wife should do her best to refer to Steve as the dad in front of the kids because that is the title he prefers. It shows respect as a co-parent and spouse and is an excellent example for the kids. Respect is the foundation of a good marriage; when it starts to wane, it can open up a complex set of problems.