Thursday, January 08, 2009

Who's Your Daddy?

"So," I say to The Husband one evening. "You know how I'm all about dismantling the binary gender paradigm?"

"Of course," he says.

"What do you think about this?" I want to know.

There's a client who has a couple of children and is expecting another. She is in a relationship with another woman who is expecting her first baby. The mother and the partner have told the children to call the partner "Daddy."

The consensus among the social workers is that this is negative and confusing for the children. To be fair, no one would tell that to the mom since no one believes the kids are actually being significantly harmed, just that the situation is weird and bad judgment on the part of the mother.

My first visceral reaction was also negative, but I'm trying to examine this reflex. If we look at it objectively should calling a female partner and caregiver "Daddy" even be considered an issue?

The Husband wondered what the partner's own child would call her. He thought that being the daddy to some children and mommy to others would be more confusing than having mismatching gendered labels. I pointed out that the same caregiver could be called mommy, aunt, granny, etc. by different children, and no one would worry about those kids being detrimentally confused. But, we still agreed that it just felt different. I'm still not sure why.

"Daddy" essentially means "male parent," but many male caregivers are called "Daddy" even though they don't have a biological relationship to the children who call them that, and I don't know of anyone who would have an issue in that case. Why is it even necessary to have different titles for male and female primary caregivers? And if it's not, why should any of us care if a woman wants to be the daddy?

What do you think?


Abi said...

My first response was 'What?! No!' but then I pictured being a child with two female parents.... and it does make sense really. It's normal to have two parents, a Mummy and Daddy....why does the Daddy have to be a man? Mummy and Daddy can be translated into Parent and Parent, so why not let a woman be a Daddy... especially if she hasn't physically birthed the children, she is already 'playing' the role of the Daddy.

I think unfortunately it will lead to a lot of 'Your Dad must be the butch one then!' comments later in the kids' lives.... but people are cruel.

Sparkling Red said...

I think it'd be OK. Kids are very adaptable. I can understand that Mummy and Daddy are more intimate terms than the alternative of being on a first name basis with parents, or having only the birth mother be "Mummy" which would leave her spouse feeling left out. Also, it might spare the kid some pain from ignorant people - when he or she talks about Mummy and Daddy everyone will simply assume that Daddy is a man, instead of having to explain why she calls her parents Mary and Dominique, for example.

witchypoo said...

A lot of kids just say "I have two mommies." Ask her how the kids feel about this. Are they okay and comfortable with it? It's really all about the kids.

katchild001 said...

I know that the world is changing but to have your children that was raise in a hetero relationship to call your now female parnter daddy is wrong , to the children and the father. you guys try to make it seem like it is ok but is not. let her be who she is,it is selfish, and is only to make the adults in the situation happy, daddy means just that daddy . daddy is a man not a female wishing or tring to be one. come on now the children might adapt,what choice do the have? I feel that they will grow up and be confussed especially if the daddy is still in their lives.

Anonymous said...

I am a female in a Lesbian relationship we have a son and he calls me daddy. I play the daddy role and there is nothing wrong with that. Just because I dont have a penis doesnt mean I cant be a good father to him. I do everything a daddy should if not more.