Created By: paycheckgurl on March 5, 2014 Last Edited By: paycheckgurl on July 30, 2014
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New Parent Nomenclature Problem

The debate over what to call a Parental Substitute

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Needs a Better Title, Rolling Updates, Seen It a Million Times, Do We Have This One?

I don't call him daddy, but he takes care of things
When you pick me up on Friday, are you gonna bring me anything?
Oh, don't worry Dad, you know, it don't matter what we do
Cause I don't call him daddy, he can never be like you.
- Doug Supernaw, "I Don't Call Him Daddy"

A character is taken in by a Parental Substitute of some sort, usually of a more permanent variety such as an official foster parent or step parent, and they're considering calling them "mom" or "dad" despite the lack of biological connection. Agreeing to call them "mom" or "dad" will lead to a perceived level of closeness than simply calling them by their first name, but also may lead to the protagonist feeling like they're shunning their birth parents, who is definitely not the person raising them. It typically causes the protagonist tons of angst and is a handy device for exploring the familial dynamics between the characters.

Compare/Contrast You're Not My Father, Happily Adopted, and You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious.

Examples

    Fan Works 
  • Fanfiction for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic :
    • Fanfic sometimes take on the issue of how Twilight and Spike view each other. It is a sort of Parent/Sibling/Assistant relation. Official material seems to have settled on "Assistant" and he calls her "Twilight" in-show. In fanfic just about anything goes.
    • Twilight was mentored by princess Celestia during her youth. As such it is a common topic to explore just what their relation is. Mentor/student? Second mother figure? Princess/Subject? Friend? That Twilight herself got a promotion to princess doesn't make things easier.
  • In secooper87's Adventures of a Line Hopper series The alternate timeline daughter of the Doctor and and Buffy Summers calls the Doctor her "father" as, biologically that's what he is to her, but calls the inter-dimensional being that raised her "Dad" and is very adamant the two terms are not interchangeable. After she begins to be raised by the main-universe Buffy, she calls her "Mom" although had to remind herself to call her that for sometime. A lot of times she'll start to call out for "Buf-I mean-Mom"
  • In the Emergency! fic "Lost and Found'', Roy and Joanne are mama and papa to John's infant daughter Melissa, intending to adopt her after John is abducted and feared dead and her mother doesn't want her. They show her pictures of John and she recognizes him as dada when he is found and brought home. In the sequel, "Reclamation", a psychiatrist tells the couple to find a new designation as John takes his place as the baby's father. The Honorary Uncle thing doesn't work, though, and they end up remaining Mama Joanne and Papa Roy.

    Live Action Film 
  • In The Sand Lot main character Scotty's mother had just married a new man he doesn't connect with off the bat. After gaining new friends and learning about baseball, he begins to find some more common ground with him and says in the closing narration he soon had no problem calling him "dad".
  • Step Brothers plays this for laughs.
    Brennan: I'm not gonna call him Dad.
    Nancy: Brennan, you're 39 years old. I wouldn't expect you to call him Dad.
    Brennan: Well I'm not going to, *ever*! Even if there's a fire!
  • Shaun of the Dead has the recurring line, "He's not my dad, he's my stepdad" from Shaun about his stepfather Phillip. It stems from Shaun viewing Phillip as a Jerk Ass, rather than the Jerk with a Heart of Gold he is. Before turning into a zombie Phillip tells Shaun he's always loved him and Shaun finally acknowledges Phillip as his dad-with out the "step-dad" qualifier tacked on.
  • In The One And Only Andy's new mother-in-law tells him to call her Mom, but his father-in-law (who doesn't especially take to him) won't let Andy call him Dad. They're "Mom and Tom."
  • Picture Perfect: While we never see Becca and her stepmother interact, Becca is obviously resentful since she calls her "the step-monster."

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures:
  • Diff'rent Strokes: When Willis & Arnold start living with the man who eventually adotps them, they call him Mr. Drummond. They eventually ask his permission to call him Dad, which he gives (even before he officially adopts them). The explicitly do not call him Papa, which was their name for their biological father.
  • All in the Family: We never see a flashback epiosde about how they arrive at this, but Mike calls his mother-in-law "Ma" (as does his wife/her daughter) while he calls his father-in-law by his given name.
  • In Dinosaurs Baby calls his father Earl "Not the Mama" no matter how much Earl tries to get him to say "Daddy." When Baby gets sick, calling Earl "Daddy" proves O.O.C. Is Serious Business and he's really sick. When he gets better he goes back to calling him "Not the Mama."
  • On Sirens (US), after Cash starts dating Hank's mom, he tries to get Hank to start seeing him as a father figure, suggesting several possible affectionate term that he could use.
  • Webster: the titular kid refers to the woman who adopted him as Mam. Because it was "close to Mom"

    Literature 
  • Earth's Children:
    • In Clan of the Cave Bear Ayla sees some Clan children using a special sign which means "Mother" and starts using it on Iza, who is deeply touched.
    • in The Mammoth Hunters: Ayla teaches Rydag, a Clan child raised by Cro-Magnon humans, some Clan sign language including Mother, which he then uses on the woman who is taking care of him.

    Music 
  • Doug Supernaw's song "I Don't Call Him Daddy" is about the biological parent on the other side of this debate reflecting on the new father figure in his son's life now that his wife has remarried. In the chorus his son tells him
    I don't call him daddy, but he takes care of things/
    When you pick me up on Friday, are you gonna bring me anything?/
    Oh, don't worry Dad, you know, it don't matter what we do/
    Cause I don't call him daddy, he can never be like you.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In a Whole Episode Flashback episode of The Simpsons, we see that Bart has steadfastly refused to call Homer by anything but his first name since he was an infant, which causes Homer no end of irritation. Homer seems to have given up on the issue by the "present."
Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • March 6, 2014
    Arivne
    • Corrected some spelling/punctuation errors.
    • Added a [[/folder]] at the end of each folder section so they would work properly.
  • March 6, 2014
    Astaroth
    Could be used to set up You Called Me X It Must Be Serious
  • March 7, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    Shaun Of The Dead has the recurring line, "He's not my dad, he's my stepdad". Also a use of Insistent Terminology.
  • March 7, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    Any suggestions on the title?
  • March 8, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • Film: in The One And Only Andy's stepmother tells him to call her Mom, but his stepfather (who doesn't espeically take to him) won't let Andy call him Dad. They're "Mom and Tom."
    • Earths Children:
      • In Clan of the Cave Bear Ayla sees some Clan children using a special sign which means "Mother" and starts using it on Iza, who is deeply touched.
      • in The Mammoth Hunters: Ayla teaches Rydag, a Clan child raised by Cro-Magnon humans, some Clan sign language including Mother, which he then uses on the woman who is taking care of him.
    • Diffrent Strokes: When Willis & Arnold start living with the man who eventually adotps them, they call him Mr. Drummond. They eventually ask his permission to call him Dad, which he gives (even before he officially adopts them). The explicitly do not call him Papa, which was their name for their biological father.
    • All In The Family: We never see a flashback epiosde about how they arrive at this, but Mike calls his mother-in-law "Ma" (as does his wife/her daughter) while he calls his stepfather by his given name.
  • March 12, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Oops, just realized I used the wrong terminology in the One and Only example. It's not his step-parents, it's his new in-laws.
  • March 12, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    ^ fixed.
  • March 13, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^Actually you only fixed Mom, not Tom. I went ahead and fixed it myself. Though you did also fix the All in the Family one too which I notice I made the same mistake on. Thank you.
  • March 13, 2014
    henke37
    • Fanfiction for My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic sometimes take on the issue of how Twilight and Spike view each other. It is a sort of Parent/Sibling/Assistant relation. Official material seems to have settled on "Assistant".
  • March 16, 2014
    DaibhidC
  • March 28, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    It seems someone took away a hat? What's still needed?
  • March 29, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Picture Perfect: While we never see Becca and her stepmother interact, Becca is obviously resentful since she calls her "the step-monster."
  • May 7, 2014
    aurora369
    In A Song Of Ice And Fire, Sansa Stark is wanted for regicide across all Seven Kingdoms, and Littlefinger provides her a cover identity as his illegitimate daughter. At first, Sansa thinks she's only supposed to call Littlefinger "father" when other people are around, but Littlefinger insists on her fully embracing the cover identity and keep calling him father even if no one else is around.
  • May 8, 2014
    hbi2k
    ^ I'm not sure that counts; Littlefinger doesn't want her to call him "father" out of emotional closeness (although I'm he does want her to call him "daddy"), it's part of their cover.

    In any case,

    Western Animation
    • In a Whole Episode Flashback episode of The Simpsons, we see that Bart has steadfastly refused to call Homer by anything but his first name since he was an infant, which causes Homer no end of irritation. Homer seems to have given up on the issue by the "present."
  • May 8, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In Dinosaurs Baby calls his father Earl "Not the Mama" no matter how much Earl tries to get him to say "Daddy." When Baby gets sick, calling Earl "Daddy" proves OOC Is Serious Business and he's really sick. When he gets better he goes back to calling him "Not the Mama."
  • July 20, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Live Action Television
    • On Sirens US, after Cash starts dating Hank's mom, he tries to get Hank to start seeing him as a father figure, suggesting several possible affectionate term that he could use.
  • July 20, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 20, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ I'm not sure about "nickname" but I potentially like having Parental Substitute in there. My main concern on the current name is that it might potentially be too dialouge-y so....? Any other suggestions?
  • July 20, 2014
    DAN004
    Now what's the term for "something we address someone with"?
  • July 20, 2014
    chicagomel
    Fan Works : In the Emergency fic "Lost and Found'', Roy and Joanne are mama and papa to John's infant daughter Melissa, intending to adopt her after John is abducted and feared dead and her mother doesn't want her. They show her pictures of John and she recognizes him as dada when he is found and brought home. In the sequel, "Reclamation", a psychiatrist tells the couple to find a new designation as John takes his place as the baby's father. The Honorary Uncle thing doesn't work, though, and they end up remaining Mama Joanne and Papa Roy.
  • July 20, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ epithet or appellation, I think? Parental Subsitute Epithet Dilmea? Parental Substitute Appealation Dilmea? Both are kind of mouthfuls but...
  • July 21, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 21, 2014
    triassicranger
    • I don't know if this counts, but I have something else to add from Sarah Jane Adventures. In the serial "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", before Luke meets Peter Dalton (Sarah Jane's boyfriend) for the first time, he wonders if he is going to call Peter "dad". We never see what he decides to call Peter.
  • July 21, 2014
    henke37
    Another MLP example:
    • Twilight was mentored by princess Celestia during her youth. As such it is a common topic to explore just what their relation is. Mentor/student? Second mother figure? Princess/Subject? Friend? That Twilight herself got a promotion to princess doesn't make things easier.
  • July 21, 2014
    DAN004
    Maybe change Dad to Parent.
  • July 21, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ Done
  • July 21, 2014
    Skylite
    Webster: the titular kid refers to the woman who adopted him as Mam. Because it was "close to Mom"
  • July 22, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ what media type is that under?
  • July 22, 2014
    muddycurve424
    How about Not The Mama for the name? or A Parent By Any Other Name
  • July 23, 2014
    Arivne
  • July 23, 2014
    hbi2k
    I suggest "New Parent Nomenclature Dilemma" for Added Alliterative Appeal.
  • July 23, 2014
    DAN004
  • July 24, 2014
    hbi2k
    ^ From the very article you linked:

    "Alliteration doesn't really require that every individual word shares similar starting sounds so minor words lacking verbal stress can be effectively exempted. Take "Breaking the Bonds" for example; nobody notices the thorny "the" therein."
  • July 24, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ "the" is not that thorny, though. Because "the", if it's not the first word, is written with all lowercase letters in a title.

    NPND? Not so much.
  • July 24, 2014
    hbi2k
    ^ It's more alliterative than it would be with the word "appellation," and the word "nomenclature" is (marginally) more widely-understood. I'm not seeing the down side.
  • July 24, 2014
    DAN004
    I'm just making an issue that NPND is still not alliterative. If you think nomenclature is better than appellation, I have no problems with it.
  • July 25, 2014
    hbi2k
    "Alliteration (n): the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase."

    The words do not have to be exactly adjacent.

    Actually, to make it even more alliterative, it could be "New Parent Nomenclature Problem." Stressed words begin with N, unstressed with P. Nicely poetic.
  • July 25, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ now that I can approve.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qtlmoepdrqciv66id0bytgvg&trope=NewParentNomenclatureProblem