My son is 3 1/2 years old. I have been separated from his biological father since he was 6 months old and when my son was 1 1/2 years old, I met my new partner. We are now engaged and have been living together for over a year as a family.
My son took to calling his step-dad "dada" on his own pretty quickly. He now calls his bio-dad "Daddy" and step-dad "Dadda". This was ok with bio-dad until just this past weekend when my son went and stayed with bio-dad.
Bio-dad has now, after a year and a half of my son calling his step-dad "dada" decided that this is no longer OK with him and he basically spent the entire weekend trying to reverse the "dada" title and telling my son that he may only now call his step dad by his first name.
Bio-dad thinks that my son is confused about having two dads and that this is damaging to our son, even though I have always tried to explain to my son what the difference is between his biological dad and his step dad. To me, and probably most of you, I am sure that it is obvious that what bio-dad is doing right now is very confusing and potentially damaging to my son.
When I picked him up from his visit, he tried his best to explain that he isn't allowed to call him "dada" anymore, while holding back tears. I explained to him "it's OK, sweetheart. ____ is just what your daddy calls him. You can still call him "dada". It was heartbreaking and now I wonder if I am confusing him more. But at the same time, step dad is the dad who is there every day, feeding, bathing, reading, teaching. He is, on all accounts, my son's dad. Not to say bio-dad is not, of course. But bio-dad misses weekends frequently, shortens weekends often, etc. and I feel like the fact that his relationship with our son is not great because of his own actions, he is trying to damage his relationship with his step dad by stripping his title.
Any thoughts or advice?
Step dad and I are meeting with a family therapist to discuss it this week. I just don't know how to maintain normalcy and stability between the two dad's if bio-dad continues to choose to confuse our son. I have no control on what goes on in his house and vice versa and I feel like this is lose-lose because if I allow bio-dad to strip step-dad's title, I am setting myself up for future attempts to control my family and if I have to reverse this brainwashing (for lack of a better word) every two weeks, I might also be contributing to the confusion.