On this week’s parenting segment, one listener asks why her 12-year-old is suddenly calling her dad by his first name.
“As you can imagine this was amusing to us at first but now it’s become quite unsettling,” she told Moncrieff.
“He was always ‘Dad’ and this change seems so cold, almost like she is trying to create a distance with us. It jars terribly when we have guests in the house.
“But the more we ask her to stop the more insistent she becomes. How can we get her to revert to the old way without causing an argument?”
Power and equality
Child-adult psychotherapist Joanna Fortune said it is “curious” that the daughter is only calling her dad by his first name and not the mother.
“She might be testing the water with one parent – maybe she knows she’s going to get a bigger reaction,” Joanna said.
She suggested the parents figure out why their daughter will only call her dad by his name before addressing it properly.
Joanna said preteens often seek out more power and equality in their relationships with their parents.
“They will overtly seek out more power and more equality, they’re not a child anymore and that’s quite normal in a parent-teen relationship,” she said.
'Only certain people can call me dad'
Despite that, the parents are allowed to feel uncomfortable with this naming and must address their feelings with their daughter.
“You might want to revisit it and say, ‘I thought you were being funny when you started this, now I realise it's something you're going to do on an ongoing basis, and I really feel uncomfortable with it’,” Joanna said.
“Tell her only a certain amount of people gets to call you dad, and you’re one of those special people to me, and it means a lot for me to be your dad.
“Tell her how you feel instead of going with ‘you must call me this’.”
Talking with respect
Joanna said this could be an opportunity to discuss respect and relationships in a healthy way.
“I would avoid making it a power struggle. Because I think that's what it is for her. It's an attempt to exert some power,” she said.
“If you get pulled into that power struggle with her, then nobody's getting anything out of that.”
Listen back to this question and more here: