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Young daughter will not call her father “daddy”

Question:

My partner is upset that our 3-year-old daughter does not call him “daddy.” She refers to him as “you” or “him.” He wants to always be called “daddy.”

Answer:

Your partner needs to know that your daughter’s use of these terms is not meant to hurt or offend. Likely, she is using these terms because she sees them as safe and lacking the rigidity that “daddy” sometimes has. This does not mean that she does not see him as her father. She is just processing things on a level that she can understand. 

Of course his feelings are real, and he has a right to feel this way. But getting frustrated or angry with your daughter will do more harm than good.  

Try having an age-appropriate conversation with your daughter about her feelings toward her father. Allow her to tell you in her own words what she understands the relationship to be. Why doesn’t she call him “daddy?” What is their interaction like? Does she feel close to him? Does he feel or act like a dad to her? Her answers will give you an idea of how she views the relationship. This will provide you with insight on what to do next.  

You can also try exploring other names of endearment with which she may be more comfortable. Nicknames are good for children her age. How does she respond to her “cuddly” such as a bear or blanket? What does she call it? This is a sign of comfort for her. Such a name for her father could have the same effect. When she adopts her own nickname for your partner, he will come to know that it’s her special name for him; he may find it even more endearing than “daddy.”

Forcing or coercing your daughter to call your partner “daddy” may evoke more negative than positive feelings and reactions. Allowing your daughter to adopt a nickname in her own time and for her own reasons is necessary. Reinforce to your partner that your daughter is young. Her relationship with him will develop over time, and she will become more open to the idea. Pushing her is not the way to go.

 

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