Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Kids Call Baby Sitter Mommy

DEAR HARRIETTE: I baby-sit for a family with two fathers. I love the kids and always have great experiences baby-sitting for them. Recently, one of the boys has started to call me "Mommy." When it first happened, I told him I was not his mother; he already has parents and I am just a baby sitter. The second time it happened, I corrected him and he said he was just playing house. I correct or ignore him every time he calls me his mother, but I feel as though I am in a bit of an awkward situation. I would never want his fathers to find out and feel inadequate since they are amazing parents. Do I have the responsibility to report back to the fathers or accept this as a playful phase? -- Not Mommy, Philadelphia

DEAR NOT MOMMY: Your experience may feel uncomfortable, but it's actually quite common. Children grow to love their baby sitters as if they are parents, especially if they spend a lot of time together. On one hand, it is a compliment, even though it can feel awkward to the sitter. When my daughter was young, she called her sitter "Ma Cheryl." I got jealous at first, but eventually relaxed.

Your situation is different because of the two daddies and no mommy. Rather than constantly correcting them, why not make up a fun name for yourself that is neutral but engaging. Or make a game with them and come up with a name together, a love name that doesn't include the "m" word. If that works, great. If they continue to call you the "m" word, you should tell their dads.

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