So, for the most part, I’m a big fan of meeting your “intended” at a relatively young age, while he or she is still living with parents and all of that jazz. We were in college when we met– and far from home– so we didn’t have any family members actually around us, but we still went “home” to them.
One of the problems with dating/courting/whatever in that situation, however, is that, at least if you were brought up like me, the odds are very good you will start out calling his parents “Mr. and Mrs. _____.”
And that’s great. That works fine. It’s easy enough to do and it shows respect. It all works fine and dandy.
Until what? Until you get married.
Once you marry their child, Mr. and Mrs. ____ probably don’t want to be called that anymore. And who can blame them? It’s awfully formal for family.
You’re left with two big options:
1. You start calling them by their first names.
2. You start calling them Mom and Dad.
Both choices are popular and both have their merits and problems.
First names are casual and friendly and establish that you’re fairly close. They sound more intimate than last names, but not quite so much as “Mom and Dad.” It can be hard, however, to get used to calling your elders by first names if it’s not how you were raised. (*waves hand enthusiastically*)
Using “Mom and Dad” lends a feeling of true family to the relationship, but might feel awkward as these people are not REALLY your parents in the same way as the people who birthed and/or raised you. You might not feel comfortable affording them the same label as those you’ve called Mom and Dad for 20+ years.
You need to take into account how you personally feel about the various options and also how they’ll feel about whatever you choose.
Sometimes, it’s even more complicated. I had a very close relationship with my father-in-law and a (disappointingly, to me) strained one with my mother-in-law. Though it may have been the most appropriate and comfortable for me, calling them “Dad and Pat” was not an option.
My solution? Well, my solution stinks. I basically avoided calling them anything, if possible. Now that it’s just my mother-in-law, I write “Mom” in cards from the two of us, but call her Pat if I’m forced to use SOMETHING for a name. Honestly, I can’t see calling her Mom. While I owe her a great deal for raising this wonderful man I married and I will always pay her due respect, I cannot compare her role in my life to my own mother.
My sibs-in-law? Well, they call my parents Mom and Dad. And that’s cool. It seems to work for everyone. My siblings themselves use first names for their in-laws, I’m pretty sure. So… yeah.
It’s a hard one, isn’t it? I have no genius suggestions, since, as I already admitted, I’ve totally tried to cop out of this one.
But I’m curious–
What do you call YOUR in-laws?