Someone wrote to tell me that a friend was going to court because her ex-husband had sued for the right to make their 11-year old daughter call her step-mother, "mom".
Admittedly, I am responding to a limited version of this story. That said, I can't help by wonder why this issue is being addressed in court?! Why weren't all adult parties referred to a therapist to work this issue out? More to the point, why would any parent who wants a solid relationship with a near-teenager try to force her into a position that is inflammatory.
This is clearly a high conflict divorce. Just the prospect that an 11-year old is stuck in the middle of a custody issue this contentious speaks to just how broken the system is; and, how troubled the individuals involved are. Taking this matter into court promises to inflame relations. I cannot see how a judge's ruling is going to settle the matter among the parties.
This situation present an example of the inappropriateness of the court in attempting to legislate parental behaviors. In the end, whatever the decision, the child will ultimately do whatever she wants. No amount of legal infighting among parents--in court or out--can force a wished for relationship with this step-mom. Just good will, time and good judgment are likely to win over this child (and ultimately, calm the child's mother.) To bad the dad, the mom, the step-mom, and the Judge do not seem to have better insight into adolescent behavior or simply more sense.
There is no legislating behavior. The divorce system needs reforming. Expect this to be a recurring theme from me.