Looking For A Father Figure: He Started Calling His Older Brother ‘Dad’ When His Father Stops Showing Up

A young man is wondering if he was wrong for telling his brother to stop calling him ‘dad’.

A 19-year-old man who we’ll call ‘Jim’ has questioned whether he was wrong to tell his 6-year-old brother that he is not his father.

Absent Father

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Jim and his younger brother’s father has been absent for the past six years. “My father has been in and out of our lives for the past 6 years,” Jim lamented. He was working abroad and providing for us during that time, but us kids have slowly started to forget his presence around the house. In 2021, he had a huge fight with my mother and decided to leave us under the guise of “visiting his relative’s funeral. We haven’t seen him since.”

Life Has Been Tough For Jim’s Mom

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Jim said that life has been tough for his mom over the years as she has little to no support from relatives. “It’s been very tough for my mother who’s tried her utmost best to make the best of such an awful situation for us kids without much help.”

Jim And His Siblings Step Up

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Because of their situation, Jim and his siblings were forced to step up. “My siblings and I (mostly a bunch of teens) have tried our best to make things generally easier for her, including assisting in the raising up of Ed,” Jim said, referring to his youngest brother.

Ed Starts Calling Jim ‘Dad’

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Jim notes that Ed has recently started calling him ‘dad’, however he brushed it off initially. “Ed always used to call me by my name, but recently (like a few months ago) he’s picked up the habit of calling me dad. I felt very awkward at first, but after some thought I figured it was an honest mistake and didn’t pay much attention to it. ”

Ed Continues To Call Jim ‘Dad’

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“It didn’t stop there. Ed started calling me dad more, whether it was in private or whether it was in front of the family. I was extremely confused,” Jim recalls.

Ed Tells Jim That He’s Jim’s Son

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“Earlier this afternoon, I picked him up from his school,” Jim said. When we reached home, I went to my mother and jokingly said ‘This random child has been following me the entire time, I think he’s lost.’ We have a way of joking that I think is pretty wholesome, I’m sure he enjoys it too. Ed playfully tugged me on the arm and said ‘How dare you say that! I’m your son’.”

Jim Sets The Record Straight

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Jim finally sets the record straight and tells Ed that he is not his dad. “I didn’t want him to grow up believing that I was something I’m not,” said Jim. “So I gently responded ‘Ed, I’m not your dad. I’m your older brother, OK? We share the same mother.'”

Ed Got Upset

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Ed replied “You’re my dad now, because my real dad is never coming back.” Hearing those words upset Jim, but he didn’t know how to respond. “I hugged him but he didn’t seem too happy and left,” Jim said.

The Mother’s Perspective

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Jim’s mother pulled him aside later and told him that he should not have responded that way to Ed, as she believes Jim hurt Ed’s feelings. “She said that maybe Ed is calling me dad not because I’m his actual father, but maybe because I’m one of the safest masculine examples he’s got,” Jim said. “Upon reflection, I’m starting to feel very guilty about what I did. I think my mother is right; perhaps I was a little too harsh.”

Others Sympathize With Jim

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One person said, “while he may see you as a father figure, it’s OK that you don’t want the title. Social-wise, calling a 19 yr old “dad” and a 48-yr old “mom” could also be VERY awkward.”

Another said, “I think what you did was the right thing. It’s difficult for kids that age to see their friends with their fathers and not understand why they don’t have a dad. And they don’t understand where babies come from and why you being their “dad” is not correct. He just sees you as a role model that he can look up to, and it kind of feels like he has a dad in you. Correcting him makes it so that this doesn’t become a permanent thing and reminds him that you are not his father. Keep emphasizing that you’re his big brother and that’s even better that his father (trying to put a positive spin on your relationship to him).”

Some People Think Jim’s Mom Is Using Him As A Replacement

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Someone else said, “Your mother is using you as a quasi-replacement and doesn’t want to deal with the bigger issues here. She definitely needs to face the reality of the situation and what it’s doing to you and your siblings.”

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