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Will my niece have trouble distinguishing her parents?

Q: I have a niece who is currently living with my sister and brother-in-law. This is to help out while her father and mother get their lives straightened out. However, recently my niece has been calling her aunt and uncle ‘mama so and so’ and ‘daddy so and so’. My sister actually encourages this. Personally I find this offensive. My niece is about 2.5 years old and it may be another 2 years before she sees her father again. I am afraid that she will get confused when that time comes. My sister does show my niece pictures of her father and mother, but I don't know if that is enough. Please let me know is this proper? Will my niece have trouble distinguishing her real parents?

A:I am glad that there are relations who can act as substitute parents for a two year old. There is no harm in letting the child get fond of her (foster) parents or calling them Mamma and Daddy, with the name attached. It is the best thing that can happen. If she has to wait for two more years to be with her biological parents, it is good to be fond of whoever looks after her. Children are quite capable of handling real life situations. She will have no trouble recognizing her biological parents when they do appear, but it is also quite likely that she will get attached to her foster parents. For a short while she may reject her parents as they left her for some years. It is good parenting that is important for the childs development, not necessarily parenting from the biological parents.

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