After the big engagement news last week, Prince William and Kate Middleton have named their wedding date as April 29. Amid all the wedding plans one thing they seem to have sorted already is what to call the in laws; well with Kate's folks anyway. According to newspaper reports, William has already been calling Kate's father 'Dad' for several months now.
So is calling your partner's parents 'Mum & Dad' the way to one big happy family or just a bit old fashioned or plain odd in today's society?
Prince William and Kate seem to have had plenty of opportunity to get to know each others families over the years; there have been family weddings and William is said to have been a regular guest at the Middleton family home.
But for most of us; depending on where your partner's parents live, (and how well your partner gets on with them), you may have only met your prospective 'in laws' a handful of times when you get married or move in together. So if your wedding day is only the third time you've met; it can seem a little premature (and some would say downright 'odd') suddenly adopting them as 'Mum & Dad'. On the other hand if you see them more than your own parents; live down the road from them or are particularly close then 'Mum & Dad' may come much more naturally.
From the day I first met my own 'in laws', I've always called them by their first names; Jess and George; in fact even my hubby can get away with calling his Mum 'Jessica' when he's teasing her. And to be honest, lovely as they both are, I think they'd find it a bit odd if I suddenly started calling them 'Mum & Dad' after eight years of 'Jess' and 'George'.
And I've already got a Mum and Dad; who naturally (because they're mine), will of course always be the one and only 'Mum & Dad' in the world.
But what should you do if it's never made clear what to call your in laws? Do you revert to that embarrassing schoolgirl thing of avoiding referring to adults by any name at all? 'For years I didn't call my mother in law anything, unless it was in a card,' says Claire, 'and as the cards were joint ones I wrote 'Mum' anyway'.
But if you never broach the subject you can get stuck with the formal 'Mr & Mrs' approach. This was the case for Nikki who says her mother in law was simply 'Mrs. Jones' for years; until 'one day out of the blue over the phone she just said "call me Elaine", which I've done ever since'.
'Calling your in laws 'Mum & Dad' is very much a generation thing', says social etiquette expert Diana Mather. 'There's no hard and fast rules on this, but it's something you need to get sorted or the situation can get 'silly and awkward'.
Diana says it's down to your in laws to break the ice on this one; but if that doesn't happen, 'each partner should tackle their respective parents'. While 'Mum & Dad' may not be the norm these days; some of us do like having two sets of 'parents'.
Jenny, in her mid thirties, says very early on she asked her prospective mum in law what she wanted to be called and was told 'Mum'; which she's stuck with, 'as I think it shows respect on both sides'. But what happens to your 'second' Mum & Dad if you split and they become 'ex' in laws? 'I think it depends how well you get on with them', says Diana Mather, 'my ex mother in law was 'Mum' till the day she died, as I was stayed close to all my ex husband's family'.
Relevant articles on Parentdish:
Prince William and Kate Middleton:we want to start a family
I can't stand my mother-in-law
So what do you call your in laws
Has this changed over the years?
Have you refused to call them Mum & Dad?