Jeff Lewis is opening up about a parenting dilemma he’s facing with his daughter, Monroe.
On Tuesday’s episode of his SiriusXM radio show Jeff Lewis Live, the former Flipping Out star, 49, said that Monroe — who turns 3 on Oct. 25 and whom he shares with ex Gage Edward, 34 — has started calling her nanny, Cecilia, “mom.”
“Monroe started a new preschool,” Lewis recalled. (She was expelled from the previous one.) “There’s a lot of moms there dropping off their kids. Even though Gage and I pick up and take Monroe to school and spend a lot of time with Monroe, she’s started calling our nanny, ‘Mom.’ And she’s now starting to say, ‘I want to go on the slide with mom. I want to go out there with mom.’”
“I just sit there paralyzed and panicked, not knowing what to say, so I literally haven’t addressed it,” he added.
Lewis brought up the predicament to ask his guest, therapist Dr. Donna Dannenfelser, for advice on what to do.
Dannenfelser, the real psychotherapist who was the inspiration for the USA series Necessary Roughness, gave Lewis some ideas as to why Monroe might be making that mistake.
“Remember, she’s 3 years old and she’s seeing the other 3-year-olds calling a female ‘mom,’ ” Dannenfelser said. “Now in her mind, she’s developing subconscious irrational tapes. … she’s going to make sense of whatever is happening in that environment. So she has her dad and there’s a female there. In her mind, she’s saying, ‘Oh, that must be mom.’ “
The therapist went on to explain that Lewis has a number of ways in which he can tackle this problem.
“You can talk to her if you wanted to and you can emphasize the woman’s name is [Cecilia]. You can either let it go and let that ride out. Or it’s about the conversation, she might be looking for her mom,” she said.
That last option wasn’t going to fly with Lewis.
“Well her mom sued me, so we’re not going to be meeting mom,” he joked — referencing the lawsuit Alexandra Trent, the surrogate who carried Monroe, took out against Lewis, Edward, Bravo and Flipping Out‘s production company, Authentic Entertainment, but later dropped.
“I think it’s confusing,” Lewis said. “I was telling Cecilia, ‘Maybe you can say, ‘I love you, but I’m not your mom.’ Is that okay? I don’t want to f— her up!”
Monroe’s “mom” mistake comes after the little girl was expelled in mid-September from the prestigious Montessori preschool she had attended, for comments Lewis had made about the school’s parents and administration on his radio show
In early October, Lewis said he had gotten Monroe into a new school after he “made a donation.”
Meanwhile, Lewis and Edward continue to work through their contentious custody battle over Monroe.
Things have gotten so bad between the former partners, who were together for ten years before splitting in February, that they are now reportedly no longer engaging in any friendly communication with one another.
“We had, I thought, a direct line of communication about what [Monroe] had for lunch and how long did she sleep, and how is she doing. And [after a recent conversation], I said, I no longer want to communicate with you,” Lewis said on his show last week. “‘I want to raise my child as I see fit when she’s with me, and you can raise her how you see fit when she’s with you. I don’t need to know anything. You don’t need to know anything.’ “
A formal deal between Lewis and Edward has yet to be finalized. Currently, the two are trying out a “2-3-3 schedule” that sees the exes transferring Monroe between them every few days.
“In the interest of my daughter, I continue to have no comment on the matter,” Edward told PEOPLE on October 9.