What do your kids call you?

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Mrs. Graves
My little architect
Photo by Vida La Vida Photography
I tend to not let society or scientific findings sway my mothering instincts too much. I, of course, accept certain social norms, only to make it easier on Abbi growing up, but I rely mostly on my own judgment and sense of right and wrong. Ultimately, I, NOT SOCIETY, am responsible for the human being I am raising in my home. She has never been any less than a developing adult human…one that needs me to love, accept, set an example for and teach her.

So when preparing to write this I decided to google "children calling parents by first name". What came up were several opinion based articles and blogs…most of which were very hard on the idea of a child calling their parent by their first name. I skimmed through a few but most of the arguments were ones that I find close-minded and foolish so I decided not to waste too much time with it.

Here's the thing, lovies. Abbi calls me by my first name, "Tamara". Only it sounds more like, "Gambra" when she says it. It started out as a cutsie little thing she did because she CONSTANTLY heard her exceptionally needy father CONSTANTLY calling out for "Gambra's" assistance. We chuckled at it and moved along. Thinking nothing of it. And then, she continued calling me Gambra. She started doing this at about a year old, and I didn't feel that a 1 year old would be able to understand me if I said, "No, call me Mommy…my name's mommy…Daddy calls me Tamara…but you can't." Abbi can't even sit through 15 minutes of Spongebob let alone that kind of one-sided conversation.

So…I've let it be. And you know what? I like it. I like it A LOT actually. It adds something to our relationship…more for me than her of course because she doesn't know the difference. And I've decided that if Abbi so chooses, she may remain calling me Gambra for as long as she likes. She also calls me "Momma" when the mood strikes so it's not like she doesn't know who I am and my role in her life.

A lot of the "arguments" I hear are from parents who abhor the idea of their children calling them by their first name because their child will lose respect for them. I heartily disagree with this line of thinking. My word is bond. Abbi knows this. I am a slow burning fuse, but she knows that once I'm burn out…she better run. I even jokingly say, "Hey honey…you better chill out…Mommy's the queen of this household so you better get used to it." I'm blessed that despite our problems Joseph and I have ALWAYS been a team when it comes to Abbi. He doesn't mind the first name thing either. In a way, I think he's jealous she doesn't call him by his.

Abbi respects us. Why? Because we've purposefully taught her cause and effect, i.e. "you disobey Mommy or Daddy, you get a pop on the hand" or "you throw a fit, you get put down for a nap early." Cause….effect. Each time we've done so with firm, but loving correction. Even now, when I have to punish her for ill behavior, I always tell her that the only reason I make rules are to protect her — that Mommy and Daddy love her so much we will do all we can to keep her safe. She won't always agree or always like it, but as long as she lives in our house, this is the way it MUST be.

Now, considering all I've told you (and if you ever met Abbi you'd think she was the most well-behaved, friendliest child in the world), do you REALLY think her calling me by my first name ALONE is going to rewrite all the other work we've done and will continue to do?

I think not. Some will disagree, but I just don't feel that a title makes a man or woman. The character inside defines them. What are your thoughts? Do you (or would you) allow your child to call you by your first name?

  1. I grew up in a house hold that made it clear that if you called your parents by their first name, then you were being disrespectful. We would all our parents mom/mommy, dad/daddy… until I was about 12ish [my brother would have been about 10 then] and I started calling my dad "pops" and my brother started to call him "father" or "Dee" [which was his nickname since he was a child]. We still called our mom, "mom" because we knew that anything else would have bothered her.

    To be honest I think I would be a little hurt if my little one called me by my first name but knowing that he is hearing everyone else calling me that, I wouldn't blame, nor would I push him to call me mom or any variation of that. No matter what your kids now that you are there parents, your mom and dad, dad and dad or mom and mom… whatever the case may be. As long as they aren't calling you anything disrespectful I don't think it matters too much what they call you.

    • Thanks for your input! I think (as most things go) it really should be up to the parent and the child! What works in some families may not work in all! For now, this really works in our family but I can totally understand how it wouldn't work in yours!

    • WOW! Thanks for using my picture! It turned my monday right around seeing my little guy playing with his "Bocks"(what he calls blocks lol)

      I'm with Kaloof. My parents were old fashioned Mexican-Spaniards so to call them by their first name was a sign of disrespect to them. To them, calling my parents by their first names was considered sarcastic and smart. So obviously we didnt do it. We can do it now that were older lol.

      As a parent now, I am proud at the fact that I am a mom and am more than happy that my son calls me mommy.

      Being that I am a step mother also, my stepson calls me Jessica. So i got the best of both worlds I guess. LOL

  2. I always called my mother by her name, "Shirley." It's what I heard others call her, and so that's what I picked up. I was rarely corrected for it, except by my peers in high school. I also call my step-father "Albert" and again no one makes a big deal out of it. (I also call him "Darling Daddy", but it's jokingly – or when I want something!)

    In our family, the "title" doesn't add to or take away from the role, or the respect. My grandmother (step-grandmother? well, Albert's mother) is called "MaDear" (yes, we are African-American, it's a common name for your mother or grandmother), "Grammama", "Ms. L", or "Lillian" (her first name), by all generations. It's not a big deal at all, and she DEFINITELY gets respect.

  3. My single mother never had a partner around to reinforce calling her "mom" or the like, just friends who called her by her first name, Ruth. My brother and I both used Ruth, and my brother kept doing that his whole life. The only reason I switched was because when I was little I admired a girl who was older than I who caller her mother "mommy" all the time. When my mom tells the story she usually implies that the girl whined when she did it too. Well, I started calling her mommy at that point, although I still call her by her first name just as often now. She never minded either. Since I did not grow up with my dad I also did not have it reinforced to use dad, so I also switch between his name and dad as seems appropriate.

    I find the "respect" argument silly because you develop respect with your child at an early age and it has nothing to do with using your "title" as parent. I actually think it shows respect for you as a person beyond just being that child's parent. The only reason it seems like a disrespect is when adolescents use it when they know it bothers their parent(s). But if you demonstrate that you are cool with it early on it is not likely going to develop into a disrespectful thing later.

  4. Apparently I called my parents by their first names, until I was about 3, when my father's mother told him that it was weird.

    "Only one person can ever call you DAD," she told him (remember, I'm an only child). "And you're going to have that one person call you David?"

    I guess it was a compelling argument, because at that point they started having me call them Daddy and Mommy.

  5. My little guy has always called me Mama and his father Papa, and the flip side of that is that now we call each other Mama and Papa, which I think is a little weird. I figure as he gets older and gets the hang of pronouns we'll stop doing it, but it might require a little effort to get back into the habit of using our names.

    • My daughter is too young to pick up on names yet, but we do find ourselves saying things like "here dad, you take her" or such, as well as comforting her with "mama's got you" or the like, so I know we are reinforcing the titles, even though I would not object to her using my first name. I suspect she will learn her father's name before she learns mine anyway. In addition to my name being much more difficult for a young child to say (I have have several young cousins and kid's friends be challenged learning it) I think I all out to my husband to lend a hand more than he uses my name around her.

      • Yeah, this is what I was thinking. If you want your kids to call you Mommy and Daddy then you end up having to call each other Mommy and Daddy (at least when talking to them) to reinforce it and so you don't feel like you're confusing them as to who you're talking about.

        And it can be odd. Especially in a "blended" family like ours. I think it's perfectly cute for a father to refer to his wife as Momma or Mommy when talking around the kids, but when you step outside that relationship it can feel weird. When me and my boyfriend are taking care of his kids I may call out "Hey Daddy, think you can grab me a diaper – quickly." I am invoking him in his capacity as the father of the child I am tending. But he is not the father of my children and so … oddness, even though it is my natural response.

        Sorry, this was largely tangential, but I was just thinking about it yesterday.

        • Back when I worked in retail I remember this one older couple, probably in their sixties, referring to each other as "Mother" and "Father". It really stuck with me, just because it was said with so much affection and love.

          Myself? I probably wouldn't be comfortable with it. But I think it's all relationship dependent. When you're thinking of "Father" or "Daddy" as "father of my children" it's not actually so bad. It's all personal though.

  6. I'm not a mom yet but I do enjoy reading this blog.

    My husband and I have decided to have our future children address us by our first names.
    Because we feel that just because we happen to be the parents of our children does not mean that we must be called a certain label for the rest of our lives. Just because I will be a mom doesn't mean I should be known only as "Mom". I am an individual! I have a name!

    Even though we will be parents, we are still individuals, just as our children will be individuals. I wouldn't exclusively call my little girl, "Daughter". I would address her by her first name, respecting her individuality.

    This doesn't mean that my husband and I will be in any way ashamed of being parents or will be bothered if our kids address us by the traditional label. We just feel that being a parent is not the end-all be-all of life.

    As far as discipline goes… I believe it doesn't matter what name or title children address their parents by, as long as the children are raised and disciplined the right way. I know plenty of examples of disrespectful children who call their parents "Mom" and "Dad".

    • This is a slight deviation from the post, but along the lines of your comment. Jasper calls me "mama" and calls Sean "dad" right now, but we're also fine with him calling us by our names if he wants to. Something that always bugs me is when the couple calls each other Mom and Dad (or Mom & Mom, Dad & Dad, whatever)instead of their first names–it's like you're stripping away any other identity they had.

      • Abbi wasn't much older than Jasper when she developed this desire to call us by our first names.It came really natural for us and I think that's why it works for us. I think Parenting should be organic and natural and not easy but not as tumultuous as some people make it. And I love your POV about losing your identity at a person because you've tacked a new medal onto your jacket (ie. becoming a wife or mommy). I LOVE being Abbi's mommy and Joseph's wife, but I still love being Tamara and I will always be Tamara.

    • I found it so peculiar growing up that my cousins always called me and my sister "cousin" instead of by our names where as we always called the by their first names. It felt so impersonal and offputting to me as a child even though they were with in a few years age difference. Your comment about not calling her exclusively "daughter" made me think of it.

  7. Growing up, we called our parents "mama" and "daddy," but we were all big on nicknames, so we added a lot of variations. My brother calls my dad "sport" and at various times we all call each other "bobie." I don't have any idea why.

    All that means that we don't worry too much about names with the Kid. We call her a lot of silly nicknames and variations on her name and she does the same to us. Just like I did, though, she always seems to come back to "mama" and "daddy." I am an individual, and I hope she knows me, but I'm also her mom. I don't always call her "daughter," but I do call her my girl, mi hija, chiquita, my little bear, my baby, my sugar plum fairy…

    • I feel like "mama" and "daddy" (or whatever variations) are more like pet names than titles of respect. You can say "mom" disrespectfully, and just as easily you can use a first name respectfully. But I think it's sweet for family members to have names that they only use for each other.

  8. This post really interests me because right now even though my daughter is 3 she doesnt call us anything in particular. She is blind and doesnt speak independently, she echos whatever others say right after they say them. She knows that I am mommmy and that Daddy is Daddy but she repeats our first names all the time to. I cant wait to see what she says when she asks for me on her own!

  9. Can't comment from a parental side (as I'm not a parent but just pop over here from offbeat bride every now and then for a quick read)
    but i'm a teacher who works in a school where all the students call the adults (teachers, support staff, head teacher) by their first names. It gives a lovely welcoming friendly atmosphere in the school and by no means do the students have less respect or definition of authority because of it, Its works wonderfully in that situation

    • This is a neat perspective for me to read! We're teaching Abbi to refer to other adults she meets by Mrs. or Mr. (insert name) first, and then by whatever they prefer later on. It's so nice to hear about someone in your position with first hand experience in the first name debacle coming out with positive outcomes and relationships!

      • We also refer to non-family members as Mr. or Mrs. or Miss First name. We did this because my son's pre-school did this and it made it easier for my son to remember. But we also did it because we have friends that are apart of our family and we refer to them as Aunt/Uncle. It helps the kids understand the difference between family and acquaintances with respect

    • That's so funny–I was reading this, thinking: when I was teaching in the Montessouri system, teachers all went by first names, since we believed that respect is earned, not assigned. It ALWAYS worked, being called 'wendy' instead of "Miss –" didn't take away from how the kids looked up to her one iota!

  10. My cousin grew up with me and my sister…he would always hear us call our parents "mommy" and "daddy," so he did the same. And he would hear us call his mom "Mima" (her nickname) so he did the same. To this day (he's in college) he calls his mom by her nickname. And he'll refer to my parents as mommy and daddy (though he also calls them by their first names). My aunt doesn't seem to mind and he definitely loves and respects her.

  11. I'm called Mommy by my son, and I'll admit right now that I love it. It feels special to me to have a name no one else on earth uses for me. My daughter is still a wee baby, but I imagine she'll call me Mommy as well when she can talk – it's how I refer to myself when I'm comforting her ("It's okay, Mommy's here", etc). I call them "my dudes" collectively and "Baby Boy" and "The Bean" individually, and I see them using Mommy as along those lines – a term of endearment among family members.

    My son has a younger sister who has a different mother and we came up with a special nickname for her to call me. Her mother is my son's step-mom, but there's no name for what I am to her and "brother's mom" seemed so impersonal. So, we made up our own name that's just for her to use and I absolutely adore it.

    • I've read a lot of comments by moms who love being called "Mommy" because of how important and significant that name is, and I get that! Right now, Abbi is our only child and may be our only child in the long run, and being her "Mommy" is an honor above all else. So I definitely understand your POV!

    • Can I ask what the name is or at least your process in coming up with it? I would like to have something more personal than "Ms. Anie" for my boyfriend's kids, but don't know what wouldn't be stepping on their mom's toes or claiming a title that isn't mine (because I am NOT a stepmom)

      • She calls me Kay-Kay (my name is Karen). The kids' dad came up with it – he used to just call me Kay way back in the day when we were together and this was sort of an expansion of that. It seemed a bit cutesy to me at first, but it really grew on me!

        My son has always called my husband by just his first name, and they both really like it that way. I think it just depends what works for your family in whatever form "family" takes for you.

  12. My son will be two in a couple of weeks and I've never heard him properly call me Mam, Mummy, Mama or Mum yet (which are all the names I use for my own mother.) He's very vocal but just doesn't seem to have picked it up yet. My husband is definitely 'Dadda', or 'Da' when Gene is tired though. More often than not, my son will refer to me as Ruby (although he pronounces it Weeby) or Me! I don't mind so much either way. As long as he's polite about it, he can call me what he wants!

    My brother (who is the eldest) would always refer to my parents by their first names until he was around 4. My mam said she didn't mind and it was quite nice but she maintains that her favourite word in the world is "Mum".

  13. My lil girl, 2 1/2 years old, has decided she likes calling me by my first name because "its pretty". It is hard for me to hear it because I love the way she says momma. So I explained to her that my mommy and daddy named me Lacey but I also go by Mommy. I tied this to the fact her name is Mackenzie but she goes by Bug (or Buggy).

    Once I did that I have noticed she uses a name that ties to the moment. Example is when we were sitting on the floor and we were exchanging kisses (butterfly kisses, Eskimo kisses, etc), she said 'I love you Lacey". But when we were eating dinner and she wanted more green beans, she said "Mommy more geen beans peaze".

    It is something I am learning to live with . I melt when my kids call me Mommy with affection but I have found I melt the same way when they call me by my name.

  14. I can only imagine what my 8 month old is going to think we are all named! Her dad and I started calling each other "pookie" as a joke, but now we use it constantly (even our friends call us pookie sometimes!) To each other we refer to the baby as "pooklet" or "this girl" or "baby head". I also call her a bunch of other stuff but lately I've been trying to call her by her name so she'll have some idea of it! I'm not that interested in what she calls me, other than knowing that it's me she's talking to.
    I'm also interested in how children transfer from using daddy/mommy to dad/mom.

    • It was also fascinating to me as a teacher how students (even older ones!) would accidentally call me "mom" occasionally.

  15. My bun's not quite halfway done baking yet and my wife and I have already decided who will be mommy and who will be mama. We've used these names indiscriminately when speaking with the cat for several years but are now trying to be consistent so that we can give our child something to call us. Whatever s/he ends up calling us is just fine with us but we thought we'd help her/him, and ourselves, out by picking out the first names we'd like to be called. As for the cat, I don't think she gives a darn.

    • I wondered how this might be handled in a same sex relationship! Kids are forever yelling "MOM!!" or whatever, and it would be helpful to know who they're hollering for.

    • lesbian couples I know with children often use Mama and Mommy to differentiate, as do some gay dads I know use Daddy and papa.

    • Haahaa, that is what my partner and I do with our (army) of cats and our pup. She's Mama and I'm Mommy. We figure that by the time we get around to having children at least the animals will know who we are.

  16. when my nephew first started talking he called ,I should say screamed, my sisters name Kayee (Katy) because that is what he heard her referred to as. Kaaayyyeeee didn't like that so we all had to start calling her Mommy when he was around. (I also may have accidentally taught him mommy is a b*tch but thats another topic)We grew up with you call mom mom uncle uncle Grandma Gert grandma gert Mr. and Mrs. Even now with people I have known almost my whole life I would feel uncomfortable calling them by their first name, in fact my mother in law insists I call her Mama G. For my family(etc) the title is a family thing there we people we called by their first names but they weren't parental figures to us. Even now I guess we are continuing the tradition I am auntie to one blood nephew and 5 non's but we can all be old school, in some ways and I like this one. PS I tried called my mom Vicki once (I was 20) and she told me she'd smack me next time I tried it. lol

  17. It's funny how grandparents' names seem more flexible than parents'.

    My nephews (7 & 2) have taken to calling my mom (their grandmother) Suz, short for Suzanne. My mom thinks it's funny. Their other grandmother is called Gradma Firstname.

    I have two completely different names for my grandmas. And my husband's grandmothers are variations on Nan/Nanny (which I can't stand!).

  18. My mother also told us it was disrespectful. She felt she had "earned" the title of mommy simply by reproducing. I don't think I would have had a problem with this if she had fulfilled her responsiblities as a mother, but that's entirely another issue.

    Our little girl calls the hubby by his real name about 90% of the time. She calls me by my real name about 50% of the time and sometimes by the nickname my husband gave me.

    It doesn't bother me in the least. As long as she knows that we are her parents and she respects us, I don't see any problem. A rose by any other name smells just as sweet, right?

  19. One set of my cousins do the same thing. I think the oldest cousin was about four or five, and one of his younger brothers was around three. The younger brother referred to their parents as mom and dad, and the older brother threw a hissy fit and said, "Their names are Tom and Linda!" So from then on, they were Tom and Linda, and not mom and dad.

    Another set of cousins always referred to their parents as Mother and Father, and never anything else. My cousin's children now not only refer to her as Mother, but they refer to each other as Brother and Sister more often than my their names.

    My mother and I sometimes call my grandma Mildred. Normally she's Grandma Galvin (even my mom calls her that now), but we'll call her on the phone and say "Milllllllllllllllllllwed!" in sort of a cute voice.

    Moral of the story: everyone's different.

  20. I never called my parents by their first names. My mom was always Momma, even as a teenager when "Momma" is too cutesy for most kids. Sometime in the mix (I was at least 15) my mom started calling me "Dotta" to mirror "Momma," which I always loved.

    I have a friend whose 4-year-old calls her "Mize." She has no idea where he picked that up. I love when kids choose what they will call parents!

  21. Well, I don't have kids yet, but one of the kids I taught Sunday School to calls his moms by their first name. They tried the Mom and Mama thing, but they'd both answer to both so when their son was 3 he just started calling them by their first names. It works for them, and now (at 15) when he talks about them to other people he still calls them his moms.

  22. Well, my son is autistic, so he has difficulty with names — how can his cousin be Ethan and his friend be Ethan when they're two different people? and things like that are just about impossible for him to understand right now, so we come up with variations for a lot of people's names that are easier for him to say/remember. He has taken to calling me Mom-Mom, which is just fine with me.

  23. I always called my parents Mommy & Daddy, and then later Mom & Dad. I had a very rocky relationship with my father for a number of years, and when I was angry with him I would call him by his first name, and refuse to call him Dad (how deliciously cliche-teenage-rebellious of me, hmm?). I was raised in a home where calling parents by their first names was disrespectful, so this stung a little at my Dad.

  24. I've always called my dad "Daddio" and he calls me "Lizzo." It has a nice ring to it when we greet each other with "Hi Daddio/Lizzo!" I think it started because my mom and I are both named Liz, so he had to differentiate. I like having names that nobody else would ever call either of us, it makes it special when I do here him call my name or read it in an email from him.

  25. Our kids call us Mum and Dad, but also often refer to us with our first names. 'Dad' will normally get his name used when he neglects to hear the first 15 dads, then they give a sharp 'Toby' which gets his attention (learnt from the master). My grandparents had titles, Nana and Grandad. Aunts / uncles on both sides have always been first name basis, by all the children in the family, but we were all well aware of who was who. This has carried through for us with our kids too.
    Gotta admit, I have a cringe factor for people outside the family being called uncle or aunty so and so. Doesn't seem right to me.
    Small disclosure: My old boy calls me Mo'. I call him Fo'. Yes, we are 12, but it gives us a laugh. Our 3 year old today was waiting for us to come outside to the car and loudly yelled out for all neighbours to hear 'Come on MoFo'. Hmmm.

    • My best friend of 20 years had a little boy 6 years ago. The baby's father was not in the picture. Shortly after, her mother passed away. Even thoght I'm not a blood relative I was her only "family." She didn't drive so I bought a carseat and would drive her and him to dr's appts and take them grocery shopping. I started a savings acct for him, I bought clothes, and diapers. I've helped with bills. I babysat alot and spent lots of quality time with my "nephew" I love them both like family, and have played an important role in his life, and still do, so I feel I've earned the title "Aunt"

  26. I call my mom and dad mommy and daddy still, but we are a family of nicknames. My uncle use to call me Wompass Cat because I'm all catty-wompass, and most of my family call me TT or some variation on that. My niece calls me Tia, which I love because it means both Aunt and my name.
    My daughter calls me momma most often, but she also refers to me as babe, darlin', and Tia. She calls my husband Daddy and Uncle Ry-dad.
    I think a lot of people want to be called a variation of mom or dad because it's special, but I happen to love the nicknames and pet names that come naturally.

    • See, that's what I think–it all comes naturally. Whatever they call you, they call you. I don't take it as a sign of disrespect when an adult calls me Amy, so why would I take it that way from a kid? Do I really think adults are superior to children in that way? No, I don't.

      Naming is important, and it's fun how it keeps going. I like seeing the little ones claiming their names, naming themselves.

      My daughter was 4 years old when my niece was born and we started right in with the cute baby names for the new kid. My daughter didn't show any jealousy, until I called the baby "sugar plum," one of many little pet names I call my girl. She looked at me with these big eyes and said, "That's what you call me." I've never called anyone but her "sugar plum" since.

      • My grandmother had individual nicknames for each of her eight grandchildren. I was her "treasure." I know my littlest cousin was "sweet boy," but I don't know what she called any of my other cousins or my brothers. I just know that she made a point of choosing different terms of endearment for each of us, and it meant SO MUCH to me, especially as a kid, to know that she had no one else who was her treasure.

        Similarly, my dad calls me "sweetheart" and my mom "honey." Took me years to realize that he uses those terms more than our names.

      • i was crushed the day i overheard my grandfather call my aunt's niece (no relation to him or me) "chickadee" because that was his name for ME. i never told him i heard it but it was never the same after that.

  27. This makes me think of when Prince changed his name to a symbol. He was a guest on Oprah around that time and I remember her asking him, "If you don't have a name, how should I address you?" His response was really sweet. He smiled and said, "I hope that you would call me Friend."

    In the end, names are a way for us to get each other's attention. I like the idea of parents choosing a name for their child and the child choosing a name for his/her parents. It's sweet.

    • Ahhhhh What a great reference!! I'm a HUGE prince fan (rose symbol from the beautiful experience tattooed on my back) and I loved that interview!! Then Mayte just said she calls him "Hey you!"m LOL

  28. Our kids call us mom and dad and our daughter has tried to call us by our first names and we quickly corrected her.

    hmmm… how to explain this in words without tone? We do feel it is a respect thing – right now, our kids are not our equals, they are kids, they shouldnt have to be…. we are totally raising them to be independent and think for themselves and even now, we can see that they dont fall for peer pressure often (which makes us proud)… but its not the fear type of respect, its more of the love type of respect, so in that "mom" and "dad" are more terms of endearment than anything else.

    We will always be their parents and love them with a love that no one else can have for them – ok, at least we like to believe that. Same with our adopted son – we want him to call us mom and dad b/c thats what we are (yes, we plan to tell him about his birthparents).

    I think the term "respect" gets misrepresented… I could never imagine calling my grandmother by her first name. Why? Because I could never consider myself her equal – she is so much wiser and "learned" than I ever could be right now.

    Hope all that makes sense… I mean no dis- "respect" (ha!) – this is just what works for us… just my 2 cents

  29. i mean this with all due respect, adn i feel like it was menionted by you so i am not really trully butting in and ocmmenting on how you raise your child, but i am not sure i agree with what you call "cause – effect".
    getting put down early for a nap is not the effect of being naughty. you warn your daughter that you will punish her in a specific way if she continues with a given behaviour. you are warning her of your punishment and then carrying out said punishment. you are consistent. that is not a consequence of her actions. the effect of an action is the natural event that derives from that initial action. i push (cause) a chair, it falls (effect). if you push the chair then you get no cookie is not a natural cause-effect.
    i'm not arguing semantics here, i m just saying that you are indeed punishing yoru child. aletha solter, in the aware baby, does a good job explaining about cause-effect adn how kids need to deal with this.
    all this ebing said, i find it a teeny bit disconcerting that you bop your kid's hand when she disobeys. i am not a big fan of physical aggression, especially towards children. on the one hand, it hurts. on the other, it's humiliating. adn bottom line, and this might be exactly your point, you are showing her that above all, you rule over her, you can hurt her if you like.
    explaining why a kid cannot do somethign goes a lot further not only in enlisting their cooperation, but also in not reducing them to beings who get bopped on the hand.
    i'm just saying. and, of course, maybe i can go raise my own monsters and leave you to raise your little girl any way you like. but you did open the door…

  30. Awesome! I called my dad "Uncle Doug" for the longest time. It was what I heard all cousins call him, so that was his name. I did later shorten it to "Doug" when my cousins all moved away. I didn't have any speaking siblings (only a baby brother) and that's what my mom and everyone else called him. He still has pictures I drew for him with "DOUG" written in my messy little girl handwriting.

  31. I think that as long as the parents are fine with the being called by their 1st names or nicknames that is what will work for that family.
    I am expecting our second in Feb. and have a 2 yr old son; he calls us Mommy and Daddy. He has called my b/f by his 1st name a few times; we think it's funny only because our 2 year old is doing so to mimic me when I call my boyfriend from across the house. I end up yelling JUsssstiiiin from the top of the stairs and then my son right behind me say "dusssssttteeennn"! So yeah funny right!

    I have a very young sister being that I am 28 and she is 9, and she calls my Dad Poohpa and has since she could speak, I have heard friends of my Dad say ohh you need to correct that, but we all think it's cute.

    Whatever works for one family may not work for others and that should be OK πŸ™‚

  32. I love names and nicknames, so I believe my husband and I will be inclined to let our children call us whatever they wish. We have both always called our parents a variation of Mom/Dad, but I'm all for whatever happens organically. My sister is 10, and she consistently calls me Linny, which I love. My parents became foster parents last year and they have had 3 brothers for almost 1 1/2 years, and the boys alternate between calling my parents Mom/Dad and their first names. They almost exclusively call me Big Sister, though. πŸ™‚

  33. I grew up with titles for family. Gramma, Grampa, Oma, Opa, Mom, Dad, Aunt this or Uncle that. When I was a preteen, my bs filters as we like to call them, kicked in pretty hard, and I retained the titles for those I respected only. This left me with Gramma, Grampa, Mom and Da. I couldn't get away with calling my father by his first name, so I changed it. When I had my own child, I realized I believe in the title system to a point. I think it helps reinforce a certain amount of respect, and that it helps differentiate between the family bond, and the friend/acquaintance/stranger association. My son is only two and a half, and he struggles with this, so titles help him quite a bit. Especially since his family is pretty large, and he shares his name with his father and his grandfather. But of course, it isn't all Mommy and Daddy. We have that, but there's often an odd little twist.

    When my husband and I were younger, we decided we'd never call each other 'Mother' or 'Father' like we saw some other couples do. No 'My old lady' or 'My old man' or anything along those lines. We didn't like it, thought it was a little creepy. So then we have Chewi. (a nickname his uncle gave him because he's a fourth) Of course we're referring to mommy and daddy for each other all the time, and I see the inevitability that it's going to degenerate to us calling each other that. So what did I do?

    I started using them like names of objects. It became 'The Mommy' and 'The Daddy' and 'The Baby' when coming from us a good portion of the time. And it worked for a while! It was teaching him who we were, while not making those titles our names. The truly weird part was when he started calling me 'The Momma'.

    At first it threw me. I thought, aw crap, I'm going to have to fix that. Then… I didn't fix it. It became kind of hilarious.

    "The Momma?"
    "Yes The Baby?"
    "I have to go potty."
    "Right on! Go potty!"

    And the best part, is that he's such a smart little guy, it's not an all the time thing, more a novelty. I get a little stink-eye from people, but ultimately I don't care. I am The Mama. He is entirely correct in that statement.

  34. My daughter and I went thru a phase when she was 7 where we called each other by our last names (they're different) We would crack up as we'd say, 'Listen McGee – that's not right!' or, 'C'mon, Todd – it's time for snacks!' I should start that up again…

  35. Quick story…one day when my little sister was about a year or so old, she overheard my grandfather call my grandmother "honey" when he asked her for something. Lil sis called her honey from that day forward. Then like a snowball effect, we ALL started calling her Honey. Now instead of people calling her by her first name or anything, they call her Honey. If you say, nice to meet you Mrs. Winter, her reply is, call me Honey. I think it's adorable. My Honey by any other name would be just as sweet (or however the saying goes)

  36. When I was very small, I took to calling my parents by their first names. Except for when Dad came home from work… then I got so excited that it came out as, "DADDYJAMIEDADDYJAMIEDADDYDADDYJAMIE!"

    Eventually I went back to calling my parents Mom and Dad, though!

  37. I'm not a parent, but I have parents, so I just wanted to chime in quickly. When I was little, my mother was always Mom or Mama, but her initials are TLC, so when I was about 13 I started using that to address her. It's cute and affectionate, and no one else did it at the time. (Now that I'm an adult, some of my close friends have caught on and address my mother as TLC, rather than using her first name. She thinks it's charming.)
    My father was not around when I was a child, and I didn't meet him until I was 21. He and I are really close now, but I always address him by his name. He's my father, not my dad.

  38. I wonder if your child calling you by your first name helps them register (as they get older) that you are an individual beyond just your role as their parent. It seems nice to be called something than encompasses all the roles in your life and not just one ("mom"). Imagine if everyone addressed you solely by the role you play in their life: "Colleague", "Daughter," "Girlfriend", etc. Totally weird.

    Thanks for bringing this up- It's something that I hadn't thought about.

  39. When my son was younger, he called me Mom-mom and his Dad, Mom-Dad.

    He went through a time when he was calling us by our names, and that was okay with us. Now he is back to Mom/Mommy, Dad/Daddy. Except when he's upset, then I think it becomes one name for both of us … "Mommydaddy, mommydaddy, mommydaddy."

  40. My siblings and I call our parents by their first names and always have. My mom always said it was because she never said things like "Oh look, daddy is coming home," but always used his first name. I think that it does make it easier maybe now that we are all adults to treat each other as adults and be real friends. That said, I am not sure if I would do the same with my own children. I guess I will see how it turns out.

  41. You know I never thought about why Mom wants me to call her Mom.
    Not to leave Dad out of it, he lets me call him Paul when mom is not around.

    I don't think it is a respect thing for her. I have a hunch that she really likes being a Mom, and loves being called Mommy. Your post has inspired me to ask her someday why she made that choice.

  42. My 2 years old daughter calls me with pretty much all the variations you can think about of the word "Mama". I live in Germany (my boyfriend's german), I am French-Canadian and we speak together in English… so it makes lots of names in three languages! Mama, maman, mommy, mami, mamichen…
    Recently she also started calling me by the name that everybody uses to talk to/about me, and at first I thought I'd find it weird… but I have to admit that when SHE says it, nobody has ever said my name in a cutest way EVER.

    Now, I have a name for every mood, every situation and really, I love it.

  43. First off, after having to read it twice for classes, I played Jean Louise Finch in a stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, and basically all I can think of is Atticus Finch and why he let HIS children call him Atticus.

    I can't call my parents by their first names, because that's simply not who they are to me. Their identities as people with first names are the ones that they use for OTHER people. Only my brother and I have the privilege of relating to them in their identities as parents. Yeah? It's never been a "respect" thing for me β€” I think if the best way to gain my respect is to not allow me to call you by your name, then there are much larger problems at hand than nominatives β€” but a matter of how I think of them. Their NAMES aren't them, their roles in my life are them. I can definitely understand if as a parent one would want to avoid that, considering it a surrender of individuality, but I think many parents are still able to see themselves as individuals while enjoying the special status of Mommy or Daddy to their children. After all, just because another kid calls someone else what your kid calls you doesn't mean either child would confuse the relationship. Your kids know you're the parent, regardless of what they call you.
    My father has unilaterally been Dad since I was about seven, and Daddy when I need money (as the family joke goes). My mother, however, is Mom for every day, Ma when she's being unreasonable or needs a reality check, Mama or Mum when I have a question for her, Mommy when I'm crying, Anya (Hungarian for Mom) or Maman (French) when I answer the phone or we need to speak in code, Mutti (German) when we cook or I'm saying goodbye, her first name when I'm being ironic or taking her to task, Mudda or Comrade Mummy when I'm trying to make her laugh, etc. She once jokingly referred to me by initials, and I in turn replied with hers β€” which are the same as mine. We've been using it semiregularly ever since. I do like having a nickname for her beyond her name as Mom.

    I think it would still weird me out if my kid called me by my first name. I don't call anyone close to me by their real name, so I guess I consider a pet name a sign of a bond. However, if my kids chose to do it on their own, I probably wouldn't stop them. I'd continue to refer to myself as Mommy (like I do with my dogs), and they'd likely pick up on that.

  44. I've always called my folks mom and pop. Our kids generally refer to us as mom and dad. Every so often my daughter will call me by my first name, but it's usually in a setting with a lot of other people and calling out mom either gets her no response or too many responses (think Girl Scout activities with a lot of leaders.) One of my kids did ask me once why everyone used my first name when they thought my name was momma. I told them they were special and got to call me mom while everyone else had to use my first name. If they had asked, we would have tried out the first name thing, but they were content with momma.
    The only time I think there is any disrespect with using first names instead of mom and dad is when a teenager decides to start calling parents by their first name without discussion about it, and even then it's usually the tone of voice when the names are said more than what name/title is said. I've had friends that started calling their parents by their first names just to get them riled up about it because they knew it bugged them, and others whose parents didn't care one way or the other so they called them by their first name when they started to support themselves with after school jobs.
    Of course if your child starts out calling you by your first name, that part of it isn't an issue. It's not disrespectful at all since that is all they have known.
    Ya gotta do what works for your family.

  45. I love it when my little Yula calls me mommy. I didn't think I'd ever even be a parent, so to hear that is music to my ears. We're very unconventional parents, but my boyfriend and I call each other "Mommy" and "Daddy" all the time. I feel like it's silly that people think taking a name away takes your identity away. Why confine yourself to a name or a label or anything? What's wrong with being a mother? It's empowering and beautiful. And to be called it shouldn't be looked down upon as dull or conventional. But that's just my boring mommy opinion. πŸ˜‰

  46. My Husband and I have spoken about the titles we would like to use when our "bean" is born at the end of october.

    We are a blended family as my 8 year old daughter from my first marriage lives with us in the week ( but she spends weekends with her Dad and his new family )
    Because my daughter already has a "Dad" we felt that it would be wrong for her to call my husband Dad, even though he has been a part of her life since she was 3. Therefore it was decided that if she wanted to call my husband something special as a mark of respect or even just so that she could explain who he was to her friends at school then she could do so and so she has oppted to call him "Papa", this works well for us as she now has a Dad and a Mum as well as a Mama and a Papa. I think we will continue to use Mama and Papa with "Bean" too :o)

  47. I'm not an Offbeat Mama, just a curious Offbeat Bride, so I feel a little cheeky commenting. It's just that this post reminded me of a terrible incident that happened to my best friend when she was at primary school. She has always called her parents by their first names from the minute she could talk (her parents felt they were disrespecting her in a way by expecting her to refer to them as something different to the rest of the world). Unfortunately, she didn't grow up in the most progressive area and was once given a row at school, at the age of 6, for discussing the matter with her friends. She was then informed by her teacher that the only reason she called her mum Cathy anyway was because she was adopted!! Understandably upset at such a bombshell, my friend was inconsolable by the end of the day, and ran out of school screaming that her mum had lied to her and betrayed her. Apparantly it took the best part of two days for my friend's parents to convince their daughter that she was indeed biologically theirs and she was absolutely not adopted. When my friends mother confronted this "educator" she refused to apologise and told them it was their fault. and they should expect confusion!! She even mumbled something about my friend not really looking like them anyway so it was a logical conclusion to come to!! Anyway, the point of my long winded story is that people are morons. Starting a family is a magic thing to do, and the silly minor details of day to day life should be of little concern to anyone (especially those not even in the bloomin family) when weighed against the joy of growing and developing a little life. Don't let any narrow minded fool taint that, just do what feels natural and enjoy!! Rant over.

  48. my son called me by my first name for the first three years of his life. he called his father "daddy" though. we just didn't pressure him to call us anything, so he called us whatever he heard the most (and he saw his grandparents a lot and they always called me by my first name). he now calls me mommy, but that's something he picked up on his own. i didn't pressure him to do so.

  49. My daughter calls me Mama Soybean. (she is obviously my baby soybean) This stemmed from our love of, well, soybeans, and it just stuck. I even have it tattooed on my wrist, in HER writing from when she could first write it at 4 years old. It's something special between us. I think a lot of mothers may be hurt by the lack of "specialness" in a their child calling them by their first name, since it's a very special thing to be called "mom" or "mommy" however, your daughter calling you Gambra is epic! NO ONE has called you that before and that will always be hers. What could be more special than that?! I say way ta' go not forcing her to call you what society has dubbed as special. I hope she (and you) have the pleasure of her calling you Gambra for EVAR!

  50. You know, until I read this, I hadn't really considered it. I was raised in a very conservative household, where calling my parents by their first names was not encouraged. the only time we were allowed to, was if calling out "mom" hadn't worked several times (usually due to many many other children ALSO calling out mom)

    Here's the thing, I am a step-mom-to-be, My Husband and I are getting married in the summer of 2011, and in effect, I will be a mother instantly. Yes yes, I know, he won't really ever be mine. pfft. whatever. I love him. therefore, he's mine. He's an amazing little five year old with a zest for life I had forgotten. Brian and I are moving at the end of the month, into an apartment that is much more affordable (we live separately at the moment) and when that happens, I will be seeing a LOT more of Isaiah. My Husband (because although we're not married yet, that's what he is to me, really) works nights, and I work days- So, in effect, when Daddy isn't home, Emmy (which is what he's calling me currently) will be.

    How does this have bearing on what my birth children will call me when I have them? Well, I remember when I was younger (vaguely) and one thing I keep remembering is wanting to be EXACTLY like the big kids. (kinda funny considering how offbeat I am now) It was sooooo confusing when I couldn't be, and really I don't want to mess with my kids heads more than I already will. πŸ™‚ so, chances are good, they'll end up calling me whatever Isaiah does. and who knows? maybe he'll call me mommy2, or some meshing of Mom and my name, or maybe, I'll just be "Emily" and if I am, then great. πŸ™‚ it's up to him. and eventually, up to them.

  51. I don't have kids yet, but as a child I called my mother many things… none of which were any variant on 'mom'. She was sometimes 'Margy' (her name is Margot…it was like the 'Gambra' thing) but mostly Kitty, Cat, or Kitten. It just worked! I'm in my 20s now, and she's still Kitten to me!

  52. My parents have always been Mama and Daddy, I only use their first names when they aren't paying attention. I am the oldest grandchild on my mom's side, and as a toddler we lived in my grandparent's basement apartment for almost a year. I couldn't say the letter p, so my grandparents were Grandma and Grandma Jim. It switched to Grandpa eventually, but all the grandkids call him Grandpa Jim, and I love that I'm the one who named him that! We want our little one (coming soon!) to call us Mama and Daddy, but I can't wait to hear what s/he comes up with for our parents.

  53. My brother used to call our grandparents that raised us by the names they called each other (June and Jim), and our grandmother HATED it!! I always thought it was funny.

    My cousin's kid used to call me Aly Lynn.

  54. There is something magical about hearing your baby call out "Mama" or "Daddy" and mean YOU. I love being Mama – but I deliberately chose a different version of the mother name than what I use with my own mother. I needed a little distance to help me establish my own identity as a mother and language is a helpful tool for me. I like the idea of having parent names – and auntie, uncle and grandparent names – that are special to the relationship. For me, language is extremely important, and I place a lot of significance on words. However, I think the actual essential part is that your child feels a special, personal bond with you – one that is different than any other connection you will ever have with anyone else. It's easily accomplished by using parent names, but if the bond is there, I don't see how using a parent's first name could possibly effect your relationship. By the time the child is old enough to understand the significance, respectful or otherwise, of using your first name, they will have already incorporated what they call you into their perception of your identity. I just happen to like being "Mama."

  55. My parents were "mom and dad" then step parents on both sides came along and they were called by their proper names. When I got older my mom became "Jan" but my dad always stayed "dad" unless he wasn't listening *i.e. watching football* and he became "Paul!!" Now I call my mom "MA, Jan-o, and Mother", and she calls me "Ali, Al, and Daughter." I'm okay with all of it. The moral of the story is, don't sweat it- it'll change anyway!

  56. our son comes from a complex family, led by a same-sex couple. kaleo calls me (and always has called me) "mama". it seems so weird if he calls me any other version of the mother word. he calls my wife, "mama panda" (her name is amanda … his name for her evolved from aunty manda, to panda and eventually mama panda). he calls his father "dad" and his stepmom (dad's wife) is "smom". we all have our roles and endearments and i love it! i hope he never gets tired of calling me mama. also, in hawai'i, it is disrespectful to call any adult by their first name – even at 37, i still use "aunty" or "uncle" when speaking to an elder, even if they are not related to me. kaleo is being raised in the same tradition.

  57. Heh! Apparently I called my mom and dad Amy and Peter for a few years when very small, despite several talks about how I was the only person in the world who could call them Mommy & Daddy. It wore off eventually, and I'm with the writer: it seems unlikely that it could undo every other teaching about respect.

  58. My 2 year old has been calling me "Daddy" for a year now. She picked it up in her first daycare: "Daddy" = parent.

    My parents keep trying to correct her (and pressure me to correct her) to calling me "Mommy", but I actually like being called Daddy.

    In a room full of moms and kids, hearing a kid cry "Daddy" lets me know immediately that it's MY kid doing the yelling.

    And also because I'm challenging gender stereotypes and trying to expose her to queer culture, I LOVE being called Daddy! Especially because I am a single mom, who is BOTH mom and dad to her, it makes sense to me that I answer to both/either.

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