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Is "Buddy" a Bad Pet Name For Kids?

Buddy: Cute Pet Name or Sign of a Problem?

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Betsy Shaw about the perils of calling your kid "Buddy."


An article in the Sunday New York Times subjects the newish tendency for parents to refer to their children as "Buddy" to some seriously analytical scrutiny.

Where once fathers were hard-pressed to use any name more personal than "Son" when addressing their male offspring, shout the name "Buddy" at a random playground today, and you might turn quite a few little heads.

Related: Why Do Girlish Boys Bother Us More Than Boyish Girls?

But it's not just fathers who use the pet name Buddy, which some psychologists find to be indicative of a problematic change in parent-child relations. Mothers use it, too. I’d be willing to guess it’s a name most often reserved for boy children, but the article never comes out and says this. One theory, posed by a stay-at-home dad, sees the easy use of the name Buddy as a sign that dads are more involved with and, in turn more comfortable with, their kids.

While Buddy sounds benign, it does carry with it the direct association with close, mutual friendship. And that, according to the article, makes some parenting experts nervous.

"Having rejected the authoritarian parenting style that many of them grew up with, American parents today prefer to give their children the opportunity to prove themselves as equals almost from birth, to make those 'good choices' that preclude the need for punishment. 'Buddy Parenting' is one of the seven deadly parenting styles that the psychologist Michele Borba wrote about in a 2009 book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries."

I’ve got a few nicknames for my daughters: "Sweet," "Honey," "Little Sack of Sugar," and other unoriginal monikers that conjure up visions of edible treats. Buddy has never occurred to me. It’s also never occurred to me until this very second, that all these edible nicknames, when analyzed, put me in a position of power. "I could eat you, you know."

If I had a son, would I call him Buddy? I kind of doubt it, only because I had an adult acquaintance who overused that name so freely, and without any consideration for social boundaries, it has formally been entered into my most-annoying-pet-names book.

My husband, a stoic Brit, never uses common terms of affection. The occasional "Possum" escapes him when he's off his guard. He cringes visibly when I call him or the children "Honey."

While Buddy isn't a name I would use on my kids, I hesitate to see it as an indication that parents are so hard up for approval, and friendship, they're trying to get it from their kids.

It's an easy pet name. That's all.

What do you think of the pet name "Buddy"? Do you think it's any different, better, or worse than other nicknames? Do you use it?

More great reads from BabyCenter:
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London, India, Egypt: do you love place-inspired baby names?
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