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Why Moms Call Their Kids by the Wrong Names

The Scientific Reason Parents Are Always Mixing Up Their Kids' Names

It seems like one of the things most parents have in common is their inability to keep their kids' names straight. Especially when you're angry or in a rush, you may catch yourself calling out for the wrong kiddo and it comes out in a jumbled "Eliza-Anna-Caitlin-d*mn it" type of mess.

No matter whose name you're throwing into the mix with your kids' — your husband, best friend, or pet — there's actually a scientific reason people do this, and parents can take comfort in it: love.

According to a review in Memory and Cognition that studied the phenomenon of misnaming, it tends to occur among people that you have an equally close relationship with. From the 1,700 participants, most of those who called someone by the wrong name were moms, and their mix-ups typically included all people they love. "Overall, the misnaming of familiar individuals is driven by the relationship between the misnamer, misnamed, and named," the study states.


In large, this happens because of how the brain organizes information. Quartz explains it as the mind breaking down information and filing it into related groups before storing it away. This means that this system, known as the semantic network, keeps the names of your nearest and dearest (like all of your kiddos) in the same place. Then, when you're trying to quickly grab one of these specific names, you end going through all of them.

So basically, the next time you do this, you can explain to your kids that it's not because you have favorites and can't remember the other names, but it's the exact opposite — it proves that you love them all equally!

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