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Mommy Dearest: What Should Kids Call Their Parents?

Mommy Dearest —

For reasons I still cannot explain, my children started calling my husband and I by our first names. At school, they are told to call their teachers by their proper names. I think they just picked up the way we speak to each other at home. While we thought it was funny at first, the more it happens in public, the more we realize that we need to rein them in and go back to traditional titles. The problem is that our kids simply refuse to do so. Do you have any suggestions?

— Jennifer aka Mom

To see the response from Mommy Dearest,


Jennifer aka Mom —

You and your husband appear to have backed yourselves into a corner here. It is time for you to exert your authority and redirect your children to rules that must be followed. To start, you should convene a family meeting and discuss your desires to be called by traditional titles. If your lil rebels continue to disobey your wishes, it may be time to stop responding to them when they call you by the wrong name. Following that, you may need to start whatever form of disciplinary action your family subscribes to.

— Mommy Dearest

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Rufus2597255 Rufus2597255 5 years
The issue seems to be the perception of respect from the child to the parent from using titles rather than given names. The key word here is perceptions and, despite the judgmental folks terribly concerned about this issue, respect is in the eye of the giver and NOT the bystander. If the child doesn't mean disrespect -- and, no, use of a given name is not disrespectful in and of itself -- then (by definition) it is not disrespectful.   To those of us who happily refer to our parents by the names they were given, might I suggest that the haters go soak their heads and mind their own beeswax. Such is the clean version of what I am thinking. If you are a parent and you don't like it, you can always stop it but -- first -- ask yourself why this concerns you. If you are merely a bystander -- spouse or other of one who refers to their parents by their given name -- stfu. And, yes, this means YOU, Wifey.
FrugalFranny FrugalFranny 7 years
My friend has had this problem with her little boy. If she reacts he likes the attention so now she just ignores him until he says Mum. Works for her!
Advah Advah 7 years
WEIRD. I'm with Starbucks, we've always called our parents by their first name (apart from my mum we sometimes call 'mum' when we're speaking to her). I guess it's bc they never refered to each other as mum or dad but used their first name when speaking about the other person to us. I even remember starting primary school and being offended when the teacher asked "what's your mummy name" bc to me 'mum' or 'mummy' is a sweet, personal nickname and I didn't like the idea of my friends calling their parents the same and the teacher using that word too. Has nothing to do with being rude or irrespectful to me, my siblings and I love and respect our parents just as much.
zoorph zoorph 7 years
Your children should call you what you prefer to be called by them - that is from whence the issue of respect arises. You have specified your wishes to them and disrespectfully they have chosen to call you something else. I agree with the advice you were given: Sit down, explain the rules of your house - if you haven't already - and tell them you expect them to call you "Mom" and "Dad," regardless of what they call their teachers at school. Fully explain to them that you intend to ignore all requests from them to "Jennifer" because that is not who you are to them. Furthermore, I would explain to them that not every adult is available to be called by their first name; some adults prefer to be called "Miss Jennifer" or "Ms. Johnson" rather than have a young child calling them by their first name. I'm southern, and this is how we do it. Or, if we are close to the parent, we let the child call us "Aunt" or "Uncle." That being said, I call my father Richard now that I am an adult because we don't have a close relationship and frankly calling him "Dad" is a misnomer. He called his mother by her first name for similar reasons. Too bad it carried down through the generations... I hope not to have the same relationship with any children I may have or adopt.
esweet esweet 7 years
I agree that it is a respect issue. Also, it sounds as though your children are old enough to understand that you want to be called "mom" and "dad" and they are just refusing to do so (again, a respect issue). I agree with Mommy Dearest - ignore and, if that doesn't work, discipline.
Zivanod Zivanod 7 years
If this is an issue perhaps you (and your hubby) need to refer to each other as mom and dad instead of by your given names for a while.
jenni5 jenni5 7 years
Depends how old your kids are. If they are old enough explain to them the difference. My 4 year old does this every once in a while, trying to be funny, she knows the difference though. Or try not responding when they call you by your 1st name and wait until they call you mom to respond.
starbucks2 starbucks2 7 years
Why is everyone acting like calling your parents by their first name was rude? 'Mom' is your first name to your children! They don't know the difference. They could call you 'Truck' and you'd still be their mommy. My parents never referred to themselves as Mom and Dad, therefore I called them by their first names. It didn't have anything to do with them not 'fully embracing their role'. Kids get confused that others mothers are called Mom, too...because they don't realize it's a title. My daughter will call me Mama, because that's what I and everyone else calls me when around her. So, unless it really bothers you personally (you're only concern seems to be what others think about it), just go with it. If you feel hurt by this, let them know and tell them you'll only answer to Mom from now on.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 7 years
Ever since my daughter was a baby, I've been referring to myself as Mom. I've also been telling her that my name is Jen. I tell her, "My name is Jen and the grownups call me Jen, but you get to call me Mom!" She also knows her dad's name, but calls him Dad. "Look, Mom, an S! S is for my dad! It is for Stephen!" If my daughter were to start calling me Jen (or her dad Stephen), I would tell her, "I am your mom and you are my daughter. Please call me Mom." If that didn't work, I would explain that calling parents by given names is rude, and she is not to do it anymore. Rudeness gets a time-out, so she'd be in the corner after one more "Jen."
amandachalynn amandachalynn 7 years
Mom is who I am at home with the kids, and that's what they should call me. Amanda is who I am to my hubby, girlfriends, co-workers, etc. I am not a friend or a lover to my children, I am their parent.
inlove23 inlove23 7 years
Wow! So crazy!
Moms Moms 7 years
This is an interesting topic! I like my kids to know my given name and my husband's for safety reasons. Growing up, I remember being outside of school and all the moms would turn around every time a child said "mom" so children would say their mom's name to clarify. I never thought much of it.
gigimama gigimama 7 years
What do you mean "refuse to" call you mom and dad? That's who you are. Or maybe you are not "mom" and "dad" because you haven't fully embraced those roles by teaching your kids who is in charge. The next time a child tries to address you by your first name, ignore them. Say that is not your name. Be consistent. Jennifer won't give a cookie to you, but mom will. It's a matter of respect. It is a big deal and it teaches children there is a definitive hierarchy in our culture.
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