Should your child use your first name?
Sipho wonders whether some people have something to hide by not wanting to be called Mom or Dad.
‘Peter, let’s go home,’ the young boy said to his father, a friend of mine. It took me a long time to get used to hearing my friend being called by his first name by his 5-year-old son. It didn’t sound right to my conservative ears.

I tried to understand why the boy called his father by his first name. Listening to Peter communicate with his wife I found the answer to my question. The couple always referred to each other by first name basis so obviously their child picked the names up. I doubted if the words ‘daddy’ and ‘mummy’ were ever used in that house.

Parents react differently when their young kids call them by their first name. Some parents don’t like it - viewing it as disrespectful, some think it’s funny and some take it as a phase in the child’s development. My friend Peter found it acceptable.

When I was about 4 I used to call my mom ‘Auntie Gillian’ because we stayed with a cousin who called my mom by that name. To make the situation worse, other relatives called her Auntie Gillian too. Although in my mind I knew she was my mother I referred her by the name which I heard most people call her. By age 6 I had been taught to refer to my mother by the official form of address: ‘Mummy’.

To avoid their kids calling them by their first names some parents start referring to each other as Mummy and Daddy so that their child picks up the words. Some parents ignore the child if she calls the parent by their first name in an attempt to discourage the child from doing so.

Has Dad got something to hide?

However some parents will allow their kids to call them by their names for the wrong reasons. I remember when I was growing up our neighbour, a single dad, would instruct his son to call him by his first name when ever his different array of girlfriends visited. He did not want his partners knowing he had a child; he used to refer to his son as ‘my nephew.’

I also know of a woman who coached her daughter to call her Auntie up to a point where her then boyfriend married on the understanding that the child as was the woman’s niece. The marriage was damaged beyond repair when the husband discovered the lie.

On the other side of the spectrum there are those parents who are so sensitive about their children using their first names that they do not tell their kids their first names. This can be a problem if the child for some reason gets lost and does not know his parents’ name.

Most parents feel that they deserve to be called Mom or Dad. They’ve worked hard for those titles. Why should the tiny tots deny them of their right? In any case, in most languages the words for mum and dad are the simplest words for the child to learn. Every child should use these endearing titles.

Read more by Sipho Yanano

Do you think it’s okay for small children to call their parents by their first names?

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