“Hey John, would you come and help me with my homework,” says your teenage son from the living room. Is this considered appropriate? Or even polite, or does it go against nearly everything that you have been taught about how children should address their parents? The question is, should your children call you by your first name? On a regular basis? Certainly, there comes an age when kids think it is humorous to address their parents by their first name. But as a rule of thumb, this is considered unusual behavior from kids.
For some parents however – they feel that allowing children to address them by their first name empowers some form of equal partnership in the relationship. These new age parents feel that once their child gets to a certain age, the parent-child boundaries are not quite as definitive and children should learn to feel like social equals to their parents. And what do you call your equals? Certainly not mom and dad, right? So the free spirited parenting models begin allowing their children to become chummy and they refer to one another like college roomies rather than next of kin.
There are also stories of moms and dads who don’t want to be referred to as mom or dad. Perhaps they are trying to maintain some sort of pure image, or don’t want the general public to know that they have children. This is often more common when the children are born to young parents and mom and daughter look more like sisters than a mother daughter duo. This way they can hit on the same guy at the bar, right. (And then end up on an episode of Jerry Springer together.)
Still for most parents, they prefer to be called mom and dad or some variation thereof. When a child is young and wants to make a joke by calling you John, or Linda or Sara – parents can sort of laugh it off. Reminding your child that you would prefer to be called mommy or mom because it is such a special word, can easily solidify the way in which you wish to be addressed by your children. After all, who else can call you mom or dad but your own kids?
The question is reminiscent of an episode of the Brady Bunch where Greg (the oldest son for those of you that don’t remember) decides that he has become a man (and a hippie) and continuously refers to his parents as Mike and Carol. In the show, Mr. Brady, aka Dad Brady – becomes intensely irritated, rolling his eyes and using his stern voice to correct the inappropriate name-calling, because this behavior is/was considered just plain rude.
Perhaps a child wanting to call parents by name instead of the maternal or paternal label is just a phase that kids go through on their way to adulthood. Maybe it’s truly no different from a young child referring to his mother as Mama, or Mommy for years and then reverting to Mom or MOTHER, as he or she gets older. There is nothing scarier than a 40-year-old man or woman calling their parents Mommy and Daddy, right? But somehow, this phase still just doesn’t seem appropriate in the least.
In fact, if you were to picture a father and daughter out for a special dinner and saw the young 16ish looking girl referring to the old dude as David, chances are your mind would roll right into the gutter, right? Sticking with traditional surnames such as Dad, would definitely avoid a mix-up like this.
So, is it ever appropriate for your child to call you by your first name? This author says no. But in hindsight, it could come in handy at times. For instance, when you are stuck in one of those parental nightmare places like Chuck E Cheese, or a McDonald’s playroom – it would be much easier to hear someone screaming Sara Winters over the hundreds of kids screaming MOM any day of the week. This way, you would definitely know that YOU are the mom being paged to come rescue the toddler from the top of the curvy slide tunnel thing. Although hearing your child calling MOM, and then ignoring him or her (because you weren’t 100% sure it was your kid) in the hopes they will figure out how to get down on their own is a heck of a lot easier for you as well.
Bottom line. Parents are parents. Parents should be called by parental names. If you allow, encourage or like for your child to refer to you by your birth given first name, then so be it. You really aren’t breaking any rules although you will likely get quite a few strange looks from people that overhear it. Or they might just think that you are a step-parent (which can be a blessing when in and of itself at times). There really is no harm in a child referring to mom and dad as Carol and Mike, except for the fact that it is strange and a bit left of center from mainstream parental rules.
The old adage says, “I don’t care what my children call me as long as they call ME!” Whether you answer to Sally Jo, Mama, Mom, or is a personal decision and choice that you and you alone have to make for your family.