What do you call your mum and dad? I’ll take a guess that most of you keep it simple and call your parents, well, mum and dad. Although that may be the case, as I get older, I’m increasingly discovering this cannot be taken for granted.
My own children, for instance, have taken to occasionally calling me Johnny. It’s probably my fault. I should have ignored the kids the first few times this happened but instead I pointed out that:
- Johnny is the shortened form of Johnathan which is not my name and
- I am not their stepfather.
Naturally, this response just persuaded them to do it more. Had I smiled sweetly and kept quiet, they probably wouldn’t have continued to use the name. The former journalist in me, the beast that simply can’t sit back and leave inaccurate statements to go unchallenged, simply had to respond and I think they now do it to wind me up.
Then again, it seems quite common for kids to give their parents nicknames. My oldest friend Stuart and his brother Desmond have always called their dad “Bill” and mum “Wilma.” What’s odd is that their dad isn’t called William and their mother has no connection whatsoever with the Flintstones.
Keeping with the nickname theme, a mum who had children at my kids’ previous school used to call her dad “Tobes” (He was a schoolyard grandad who often picked up the grandkids so I got to know him a little bit). Interestingly, the name was used at Tobes’ insistence.
When younger, he and his wife were ferocious hippies and simply refused to be called “mum and dad.” I think they considered it a reflection of the capitalist patriarchy or something. They instead asked to be referred by nicknames and the names stuck forever.
Same sex families are an interesting discussion point. I mean, what is a child to do, call both mums “mum” or both dads “dad”? One same sex family we know has got around this by having one “papa” and one “dad.”
What about us stepchildren? I, like many other stepkids, have always referred to my stepdad by his first name. For me, it’s simply a more natural, comfortable fit.
I’m not going to get into geographical and language differences. That said, I do find it amusing that in North America you have a mom instead of a mum. To be fair, the word mom does make more sense considering it’s an abbreviation of mother (although that does leave me wondering where dad comes from).
To be quite frank, I think this is a fascinating subject. I had simply sleepwalked through my life assuming that everyone called their parents mum and dad but when I thought about it, I realised there is huge diversity in what people call their parents. Every family is unique, so it makes sense that every family takes a different approach to what they call the parents.
So go on, tell me, what do you call your parents? Are they mam and papa, mum and dad, daddy and dad, mom and mum? I think this could be a really interesting discussion point.