What's in a name? Well, respect, for starters.
A recent poll from BabyCenter.com found almost half of parents want their children to refer to their grandparents as either "grandma" or "grandpa." Many are also opting for more unique nicknames, like "mamaw," or "pappy."
But what happens when your children or grandchildren choose instead to address you by your first name? Is it the sign of a special bond? Or is it downright disrespectful?
Although it's not entirely common, plenty of children call their parents by their first name. The Kardashians call their matriarch, Kris Jenner, by her name from time to time. "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson revealed he's long called his parents by their first names because they've always treated their kids like adults. Even in the 1960s, Scout and Jem refer to their father simply as Atticus in the famed novel "To Kill a Mockingbird."
I personally haven't called my mom "mom" in years (unless we have company over). I've always had a particularly close relationship with my mother and am admittedly a little too attached to her. While I respect and adore her beyond words, some years ago, what started out as playfully referring to her by her "American" work name, "Amy" never really stopped. She was upset for a while and refused to respond to me unless I called her mom.
But I didn't relent, and so she did. Her nickname went from "Amy," which playfully turned into "Amy-Jamie" to finally settling on "AJ." My sister and I convinced her it stands for "ammi-jaan," which is Urdu for mommy dearest. Side note: I tried the same thing for my strict Asian father and was quickly put in my place before it ever caught on.
We asked our Facebook fans if they think it's ever okay for adult children to call their parents or grandparents by their first names. We got dozens of responses on the issue, but the majority of them firmly said no.
"I don't want them calling me by my first name, that's not who I am to them," said Barbara Perry.
Several readers made the argument that it's a simple show of respect. "To me it is a sign that children or young adults may perceive their parents or grandparents as equals, friends, or pals. It is important to me that children Honor their parents and grandparents with Titles like Mom, Dad, Grandmother, and Grandfather. It is a sign of respect---plus anyone can call me Jane, but only my grandchildren call me Grandma and personally that Title is music to my ears," said Jane Thompson.
Some mentioned the cultural importance of not calling elders by name. Angelita Salas Head said in Latin culture it's disrespectful to refer to any elders by their first names. In fact, Head said, "My husbands family is from Kentucky and they all call each other by their first names.,,but I still can't bring myself to call my in-law's by their first name, still use Mr. and Mrs." Mary Fremont Rautis agreed, saying the same goes for Native American culture.
A few who weren't bothered by titles suggested it just depends on the family. "I called my grandparents by their first names all of my life. It seemed odd to the rest of the world but worked for us. My kids have always called my mother by her first name too," said Sharon Hodor Greenthal.
Babble.com blogger Marinka wrote about why she lets her kids call her by her first name. Marinka admitted it seemed odd to others, even her own mother, and recognizes it's unusual. "My answer is that I don't feel that being called by my first name diminishes the fact that I am my children's mother at all. Despite what some people may suspect, to me it does not imply a lesser love, alienation, or a lack of respect," she explained.
Yes, it's true every family is different and who's really to say what the norm ought to be. We think our reader Nita Roper Hutchinson put it best. "In my family, no but in my husband's yes," Hutchinson said. "In the end how you adult children treat you is more important than what they call you."
How do you feel about parents or grandparents being called by their first names? Let us know your thoughts in comments.