Having thoroughly considered children’s names, I then innocently said:
Of course, we also have to discuss what our children should call us…
This may seem a non-issue to many, but I was brought up to call my parents (and grand-parents) by their first names – I realise this is fairly unusual for biological parents, although interestingly step-parents often automatically fall into this category.
May’s instant reaction though was to tearfully respond:
I’m not going through this hell to not have someone call me ‘mummy’
Ah. It seems I was right there is a need to discuss, but (as usual) I hadn’t realised it would be an emotional issue.
There is a specific reason why this first name approach was adopted in my family. It dates back to when I was a babe, and my grandmother started calling my mother ‘mum’, as in ‘Mum, does H need his nappy changed?’ (! ). Understandably this rather freaked my mother out.
I don’t think that the parents calling us ‘mum’ weirdness is likely to be replicated in this generation. However, I actually quite like the first name thing and really feel awkward having to refer to my parents by some form of ‘mum’/’dad’. The only mild disadvantage has been that I’m so used to it I automatically refer to them by first names to friends and unless they know they won’t understand I mean one of my parents.
So, what are the options? Can a compromise be reached? Will our relationship survive? [stop being over melodramatic – ed]
1. It is essential that your child show respect for your role as a parent. If your child attempts to blur that parent-child relationship by calling you by your first name, put a stop to it. 2. A child usually has many friends, but usually only one or two parents at home. Parents need to demand respect for the important role they are playing in their child’s life. [my emphasis, but honestly… it really comes across as ‘if they dare… slap ’em down’! ]
‘Disrespectfulness’ is often cited (in varying degrees of rationality), which I must confess I don’t really get (although in some cultures it might be, I guess) – kids can and will find ways to be disrespectful no matter what they call their parents.
I’m going to reserve the rest of my thoughts and feelings and our ideas/conclusions for a follow-up post [you’re such a tease – ed] as I’d like to hear May’s readers’ opinions, experiences, anecdotes and wise words first.