Daily Archives: September 19, 2010

Taming the naming of parenthood

Thank you for all your comments on my last post regarding what children could/should/may call their parents. I promised a follow-up post with more discussion on my issues and our ideas for a possible solution, so here it is.

In summary the issue is two-fold:

  1. May wants to be called ‘mummy’
  2. I’m not so keen on being called ‘daddy’ (or the common variants)

The second point probably warrants some further exploration. There are three basic reasons why:

  1. As mentioned previously, it feels strange to me as my up-bringing was first names all round.
  2. Dad is a role not a name. I don’t think I’d objects to a being referred to by a third-party – teacher, friend of child, etc. – as ‘your dad’, as this is indeed what I would be to my kid. But it doesn’t follow that I would then want my offspring to use it to address me directly. I’m certainly not going to call them ‘child’ in the course of everyday conversation. Similarly I’m not called by my job title at work – I have a name, an identity.
  3. I think there are unfortunate connotations associated with certain variants on ‘dad’; ‘sugar daddy’, ‘father’ (used by priesthood, who have tragically then gone on to do very unfatherly things), ‘who’s your daddy’, ‘daddy’ as slang for pimp, etc. Ever since I found out what sugar daddies were I have gone off the idea of ever being a ‘daddy’ – while I don’t have a moral objection if both adults involved are happy with the arrangement it’s not an arrangement I want to have in a relationship with my child.

Others may be completely happy separating these concepts and issues out, but it’s not the way I roll.

From the comments, variations on mum and dad are the most common, but some interesting ideas. Firstly, ‘mummy’ and ‘[H]’ ( the [ ]’s denoting replacement with real name) – this seems a fairly obvious compromise, but it’s not very neat and certainly leaves potentially embarrassing erroneous confusion about ‘step-daddying’. Secondly, ‘mummy [May]’ and ‘daddy [H]’ – this makes things more personal and retains the identity ameliorates the ‘role’, but I’m not too enthusiastic as it leaves the connotations and would probably be more complex for the child.

After doing a bit more research, it seems that this is becoming an increasing problem with the changing nature of families away from traditional nuclear to remarried (where there are kids from both sides of previous marriages and new couple wanting a single united name for parents – probably more of an issue if kids are younger) and same sex parenting. The general solution seems to be to find other names that are associated with mum and dad, for example those words in other languages. May is open to this idea, but it does leave open the question of which variant to go with:

  • Mum & Dad (for reference)
  • Nonny & Poppy (compromise seemingly used a lot in the USA – not too keen personally, before you panic May :))
  • Amil & Ata (Elvish)
  • Imma & Abba (Hebrew)
  • Ammi & Abu (Urdu)
  • Mor & Far (Swedish)

This a just a select list of the ones I quite liked (except the first one) – Klingon was a little too tricky, I think – your ideas and suggestions would be welcome.

So no decision, yet – but then we haven’t decided any child names either yet 🙂