I was thinking about names we give our parents today. It’s not something we usually think about… but in all cultures of which I’m aware, we refer to our parents as “Mom” or “Dad,” or just something different from their name. Why is this?
I know that some people do refer to their parents by their names – but that usually signifies a loose or rocky relationship, or some sort of demanding or very official tone. You guys all refer to them by something other than their real name, right?
I wonder where and why this started. Of course, babies relating to their parents (or at least their mothers) is in their nature, with almost all species. But being told to refer to them by something other than their name definitely sounds cultural, if not very broad. It might be seen as a respectful title. Such as, someone becomes a prince, or a knight, or something like that – in the same respect, people become parents, therefore they can be referred to as such. But then, why only children? Is it a way for children to show respect to their elders? Is it because they are not worthy of calling them by their names. Or the opposite – is it because they are the only ones important enough to NOT refer to them by their names?
This is just one of many things we take for granted, when, if you think about it, is a little strange and hard to understand. Any thoughts?


  1. You know, I’ve wondered that myself in the past. I’m not sure why it is.
    Here’s the thing though: where do the kids learn to call their parents “Mom” and “Dad”? Don’t most adults (especially the ones married to each other) call each other by their first names?
    Maybe it’s from things like “Say ‘hi’ to mommy, sweety!”. Then the child would learn to associate “Mommy” with his or her mother.
    I’m not sure how insightful this is because I’m really tired. I tried.

  2. You think of stuff too much. But its not like a I have room to talk. Try to think of other off-the-wall topics. I have a few of my own if you would like to hear them. Just hit me up on IRC or something.

  3. Papa and mama are pretty universal too. Even in asian languages (most of them anyway).
    So maybe it’s a sound that babies make to their parents and it caught on.

      1. Right… of course, this is off-topic. My post was pretty ambiguous on what kids call their parents exactly, but I was more specific about the fact that they don’t refer to them by their actual names.

  4. “mama” and “dada” Area whole bunch easier to say, so maybe we evolved to use something similar? The word “mother” is one of a select few words (including “home”), which area lmost the same in every single language. It’s one of the ways that linguists trace language trees. i know that grammer is instinctive, so… *shrug* My two cents…

      1. …right. I mean that it’s instinctive that we call them mama and dada, because everyone’s parents are going to have different names, but by having them always respond to “mama” and “papa” or whatever, communication between parent and child can always be assured.

  5. I think they enjoy being called mom and dad. Its the title that comes with the job. Its the feeling you get being called mom or dad by your great achievment in life. One reason i don’t really want kids that bad is that i don’t want to be anything more than who i am.

    1. responsibility sucks, end of story. I think certain people are designed to be parents, and some aren’t, and that’s not meant to knock anyone. I’ll be completely honest and come out and say I don’t think I could honestly handle being a parent, simply because children tend to demand so much in so many areas.
      But then again, I think many people are meant to be parents… but I’m not going to even try to define any of this….

        1. The purpose is to *make* babies, not necessarily raise them. In this day and age you’re expected to do way more for your children then instinctively you really want to.
          Plus the purpose of men’s lives is to bash people over the head and rape them, but they don’t do it anymore because we’re all “civlized” now and are taught that this isn’t correct behavior. I think that it’s morally wrong to have children a. because of overpopulation and b. because most people are stupid and the only way for a child to grow up without weird neuroses is to be raised by people who know exactly what they’re doing. But we’ve all been raised by idiots so none of us know how to handle that kind of responsibility. Get it? Vicious cycle?
          Plus I read a book once that theorized that “mama” is universal because that’s the sound of puckering your lips up as if you want to suckle. I don’t know about “papa.”

  6. My dad is dead, and I call my mom Popo, which is slang for Police, but I say it in a cartoon mickey mouse voice so it sounds endearing, my stepdad I refer to as Greg or “my mother’s husband”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *