Names for Parents and Siblings

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Twin who calls his brother by his own name

March 2009

One of my 2 year old identical twin sons, ''Wayne,'' refuses to call his twin brother ''Mark'' by his name. Whenever ''Wayne'' speaks to ''Mark'', he refers to him by his own name. He calls him ''Wayne.'' When I call his attention to it, he either ignores my suggestion that his brother's name is ''Mark'' or becomes flustered and shies away from speaking to his brother. Because of this, I haven't pressed the issue, but am hoping that this is something he'll grow out of. ''Wayne'' clearly knows his own name and that his brother's name is ''Mark.'' He just refuses to say the name ''Mark'' when he speaks. Has anyone else had this experience or heard of this? Should I be concerned? Any advice on how to handle this? concerned mom

He's two. Chill out.
Oh my god, that's fascinating!! I will just say, I think there are so many things in this world we as humans don't understand, and being a twin is one of them, unless you are one. And then, even then, you may never understand the potential you have! If you look at some other native countries, villages, etc., they have a lot of mysticism based around being a multiple. Perhaps your son Wayne's phsyche is not ready to accept that Mark is a seperate entity. His logical wordly mind will catch up to that. Undoubtedly they'll have a serious phase of finding their own identities! But for now, watch it. Observe it. Appreciate it for how miraculous it is!! Does Mark mind? Let Mark tell him ''my name is Mark!'' Otherwise, wow, i wish I could see that! I think you have a very intuned little boy on your hands!! anon
Haha! Your post actually made me laugh. My twin boys, who will turn 3 next month, went through a very similar phase. They would call each other ''Baby''. They would call everyone else by their given names, but refused to refer to themselves as anything but ''Baby''. After a while, we figured out that it was because they didn't want to distinguish themselves as separate people. They were very, very attached to each other and didn't want to deal with the reality that they were different entities. That lasted for about a year, and now they've outgrown it. But, we did get plenty of video of them referring to themselves and each other as ''Baby'', and all the relatives get a huge laugh out of it. Enjoy these cute little things while they last! Twin mama

2.5 year old is calling his father by his first name

Nov 2009

A couple months ago, Daddy moved out. (we were not married, so not offically a divorce. But it's a final decision. We will not be getting back together.) My son is 2.5 years old. Daddy has been actively involved with son since birth, taking care of him at least 35-40% of the time, but I have always been the preferred caregiver. As expected, right now son is very attached to me. At first,after Daddy moved out, he seemed delighted to have me all to himself and was quite content with the arrangement. I would even say things improved. (Probably because less tension in the house) But whenever Daddy comes over to visit (which is regular) Son is rejecting. I think when I am gone, it's better, but at first he says ''Go away'' or to me (I don't want Daddy). About a month after Daddy moved out, our son began calling Daddy by his first name and continues to refer to him this way both to me and to Dad. (I always refer to Daddy as ''Daddy''). I have not corrected him here, but continue to refer to Dad as Daddy. I know it's hurting Daddy's feelings. Shall I ignore this or address it with son? Thanks for your advice. perplexed

My 2.5 year old son does the exact same thing - he calls daddy by his first name and sometimes calls me by my first name, too. When talking to our son we always refer to each other as mama and daddy, but we do address each other by our first names and I think our son just picked up on that. Both of us are still in the house with him so our situation is not exactly like yours but I thought it might make his daddy feel better to know that other kids do the same thing. not ''mama'' any more
You never corrected your son calling his Dad by his first name even once? You never got married to his Dad? Of course you need to tell your son that Daddy is a special name only kids get to call their fathers. Parents' first names are for everyone else. Kids aren't born with this wisdom, you need to tell them. But you also need to ask yourself why you are traditions-averse. There will be lots more 'issues' arising that shouldn't be ...
I think you should continue to refer to your son's father as ''Daddy.'' If you keep refering to him as that your son will too. I think for your son's emotional health he should maintain a consistent, ongoing relationship with his dad. And the more you can maintain a positive attitude about the dad with your son the better off your son will be. When he's much older you can be more honest with him, but during his childhood it's important that your son be bonded with his dad despite any negative feelings you have about the dad. I'm the mother of a 20-year-old boy and his father and I divorced when he was four. I can't tell you how important it is for the son to remain close to his father throughout his childhood. If you see to this you will be eternally grateful to yourself for the rest of your life and you son will too. Have the dad remain what he is, ''Daddy,'' and encourage your son to love and be with him. Don't pay too much attention to the little odd behaviors he's displaying right now so close to the separation; lead the way to their ongoing, loving relationship and your son will respond to this vibe and be emotionally healthy as a result. -- wishing you strength and fortitude

4-year-old has started calling parents by first names

January 2003

Recently, my 4 1/2 year old son has started calling my husband and I by our first names. I know that in some families this is no big deal, but it rather bugs me (I like being called 'Mommy', and he's the only one who can do it.) I've let him know that I don't like it when he calls me by my first name, but it still slips out (he mostly corrects himself). This is not a huge deal, but I'm curious out the phenomenon. Have others experienced this? I don't ever remember calling my parents by their first names.

I remember that when my son was in preschool, he started using my first name in conversation with other adults, as in ''I'll ask Ginger if I can come play at your house.'' When he talked to me, he addressed me as ''Mom''. He had figured out that everyone else calls me Ginger so he thought it would be less confusing to them if he used that name instead of Mom! I think a lot of kids must experiment with this at around age 4, maybe because they are starting to reason about the world around them. I told my kids that I prefer the name ''Mom'' because it is special since they are the only ones who can call me that. My 2nd son as a teen has started to call me Ginger, I think as a sort of private joke about his being more grown up. Of course when he wants me to do something really badly, like give him money, he reverts back to ''Mom''.
Many kids go through a stage when they call parents by first names. It may be testing out being grown up and independent. When my son was about your child's age, he started calling everyone by first names. He even called my Grandmother -- known until then as ''Grandma Landau'' -- ''Landau.'' It was funny and cute, and passed quickly. Now he is 11 and I am ''Mom'' and ''Mommy-O'' and ''Momster'' and most often ''Moooooommmmmm'' (in various growls, croons and groans).
Relax! Both my kids (now 10 & 11) called my husband and me by our first names for a while at right around the same age. Big deal. We attributed it to their realization that we were someone other than mommy & daddy. Its a natural part of their curiosity and I'd be willing to bet that they will resume with ''mommy & daddy'' in short order.
My kids, now 11 and 13, did this for a while. One of them even called me by my first AND last name occassionally. They did this mostly when they wanted to get my attention. Treat it lightly, but do treat it. We generally laughed about it, but said, ''it's MOM to you, bud''. It never became a serious problem, and went away after a while. Because parents have a much needed and important role as an authority figure, I do not think it is ok for them to call you by your first name. They need to differentiate between the person in charge (you) and ''friends.'' You sometimes if not often have to make decisions in their best interest, regardless of whether or not they like the decision or you--at the moment. anon
My daughter has called me by my first name for weeks at a time several times in her young life. She also calls me Mama, Mom, and Mommy. I really dislike being called Mommy, so I understand what you're saying about having a strong preference. For what it's worth, I've decided not to ask my daughter not to call me ''Mommy,'' but instead to focus on my pleasure at her voice and tone. I answer to Mama, Mom, Mommy, or my first name. (Actually, if she called me Banana, I'd probably smile a silly smile and answer to that.) I have asked my husband and the adults in our life to refer me as Mama when talking to my daughter. Other than that, I wait for the phase to pass. Within a few weeks or a couple of months, it does.
Just call me ''Mama,'' please
I consistently referred to myself as ''mama'', my daughter (an only child) called me that for about 6 months before she was 2 but for as long as I can remember she calls me ''Sally''. No idea why. I never tried to dissuade her. Doubt I could have.
My son has been doing this off and on since age 3 (he's 3 and a half now). I think it is a phase, and it's not too surprising since no one else he knows calls me Mommy. If you think about it, most everyone your child knows calls you by your first name. I think they go thru a phase of figuring out what they should call you. I joke about it with my son, sometimes reacting in mock surprise saying 'Jen??!! Who is that? I am Mommy'. Or you could explain to him how special it is to you that he is the only one who can call you Mommy. Maybe draw a family tree and show him all the labels other family members have for you and how Mommy is his special label for you.
I definitely say stick to Mommy. In fact if my husband and I had to do it all over again, we'd have our boys preface titles to the names of ALL adults - Aunt Bertha, Cousin Jane, Mr. Smith, Miss Watkins, etc. I now think that calling adults by first names is really too familar and promotes a ''false'' sense of equality/peerdom between adults and kids. Using a title INSTANTLY puts an adult at a different level than a kid and helps a kid to understand the concept of respecting the position if not the individual in it.. i.e.Cousin Jane MAY be an idiot but she's still an adult. I think instilling ritual respect for elders is an important value that many of us unthinkingly threw away too fast - and yes, I do believe that questioning authority is valuable too, but respecting authority is also important.
Karen H.