When should a child stop calling their mother "Mommy?"

When should a child stop calling their mother

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Is there an age at which point a child should switch from calling their mother "Mommy" to "Mom?" A concerned parent recently asked this question on Quora, and got responses from physicians and parents alike.

"You should stop worrying. At least, if this is the only issue, you should certainly stop worrying," user Peter Flom smartly replied. "If this is part of a larger issue (e.g. she can't be apart from you, she doesn't have friends, she never disagrees with you, etc) then there may be cause for concern. But, otherwise, calling you 'mommy' is, I think, a way of saying 'I love you.' It could also be a sign that she is strong enough to keep calling you 'mommy' when her peers are no longer doing so."

Liang-Hai Sie, a former intensive care physician noted, "If she chose to persists, she is in good company. Prince Charles at 63 yo addressed his mother Queen Elisabeth as 'Mummy' during his speech to her in 2012."

But it was fellow parent Christine Leigh Langtree whose reply I most identified with.

"Count your blessings," she advised. "Soon enough, she'll start to separate from you and you'll wait a long long time to feel that unselfconscious affection in her voice again – if you ever do."

I recall the specific moment when one of my sons first told me he wasn't going to call me "Mama" anymore, because I took the photo seen here just seconds after. Here he is, stretching his toes to the sky, just after telling me, "Tomorrow in the morning I'm going to call you 'Mom' instead of 'Mama.' Or next week morning. No more little kid stuff."

That was nearly three years ago, and it was tough.

I gave him a push on the swing to get him started rather than tell him I didn't want him to change what he calls me. I physically shoved him toward the big sky and new horizons he sought, but felt glad each time the momentum carried him back toward me.

He was 6 then. He's 9 now, and still calls me "Mama."

The discussion seems to have been a fluke, because he hasn't ever changed what he calls me or brought it up again in the years since. For now, I'm glad.

I've never wanted to be a "Mommy," but I can empathize with those of you that are called such. Becoming "Mom" is a title to love, but I empathize with the feelings embedded in the switch. I've been "Mama," for over a decade now! Someday soon I'll surely become "Mom" though, as my kids are entering the tween years. It's going to be great, because I want them to grow up and mature – but it'll also sting.

To the mom who wondered if her child is behind in making the switch I want to add my voice to those that say she'll make the change when she's ready, but I also know all too well what it's like to want to help your kids fit in with their peers. Having kids in this age range is no cake walk.

My husband has long gone by "Papa," but I believe my kids have always said "my Dad" at school. Perhaps there's room in the linguistics to have an intermediary (or even permanent) time they use one set of language with friends and another at home? I hope there is.

Photos: MorgueFile, Sara McGinnis

Reddit users share their advice for today's world – some of which is perfect for big kids:

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Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.


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