Personal: Why we use Mother and Father instead of Mummy and Daddy


Since Dragon was born, we’ve never used the words ‘mummy and daddy’ around him. Instead it has always been, “Here’s father” “Come to mother” “Why don’t you have a quick cuddle with mother before playing with father” etc. Let me right away state this is not a criticism of people who use ‘mummy’, most of the country does and we see no problem with the terms “mummy and daddy”. This is just a personal preference, and there is no issues with the term ‘mummy’ in itself, it’s cute, easy to say and works for most families. But we don’t use it, and here is my simple reasons why:

Firstly: I found myself speaking to my son differently when dropping the word ‘mummy’.

This is very much my own personal experience, but when Dragon was little and I leant over my new-born boy and spoke, I found my tone and my language changed when I used ‘mother’ instead of ‘mummy’. When using ‘mummy’ I often seemed to revert to baby talk. “An’t yoo a coot baby, mummy luv you suuuu much, goochy goochy gooo!” I am not a baby talk fan. I wanted to get in the habit of speaking to my son even from infancy in a respectful manner. He is a baby, but we’ve always wanted to raise him with the same respect as one would an elderly citizen. We might be wiping his bottom and spoon-feeding him, but he is entitled to dignity and so we speak and treat him as such. Somehow when using the term ‘mother’, I didn’t seem to fall into the same habit. “Mummy luuuves yooo!” became “Mother loves you!” Again not a criticism of baby talk, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Secondly: It’s just so adorable when you see a child use ‘mother’.That’s really it. I am aware that one would assume my second reason would be that it sounds ‘posh’, but that’s irrelevant to me. My partner refers to his mum as ‘mother’, a habit he began as an adult, and I love it. “Come here mother, let me help you” I’ve always loved it. I also once encountered a little barefooted boy running across a field shouting Mother, mother, come see this! and it was just the cutest. When I suggested to my partner we use ‘mother and father’ I expected more hesitation, but he didn’t even dwell on it. The hardest bit has been getting used to the term ourselves, I found myself naturally saying “Ah, give mummy a hug” and have had to catch myself a few times. If it slips out, it slips out, but the change hasn’t been that difficult.

A curious bit of trivia: My baby still says ‘mamama’ and ‘dadadada’. I have several friends that that swear that when their baby says ‘mama’, it means mother and ‘dada’ means father, and I am not in a place to disagree with them. It’s their children, they know their home situation best so it would be arrogant of me to claim their babies were only babbling. I can only speak from my own experience, and that is that little Dragon loves to shout ‘mamama’ and ‘dadada’ and also ‘bababa’ on top of his lungs, and I’ve never assumed it had anything to do with myself. ‘Dadada’ seem to be used when excited, he shouts it a lot when his father comes home, but also when I open the blinds in the bedroom or I am about to run him a bath. I asked a single mum I know from group if her daughter that rarely saw her dad, still said ‘dadada’, and she said yes. It had confused her at first, but she too eventually agreed that it was just her baby practising her sounds. Curiously when you ask little Dragon, “Where is father”, he will however run up and pat his dad vigorously. But once more allow me to stress, if you feel that when your baby says ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ it is definitely referring to you, then you are right and I am in no place to tell you differently.

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  1. See we use mummy and recently my said
    Daughter dropped the my and I was heartbroken. It is personal choice like nana or granny. Where I'm from though, people often call their grandmothers mother.

  2. I've tried to get my lil girl call me mum in my native language but she calls me mummy. I was also pondering whether we should teach her to call us mama and papa (posh sounding too :D) but we have just ended up being normal mummy and daddy. I don't mind, she can call me whatever :)

  3. I would hate it if my children called me mother, and they are 12 and 10 now. It sounds so formal and unloving to me - I much prefer mum or mummy. And the tones of baby talk are important - several studies say that the style of baby babbling that all mothers instinctively use is good for babies to help them make sense of language and learn it. So not disrespectful at all. I babbled at mine and very happily x

  4. Oh I babble a lot at my little boy, and him back at me. :) Babbling is highly encouraged.

  5. Using mother and father sounds very unloving to me too. In fact I cringe every time (which isn't often) I hear a kid calling their parents mother and father, just sounds so forced. I personally don't really like mummy and daddy much either, and if you find that it makes you revert to baby talk using terms like "Mummy loves you" then why don't you just say "I love you".. you don't have to refer to yourself as a noun.

  6. I don't think it really matters what you call your parents as long as there is love behind it. People will have different associations with words they hear depending on their own upbringing, what sounds unloving to one is cute to another. I know people sometimes put thought into what to call their grandparents "Granny/grandma/nanna/nanny" etc as Emma mentioned, so I see no difference in picking what you will personally be called. :)