What kids call their parents…and their parents' friends

Just getting around to blogging this, but there was a fascinating article a few weeks ago in the Boston Globe, made all the more relevant to me because it mentioned several of my Weston students and was written by the mother of one of those students. Ellen Freeman Roth’s article, headlined “Not your father’s nicknames when teens talk to parents,” explored what kids call their parents and their parents’ friends:

Lisa and Michael Josephson of Old Greenwich, Conn., are Mama Jo and Papa Jo, names coined by their daughter’s friend. Timothy Sweet of Watertown began calling his father “Sweet Man” a dozen years ago on a Boy Scout trip. Sweet likewise has nicknames for his friends’ parents, including “Glenzo” for Glen and “Pina” for Patricia.

Sarah Switlik, 18, a Babson College student from Princeton, N.J., said her mother, Pam, wasn’t thrilled at first when Sarah called her P-Money. “Initially my mom said, ‘Really, Sarah,’ exasperatedly. Now when she’s texting she signs off, ‘Love, P$.’ It makes her feel like one of the girls.”

Caroline Gaulin, 22, of Greenwich, Conn., yelled “My bad, G-Dog!” to her father, Dan, during a basketball game to make light of an error she’d made. “After that we started calling him G-Dog,” she said. “Now he loves it.”

Teachers are almost always called by title and surname at Weston, but at CSA we’re all on a first-name basis. These customs run counter to expectations and fly in the face of the customs for naming of parents and parents’ friends, at least based on my predictions. There are probably some interesting class issues here. Although I grew up calling my parents “Mom” and “Dad,” I called all my other relatives and my parents’s friends by their first names: it was Lillian and Leonard, not Aunt Lillian and Uncle Leonard; Luke and Gen, not Mr. and Mrs. Garner. But Barbara grew up more formally, with Aunts and Uncles and surnames with titles. I’ll have to ask my CSA students what they do; I’ll predict big differences between Weston and Dorchester.

Categories: Dorchester/Boston, Life, Linguistics, Teaching & Learning, Weston