DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is 6 years old, and he recently started calling me by my first name. I am old-fashioned: I want him to call me Mommy. It’s like one day he woke up and realized my name isn’t actually “Mommy,” and he went around the house chanting it. The more I protest, the more he says my name. What should I do? I want to teach him to have good manners. When I was growing up, I would have gotten a spanking for calling my mother by her first name. I am not sure how to handle this. -- A Name
DEAR A NAME: Rather than fighting with your 6-year-old, give him a bit to claim your name. He is learning. It may be a source of fascination to him that his mother has a name other than Mommy. If you stop reacting so much and trying to control him, he will likely calm down all by himself.
When his fascination subsides, you may want to let him know when it is smart to use your proper name. I learned this the hard way when my daughter was about your son’s age. She had somehow gotten outside when I was in the doctor’s office. The door self-locked, and she was calling out, “Mommy! Mommy!” Since I was certain that my child was playing in the waiting room, I didn’t really hear her cries. The building manager rescued her, so all ended up well. What I realized is that in case of emergency, it is much better for a child to call out the mother’s name rather than Mommy because every mother’s name is Mommy. At that moment, my young daughter learned when to use what name. I hope you never have such a scare, but it is wise to tell your children that in time of need, call out your real name.