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Children calling elders by their first names

Some people are shocked when they hear children in some households call elders by their first names. In most homes, the parents are often called by terms such as Appa, Amma, Ammi, Ammu, Aya, Appaji, Baba, etc. Daddy and mummy, dad and mom are other common terms used to address parents. But in some households, children call their parents by their first names. For an outsider, this may seem shocking but it is natural for the child. The child may have heard all others call their mom by the shortened first name, say Paddu for Padma or Janu for Janaki or any of the other shortened forms of the names. Since everyone calls their mom by this name the child adopts the same and with time does not want to change that.

Grandparent-grandchild special relationship

While calling them by the name of the relationship (appa, amma) is most common for parents, for grandparents, many children create their own nicknames. Tata, pati, ajja, ajji, ammuma, ammama, dada, dadi, nana, nani are the common terms used, but some children invent names which really are nonsense syllables with no meaning. The indulgent grandparents too don’t mind the nicknames the grandchild has given them.

Both benefit as long as no one minds!

At times the aunts and uncles are not much older than you. If the age gap is less, we tend to call our aunts and uncles (parents’ siblings) by their first names. Children resist it when they are asked not to address elders by their first names. It feels closer to call them by their first names rather than by their relationship names. I have seen children cry and throw a tantrum when someone tries to force them to call elders by relationship names. Children feel a strong emotional connect with some elders only when they call them by their names familiar to them. Just because children call elders by first names does not mean they disrespect them in any way. We should let it be and not try to change the habit. It is got two benefits - the child will feel deeply connected and perhaps the elder person feels younger too!

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