If you imagine that all mothers look forward to hearing their babies coo their first “mama," these women will prove you wrong. These moms are so against being called "mom" that they've explicitly requested their children call them by another name.
While their reasons vary, all of these women share the same rule: don’t call me mom!
Some of these moms say they feel like “mom” carries a weight and stigma: moms are old, they’re frumpy, they’re not cool. Mother Irene Bard says: “I’ve always looked after myself. I cycle, play tennis, walk my dogs. I’ve had a good life, I’ve never had to work. I’ve got long eyelashes, thick glossy hair. I get compliments all the time. The name ‘mum’ just didn’t sit well with my appearance.”
Not everyone agrees with Bard or the other moms who are too cool to be called mom. Psychotherapist Jennie Miller believes that “forbidding your child to call you Mum blurs important boundaries and is likely to cause problems.”
But is it the name your child uses that's really problematic? Perhaps when a child uses their mother’s first name to address them, it can blur lines. But what about something more unique? Grandmothers go by a variety of names with no harm to the relationship, so why should “mom” be any different?
Even if your child ends up considering you their friend, is that really such a bad thing?
Friendship in and of itself is an asset in the parent-child relationship, provided there are boundaries in place. Mom Jouelle says “I want Jiselle to trust me and see me as her friend. I don’t want her to be afraid of me.”
That’s a really wonderful approach to parenting — relying on respect and gentle kindness in addressing our kids is a healthy dynamic. What’s less healthy is asking them to use your first name to circumvent the parent-child relationship and make your child your peer.
Counsellor Jason Hughes takes issue with this idea, noting that “mothers who are reluctant to be called Mum are possibly exhibiting a deep desire to maintain a level of individuality — and not be defined by the role of mother.”
Excuse me? Exactly what is the problem with mothers having a deep desire to maintain their individual identities?
There may be problems that come along with being on a first-name basis with your children. Doing so out of a desire to maintain your individuality might not be the best reason to opt for first-names only. But the idea that it’s somehow negative for a woman to want her own identity beyond motherhood is outdated and absurd.
There are many things that will define your relationship with your children; what they call you doesn’t have to be one of them. You can be an individual and have your own identity without icing out your kids.
Any mom who’s considered the subject in a thoughtful way (no matter what her kids call her) is probably one step ahead of any collateral relationship damage that might occur if she opts-out of being called “mom.”