Referring to parents in stories

I forgot about the sir/ma’am thing! I moved from the North East to South in the US, and was not used to that. “George Junior, I told you an hour ago, take out the trash! Yes ma’am.” :laughing:


This def sounds like it’d fit my MC. Makes sense. :thinking:

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Well it’s not related to my story, but since everyone is sharing how they refer to their parents in real life, I figure I’ll share too. I’ve never referred to my parents directly by first name. When I was a kid, I called them mommy/daddy, but as I got older/snarkier, I had variations. Me, and my mom got used to calling each other “woman,” like “woman, you gonna eat dinner or what?” :laughing: I also affectionately called her mama/mamasita when I was an adult and kind of stopped with the “mommy.” As for my dad, we were closer when I was a kid, but once I started growing up, we became more and more distant over the years. Now we keep in touch out of obligation. I mean, I love him still in some weird way, but as adult to adult, we don’t get along. He drives me nuts.

So I used to call him “daddy” even once I was out of my teen years, but in recent years, especially since my mom passed, I’ve been adapting “dad” more often. For obvious reasons. Becoming all the more distant, and interactions are awkward at best/painful at worst. :grimacing:

I remember jokingly shrieking “madre” across the house to bother my mother. And of course, there’s the typical, “Maaaaaa where are my shooooes!”

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To me, when a child calls their parent mother or father, it means they don’t have a close relationship. So in my stories I’ve used that to show children that fear their parent and need to be respectful out of necessity.

In another story, my MC hates her father and refers to him as her DNA donor. :sweat_smile:

But in a healthy relationship, locality and upbringing would determine what word is used.

Also, kids might refer differently to the parent depending on who they’re talking to. I was brought up to respect my elders so I always found it jarring when I heard my peers refer to their parents by anything other than the respectful standard. To me it sort of spoke badly of my peers if they chose to disrespect their parents in public. But everyone’s upbringing is different and what was jarring to me was normal to others.

And then there are also parents that want their children to call them by their first names. That says a lot about their parenting style too.

In short, you can tell a lot about a person by how they refer to their family and it’s definitely something to leverage when writing. It’s a trick to say a lot without explicitly saying it.


Mom, Mama, and Pa are what I call my parents. I’ve only ever called them mother or father if I was really mad or annoyed with them. As a joke, my sister and I often refer to our mom as “the madre”.

I agree with pp that addressing them as “mother” or “father” denotes not being close to your parents. It could also show a fear/forced respect of the parents, like one that would come from an abusive relationship or even a neglectfull one. (I once had a co-worker who only referred to her child as my baby, even when he was older, and generally neglected him, unless she was using him as an accessory. I imagine he would call her mother because of a lack of closeness.)

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:laughing: Daaamn. That’s cold lol

I’m the same way. I would get shocked every time I saw someone curse/call their parents bad stuff to their faces. I would never. Sure, I had my rebellious moments, but my disrespect only went so far. When people cross a line like that, and their parent doesn’t seem too bad, I feel like this person wouldn’t have respect for anyone.

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From what I’ve observed in media (not real life, so take this with a grain of salt, also from watching The Godfather lol) rich people often use the title of ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy’.

It’s a bit cringey, especially given modern context.

Overall, I think the use of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ in media is meant to signify distance between parent and child because of its formality.

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