The moment a newborn baby pops into a family, parents often stop using their first names and instead start calling each other “daddy” and “mommy.” Instead of saying, “I’ll get Amy,” a new father might say, “Daddy will get Mommy.”
What’s with the name switch? What happened to their first names?
According to Lisa Pellerin, an associate professor of sociology at Ball State University in Indiana, the science behind the name change is that, parents are often their children’s language coaches.
They’re using the terms that they want the child to use. Even the parents of a newborn are looking forward to that time when the baby can call them ‘mama’ or ‘dada.'”
Studies show that “mama” and “dada” are easy to say possibly because they have patterns and repeating sounds.
Parents may also avoid using pronouns such as “I” or “you” because they are “too abstract and it’s somewhat confusing to kids,” said Emie Tittnich, an infant mental health specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. Children usually don’t understand pronouns until they are 2 or 3 years old, Tittnich said. And even at that age, the pronoun children may use first is “me,” because they realize it refers to them.
As the child gets older, they still may call their parents “mom” and “dad,” but also realize that their parents have first names. This usually happens at around age 5, Pellerin said. More so, parents may also teach children their first names in case the child gets lost, and needs to tell someone whom they’re looking for.
It usually takes the child awhile to understand that the same person can be called in two different names. After that realization kicks in. You’ll start to see the parents refer to each other by their names in front of the child,” she said
But not everyone makes that transition.