In a larger sense, it’s not a huge deal — your child is going to love you just the same no matter what name they call out in the middle of the night when they’re looking for comfort after a nightmare. In a more day-to-day sense, though, the name your child calls you is important — it’s a name you’re going to hear several thousand times a day, a name written on homemade birthday cards, and a name used by countless other adults in your child’s life when referencing you. To say the least, it had better be a name that you’re comfortable with! For LGBTQ+ parents, the topic of parent names is an important conversation. Society has big expectations and stereotypes around the relationship between gender and parenting, and parent titles are no exception. LGBTQ+ parents, while having the burden of confronting these rigid expectations head-on, also get to be creative in their parent names and make their own rules. Here are some considerations.
Sharing is caring
The fact that you know that you want to be known as “mom” to your children doesn’t mean that your partner can’t opt for a similar title. Many families use the same parent-name for both parents, and this doesn’t cause any confusion. If your child scrapes their knee and calls for “Dad” how lucky to have two loving parents come running ready to kiss it better! Also, plenty of families add in some variety to traditional parent names. Maybe one parent is “mama” and another is “mami” or a child has a “Daddy S” and “Daddy Z.” The most important thing to know is that you and your child(ren) will fall into what makes sense for you, as a family.
What’s in a name?
Names can be so deeply personal, and parent names are no different. Many LGBTQ+ folks will look to their own life, experiences and heritage for guidance. What are the parent names in the native language of your grandparents? Are there names that you called your family members when you were a child that feel special to you? Can your favorite flower be morphed into a parent title? The sky is truly the limit! Also, plenty of LGBTQ+ parents feel that the way they present themselves to the rest of the world, and the rest of the people who love them, is also the best way to present themselves to their children — with their first names. Kids who call their parents by their first names are not uncommon, even if it seems a little bit quirky. And if you’re not sure you want to commit to that right away, there’s always the option of “mommy [name]” or “[name]-dad.”
Forging your own path
Some parents feel like typical parenting terms don’t really fit them as people or their relationships with their children, but they don’t want to miss out on the fun of a sweet, toddler-mumbled parenting title. . If this is the case for you, feel empowered to get creative! Whether it’s a diminutive of “parent” (think “Renny” or “ParPar”) or just a couple of syllables you like that might be easy for a toddler to adapt to (“BaBa” or “YaYa”), the best name for you or your partner might be right on the tip of your tongue. Take a little time to try out a couple of repeated-sound names, and see if anything sticks.
Kids will be kids
No matter what you and your partner decide that you’d like to be called, there’s no guarantee that your child won’t end up taking matters into their own hands — or their own words. Also, get comfortable with the fluidity of it all! Just as “mama” turns to “mommy” turns to “mom” as most children age, your parent name might evolve and change over time. Don’t be afraid to check in with your child about it! A simple “Hey, I noticed you started calling me ‘Ba’ instead of ‘Baba.’ Did you notice that too?” can get the conversation started. Maybe you and your child can come to some conclusions together!
This content series was created in partnership with Family Equality, an organization advancing legal and lived equality for LGBTQ+ families and for those who wish to form them. Learn more at https://www.familyequality.org/.