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home : columns : dear harriette August 13, 2020

4/25/2020 2:45:00 PM
Son calls mother by her first name

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is 6 years old, and he recently started calling me by my first name. I am old-fashioned: I want him to call me Mommy. It's like one day he woke up and realized my name isn't actually "Mommy," and he went around the house chanting it. The more I protest, the more he says my name. What should I do? I want to teach him to have good manners. When I was growing up, I would have gotten a spanking for calling my mother by her first name. I am not sure how to handle this. -- A Name

DEAR A NAME: Rather than fighting with your 6-year-old, give him a bit to claim your name. He is learning. It may be a source of fascination to him that his mother has a name other than Mommy. If you stop reacting so much and trying to control him, he will likely calm down all by himself.

When his fascination subsides, you may want to let him know when it is smart to use your proper name. I learned this the hard way when my daughter was about your son's age. She had somehow gotten outside when I was in the doctor's office. The door self-locked, and she was calling out, "Mommy! Mommy!" Since I was certain that my child was playing in the waiting room, I didn't really hear her cries. The building manager rescued her, so all ended up well. What I realized is that in case of emergency, it is much better for a child to call out the mother's name rather than Mommy because every mother's name is Mommy. At that moment, my young daughter learned when to use what name. I hope you never have such a scare, but it is wise to tell your children that in time of need, call out your real name.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend, "Jeff," was recently diagnosed with diabetes. He is single and apparently has not been taking good care of himself. Some other friends and I agreed that we are going to help him get healthy by taking turns making food for him. We all live nearby. I wish we could also teach him how to cook, but now that we have social distancing, it seems like an impossible task. What do you recommend? -- Healthy Tips

DEAR HEALTHY TIPS: It's wonderful that you and your friends are prepared to help Jeff get healthy. It will mean a lot to him, at least during these early days of learning to eat differently, if others are providing him with food. But you are right: In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, he needs to learn to do it for himself.

Consider teaching him to cook with Zoom classes. You can be in your kitchen, and he can be in his. You can read the ingredients with him and go step-by-step through the recipes. You can make dishes together, virtually, while maintaining a healthy distance. The bonus is that it should be fun!

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