23 answers

My Mom Wants My Son to Call Her "Mommy"

My mom has started calling herself "mommy" to my son. She said I can be "mommy 1" and she can be "mommy 2". I told her my son will be confused so she offered to be "mama" or "mom". I told her she cant be any of those because I'm the mom not her. She doesnt want to be called "grandma" or anything that refers to grandma. She feels old with those names. I have already told her everytime I bring my son to visit them that this annoys me. This is a small issue but it really bugs me. In addition, I often leave my son with her while I go to work around 2 times a week. Whenever I go home for lunch, I will ask to hold my son, and sometimes she doesnt want to give him to me. Only when I threaten to not bring him back, then she gives him to me.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Tell her it's fine if she doesn't want to be called grandma, but "mom" and "mommy" are already taken. My daughter calls my mom "nanny"...others use "oma" or other language type names.

"mom" is taken!


1 mom found this helpful

Wow!! I would feel very uncomfortable with this as well. I get uncomfortable when my mother-in-law calls herself "mom" on accident. Maybe you should sit down and have a serious conversation with her about this. Tell her he can call her nana or maybe by her first name. If she doesn't cooperate maybe you should find alternative child care. I am a work at home mom and if you would be interested I could give you more information.

More Answers

Hi J.,
Needless to say, your mom's request to be called any version of "mommy" is entirely inappropriate. There are some types of behavior that just need to be treated as not negotiable, handled very firmly and clearly. Personally, I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to convince her as to why you don't want her to be called mom, or asking for her cooperation. I would very clearly and calmly communicate that those names are not options, as they are reserved for you. I would then ask her help her to think of an alternative name for herself that she is happy with since she doesn't want the grandma names. I would personally try to stay away from doing too much "asking" with her though. Sometimes people who don't respect boundaries just need to be told things (lovingly), otherwise they overstep.
As for the lunch time handing the baby over, same thing applies. I would personally just let her know that when you're on your lunch, you have a limited amount of time, and you want to see your baby, and you need her to cooperate. Let her know that you understand how much she enjoys being with your child too, and that when you go back to work, she'll get all that time to herself, but momma needs lunchtime.

I'm getting a sense that your mom is struggling a bit with defining her role. I'd try to address her needs while at the same time setting boundaries. One opportunity here might be to come up with a very fun, affectionate, name for her that doesn't make her feel old, and that speaks to her having a special role.

If these are the issues coming up at 6 months, it's very important to nip them in the bud by setting healthy, loving boundaries now.

All the best,

2 moms found this helpful

Tell her it's fine if she doesn't want to be called grandma, but "mom" and "mommy" are already taken. My daughter calls my mom "nanny"...others use "oma" or other language type names.

"mom" is taken!


1 mom found this helpful

Hmmm... would she mind something like.. her name perhaps? This touches a nerve with me because bottom line, she IS the grandma, NOT mommy, not mama, not mom! What does she think of Nana, she could even be Nana (her name).

On the note about her sometimes not wanting to give him to you, that would end right now. I would tell her that if she behaved that way again, I would find somebody else I could trust to take care of him while I wasn't there, because she was getting too close for comfort. Regardless of how she feels, that is your son, not hers, and you are the parent, not her. She needs to take a step back before she nails her own coffin shut. There is no reason you should even have to ASK her to hold your own son. It almost sounds like she is trying to snatch him from you. Ugh my temper is boiling for you. =(

Let me know what you end up doing!

1 mom found this helpful

I think your mom is out of line. Maybe she doesn't realize she's overstepping her bounds but it sounds to me like you've tried to talk to her about it. If you have, then you need to find a new sitter. If you have not talked to her about it, then I would. What a hard thing to do but you need to do this for both you and your son. This is a special time for both of you and can be for grandma too, but her relationship is just that - grandma. I have 2 boys and we didn't know what to call my stepmom so we call her a petname given by my dad. (Her name is Susan - my boys call her Sue-bee. Nothing to do with grandma but it's a special name for them and her and she loves it.) Good luck with this. Sorry you're going through it!


I am so sorry you are going through this, what selfish, hurtful things for your mom to do to you. She should be supporting you in this exciting time of your life, not trying to take it over. I agree with the other posts that a serious discussion is necessary, and no variation of the Mommy name can go to anyone but you!! Good for you for standing your ground and telling her she is not the mom, you are!! It can be hard to stand up to our moms, you are doing the right thing!! There are lots of non-grandma-ish options, if she is not able to enjoy this period of her life as "grnadma." Nana is good, our kids call my mom Mamaw (pronounced Meh-mah) its a Texan thing and I think its a cute name. My cousins children call her mom Money. Not sure where that came from but its not Grandma. :)

I don't imagine you have other options for childcare while you are at work. It is disconcerting that she doesn't want to give your son back to you when you get home and you have to threaten to not bring him back. Do you have a friend who can watch your son for you? I would really consider not using her as regular child care if you can, and make her visits short, supervised ones. Once she has demonstrated over a LONG period of time that she realizes she is not "mommy 2" and not trying to take your place then perhaps she can spend the day with your son.

Stand strong and use all your resources (husband or boyfriend, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles etc) to support you through this!!!

Good Luck,
A. :) :) :)


I too would be annoyed. I find that odd that your mother would want your son to call her mommy. I don't think it's right. I would talk to her and say - How would you have felt if your mother wanted me to call her mommy? Maybe she'll undestand how you're feeling that way. If she absolutely refuses to be called grandma then maybe think of something else other than grandma or mommy that your son can call her. Good luck!


Hi J.

It seems to me she is way over stepping her boundries and being disrespectful to you, your husband and your son. I would ask her how she would have felt if her mother had insisted being called mom by you. (your grandmother) I would suggest if she doesn't want to be called grandma, or nana tell her he can call her by her name. It astounds me that she wants to be an "equal" mom to her grandson and take away mom from you is something deeper going on here?


It is horrible you have to go through this for both reasons, something very special is being taken and because it is your mother. You have to stand your ground and teach your son he only has one mom/mommy/mama. My mother in law was kind of like that, however, she didn't ask to be called mom, she just wanted to be called Laura. I see now I shouldn't have put up such a fuss. Anyway, she eventually got over it and now calls herself "Gamma". As well, my mother started to do that with my oldest daughter because I was very young when I had her. I caught her refer to herself as Mom and asked what she was doing and she quit.

Just be aware, kids do call other authorities in the house mom sometimes. My 2 YO calls my 24 YO daughter mommy or mommy sissy sometimes. She disciplines her, so she calls her mom, I guess. My younger sisters did that with me too, although neither one of us encourage it.

Best wishes.

Hi J.,
I feel you. My parents did the same thing to me when my daughter was born. Just like you it really bugged me. What I did was make up different names for them to pick. They now go by G-Pa and G-Ma. Pretty hip I think? Anyways after all that my daughter calls my mom nini and she loves it and I am fine with it. As far as her not handing him over when you come over for lunch (is she serious)? Talk to her and ask her nicely not to do that. Just remember your mother really loves your son and you too. In a small way your child is a reminder of you as a child. Take it as a compliment. Just be open with her if you have things that bug you. My parents help me so much and thankful for everything they do for us. Some moms don't have that kind of support. Good luck and congratulations!!

Have you tired telling her that it hurts your feelings? And that you are just learning how to be a mom yourself and for her to steal that title and time from you is really hurtful? Why wouldnt she be proud to be his grandma? It is the natural progression in life, maybe suggest an alternative name "Nana" or something similar? Good luck!

She is crossing the line. YOU are the mommy, period. She needs to come up w/ another name for herself if she doesn't like Grandma. I don't think you should bend on this. To me, it's a huge respect issue & you need to put your foot down. It's great that she wants to be involved but needs to understand where her place is vs. yours. Good luck!

Wow!! I would feel very uncomfortable with this as well. I get uncomfortable when my mother-in-law calls herself "mom" on accident. Maybe you should sit down and have a serious conversation with her about this. Tell her he can call her nana or maybe by her first name. If she doesn't cooperate maybe you should find alternative child care. I am a work at home mom and if you would be interested I could give you more information.

My mom had the same issue with being called grandma & wanted to be called "gammy" until my son called her "mia" (attempting to say gammy), which she loves & still goes by. See if she'll settle for "mimi" (french for grandma), or something of the sort. Get creative & see if yours or some other ethnic background has something better for the word "grandma."
As for your mom, she's just going through something right now, my mom went through stuff like that when my son was younger. She's pretty normal now, just the normal drive you nuts spoiling when she hasn't seen him for a while.

Simone left you a great advice. Another suggestion for a name is "Mimi". It's hip and sweet, and smiliar to mommy, but not in a confusing manner. When I had my first child ( I now have 3!) my mom would mistakenly refer to herself as mommy in regards to my children. Just a gut reaction, I guess. It blew over in time. She was just so in love with her grandchild, it felt like her own. Just remember to thank God that your child has so many people in his life that love him that much. What a blessing!

Well, the other posts have offered good advice, but I wanted you to know that you're not alone! While my mother doesn't mind being called "Grandma," she does do things that I expressly told her not to (watching certain tv shows, wrong kind of snacks, etc.) She now lives 700 miles away, so it's not an issue anymore (thank goodness,) but before we moved, I had to get very very firm with her about it. Our mothers need to respect our role as parents and undermining our authority is not the way to do it. I also had to limit the visiting time with her...it's sad really, but what can you do? I was at my wits end and nothing else worked. Sounds like limiting or withholding visits with your mother may be the only thing that will show her you are serious. Good Luck!

First of all I can't believe that you're mother doing this! I'm very lucky that my mother doesn't have this kind of insecurity. Before I had my son she referred to herself as granny to my cats. Now she calls herself Grammy to my son.

If she doesn't like Grandma than she needs to work with you to find another name that's she's comfortable with, but it cannot be any version of mom, mommy, mama, etc. A friend of mine has her grandson call her Gma. Maybe that would work for her. Also, I think your mom needs to know exactly how her referring to herself as mom or mommy to your child hurts you. How would she have like it if her mother had done this to her???

Tough situation I am sure but I can't imagine it comes from any place other then great love for you and your child. Just as being a mommy is new to you, being a Grandma is new to her. You should definitely sit down with her and gently explain how much you value your mother daughter relationship with her and that it's part of why you are so overjoyed to be a mommy now. Make sure she knows how much you value her time and her help but that you miss your baby when you are away making it hard to appreciate her "jokes" about not giving him back. If she continues to show confusion about boundaries you may need to look for a babysitter during your work hours so as to preserve an important relationship. As for the name, there are a lot of fun Granparent names from different cultures and one may appeal to her. My personal favorite is the Philipino name for Grandma. It's Lola! Now who wouldn't want me be called Lola. "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets." Good luck.

make up a name for your son to call your mom (ie. nana or monster - just kidding!). When my oldest son was 1 1/2 yr old (he's 12 1/2 yr. old now), he couldn't or refused to call my brother-in-law "Uncle R". He started pointing to my bro-in-law and say "babu". Now my 3 boys call him babu instead of Uncle R.

Hello J.,
wow! your mom sounds just like mine. I think it has to do with the association between being a grandmother and her age, at least with my mom it did. With my niece, she had her call her mom (and my sister being a younger mom and living with my mom, let her get away with it).
I didn't. my boys call her Lita C. (lita is the secong have of Abuelita, which is a term of endearment for Abuela, or Grandmother in Spanish). My goddaughter calls one grandma Mima and another Nana.

Most importantly, good luck, I know talking about certain things with our mothers can be tough...just so you know it will get easier now that you are a mom yourself...to protect your children, you will do almost anything.

The only thing that comes to my mind is WOW. It is hard to believe that someone old enough to have a grandchild would act so childishly. You have every right to be annoyed. If you can maybe a few weeks break of seeing your Mom would do some good.

I know some one who hated to be called Grandma as well. So she just had them call her Tee. Short version of her name. Maybe this type of suggestion would be good for your Mom. Although it seems like she has some major letting go issues and needs to find some activites outside of trying to take your place in your son's life.

Sorry if that last statement was too harsh, that is just the way it looks from what I read.

Hope things mellow out for you.

I have a very rule breaking mother in law and I know how you feel. Everytime I told her not to do something she would. I know grandmas are suppose to spoil thier grand kids but there is a limit. I tell my son no candy you will be eating dinner soon and she would sneek him a piece. I tell her not to buy that garbage creral thats it made mostly out of sugar and she does it anyways. She even had the guts to tell me she didn't like the name I picked out for my son! She wanted to just call him D because she didn't like the name Dante. I always have to put my foot down with her and its aggravating! I agree with the other moms if she is not going to listen to you and if she is not going to understand that you are the mom then you are not going to bring your kid by to visit you will find someone else to watch her. If she is starting this now, she might do other things when your child gets older. so you need to start being firm now. Good luck!

I think that is very inappropriate too! I would explain to her that she WILL NOT be called Mommy, mom, mama or any version of mom. Explain to her that this is your role and extremely important that you are the only one called this. Tell her she needs to pick a name!! I thinks it unhealthy for her to expect to be called mommy.

We use Nana in our house. I think it's sweeter than grandma. Maybe she will like this??

I have to agree with you on the whole not calling grandma mommy thing the only thing I can really tell you without knowing her real name is to stick to your guns and maybe bring up the alternative of being called nana or mema those are nicknames my children use for thier grandmas and one of them actually tells them to call her bubba. Bubba doesnt think she is old enough to be called grandma either but in actuality she is a great grandma. Now on the other problem of not lettin go of your son, if he is her first grandchild, first grandson, or just first by you it is normal but still can cause problems in the long run with his way of looking at you when she is around. If she cant respect that you are his mom and what you say goes and you dont get that problem under control he will become less likely to listen to you when she is around later on down the road. In his eyes when she is around you will not be the boss she will and he will think he doesnt have to hear what you say or do what you want. This will not only become annoying but also stressful at times and could cause alot of problems with the relationship not only with your son but with your mom as well. So sit down with her and try to work these out and if that doesnt work you might have to try in parental words grounding her from seeing your son until she can respect you enough to know that you are his mother and she is his grandmother.

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