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Call my mom by her first name? Never!
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My mom was mom.

I’d never call her by her first name. Neither did my sister.

It struck me as wildly inappropriate.

But both my brothers did almost exclusively after they were in their 20s.

Don’t get me wrong. I thought my mom had one of the most beautiful first names around — Verna.

It seemed extremely disrespectful for me — someone she gave birth to and then raised and nurtured — to call her anything but mom.

Apparently there is a growing trend today for teens — and even preteens — to call their parents by their first name. 

Several articles quote parents as saying they didn’t mind as it seems to make them better friends and brought them closer to their child.

Whoa. Am I missing something? 

I know I didn’t want a mother I could lump in with a group of friends.

Friends are people you encounter that you happen to become fairly close to. Over time friendships change. People drift apart.

My mom was there 24/7. It wasn’t maybe we can talk about your problems Wednesday when I have some free time. Nor just because I moved 90 miles away did she fade from my life.

It’s not that I didn’t have fun doing things with my mom. Her wit and humor made anything I could do seem dull by comparison. She was sharp and quick with a comeback than I never could dream of having. Motherhood, though, is not about fun and games.

She was there as a parent. She set rules. Friends don’t.

If I hurt her feelings, she didn’t shun me for two weeks even though I would of deserved it. Try to find a friend so concerned about you even after you’ve disappointed or hurt them that they will stick by you to such a degree.

Friends didn’t change my diapers or stay up all night with me when I had a 101 degree fever. They didn’t feed, cloth, and shelter me. They didn’t work seven days a week after my dad died to support four kids as well as make room every once in awhile for a troubled kid who had nowhere to turn.

I’ve had some great friends in my life, but none of them are worthy of being called “mom”.

That’s not to downgrade friends. Everyone needs friends of varying degrees. Calling someone by their first name implies they are an equal or an acquaintance. A parent isn’t an equal to a child nor are they an acquaintance.

Parents are breadwinners, mentors, nurse maids, cooks, disciplinarians, and anchors. They don’t just sign up for the good times. They go the distance from day one and take the good with the bad. There’s never been a friend ever that can say they have done that.

And when it comes to your mother, she earned the right to be called mom.

While Verna is a sweet sounding name ultimately it is a moniker just like Dick and Jane.

No offense meant to those who call their parents by their first name even if they have filled the job description of a mother or a father to “T”, but it strikes me as being disrespectful.

Only one person ever earned the right for me to call them mom. I can’t say the same about any other Verna I’ve ever known. And as surprising as it may sound, I’ve known six different females named Verna over the years. 

Calling mom Verna would convey no more deference than calling someone else Verna who have that as her given name.

When you call someone mom that confers a unique bond. Only three other people out of 7 billion could ever rightfully call my mother mom. Why would I want to dilute that exclusivity? There are probably tens of thousands of Vernas out there but only one that would respond without being creeped out and look at me as if I had a hole in my head every time I tried to call them mom.

My mom never told Ronald or Richard that she had a problem with them calling her Verna when they were adults.

It did bother me. I asked her once about it. She told me she wasn’t wild abut it but that it worked for them and they still treated her most of the time like an adult child should treat a mother so it was no big deal. She said if I wanted to call her Verna, I could.

No way.

My mother earned the respect that being called mom represents.

Verna didn’t make me who I am today. It was mom.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.