You can call me Al

I wonder how well these new parental nicknames will age? Also … it’s not clear from the article whether there’s any racial diversity in their interview pool, or whether everyone’s white. African American and many Latino/a cultures have long had a much more fluid sense of names, nicknames, diminutives, etc. so I doubt they’d be as surprised by this new “trend”.

The change in the way these children address their parents probably stems from baby boomers’ less authoritarian child-raising practices. Technology is a factor, too, given the offhand style that people use in instant messages and cellphone texts. The Internet has made people comfortable using names that are not their own – in particular, the frequent use of screen names online has made naming a bit more elastic, said Cleveland Evans, a psychology professor at Bellevue University in Nebraska who is a former president of the American Name Society, a group that studies the cultural significance of names. Screen names, he said, “might have made people freer to think of the same person addressed by multiple names, and that’s what nicknaming is.”

from “Not your father’s nicknames when teens talk to parents,” by Ellen Freeman Roth, The Boston Globe, 28 June 2008

Originally published at

Add Your Comments