Among a variety of generic titles, parents prefer being addressed as “Mom” or “Dad” rather than “Mommy/Daddy” or “Ma’am/Sir,” according to a survey of 137 parents of children being seen or admitted to a New York State children’s hospital. Of those surveyed, 34% were fathers, 66% were mothers, and 1% were other caregivers. The vast majority of parents had been addressed by a generic title in past medical encounters: 79.9% of fathers had been called Dad or Daddy and 90% of mothers had been called Mom or Mommy.
Parents found it acceptable to be called by their first names. In fact, more than half (54%) of mothers “liked” being called by their first names as did 46% of fathers. Being called “Mrs.” or “Mr.” followed by the last name also was acceptable; 45% of mothers “liked” this appellation along with 52% of fathers. Overall, however, most parents preferred the titles Mom and Dad over the formal title of Mr. and Mrs. or their first names (Wilks-Gallo L, et al. Clin Pediatr(Phila). 2018;57:398-402).
Thoughts from Dr. Burke
I would have guessed that parents disliked being called “Mommy” and “Daddy,” as the terms sound too familiar to me, especially at a first patient encounter—really for any encounter. It surprised me, though, to read that more parents liked being called “Mom” and “Dad” than being addressed by their own first or last names. The best approach may be to give parents a choice and then to note it somewhere in the child’s record.