I call my kids all sorts of things.
For starters, they have the generic names everyone calls their kids: little guy, munchkin, monkey, etc. Mom and Buried uses various terms of affection, like pumpkin and cutie-pie and goofer. I often use weird names like “munch machine” and “cracker town” that I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain (I also don’t have an actual explanation).
Then there are their blog nicknames (which I rarely use anywhere but online), along with various terms of aggravation (which I never use to their faces), like jerk, and dick, and asshole.
People occasionally get angry at me for using those words, which is understandable. Getting angry about people who call their kid “buddy” is decidedly less so…
Over the weekend, I read a piece on Fatherly about why you shouldn’t call your son “buddy” that is getting a fair amount of attention online, but isn’t so much controversial as it is absurd and pointless.
We all want clicks and I can’t blame the writer – or Fatherly itself – for trying to generate some, but attacking the word “buddy” is a bridge too far!
God knows I’ve written plenty of obnoxious, judgmental articles myself. It’s certainly possible the writer intended his to be funny or at least lighthearted, but it comes across as extremely, ridiculously sanctimonious, particularly because he’s so angry about such an innocuous word and blows it out to demean all parents who use the word. Judgment is inescapable in parenting – and not always all bad – but this is the definition of sweating the small stuff.
I don’t think anyone should call their little boy “Buddy” because doing so displays either a disconcerting level of patronization or a questionable undercurrent of aggression. Often both. Your child is not your pet. Your child is not your friend. Do not call your kid buddy.
Um, my child is my friend (or at least my frenemy). (And often kind of/sort of my pet.) And while I realize that sarcastically referring to an adult as “buddy” can carry with it condescension and anger, when I call my sons “buddy” I am using it sincerely, without irony. My son – both of them – is my buddy, my little buddy, my sidekick, my Gilligan, the Lembeck to my Baio (I don’t know Charles in Charge‘s last name).
I’m no stranger to patronizing or flat-out insulting my kids, but I am capable of letting context and target dictate the way I communicate, and I rarely insult them to their faces. I suspect the author is just as capable of modulating his tone, and he’s merely pretending he’s not to make his point. Which would be fine if his point weren’t so stupid.
Yes, the word can be condescending, but it doesn’t have to be. Context matters! As an adult, I both know the difference and know how to convey the difference in meaning, depending on my audience.
My favorite part of the post, aside from when he inexplicably gets into the etymology of the word itself (“…according to no less an august source than the Cambridge Dictionary…”), is when he tries to claim that using the term now will be traumatic for children later.
One day your son will be standing in the bike lane waiting for a light to change and a bicyclist (probably me) will pass him and say, “Hey, buddy. You’re in the fucking bike lane!” And in your son’s mind, great disturbances will transpire because buddy was what you called him and yet he is now being called buddy by someone who wishes him ill. “OMG,” your son will think, “My dad hated me.”
I have a lot of experience with people who claim to know how my sons will feel about my writing once they are able to read it. I’m fairly confident that, on balance, my daily, lifelong interactions with them will make a much greater impact than some sarcastic blog posts. I’m also quite certain that, unless you actually name your kids “Buddy” and exclusively use a sarcastic, condescending tone when speaking with them, yours will understand as well.
I can totally identify with hating certain words. I hate the way my wife occasionally shortens The Hammer’s name to his first initial, and she hates that I sometimes call him “Pooter.” To each their own. But accusing parents everywhere of potentially harming their children by affectionately calling them a ubiquitous, inoffensive word like “buddy” is just ridiculous. The word may be a trigger for him, but for most of us it’s pretty tame and doesn’t have the bizarre baggage this author associates with it.
But the fact is, almost anything can be a term of endearment – hang out with any group of guys and you’ll realize that pretty quickly – so unless someone is walking around calling their kid “Garbage” or “Mistake” or “Tiffany Trump”, why should I care what random nickname they use? To each their own.
Growing up, my dad called me and my brothers “pip” and I still have no earthly idea what he was talking about, but it was always clear he meant it in a loving way. I The word itself hardly mattered.
*goes to Cambridge Dictionary*
“One of the small seeds of a fruit such as an apple or an orange.”
OMG. My dad hated me!