Mother's Day, Father's Day. "Mommy and Me" classes, "Daddy-Daughter" dances. The world of parenting seems to be divided into two camps: the mom group and the dad crowd. But what about parents who don't identify with either? What are some alternatives to "mom" and "dad" that LGTBQ+ parents can, and often do, use?
Turns out, there are plenty of non-traditional names for "mommy" and "daddy," and they represent as many genders as you can imagine. (If you can't imagine more than two genders, check out some of these gender options.) One of the great things about being LGBTQ+ is that we get to invent and define new terms so that each person has an identifier that fits them just right. The terms for genders keep evolving, too. When I first came out, in 2003, lots of folks were using the term "genderqueer" and the pronouns "ze" and "hir." Now, the terms "nonbinary" and "agender" are more common, and lots of folks use the pronouns "they/them."
It's estimated that as many as 3.7 million children under the age of 18 have an LGBTQ+ parent, according to the Family Equality Council. And, of course, many of those parents are in the mom group and the dad crowd. But many aren't, and they've created a variety of other names as a result. Romper asked 20 LGBTQ+ parents to share their unique, non-traditional "mom" and "dad" alternatives, because there's more than two ways to identify as a parent.
"I am 'Mama.' My ex and co-parent uses 'Boppa.' It started out as a mixture of 'butch' and 'pop.' They now identify as non-binary, so still works."
"I’m a trans guy parent, and my kid uses three names for me:
Mama: Classic and invokes the motherly presence I do have, and I think it’s cute that I’m visibly trans and still use mama. It’s also a little gender-affirming, because if I was born a cis man I think I’d still like mama.
Iná: Lakota for 'mama.'
Até: Lakota for 'dad.'
My kid uses them interchangeably for me when I ask that we try not to use as much English. I think it’s important to me, culturally, to keep my near 'dead' language (only approximately 2,000 speakers [are] left) alive in spirit and use, and also to acknowledge that we are indigenous. Also, I appreciate being comfortable talking about this, because I know it’s not a unique experience! Part of being a transgender parent means I can participate in weaving together all of the different intersections of our community for better holistic understandings of each other."
"I’m 'Mami' and my partner is 'Nomi.' My partner came up with 'Nomi' originally as being short for 'no milk' as a joke, because I birthed and breastfed them and she would tell them, when she held them and they started rooting around, that she was the 'Nomi' parent."
Mariflo Martin Hudson
"I’m 'Mimi' and my wife is 'Mama.'"
"I am Mom/Mama/etc., and my wife is 'Dami.' We pronounce it 'dah-me' and it is a combination of Daddy and Mommy."
"My kid calls me many things, but one of my favorites is Mom-he, which they came up with."
"I try hard to have my child call me 'Pepper' (or Pepo), instead of any gendered term (dad, daddy, father, etc.), for gender identity reasons."
"We’re Mom and Ima."
"I am 'Ima' (Hebrew for mom) [and] my wife is 'mommy.'"
Rebekah & Michelle Skoor
"My non-binary spouse uses they/them pronouns and goes by 'Baba.' But as my 'mama' has been shortened to 'mom' as our kids have grown, 'Baba' is sometimes also going by 'Bob,' which makes us laugh."
"My wife goes by 'Mama' and I go by 'DeDe.' We are both femme of center. This is a name I created that is connected to my first name and a nickname I had as a young child. Because of my own issues with my mother, I didn't want to be called 'mom.' Going by 'DeDe' was a way to queer my own motherness. Also, I'm terrible at remembering my friends who go by 'mom' and 'mama' — can never remember who is what."
"My kid calls me 'Bibai,' which is what I called myself when I was a toddler!"
"My kid called me 'Mema' (like the Jewish 'Eema,' but we’re not Jewish) and my wife [is] 'Mommy.' I carried [our kid] and really like [my wife] has the more traditional parent name. Also, I really like that when strangers in store scream ‘mommy’ I never react. That’s not my name!"
"I came up with 'Ren,' short for 'parent,' and both my partner and I go by that with our 6-year-old and almost-born baby. It manifests as 'Renren' (doing the sound doubling of mama and papa) and 'Renny.' Sometimes Renny [ is followed by our names], to differentiate between us, but usually it’s clear which they mean by context."
"My kid calls us 'Big Mama' and 'Lil One.' It evolved naturally and it cracked us up so hard, it stuck. Now he runs around the house shouting, 'Lil One, I need you!' and tells kids in his class, 'I have two mamas, Big Mama and Lil One.' So freaking cute and so much better than anything we could have come up with. Though, I honestly hope I'm not still being called 'Big Mama' in 20 years."
"Mommily. (Blend of 'mom' and my name 'Emily.')"
"I'm called 'CeCe.' It's so confusing for people to understand I am the birth mom of one [of our children], and my partner is the birth mother of the other, and they both call me 'CeCe' and [my partner] 'Mom' (or 'momma' or 'mommy'). I wanted to be able to define my title to the kids when they got older. And I didn't want to be mommy. Also ,we live in the conservative South, and it allows for a little protection for our kids in public."
Jenny & Melissa Aguilar
"'Mamma llama' and 'mamma mees'."
"My co-parent goes by 'Monie' (sounds like a 'parent name,' but also is short for Simone. She’s genderqueer and doesn’t identify as a 'mom') and I know lots of 'babas.'"
"I am 'mommy,' but my partner who is definitely a parent but not biologically is 'Erbear.' Her grown-up name is Erin."