I Won’t Apologize For Calling My Kid’s Father “Daddy”

What is it about the word "daddy" that gets people so worked up? Is it because it's sometimes used in a sexual context? Perhaps it's the inherent patriarchal connotations. Well, I'm a feminist, and whatever the reason, I'm kind of pissed that I have to defend the use of a word that, in my family, simply denotes the loving role my husband plays in our daughter's life. That's why I'm done apologizing for calling my kid's father "daddy."

My partner became "daddy" the moment my daughter was born. Fatherhood is a significant part of his identity now, and I know he can't imagine life without his little girl. He not-so-secretly loved it when the first word out of her perfect rosebud mouth was "dada." I kind of picked up the "daddy" talk from her, and honestly, it felt pretty natural.

There's plenty to worry about as a mom, from nutrition to screen time to people not vaccinating their own kids that are one day going to be around my baby. It's not that I don't think we, as parents, need to be cognitive of language, which to quote Chimamanda Adichie, is the "repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions." I just don't think "daddy" falls into the category of harmful or problematic.

So, yeah, I'll keep using "daddy" to address my partner and the father of my child, but if you hear me call my kid "princess," feel free to call my ass out.

Because I Don't Think It's A Big Deal

Like, at all. When I call my partner "daddy," it's usually in the context of, "Hey, dad, hand me some wipes. ASAP." Sometimes, I'll refer to him indirectly when talking to my daughter, as in, "Do you want mommy or daddy to change your diaper?" My intention is only to name the people around her, and maybe get out of cleaning up particularly gnarly poop. So I give this whole discussion of "daddy" being "icky" a big who cares?

Because If It Sounds Sexual, That's On You

You know that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel are calling themselves, and each other, "daddy" and "mommy" to encourage Emma's first words? Well, Phoebe says "daddy" in a suggestive tone, and it totally ruins it for Ross. I'm with Gellar in this situation, and I'll thank you not to sexualize a word for my child. Thanks.

Because It's Developmentally Appropriate

Elmo talks about himself in the third person for a reason (and it's not just to annoy you, although I'll admit it sometimes feels that way). He speaks in parentese, the exaggerated, melodic speech utilized by moms and dads with their offspring. For me, calling my partner "daddy" is part of my motherese. It might sound like baby talk to the uninitiated, but it's actually quite beneficial for acquiring speech. Babies like it, and oh yeah, it's totally normal.

Because I'm Labeling My Partner For A Reason

Toddlers are sponges for language. Think about it: do you know any toddler who doesn't love saying, "What's that?" a million times in a single day? We go along naming what we can see out the window, or what's in the pictures of the book, to encourage language development. Why is labeling "daddy" any different?

Little ones are also prone to over-generalizations when it comes to their vocabulary. So, by using "daddy" specifically for her father, I'm also helping my daughter understand that every man in cargo shorts with a high and tight isn't her beloved "dada."

Because It's Not The Only Thing I Call My Partner

I can maybe understand how it would make someone uncomfortable if I used "daddy" exclusively, but I have lots of names for my husband. Sometimes I call him by his first name. More frequently, I use "babe" or "honey," or occasionally, "jerkface." When talking to my daughter, I'll often refer to him as "your dad." But when he pops up on FaceTime, I'll gleefully announce, "It's Dada! Hi Dada!"

Because That's Who He Is

My husband is a family man, so calling him "daddy" is a way to honor the special role he has in our lives. I know he's not my dad. Duh.

I'll let you know if my kid is confused about this at any point, but she's a pretty smart cookie.

Because It's My Business

Like most of my parenting decisions (supplementing with formula and crying it out, just to name a few), my choice to occasionally call my partner "daddy" doesn't affect anyone but my family. Sorry, but the fact that some people think it's weird isn't reason enough for me to change my ways.

Because We're Both Fine With It

It would be one thing if my husband didn't like being called "daddy," but that's not the case. It'd also be pretty hypocritical of me if I objected to him calling me "mommy."

(I don't, for the record. I mean, I'm not going to complain about a man who hands me a delicious pastry and says, "Here's your croissant, mom.")