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When & why did the trend start to call little girls "Mama?"


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My SIL does this with her dd and I don't get it?

 

:confused:

 

I almost jumped out of my skin when my SIL started screaming, "mama! mama!" at a party last week. She was yelling across the yard, to her 8 yo dd who was in the pool.

 

Now, my SIL's literal mama died 3 months ago. So maybe you can understand why I was startled.

 

OK -- I've heard my white SIL say it to her mixed race dd (BIL is black) and my hispanic friend say it to her baby.

 

But WHY?? It just seems like handing over your mommy power to me!

Edited by unsinkable
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I think it's a term of endearment in the same vein as "Little Man" or "Little Lady." Around here little girls are Mami and little boys are Papi. I think it's more of a Mexican thing though because my husband is South American and I'd never heard of this before moving to AZ.

 

Barb

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It's just what you call a little kid in Spanish. Little girls are mami and little boys are papi. It's sort of like honey or sweetheart. It's not restricted to parents either (at least in Venezuela), I call my 2yo nephew papi. And, in a more Freudian vein, lots of people call their SOs mami or papi, too.

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I figured it was some sort of pet name. My boys just started soccer last week and their coaches are hispanic and call all the little girls that. I hadn't heard that before. I couldn't figure out why they were calling them that, but I guessed by the context that it was a pet name or endearment. Same reason I called all my students "sweetie" or "honey", especially when I'd forgotten their names.:D

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It's just what you call a little kid in Spanish. Little girls are mami and little boys are papi. It's sort of like honey or sweetheart. It's not restricted to parents either (at least in Venezuela), I call my 2yo nephew papi. And, in a more Freudian vein, lots of people call their SOs mami or papi, too.

 

Yeah, we do that in Cuba too. You will frequently hear my older son (4.5) saying "oh, papi, are you all right?" to his little brother. It's a term of endearment in many latin countries.

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My Hispanic/Latina friends (who still won't explain the difference btw Hispanic and Latina to me, so I'm always wondering how stupid I am :tongue_smilie:) call their girls, my girls AND ME mama/mami. Said with the right accent/inflection, it's cute. Not like Momma or Mommy at all.

 

I've been wondering about this too, lately, But around here, you here people calling their boys "daddy", and their girls "momma" or "mommy"- it doesn't sound cute. It sounds....well, ....wrong.

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My SIL does this with her dd and I don't get it?

 

:confused:

 

I almost jumped out of my skin when my SIL started screaming, "mama! mama!" at a party last week. She was yelling across the yard, to her 8 yo dd who was in the pool.

 

Now, my SIL's literal mama died 3 months ago. So maybe you can understand why I was startled.

 

OK -- I've heard my white SIL say it to her mixed race dd (BIL is black) and my hispanic friend say it to her baby.

 

But WHY?? It just seems like handing over your mommy power to me!

 

My mother did/does this to me and it irks me to no end. (We are Jewish and she uses both english and yiddish terms.) I am NOT her mommy!!!! She has always been a bit dependent and dysfunctional...and I find the "Mommy" business really rubs me the wrong way. I know it may be a term of endearment to some, but to me it is another stab at how she depends on ME to take care of HER even though she never felt the need to take care of me or my brother the entire time we were growing up. It sort of feels like a stab each time.

 

I don't think your sil is coming from the same place, and I don't think my mother means it is a bad way....I don't think she knows it can be hurtful even though I have told her repeatedly from the time I was 7 or 8 that I don't like it. I am 46 bow...so I don't think it will change...now I just answer "I am your daughter...NOT your mother. I have enough children...thank you very much!" Then she calls me by my name once or twice...then back to the momma shayna or Mommy thing...OY!

 

 

BTW: She lost her mother when she was 17...but your daughter is NOT your Momma replacement.

 

Faithe

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I had never heard of this before. Thanks for enlightening me to a facet of another culture. I probably would have been :confused:WHAT? If I heard it firsthand.

 

I call my youngest son "Little Man" all the time. :) It's sweet. I call my daughter "Miss Kyla" and my other son "Mr. Collin" a lot. I love it. It's very Jane Austen.

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I agree it is a term of endearment among some groups. I've heard it used among some Hispanic groups, I am trying to think... Venezuelans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans too? I am Hispanic myself but in Spain we don't use the terms mami or papi to address kids.

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It's just what you call a little kid in Spanish. Little girls are mami and little boys are papi. It's sort of like honey or sweetheart. It's not restricted to parents either (at least in Venezuela), I call my 2yo nephew papi. And, in a more Freudian vein, lots of people call their SOs mami or papi, too.

 

Yes, that. :iagree:

 

It's just like calling someone "baby" in English. Makes about as much sense and is used in all the same ways.

 

When did it begin? Probably shortly after our species began to talk.

 

ETA: I don't believe it's meant to imply that we're "handing over our mother power." If anything I'd say there's a little sarcasm implied most of the time, at other times a gentle reminder to children that they don't have to bug out because we'll take them seriously.

Edited by dragons in the flower bed
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I hear it a lot here in Southern California, and like others said, it's usually from people who are Hispanic or Latino (though not always). And the boys get called "papi". I think it's sweet, and a lot like "little man" or "little lady". It's sort of acknowledging what they're going to grow into, you know? It honestly feels like an acknowledgement that they're people (because it often comes when people are asking the children a question) and I like that.

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Yes, that. :iagree:

 

It's just like calling someone "baby" in English. Makes about as much sense and is used in all the same ways.

 

When did it begin? Probably shortly after our species began to talk.

 

ETA: I don't believe it's meant to imply that we're "handing over our mother power." If anything I'd say there's a little sarcasm implied most of the time, at other times a gentle reminder to children that they don't have to bug out because we'll take them seriously.

 

The mami and papi endearments are cute. I hear them all.the.time around here. Grossest endearment I've ever heard: sexy (said in the same tone of voice as the super-cute mami/papi). ick. :tongue_smilie:

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I learned in a cross cultural communication, linguistics class that Middle Eastern mothers do this as a term of endearment that is to teach the kids to respond in the same way. Woman says "yes Mamma" to little kid so little kid learns to say "yes Mamma" back.

 

Then I heard a Middle Eastern mamma on the train doing this a week or two after that linguistics class and was absolutely tickled pink :D Nothing like a real life example, is there? :D

 

Rosie

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If it's a "trend," it's regional. And limited. I've never heard anyone say it, either.

 

That's funny. I live in Central Texas too and I hear it all the time. :001_smile: So I'm guessing it's more cultural then regional.

 

My in-laws are hispanic and I picked up the habit from them. I call my boys papi and little man all the time. If I had a daughter, I'm sure I'd call her mami too. Our children call us mama and papa, but even with the similar names it hasn't been confusing. I think maybe if children called their mother 'mommy' and she called them 'mami' it could be though.

 

The mami and papi endearments are cute. I hear them all.the.time around here. Grossest endearment I've ever heard: sexy (said in the same tone of voice as the super-cute mami/papi). ick. :tongue_smilie:

 

Ugh. We have a good friend that calls his daughter sexy. I KNOW he doesn't mean anything by it, but it definitely makes me cringe. And I worry a little because it might make someone who doesn't know them well... wonder. :001_huh:

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Grossest endearment I've ever heard: sexy (said in the same tone of voice as the super-cute mami/papi). ick. :tongue_smilie:

 

Totally agree! I knew a family growing up and the mom called her baby boy her "sexy little hunk of man". :confused: Even as a child, it made me so uncomfortable. And then you know that thing where a nickname spawns another nickname? Well, sexy-little-hunka-man is a bit of a mouth full so it got shortened so "hunky", which the kid's father adopted as a nickname for him which creeped me out even further.

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Hmm.. this thread has got me thinking.

I call my girls mamacita, which is like little mommy, but it can be taken to a whole other level of Ay Mamacita!. Big difference, you know?

 

I actually am not comfortable with putting the kids on an equal level to the mother and father, I don't mean that in a demeaning way at all, just that I don't tend to use language or behavior to imply that. (does that make sense?)

Is that how you interpret it? What are you thinking when you hear it?

 

When I say mamacita, it's a term of endearment, implying that they are kind of like proper little ladies.

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Wow. I've never heard this or even OF this.

 

:001_huh:

 

Obviously different cultural mix here ...... :)

 

I've never heard of this.

 

Same here.

:001_huh:

 

ETA: OKAY! Now, the nickname for the Bosox player, David Ortiz (BIG PAPI) makes sense to me. I had NEVER understood it. Thanks, WTM:D

Edited by MariannNOVA
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I didn't read all the replies, but my Hispanic friends do it and it's short for mamacita which means little mother. I don't think it is referring to the daughter as THEIR mother, but just a little mother. Which for my daughter is so true she IS like a little mother.

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I also have a lot of experience with Arabic-speaking moms calling their daughters "Mama", or not so much *calling* them Mama, but adding it as a little afterthought of endearment when telling them they can't do something, or gently asking them to stop doing something, if they're injured and making them feel better, etc. Basically used when speaking in sweet, gentle, comforting tones; it's not something they would yell across the room or anything.

 

I have even come across a few of these women who do the same to their boys :confused:. That always sounded really strange to me, but I am assuming the women are just repeating what they heard from their mothers, not thinking about the meaning (calling a boy "mama").

 

As for calling a child "sexy", that is just disgusting. We don't even use that word in our house, ever, for anyone or anything. Commenting on anyone's physical attractiveness in that way is inappropriate and unacceptable in our family, period. You know the Swiffer commercials, where the broom gets kicked out but finds another "friend" in a feather duster or whatever, and they start playing the song in the background, "Who's that lady?...Sexy lady.."? Well, my dd either changes the channel or one of us starts talking over it. The word just makes us all uncomfortable. So, we'd be in for a major culture shock if someone we knew addressed their children this way.

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Yes, well, as Asmaa said then Arabs call their kids like that. I'd talk to my kids (actually both boys and girls) and call them by "mama" while their dad says "baba" in the same way. It is sort of an understatement of me being their parent. I don't know. I use it a lot myself actually, just because *I* am their only mother and words like "honey" and "sweetie" are not the same to me.

 

It was also strange to me at first when I encountered this, having not grown up in an Arab culture, but now I never think twice about it! I am just happy to have kids! My oldest calls me "Mommy" or "Mother Dearest" (reference to the movie with the horrible mother) as an endearment, but I am transgressing here, lol!

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I learned in a cross cultural communication, linguistics class that Middle Eastern mothers do this as a term of endearment that is to teach the kids to respond in the same way. Woman says "yes Mamma" to little kid so little kid learns to say "yes Mamma" back.

 

Then I heard a Middle Eastern mamma on the train doing this a week or two after that linguistics class and was absolutely tickled pink :D Nothing like a real life example, is there? :D

 

Rosie

 

OMG, Rosihere", why are you "over there" when I am "over here"? You are just my type of gal.

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