One day last week, as I drove our son and daughter back home from day care, there was a time I addressed both of them about something. I can’t remember right now exactly what it was about, but one part of the conversation just stood out to me.
I asked if they understood what I said. It was to the effect: “Jamal, do you understand? What about you, honey?” Then they answered.
That sentence may seem pretty harmless and even in hindsight, it really is. However, for some reason this caught my attention. I addressed our son by his name, but not our daughter.
Now I call our daughter, Bianca, by her name more often than using a term of endearment. But that time just made me wonder just what long-term effect this will have on her, or even if I’m doing it too much.
Personally, I really don’t mind for a term of endearment to be used when addressing me. I’m from up north, so I’ll admit that I’m kind of a sucker for it, especially being down south now. I would prefer to be called by my name, but it doesn’t bother me when a woman calls me “honey” or “baby.” I actually do like it. I also understand why some people really aren’t crazy about it. I personally don’t do it myself with women other than my wife and daughter.
I know quite a few women especially who don’t like being addressed by a term of endearment and I get why. There could be many reasons for it. One that stands out to me is that it’s often believed that a person will excessively use terms of endearment to prevent from having to remember names. Someone did once tell me that’s the reason he did it.
I personally have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, some people just aren’t good at remembering names, no matter how much they try. Then there are those who don’t even try to remember them.
A person’s name is everything. If nothing else, we should always put effort into learning someone’s name. To me, that is the absolute least you can do. That is very important to me. Even when a person has a complicated name to pronounce, I still make the effort in trying to pronounce it. Many times, they’re tired of people butchering their name, so they go on and say, “Oh, just call me…” But I always say, “No, I’d like to get your name right.”
Using a term of endearment isn’t necessarily disrespectful. It only is when you do it as a way to not have to remember someone’s name. I would like to think that most use it as a way of “embracing” someone, if that makes any sense.
It is for the first reason I feel that we as fathers need to be mindful about using terms of endearment with our daughters.
I want to think that we all mean well when we call our daughters “baby,” “honey,” or “sweetheart.” I personally do it in hopes to put our daughter at ease. So it’s not necessarily or should be viewed as a “bad” thing.
However, I think we just have to watch it a little bit. We shouldn’t use it so much to where it puts it in their minds that it’s a good “replacement” for their names. My father used to do that. He would use terms of endearment all the time with women and girls. I came to find out later that it was because he wasn’t trying to remember their names, as I mentioned above.
I never want my daughter to believe that it’s okay for her name to be replaced by a term of endearment. Again, I say “replaced,” which isn’t the same as a person who uses terms of endearment sparingly as I do. It’s when the term of endearment is always used. There’s a difference.
As fathers, many of us have so much influence on what our little girls will learn as far as how men are to treat them. That’s why I think that this is a small thing, but not so small at the same time.
It may not seem like it’s a big deal, but when my daughter hears “Bianca” more often than she hears “sweetheart,” “honey” and so on, then I feel she will understand the importance of men calling her by her NAME rather than a term of endearment. That’s certainly the message I want to convey to her.
Again, terms of endearment aren’t bad or harmful, especially from father to daughter, as I said above. But I feel like we do need to just be careful about using them so much with them. I don’t ever want some boy or even man later on to get it into his mind that my daughter’s name is not that important to remember.
Then there is the matter of males using terms of endearment as a way of trying to “sweet talk” females as a way of persuading them to believe they care about or love them more than they do. To get them in bed or to manipulate them in other ways is also something I never even want to think about when it comes to my daughter, Bianca. But this is also what happens, unfortunately quite often.
We want the best for our children and especially our little girls. That’s why I feel it is worth taking the time to just be sure we’re not unintentionally teaching them that it’s okay that their names are replaced with terms of endearment. I can’t speak for every other father out there, but I would certainly hate for something I intend to be harmless to eventually lead to something that could potentially become very harmful, especially as far as my daughter is concerned.
Thanks for reading.