Mom Lessons: Buddy & Princess Have to Go

Overheard in a class today:

Jamie:  You are so nice Leslie!

Leslie:  I’m not; it’s just that I don’t like to make people do things that they don’t want to do.

Jamie:  Really? Cause I LOVE making people do things that they don’t want to do! (said in jest of course as Jamie is a really nice person.)

Me from across the room,  unable to resist such a great set up:  Well Jamie, you are going to make a great mom some day. You just gave us the Mom job description.

All the moms and non-moms start laughing;  a few Amens also heard.

Ok, I know discipline is a dirty word now; we choose instead to model, instill, and let our children explore their world without boundaries.  Unfortunately some of them explore their way into screaming temper tantrums, sassy behavior, broken valuables, lipsticked walls, and unadulterated self-centeredness.

Grownups when and why did we give up control?  Did we watch too many episodes of Leave it to Beaver, and somehow miss that Ward Cleaver was kind but also strict?  Did we overreact to strict parents and go too far the other way?  I for one cringe every time I hear parents (usually Dads for some reason) call their son Buddy or their daughter Princess, and hope that I can appeal to the next generation to reconsider this bad habit by the 30-40 year old set.

Buddy first:  Your child does not need you to be their friend or their buddy; at least not yet. Sure you will be their provider, their protector, their advocate, and their teacher. You will love them with unreasonable, irrational parental love. And all of that is wonderful and as it should be.  But they need you to be the grownup, the benevolent dictator if you will.  Like it or not-you are the authority figure. You get to decide lots of things without a vote (even though you sometimes offer choices).  You are not at all their peer, although you can be friend and peer later on (in thirty years).

And now Princess:  Princess, seriously?  Do you want a small tyrant telling all the quivering grownups what to do?  Why give that much power to a young skull of mush?  Why encourage her to be bossy and narcissistic at such a young age? There is plenty of time for that later when she becomes a teenager and assumes (temporarily we hope) the persona of some pop icon who makes fun of hard-working, sensible grownups.  If it happens then, you can throw up your hands and say “She did not learn that from us, I can assure you.”

Some of you are saying I am overreacting–what’s in a name? What’s in a name? I’ll tell you DUMBO!  Excuse me, did I say Dumbo?  (And was it in all caps?)  What I meant to say is, I’ll tell you, dear readers. And my point is made.

So whether or not you are comfortable with your new position of power-get used to it. You cannot be a friend just yet, and you certainly are not their loyal subject, nor should you ever be. You have been entrusted with this little one who, although he or she cannot say it, is counting on you to make good decisions about their well-being, and stick to your guns.

Prepare to be misunderstood, unpopular, and unappreciated at times; it is all part of the deal (but in thirty years…)  And join me in helping remove Buddy and Princess from the most popular nicknames for kids list.

If Kids Could Tell You What They Need

I love that you’re my Daddy,and I love that you’re my Mom,

Even though you call me Buddy, I should never call you Tom.

For I need an actual grownup to show me what to do

I have lots of little buddies;  most are sitting in their poo.


I love that you’re my Daddy, and I love that you’re my Mom

Even though you call me Princess, I don’t deserve all the aplomb.

I’m just a little person who needs to learn from you.

I couldn’t rule a kingdom; I can barely tie my shoe.


Feel free to be the grownups and one day we will say

It didn’t really hurt us to learn how to obey.

We might have given dirty looks as you tried to be our mentor

But we learned that we weren’t born to be the universe’s center.


And now we can be friends, (though I still am not a Princess.)

It was great to have some parents whom I did not see at recess.

One day we will learn how to help our own kids grow.

We will call them Son and Sweetie, and stand firm when tempers blow.


They may not always like us, but they’ll one day understand,

That regardless of our feelings, we couldn’t act like fans

We had to do what’s right; which meant our saying no

Because we care so much, Buddy & Princess had to go.


About allthingslizard

I have done just about everything I have always wanted to do: worked as a campus minister, became a teacher, married a nice man named Joe (36 years now), adopted three wonderful kids and watched them reach adulthood, lived overseas, earned my Ph.D., and recently became an RN. However the only thing I have not yet done is to write about my life's journey, even though I have written a lot of personal poems, mom notes to my kids, academic papers, and thousands of letters. I have a lot to write about because all those things I have done were accomplished on smooth roads with beautiful vistas, as well as on scary, twisted, hurricane alleys. Maybe you will find something here that you can relate to. And yes, I know that a preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with.
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5 Responses to Mom Lessons: Buddy & Princess Have to Go

  1. Marianne says:

    Liz, you need to submit this to a real publication (like the kind that people pay to read). It is SO true and your writing is so darn good!!

  2. Thank you Mary…as always…your check is in the mail.

  3. kim smith says:

    I’m wondering, Dr. Liz, if the ‘titles’ (and your aversion to them) may not be generational.

    I personally think that these nicknames can be wonderfully affectionate ways to refer to our little ones, and don’t think that Patrick and I have compromised obedience in our son when we call him “buddy.” 🙂 Also, the very first family I heard the ‘buddy’ term of endearment from are two parents that I HIGHLY respect. They’re consistent, not lenient, affectionate, and Biblical in their discipline.

    All of that to say, though I think that the underlying thesis of your post is right-on, I do wonder why you believe so strongly that these terms of endearment “must go.” Why not title your post “Like it or not-you are the authority figure,” and make your point more about the attitude that (may) hide behind those nicknames instead???

    Very curious, friend.

  4. Thanks for reading and your comment. You may be right about the generational thing. I do think Buddy & Princess reflect cultural trends, rather than shape them. But I don’t want to give away a future post. Stay tuned. And keep up the good work-you two are doing an amazing job in a difficult time to raise kids!

  5. Alison says:

    I agree with Kim. Our first son we actually called Buddy almost exclusively until he learned to talk (about 2 and a half). Then he’d always respond to Buddy, but when asked his name always said his actual given name. But I think it really was just a term of endearment, not a label implying equality with the parents. And as for Princess… she’s only a Princess if I’m the Queen and Daddy’s the King… We’re not loyal subjects, WE are the rulers of our palace and she will most certainly pick up her own dirty socks. 😉 But, alas, our children all have so many little endearing nic names: Baby Buck, Buck-o Boy, Honey Pot, Muffin Man, Nater-muffin, G-Jew, Nuzzle Master… sometimes I get a little concerned that I only call them by their actual names when they’re in trouble. That can’t be good… 🙂

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