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AIBU for not wanting nana to be called mama?

(106 Posts)
Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:10:10


I would love advice from you lovely grandmothers and especially mother in laws!
But I want to add, I AM Persian and this is not norm in how I grew up or how my cousins and friends did.
My maternal grandmother was Naneh Joon && my Paternal was Bibi Joon.


So for some while now my mil has been calling herself mama to my dd. Her daughters children all call her mama, apparently the eldest picked it up from mil children while mil was providing childcare daily and nobody stopped it, mil encouraged it so their mum is “mummy” and grandma is “mama”

I wasn’t actually aware of this until few months ago, as sil lives in another country but visits once every two months for a few days, and her youngest children only started talking 6 months ago. But she has been “mama” to sil eldest for around 9 years now and obviously the two youngest (3,2) have copied their elder brother.

So when she was calling herself mama I was taken back! I did confront her straight away and she just smiled and said “okay, well I’m sure dd will choose whatever name she feels fit to call me” so I thought , phew that wasn’t too bad.
However the next visit every other word coming out her mouth was mama, my husband told me to stay quiet but now my dd has just turned one, he did tell his mum to quit it. She didn’t take it kindly, we went through all the names she should be expected to called, but she just sat there crying that she’s “mama”

Dh stayed firm in his words and now she doesn’t call herself mama anymore however yesterday sil was here for her bi monthly visit and mil as soon as dh left the room was like “KIDS LETS TEACH the baby EVERYONES NAMES” and she had the kids chanting mama a million times to her, I thought hmm this must be so my dd hears them and learns who “she is”

My sister in law pulled me to the side quietly and said she thinks I’m being unreasonable for not going along with her children and that I’m being difficult ?

But I just don’t like it, I’ll be honest, I think it’s because when we visit she try’s to be play mummy. And combined with “oh my daughter” it’s too much, and when sil went for an errand, I heard her refer to herself to sil children not just as mama! But mummy and mum aswell”. Sil dd said to her “no you’re mama, mummy’s gone shops” and she goes “ohhh my dear daughter, it means the same thing!”
So she is trying to blur the lines? And I worry because she may FaceTime them everyday but she sees us like twice a week!

Am I being unreasonable for not going along with sil children? Or am I in my own right? And what tips can I do to make sure dd (dear daughter) doesn’t copy her uncles?
I can’t believe this is even an issue!
And it’s not cultural because I’m from the culture! But maybe it’s a new thing happening?

jura2 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:14:40

Do you mean 'nana'?

Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:20:09

Nope she wants to be called mama

Luckygirl Sun 09-Jun-19 14:24:48

What a storm in a teacup. One set of GC call me Mama, and my OH Papa. This is because the first one could not say Grandma and used to call me Mama - and it has stuck. My DD doesn't mind a bit - why would she?

I am sure the children know who is mother and who is grandmother, so why would it matter?

I honestly think you are making far too much of this.

MiniMoon Sun 09-Jun-19 14:28:19

What I think the OP means jura2, is that the first grandchild called the MiL "mama" as a diminutive of grandma when he was learning to talk. The name stuck and the other grandchildren followed suit.
I really don't think she is trying to be mummy to her grandchildren though. If I were the OP I wouldn't let it worry me. Children know the difference between mum and grandma. Your daughter will call her grandmother the name you teach her.

Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:28:55

Yeah when I asked my sil would she let her mother in law be called mama she said “NO, I taught them nana because they kept calling her mum I didn’t like it”. So maybe your dd obviously tou’re Her mother?

Is the other set of gc your sons children? X

Hawa93 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:30:23

He called her mama because she taught him too because he said it when he heard his uncles call her maman which is our word for mum. And then she sort of taught him to call her that x that’s why it don’t sit well with me because it wasn’t organic”

My niece claled my mum “mama” until she could said grandma and I undeestand that

leyla Sun 09-Jun-19 14:40:12

OP I am with you. It would really irritate me. Just reinforce whatever name you have chosen for your DD to call her every time she does it and as much as possible at home. If challenged just pleasantly say that your DDs name for Grandma is xxx and refuse to be drawn into further discussion. If she pushes for further discussion just say that your DH has already explained your little family's preference and that there’s nothing more to say.

EllanVannin Sun 09-Jun-19 14:43:53

Two-Mama which is like a second mother---Deep South,USA.
My friend is MeMaw to her GC.

mamaPow5 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:49:29

Like Luckygirl my six Grandchildren all call me Mama because the eldest couldn’t say Grandma. I love it.

notanan2 Sun 09-Jun-19 14:56:54

Mama = mother, not grandmother (which would be Nana if other versions are hard to say)

Ask people (without telling the back story) what "Mama" means and they will all say "mother/mum".

BlueBelle Sun 09-Jun-19 15:07:07

My ex husbands granny was Mama to everyone ( even the grownup grandkids) no one seemed to have a problem or mix her up with the Mum or Mummy’s She was just Mama, the elderly matriarch make sure you talk to your child calling the lady what you want your child to call her he will soon get the idea just like a bi lingual little one will talk to each in their own language
Don’t make an enemy of your mother in law over this

notanan2 Sun 09-Jun-19 15:26:55

Seriously? What century are we in?

FlexibleFriend Sun 09-Jun-19 15:38:27

Just keep telling your daughter she's Nana and it will stick, keep correcting her in the mother in laws presence too. You and your husband agree she's to be called Nana so keep addressing her as such. If you don't want or like her calling herself Mama tell her so politely and calmly and stick to it.

BlueBelle Sun 09-Jun-19 15:43:54

Notanan West Indies if that makes any difference The eldest lady was always looked up to

Starlady Sun 09-Jun-19 15:44:24

Hawa93, I don't think you're BU. As you say, if DD began calling MIL "Mama" organically, b/c she heard the other grands calling her that, then it would be ok. But I can see where the fact that MIL seems to be pushing it would be disturbing.

I agree w/ others, however, that if DD comes to call MIL "Mama,' she will know the difference between that and her actual mum (you). We adults know that Mama actually means "mother," but to DD and her cousins, it will mean "grandmother" for a long, long time. Even when they become conscious of the fact that usually it means "mother," they will know in their family, it refers to MIL/this particular GM.

Maybe MIL became used to being "Mama" b/c of SIL's kids and it has become part of her "identity." But the fact that she now is trying to blur the lines between Mama and Mummy - and between DD and GD - has me concerned. It DOES sound as if she's trying to "play mummy" or, at least, be thought of on the same level as mummy/as a 3rd parent.

It also bothers me that she continues to insist on Mama after you and DH told her how you two feel. And it bothers me that she, apparently, complained to SIL about it, and that one or both of them decided it was all coming from you, even though DH is the one who told her to "quit it."

IMO, you and DH need to talk this over and decide what your priority is - to keep MIL from teaching DD that she's Mama or keep her from mixing up the terms mama and mummy, etc. (the second is more important, IMO, but that's just me). Then, you'll have to approach her as a united front and let her know exactly what your boundary is. And you'll have to enforce it every time. This can be done gently-but-firmly, as in, "No, DD, this is Nana, not Mama" or "No, in this house Mama and Mummy are NOT the same" (caps for emphasis, not yelling).

I know it seems like a petty issue to some people. But, IMO, it's the sign of some larger concerns (MIL trying to be in control, disrespect for the parents' feelings).

If you decide that you're ok w/ Mama as long as she doesn't interchange it w/ Mummy, then you may want to let SIL know about that incident. That may concern her, too, and she may want to be on board w/ you in making sure that doesn't continue.

If this continues to be a problem, you may want to cut back your visits w/ MIL. Maybe you do, anyhow. I'm NOT saying to cut her out altogether over this. Not at all! Just saying that the less DD is around her, the less likely she is to be influenced by her. Meanwhile, you can remind DD of who MIL is or what you feel she should be called and just say she's "being silly" when she calls herself "Mummy" or whatever. It's very easy for parents to do this, especially if you're with them a lot more than the GM. (As a GM, myself, I'm not crazy about the idea, but some GMs force the issue). DD will believe YOU.

Starlady Sun 09-Jun-19 15:46:01

Love BlueBelle's idea of treating this as if it's just a matter of different languages/being bilingual!

notanan2 Sun 09-Jun-19 16:05:12

Notanan West Indies if that makes any difference The eldest lady was always looked up to

Rubnish! The OP NEVER stated who was elder, the maternal grandmother or paternal grandmother. So that cant be what you meant when you called the paternal grandmother the matriarch!

Septimia Sun 09-Jun-19 16:08:02

I'm not surprised you were taken aback and weren't very happy about this.
However, although your DD is very small and won't yet understand, it's more important that your DD knows the relationship than what she actually calls your MiL. You could refer to your MiL as 'grandmama' but leave your DD to call her 'mama' for short. If you make sure that your DD learns the relationship as she grows up, what she calls people won't make any difference.
My niece and nephew are now grown up so I never call my self or my DH aunt or uncle to them, just our first names. Likewise, my son doesn't use 'aunt' or 'uncle' , just first names. It works because we established the relationships when they were all children.

dragonfly46 Sun 09-Jun-19 16:36:52

My children were brought up in Holland and called us Mama and Papa. I would have hated my MiL to adopt the term.

M0nica Sun 09-Jun-19 16:49:02

Hawa93, As you are Persian, why not suggest you would like your children to use the Persian word for grandma 'Naneh'

Although, with others, I would say, do not worry about it, it is too trivial, but if she is using the name to blur the boundary between who is mother and who is grandmother, then that is a different thing.

Callistemon Sun 09-Jun-19 17:00:32

My DB's children called their maternal grandmother 'Mama' and they called my mum 'Nana'.

Unless your children call you Mama, I can't see a problem.

SalsaQueen Sun 09-Jun-19 18:04:41

My granddaughters call me Mamma. I've also got 2 step-grandchildren, and they also call me Mamma. They call their biological grandmothers Nanny and Granny

Nandalot Sun 09-Jun-19 18:13:48

A friend is Mama to her grandchildren.

BlueBelle Sun 09-Jun-19 18:40:22

I m sorry notansn you got it all wrong I wasn’t suggesting anything about paternal or maternal I was simply telling you what happened in my ex s family, do read my post again and don’t be so blooming aggressive
It was NOT advice to the poster just a simple bit of information ...blimey