What’s in a name?

Reader poll - April 2005


Readers share their names for grandparents

This month, we celebrate our grandparents. While many families use Grandma and Grandpa to refer to their grandparents, others have invented more tender, personal names. We asked readers how they decided what names their children would use for their parents and in-laws. Here’s what they say:

When my oldest daughter, Maddie, was born, we called my mother Nana because my nephew, then 15, always called her that. When Maddie was 1, she refused to call her Nana, opting for Yaya. We found out that Maddie thought Nana meant “no, no,” and she wanted to call her “yes, yes.” My mother has been Yaya ever since. Ann of River Forest, mom of Maddie, 6, and Shaylin, 2

At first, it was confusing for my son and daughter to know what to call their grandparents. They called both sets—and anyone else with gray hair—Grandma and Grandpa. Eventually, they learned to call my parents Gong-Gong and Nai-Nai (grandpa and grandma in Chinese) since my parents and I are Chinese. Now only my husband’s parents are called Grandma and Grandpa, and not every white-haired person on the street. Elise of Chicago, mom of Zachary, 4, and Asia, 2

Since my in-laws are Greek, my son calls them Yiayia and Papouli—grandma and grandpa in Greek. He calls my dad Grandpa. Because my mother is no longer living and my stepmother is younger than my dad, I wasn’t sure if Grandma would seem too old. She said she preferred Nanie because that’s what she called her grandmother. Caity of Mount Prospect, mom of Peter, 2

I actually had no choice in the naming of my son’s grandparents—they offered their own selections. My parents are Grammy and Gramps. My in-laws are Nonni and Pa-Pa. Dawn of Chicago, mom of Christopher, 3 months   When my daughter, Rebecca, started to talk, she called my husband’s parents Na-na and Pa-pa. My mother became Grandma Joan. It’s funny how kids change your life—even your name. Laura of Chicago, mom of Rebecca, 10, and Justin, 7   When our son was about 9 months old, he started calling his grandma Mima. Everyone calls her Mima now, even our son’s friends. Diana of Chicago, mom of Ronnie, 7, and Destini, 2

For my parents, we use Grandma and Grandpa. For my husband’s parents, we use Abuelita and Abuelito, which is Spanish for grandma and grandpa. Mayra of Berwyn, mom of Bryana, 4, and Sesilia, 2

When I was pregnant, my mother thought Grandma made her old. So at my baby shower, we took a survey and had everyone give alternative names. In the end, Nana received the most votes. She has been the best Nana ever since! Heather of Plainfield, mom of Walker, 3½, and Boston, 2

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