In the grand scheme of acquiring those “Grandparent names” we’re usually labelled upon the birth of our first grandchild. Of course, different grandchildren may call you different names and there are good reasons for that.
The most common way to address grandparents is to call them Grandma and Grandpa plus their surnames. Thus, you may become Grandma Smith or Grandpa Jones. The second most common is to call them Grandma Mary or Grandpa Donald, however in some families the use of first names for seniors is considered rude.
But due to various family cultures there are a whole slew of other “handles” that may be your choice or… not so much. You grandmas may be called Nana, Nanny or Memaw. You Grandpas may hear Papa, Papaw or Grampy.
Sometimes the issue of who chooses the given grandparent’s name can become a tricky one. Do you choose? Do the parents? When the maternal grandparent is already called Gram Gram, does that mean you can’t use that name? Grandparent names are often chosen to avoid confusion when the whole clan comes together.
Many times the parents teach their children the name they want to hear from their child’s lips. Thus, you may become Grammy and Grumps whether you like it or not.
Regional favorites may be chosen. So, you may be known as Memaw and Papaw if you’re from the southern U.S. Or you may choose names from your family’s heritage. Thus, Italian grandparents are known as Nonna or Nonnie and Nonno, Russian grandparents, Babushka and Dedushka, Spanish grandparents, Abuela and Abuelo, and Swedish grandparents Mormor and Morfar if the maternal grandparents and Farmor and Farfar if the paternal.
Sometimes grandchildren can’t pronounce the assigned names for their grandparents and then we hear some funny ones: Grammy and Grumps becoming Mummy and Mumps, two names that stuck with one family for thirty years.
Other mispronunciations produced the names Wamma, Gammie, Lollie (for Laura), Gramma Feet (for Sweet) and Grandma Juju (for Juliet). An especially unique one was “Hammer,” a name that remained in the family lore eternally.
Sometimes grandparents let everyone know the name they want to use and that wish is honored. Thus there is Grandma Minnie, Mimsey, Pop and Granddaddy.
Sometimes families create interesting combinations of names such as Grancy for Grandma Nancy, Grangie for Grandma Angela, Bamma for Barbara plus grandma, and Grandpat for Grandma Pat. One family had a Great Grandma Ashmore who became Great Ashmore. Families love to share something unique to their family and enjoy the fact that the grandchildren are learning how to speak and communicate. They treasure the “mistakes.”
In most cases the issue of respecting and honoring grandparents is at the heart of the name choices. There are often funny stories related to selecting grandparent names. Here are a few.
One grandma was distinguished from the other side of the family by being known as “The grandma by the big water (ocean). Another family with French heritage began calling the grandma Gran nee which is French for big nose. That grandma politely declined using the name.
A touching story came from a family in which the grandma is losing her sight. She asked each grandchild to call her a different name so she would be able to know which child was speaking to her in the future.
What do your grandchildren call you? Who chose the name? Once it’s determined, you will forever be known by that name and it will be part of your special relationship with your beloved grandchildren.