For most of my life I've called my parents by their first names—Carmel and Garry.
Admittedly, I started doing it when I was in my tween years, thinking it was a really clever, smart ass thing to do.
It was one of the ways I tried to push the boundaries, and honestly—it backfired. My parents didn’t care if I called them by their first names.
Truthfully, I think it was around this time when I started to see my parents as humans—as individuals who had their own lives going on outside of parenting me. I was beginning to get to know the real people behind their parenting masks.
Of course, between the ages of 13 to about 17, I mostly hated those people. Because—you know—they were trying to ruin my life by feeding me, putting a roof over my head and trying to teach me stuff about life.
But they were Carmel and Garry—they were their own people—and I started feeling weird about calling them mom and dad.
Even my parents started to refer to each other as Carmel or Garry when they're talking to me, as in, "Garry thinks you should book your car in for a service" and "Do you know why Carmel is pissed off at me this time?"
So you can imagine my surprise when I was in my mid 20s and someone told me that calling my parents by their first names was a really rude and disrespectful thing to do. They were horrified, they had never heard of such "inconsiderate behavior."
Years later, I still don't understand this extreme reaction, but I always find it interesting when someone questions why I call my parents by their first names.
It still feels like a bit of a taboo, which is strange.
I think some people might see it as a sign that there's something wrong in our relationship, that I'm trying to distance myself from them. But I have a really good relationship with my parents and I'm definitely still not trying to rebel in my 30s.
LISTEN: Your kids should not be the most important people in your family. Find out who should be on This Glorious Mess, a podcast from our Australian sister site Mamamia. (Post continues below.)
Plus calling my parents by their first names is just more practical. If I'm in a crowded department store and I yell out 'Carmel' only one (possibly two) women will turn around. If I yell out 'mom' half the store will turn around.
So if your kids are starting to experiment with calling you by your first name—take it as a good sign. Yes, they're probably trying to push the boundaries a little—but they're also starting to see you as a person outside of being mom or dad. And they're curious about that person, they want to get to know them better.
And they'll only hate you for the next five years or so.
This post originally appeared on Mamamia, Spring.St's Australian sister site. You can read it here.