Calling Parents By Their First Names
I recently learned that according to Jewish law one is not supposed to call their parents by their first names. When I was growing up, my parents taught me to call them by their first names, and I am grown up and I still do. That’s what they wanted me to do.
They have been accustomed to being called by their names their whole lives and they didn’t want me or my siblings to call them anything different. And I know they don’t want me to change this suddenly.
I also called my grandparents by their first names when they were alive, as did my mother. This has been our family tradition as far as I know. And I was planning to teach my children when I had them to call me and my future wife by our first names.
What is the scoop on this?
What you learned is absolutely correct: in general, it is forbidden to call parents by their first names. And it is certainly not something that a child should do if they can avoid it. The reason for this is because we are commanded to honor and respect our parents, and calling a parent by their first name is considered to be a lack of respect.
However, the Rabbis teach that a parent can nullify a child’s obligation to honor them in certain ways, and if they do, the child can call their parent by their first name.
Subsequently, in your specific case, it is permitted for you to call your parents by their first names as that is what they want you to do.
However, I, personally, feel that it would be a mistake to teach your future children to call you and your future wife by your first names as it is lacking in respect according to Jewish law. In the same way, I also feel that it would be a mistake for your children to call your parents by their first names unless it is preceded by the title grandpa or grandma, for example “Grandpa Jack” or “Grandma Hannah” as opposed to just Jack or Hannah.
Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team