Pet Peeve #3289: Pronoun Trouble

Yep, another Pet Peeve Post. I have a lot of ’em. Bring them out when I have nothing else to say. Which is why you don’t see them very often.

So here’s my Peeve: Adults who talk in the third person around children. (otherwise known as Pronoun Trouble)   And the thing is, they don’t talk exclusively in the third person… they mix it up, so it’s totally wrong.  For example:

“Mommy will get you some milk”

“Grandma needs you to sit quietly at church”

And I almost never hear guys doing it… “Daddy needs you to hammer this wall.”

Someone in my family does this, and has done it forever.  She continues to do it even though one of her grandchildren has entered college, and others range from elementary school to high school. None are infants or toddlers.  And it drives me batty, especially when she does it to Josh. Especially since we asked her, from day one, not to do it. We asked this because we don’t do it, and above all, kids need consistency, and if everyone around them is talking differently – especially with the basics like identifying pronouns (him, her, you, me, I) – it can get very confusing.

She said that it was the “proper” way to talk to children, because otherwise, how were they supposed to identify who was who?  And I said that kids have been figuring that out since the dawn of time, and it’s only been in the last ten -whoops, twenty (damn, I’m getting old) – years that people have been doing this Third Person Wrong Narration, and kids were never confused before.

I guess, if it’s the way that you want to talk to your kids, more power to you – it’s just one more thing that you’re going to have to re-teach as they get older.  I mean, how do you explain to them that THEY have to say, “I am going to my room,” when you model “Mommy is going to her room”?  And then throw into the mix that men rarely do it, because… well, I’ve never asked them, but I suspect it makes them feel stupid.

Honestly, I can only remember one time when the whole “My-your” thing caused a problem.  When I was in college, one of my friends was an exchange student from Japan, named Mayumi. Her name was pronounced, “my-YOU-me”.  And my niece, who was about four at the time, kept calling her, “YOUR-you-me”.  It was hilarious, and no matter how much we tried to convince her otherwise, we couldn’t, and just ended up sounding like an Abbot & Costello routine.

But otherwise, speaking in the Third Person just makes people sound ridiculous. Especially since they’re not doing it completely.  Nobody tells their kid, “Mommy is going to wash Josh’s clothes now.”  No, they say, “Mommy is going to wash YOUR clothes now.” Seriously, how are kids NOT supposed to be confused by that??

Is Laura off her rocker here, or do I have a point?

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11 Responses to Pet Peeve #3289: Pronoun Trouble

  1. SKL says:

    I remember when I was young, my mom told me how much that irked her when other moms did it. My mom didn’t ever do it. However, for some strange reason, I have caught myself doing it at times. I don’t think I ever do it any more.

    Before my kids came home, they knew someone else as “mama.” That’s how their foster moms were referred to. Between that and the fact that there was nobody around my house calling me “mom,” I did refer to myself as “Mama” to teach the girls that was who I was. (If I’d had a husband or other kids to help with that, it might have been a different story.) Eventually that was no longer necessary, but I did catch myself doing it occasionally, and when I did, I’d think, “yuck!” I think I was doing it at times when “I __” sounded too harsh, e.g., “I need to do __ and that trumps your desires right now.” Now I think they understand that I sometimes need to say “no” to their immediate wishes, so I don’t feel the urge to sugar-coat much.

  2. SKL says:

    I will say that kids do figure out speech, regardless of how the people around them speak. I have never heard my kids say to each other “Miss E needs to borrow your pen, Miss A.”

  3. Jenny says:

    I’m pretty sure I don’t say it… LOL who knows though. Hunter on the other hand does. No idea where he picked that up from but we’ve been working on I, me & you. But before it was always Hunter this Hunter that…. It is quite annoying!

  4. Ellen says:

    I did it for sure when they were little, till they were about 2-3 years. Then I stopped doing it.

  5. mssc54 says:

    Well, Mike thinks this may be more about control issues than any thing else. 🙂

    Jake isn’t stupid.

  6. Nikki says:

    I don’t think I have ever done this. It never crossed my mind to be honest, but I’m sure I’ll be more aware of it when I hear it. I don’t like baby talk. I used to have this “friend” that would use words like ceries, for cereal. Moo cow, for milk. Ridiculous!!! That drove me nuts!

  7. Joy says:

    When the boys were really young I might have done that had I been trying to get them to taste something or if I was trying to teach them something but no, I never really talked “baby-talk.” I was also a fan of teaching something once and not giving them something I knew I’d have to take away (pacifier etc). I tended to talk to them like I wanted them to talk because children are such parrots.

    I’ve thought way back about this and I do have to say my grandma did it. Do you think this is a generational thing? That back then maybe that’s what they all did. I keep remembering this aunt I had in Buffalo, NY and she always referred to herself by her own name. She never said “I have to go to the grocery store” but she’d say “Annabelle has to go to the grocery store” and it drove me crazy. As a kid it was kind of funny and cute but the older I got the more I hated it. I heard her name hundreds of times a day and it was just one of those things that got under your skin.

  8. Phyllis says:

    Ok, I confess, I remember say this to my great-granddaughter when we went to Bonner’s Christmas place during vacation. I think I said, “Amara, do you think someone should hold grandma’s hand so I don’t get lost?” So of course she held onto my hand so I wouldn’t get lost. Sorry, Laura….. I’m a baaaaad grandma! 🙂 I believe that’s the only time I’ve said something like that though. Usually it’s more like “hold my hand, Amara”.

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