What Names Do You Call Your In-Laws?

Amy Pond has no problem calling her father-in-law Brian. © BBC

Since the day we were married, I’ve never been sure what names to call my in-laws.

I don’t mean coming up with an expletive-laced nickname for when they’re not around. I am one of the lucky few who have wonderful parents-in-law. But my problem is that, almost ten years later, I still don’t know the best way to address them.

Conversations with them usually go like this:

“Hey, ….YOU. How are you? And how is… um… HE doing?”

I’m so good at not calling them by a name, it’s practically become an art form. Here’s a hint: A lot of tapping on shoulders is involved.

They’ve let me know I can call them by their first names, which is the most important thing to take into consideration in my raging internal debate.

But their first names always get frozen on my tongue. My strongest inclination has always been to call them Mr. and Mrs. It might be one of the last remnants of being taught to address my friends’ folks that way, and it has stubbornly stuck with me. Busting out a Mr. and Mrs. would certainly be met with weird looks, though, especially this late in the game. Strike that one.

And then there’s the other obvious choice: Mom and Dad. To me, that one fits the bill for our relationship, but also has the highest chance of offense to multiple parties. Cross that one off the list, too.

So I settled into the no-name method, which I like to think is subtle and has gone unnoticed, but I have a feeling it hasn’t.

Then we had our daughter, and I thought I was golden. I can call them Grandma and Grandpa without a care in the world… until bedtime. I found out the hard way that continuing to call them Grandpa and Grandma when none of the kids are around makes it sound like I’m oozing sarcasm.

“Hey, Grandpa, can we turn up the volume on the football game?”

My friend’s dad has chosen the name Obi-Wan instead of a variation of Grandpa, and I have to admit I’m a little jealous. I would say without hesitation, “Hey, Obi-Wan! How are you? That’s great, Obi-Wan!” and it would always be cool. Always.

What do you call your in-laws? Do you simply go with first names without a second thought?

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Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in Seattle, WA, where she contributes to local parenting magazines. She also writes for StarWars.com, Geek & Sundry, and more. You can find crafts and art projects for geeky families at her blog The St{art} Button.