A father wants to know if his nicknames for his two daughters, ages 8 and 5, are actually insults.
The dad sought out help from Reddit’s “Am I the A******” forum. He claimed that referring to his daughters as “Pollyanna” and “Prima donna” is supposed to be endearing. However, both terms are considered degrading to women.
Pollyanna describes a woman who is a blind optimist to her own detriment. The use of the word in classrooms is banned by the American Federation of Teachers for being sexist. Meanwhile, BBC News called “prima donna,” an uppity woman, a misogynist term still lingering in the workplace.
“My oldest daughter has the personality of the kid in a Christmas movie who gets the miserly banker to save the orphanage,” he wrote. “Seriously sunshine, rainbows, positivity all the time. When she was smaller, she went through a vintage Disney phase, and her favorite was ‘Pollyanna.’ She would pretend to be the titular character, and the nickname stuck.”
He then explained how his 5-year-old earned her nickname.
“She is the most strong-headed, unshakable child I ever met and has a flair for dramatics,” he wrote. “I love this about her! She also used to throw some spectacular tantrums. During one of these tantrums, my wife called her a ‘Prima donna’ and the nickname stuck.
But the father started questioning things when his mother called him on the phone to express her disapproval.
“She said they would make my kids feel divisive and that I was playing into the bad parts of their personalities. I don’t think they’re bad!” he wrote. “Really, wife and I just think they’re cute nicknames and the girls have never expressed being upset by them. They’re probably also called their real names 80 percent of the time. Now I’m wondering though.”
The Reddit commentariat was gentle with the well-meaning father, but the verdict is in: dad is in the wrong here.
“You need to see how having your kid’s nickname be a literal insult is going to take her self esteem down several pegs. My mother called me ‘drama queen’ my whole life,” one user wrote. “It caught on through my family and because it held the connotations of being overly sensitive, unreasonable and temperamental, nobody took me seriously.”
“The nicknames you gave them are actually labels, not nicknames. And you assigned them for your own amusement, not because the kids liked them,” one person said.
“You see this as a pretty cute and innocent thing and I can see why. However, both of these nicknames have certain very negative connotations,” someone wrote.
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