Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about the terms Baby Mama and Baby Daddy?

Asked by JLeslie (48221 points ) December 29th, 2012

I just hate them. I wonder who made them up? They sound so uneducated, unthinking, and lower class to me. It is not a judgment about single parents, I am only talking about the terms. It connotes to me the parent is not very interested in their child nor committed in any way to the other parent. That the child was not planned and the baby daddy or baby mama just exists, getting credit only for the biological relationship.

I ask because I just saw on my facebook a man write that Sally is the best baby mama ever. It took me a little aback, because I think of the term so negatively.

Do they sound badly to you too?

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45 Answers

janbb's avatar

Yes – i have never seen them and don’t even know what they connote. Are they used instead of birth mother or surrogate mother? I’m with you – don’t like them.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb No. Birth mother usually means the biological mom of a child who was given up for adoption. Surrogate mother would be a woman who carries a baby, which is not hers genetically, for another couple. Baby mama (or baby momma, however you choose to spell it) is when two people have a baby out of wedlock. Actually, I hear baby daddy much more often. It implies the baby lives with the mother and the baby daddy is the man who fathered the child. Basically Baby Daddy is synonomous with saying he is the father of my child. At least that is how it seems to me. The meaning of the expression might be evolving though.

janbb's avatar

I know what birth mother and surrogate mothers are; I just don’t know what baby momma is. Sounds weird and Tennessee Williamsish to me.

snowberry's avatar

I think it’s stupid. But it’s definitely part of a certain culture in the US at least, and I suspect it’s here to stay, especially because so many people aren’t into committed relationships anymore.

CWOTUS's avatar

Abhorrent. A term to express the throwaway nature of many modern American so-called relationships. I hate it, too.

It’s one thing – and bad enough, in my opinion – that young people have transitory, casual and promiscuous sex (men and women both). That’s bad enough. But when they don’t even care to take care to prevent pregnancy, or maybe even worse, decide to have a child “just because”...

I think it’s time for adults to spay their children as they do their dogs and cats.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

When I hear it I can’t help but think of white trash.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t like them.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Can’t stand it. The casual acceptance of the terms emphasize the casual acceptance society has for children born out of wedlock.

And since out of wedlock births are the norm these days…and has been the norm for quite some time…what’s all the hubbub about “preserving traditional marriages”?

What traditional marriages?

dabbler's avatar

Both terms sound extra-stupid to me.
What’s wrong with plain mother and father or mama and daddy?

SABOTEUR's avatar

@dabbler Good point. Those phrases seem to work extra hard to make everyone aware that “I’m not married”.

JenniferP's avatar

I don’t like them either. Usually they are applying to the person’s child by someone that they aren’t married to.

Shippy's avatar

I’ve never heard that term before. I am unsure what is meant by it?

ragingloli's avatar

Are those terms for toddlers that copulated with each other and now become parents themselves?

Shippy's avatar

@ragingloli Definitely sounds that way!

Ela's avatar

They just sound weird to me. I don’t call anyone “baby” unless they are just that, a baby. (such as Baby Anna) : )

JLeslie's avatar

@Ela It’s really not refering to the person as baby exactly. Better Englush would be my baby’s mama, but they screwed around with it and made it into a title of sorts.

ragingloli's avatar

@JLeslie
What is “englush”?

submariner's avatar

I’m pretty sure the terms come from African-American dialects (“Black English”). In these dialects, the possessive inflection of nouns seems to be disappearing. So, yes, “My baby mama” means “My baby’s mama”. It’s not necessarily uneducated; that’s just how the grammar of these dialects work. Culturally, it can no longer be taken for granted that the person one begets a child with is or was one’s spouse or even SO.

When media types like Barbara Walters or Tina Fey pick up the term, they seem to think it’s some sort of construction like “dog catcher”. That actually annoys me more than the term itself.

Ela's avatar

@JLeslie Because they are not referring to a baby is why I think the terms sound weird.

Only babies should be referred to as baby, imo. I also thinking calling your SO “baby” is weird and sounds odd.

cookieman's avatar

Juvenile.

ucme's avatar

Sounds like a deleted scene from Natural Born Killers.

harple's avatar

I don’t see myself using the terms, but I imagine that in the example you give the fella thinks he’s being very cute/sweet – it’s more like a pet name to my ears than anything deeper.

tinyfaery's avatar

Love ‘em. These words are an apt description. Baby Mama means the woman who has a child by a man she was never married to, and will never be with again. The reverse for Baby Daddy, obviously. It’s playful. The words are only sometimes used as an insult (Baby Mama drama), but the words connotate whimsy, imo.

Low class? Black English? These terms are much more disturbing and reeking in ignominy. They are worse than the horrid Baby Mama will ever be.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I don’t love ‘em. Can’t, considering the prevalence of children being raised in single family households. Many of those children will never experience a father in their lives, and many of those children will repeat the cycle of creating more fatherless children.

Casual use of those terms denote irresponsibility, not whimsicality.

tinyfaery's avatar

So just because someone is a baby daddy means he doesn’t support his child? How in the fuck do you know that? The ignorance, prejudice and bigotry on this site is rapidly increasing.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I would respond to that question had you not been so unnecessarily rude. We are allowed to voice our opinions here. We don’t have to be right and no one is obligated to agree with us.

I’ll say no more for fear of appearing as ig….

…never mind.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh, no. Cuss words. Run…

I am so offended by you I had to use fuck to portray my utter disgust.

flutherother's avatar

I’ve never heard these terms and I don’t like the sound of them.

submariner's avatar

Not specifically concerned with the term in question but germane:

African American Vernacular English

Sociolinguistics basics

DigitalBlue's avatar

I’m married to a “baby daddy” that supports, loves, and fought with all of his soul for his children. He has a “baby mama” that is (excluding all of the drama she caused us, which has always made the popular phrase “baby mama drama” ring all the more true) a dedicated mother, who loves and cares for her children.
I don’t have a problem with the terms. I don’t make negative associations with them, perhaps because I’m extremely accustomed to them.
I don’t think of it as cutting out more of the relationship to the child, rather, cutting out more of the relationship to the other parent. This is not my wife, not my girlfriend, not even my friend, she is the mother of my child (aka, baby mama… it’s less wordy.)
A lot of step-parenting rings use bio, instead. If you dislike the terms, you can use that. Bio-mom, bio-dad… but I don’t think anything about the meaning changes, just the origin of the terms.

wundayatta's avatar

I agree with @submariner‘s explanation. I have heard these terms used primarily among African-Americans, and it is due to the fact that the mother is not married to the father. It seems like a shorthand for “my baby’s mama” or “my baby’s daddy.” They contract to “baby mama” and “baby daddy.”

Since you’re not married, you can’t say “my wife” or “my husband.” Boyfriend and girlfriend seem inadequate terms. You want to talk about the specific relationship that holds you together and it is that you created a child together. Since you did create a child, but you aren’t married, there are certain expectations you have about help in caring for the child, but without the expectations about help in creating and maintaining a home.

I hear that a lot in the city (Philadelphia), which is a nearly majority African-American city. The number of unmarried couples having children is higher in the city, I suspect. However, teen pregnancies are down. So a lot of this is happening among people in their twenties and older, now. It is no longer something that can be attributed to ignorance so much, but a kind of deliberate choice.

As with most things African-American, it gets picked up by the larger culture. So the terminology is all over now (if I have heard about it). I suspect (but don’t know) that it means there is greater acceptance of unmarried pregnancies, and that men are having more to do with children they have with women they are not married to. This last is a shaky speculation, and may be more wishful than anything else, but I hope it is true.

CWOTUS's avatar

I agree, “baby mama” is fewer syllables and, I suppose, somewhat more polite than “slut mother of my bastard child”. Conversely, of course, “baby daddy” is a euphemism for “irresponsible playboy sperm donor for my bastard child”.

Without reference to any racial stereotyping (or puns), I guess this is why we now refer to “spades” as “trenching tools” instead of “fucking shovels”.

Jeruba's avatar

I have seen them used here on Fluther (many times over several years) as well as elsewhere, and I believe I understand what they mean. I dislike them in the same way that I dislike many other slang expressions and colloquialisms that coarsen the language, irrespective of social, racial, cultural, etc., implications. It would bother me far less if it were “baby’s daddy.” It’s the dropping of the possessive that strikes a sour note in my ear.

This comment is meant to be an answer to the OP’s question, which asks for personal opinion, and not an invitation to a lecture on how language changes.

wundayatta's avatar

Lecture so abjured, @Jeruba. ;-)

zenvelo's avatar

The connotation that I hear is that the parent is as uninvolved as possible with the other parent and, in the case of baby daddies, with the child. It’s not the term that bothers me as much as the lack of relationship.

It bothers me when celebrities use it because it conveys the thought that the child is just the by product of a one-night stand.

zensky's avatar

I have both read it and heard it. I understand the OP’s dislike and distaste for it – @Jeruba covered the reason why I believe.

I don’t like it much, however, one cannot ignore slang and language. Google, Facebook and Youtube have become acceptable verbs.

Though it doesn’t appeal to me, I can understand why someone would use it. In Hebrew, there is a use of the term “Biological” to imply the “biological mother of my child” – which stresses her connection to my child and that we are otherwise not connected, by marriage or something else.

Again, personally, I cringe slightly when I hear it. Being divorced, I either refer to my ex as my son’s mom, or simply first establish that she has a name, and use that.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I do not think of a Baby Daddy or Baby Mama as being a boyfriend or girlfriend. They are the other parent. They might be an exboyfriend or ex husband, or might be the guy I had sex with.

burntbonez's avatar

To me it’s a bit trashy. It indicates people who are somewhat dysfunctional.

cutiepi92's avatar

They sound ghetto honestly…

SABOTEUR's avatar

Y’all might find THIS interesting.

harple's avatar

What I find interesting is that I had never heard the term until reading this question (it’s not a term you hear here in the UK), and my automatic response was to think it was a cute way of referring to your partner that you have a child with… Yes, I figured the pair would not be married, but I didn’t for a second assume they were apart.

I’m astonished by the strength of negative feeling here, but realise that may be because I have no reason to associate the term with any negativity so just can’t put that much strength behind hating a particular phrase. I’m racking my brain to think if there is a term that I do feel that strongly about, but other than outright racist or sexist terms I just can’t get that worked up about a title like this.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I can see how someone from another country might have no context to relate to these terms. I can even see how people within the United States might not find this particularly remarkable. I can only give you my perspective only.

As a 55 year old Black American, I see these phrases used almost exclusively by Black people. I grew up in the era where a child born out of wedlock was a “bastard”; a symbol of shame. (An example of this was popularized by The Supremes song ‘Love Child’). No child wanted anyone to know their mommy and daddy weren’t married.

Well, morals have changed considerably since then. Casual sex is often the norm, and no one is embarrassed by this anymore. ‘Baby Momma” and “Baby Daddy” takes this a bit further. These are often used by people repeatedly give birth to children; many of whom are not supported by the fathers. Some of these mothers don’t know who the father is or have children by various men. Oftentimes ‘baby daddy’ is used to differentiate one sperm donor from another.

This reeks of irresponsibility to me. The fact that this makes life harder for the children involved (let alone adding to the negative cultural impact) seems irrelevant to casual users or people who whimsically refer to this social destructive practice as simply slang…

…and nowentertainment.

janbb's avatar

@SABOTEUR Thanks for that perspective. It is not a term I’ve ever heard even. You point to the idea that we should look at the consequences rather than disparage the terminology – which makes a lot of sense.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@janbb You’re welcome.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yep. Well put.

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