The “Auntie” Factor


Don’t laugh. I know it sounds like a weird title. And no, I’m not talking about the ‘blur’ girls in my class, nor the overly slow drivers that cause me to be late for morning duty, or a particular sense of fashion that is, well, not very fashionable.

I’m actually referring to the Malaysian culture of calling our friends’ moms “auntie”, and their dads, “uncle”. Especially among us kids, we have to call everybody we see who are old enough to be our own parents “auntie” or “uncle”, as a sign of respect or something.

I’ve drawn many a curious glance from adults and I’ve freaked out their kids when I go into calling everybody “ma’am” or “sir”. I don’t know, it’s just something I grew up with. To me, “auntie” is reserved for my mom’s sister, thanks. These “auntie/uncle” titles to me mean a more intimate thing, not for parents of my teenage friends who I barely know. It’s still a huge struggle for me to call my best friend’s mom “auntie”. I feel so awkward saying it.

So next time I call your mom “ma’am”, please excuse me. I’m just being very polite and formal, and being comfortable with myself. Or something like that.


2 responses »

  1. Funny, I feel the same way;-)! I can’t just call anyone “Ate” because that reserved for your mommy dearest. Even “mom” and “dad” are reserved for my parents. I guess when we have special relationships, the terms of endearment matter:-).

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