Why You Should Call Your Son “Buddy”

Of all the nicknames my dad gave me growing up, none of them meant something to me quite like "Buddy."

Ariela Basson/Fatherly; Getty Images, Shutterstock

When it comes to nicknames for your kid, there is only one rule: don’t be a d*ck. Other than that, so long as your kid enjoys the title you’ve bequeathed them, have at it. And for my money, there’s no better nickname than “Buddy.” It’s short. It’s simple. It rolls off the tongue. And, despite what others might think, there is no nickname a little boy will enjoy more.

My dad loved giving my siblings and I nicknames. Whether it was a simple rhyme, an odd term of endearment, or a barely passable pun, he would find a way to refer to all of us as something other than our given titles. He liked nicknames so much that two of my siblings, who are now grown up with kids of their own, still go by names offered by him. Growing up, I was everything from “Shakey Blakey” and “Kiddo” to “Pal” and “Sport.” But of all the names he nicked me over the years, his most consistent — and my favorite — was “Buddy.”

Sure, “Buddy” might technically mean friend. But at this point, it’s clearly evolved into the defacto nickname dads give to their kids, most often sons. It makes sense: while your kid might not be your friend, they can certainly be your “Buddy.” Because when a dad calls a son “Buddy,” he imbues him with a sense of fondness and belonging. The kid knows he is not an obligation; he is a partner, a welcome compatriot, someone special.

Now, some say “Buddy” lacks the flair of some of the more creative nicknames out there. That’s fine by me. I’m okay not having to show off how brilliant I am every 10 fucking seconds. A nickname for your kid is not the time for you to get twee or clever. It’s the time to call your kid something that they will enjoy — and respond to. And my research shows that approximately 100 percent of sons love being called “Buddy” by their dad.

The other big gripe with “Buddy”? That it lacks personality or flavor. That it’s the five-grain bread of nicknames. You’re simply too obtuse to see what’s right in front of you. Someone who is a “Buddy” is reliable. “Buddy” is always fun to have around. “Buddy” is someone you cherish deeply in your life. There’s a reason Will Ferrell chose the name “Buddy” in Elf because his character represents everything beautiful about the name.

No, Buddy isn’t unique. That doesn’t mean it isn’t special. Anytime my dad called me “Buddy”, it was a reminder of our bond. It’s like refusing to call the woman you married your wife. And yes, there have been billions of dads who have used the same pet name for their billions of sons, but I was only “Buddy” to one.

So please, increase the number of buddies out there, which I’m sure you were going to do regardless of whether or not a stranger on the internet gave you permission. Your son won’t resent you forever or think you didn’t give them enough attention. They’ll like it. Not every topic needs to have a hot take or a subversive opinion. “Buddy” is nice and your kid will probably enjoy the nickname. Because even if every other dad in the world is using it to address their son, he’s still your “Buddy.” And for a kid, that means everything in the world.