Once, a long time ago, one of us, Bethany, fell behind at the grocery store and was trying to catch up. She called out her mom's name, "Mom!," and to her frustration, half the women there turned around and the other half ignored Bethany, assuming it was someone else's child.

How was Bethany going to get her mom's attention? She knew a secret trick that would work for sure: Her mom had another name. She called "Denise!" and magically, just her mom (the other one of us) turned around.

But why do almost all kids use the same name for their parents? This is the kind of question we enjoy investigating as scientists who study families and human development.

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