For father, we have daddy, dada, papa, poppy, etc. For mother, we have momma, mommy, mama, etc. Is there a term of endearment that fits either role? I've racked my brain thinking of one and I can't. For children, the only gender neutral one I can think of is 'kiddo', or 'kid' to some people.

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    I'm not sure any kid is generally going to use a gender-neutral term of endearment for his parent. He's not going to be ambiguous about which 'rent he's talking about. It's either of the parents, Dad, or Mom. (Unless same-sex household, then it's probably somewhat like papa-A or papa-B). I doubt I'd be in a place to be that informal to adults as an adult, either. Folks works, but you're not going to use it singularly which is why I didn't post as answer.
    – SrJoven
    Aug 21 '14 at 14:47
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    It's more playful, tongue-in-cheek than really endearing but I've often heard "parental units" used.
    – Jim
    Aug 21 '14 at 14:57
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    "You got it, boss".
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 21 '14 at 15:12
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    I've also heard the term 'rents (short for parents). Aug 21 '14 at 15:19
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    It wouldn't be very endearing to either of my parents if I referred to them in more generic terms. Aug 21 '14 at 16:23

'My folks'.

I guess it's more generalised than meaning just parents but I hear a lot of people say it in England to mean "my parents" but in an endearing way.

"I love my folks", "my folks are great" etc.

  • folks has already been mentioned both in the comments by ermanen and again in the other answer, right at the beginning.
    – Brillig
    Aug 22 '14 at 14:09

As you note in your question, there's not a lot.

After I posted this answer I saw some people had responded with comments concurrently. I didn't think of "folks" but that's probably the best one. Ermanen deserves credit for that one though.

Here's what I thought of:

SNL popularized the term "parental units" and the term entered the popular culture and some people probably use that term sometimes in an ironic, affectionate way (ironic because the term was meant to be the least affectionate way of referring to a parent in the SNL scripts). I have witnessed the term used in popular movies, Internet chats, etc. It's even in the dictionary.

People with a Buddhist background may say something like "honourable ancestor" as a very formal and respectful way to address either parent. Similarly, a very old term that people in the past could use sometimes was "progenitor". Both "ancestor" and "progenitor" refer to any ancestor, not just the direct parents, but they can (perhaps more accurately could in the past) be used in a very respectful and even affectionate way to refer to parents.

In know one person who calls his parents "old people", or sometimes "old person" individually, which may not be a term of endearment in every household but he gets away with it.

For children besides kids/kiddos/kiddies which you mention, there's also squirts, rugrats, bambinos, cubs, juveniles, sprouts, whelps, youngsters/young people/young adults, and youths to name a few.

  • I consider this a bit of a waffle incorporating two comments and then some about kids which are not really related since it is about parent/child relational names and the ones you mention are not normally used by parents themselves.
    – mplungjan
    Aug 22 '14 at 5:28
  • @mplungjan when I started writing my answer there were no comments. I wrote my answer and by the time I posted it there were a few comments. The one that mentioned "folks" I thought was worth highlighting so I edited my post and gave credit. Everything else I came up with independently (although another person had commented about parental units by the time I hit post they hadn't when I started writing). The question also mentioned names for children and I'm not sure where you live but I have heard actual parents use many of these terms I list. BTW, thanks for your spelling edits!
    – Brillig
    Aug 22 '14 at 14:05
  • Ok, fair enough. Edit your post and I will remove my dv
    – mplungjan
    Aug 22 '14 at 14:27
  • @mplungjan how would you want me to edit it? I mention "folks" at the beginning but give full credit to Ermanen for his comment. The rest is my original post which I came up with independently, except for your help with the couple of spelling errors.
    – Brillig
    Aug 22 '14 at 14:31
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    @mplungjan thanks again and I appreciate your willingness to reconsider the downvote! I made one small additional edit because your edit created a slight inaccuracy in one case. I originally had said (paraphrased) 'I see some people made comments while I was writing my answer' which you changed to 'I saw while I was writing' but that's inaccurate because I didn't see the comments till after I posted my answer so I changed to 'I saw after I posted some people made comments,' which is accurate.
    – Brillig
    Aug 22 '14 at 15:46

This post helps a lot: http://genderqueeries.tumblr.com/titles

It includes a bunch of gender queer titles for all types of relations. They provide the following for parents:

  • Parent; neutral, formal.
  • Per; neutral, short for parent.
  • Par; neutral, short for parent.
  • Dommy; queer, mixture of mommy and daddy (note: sounds like Dom/me, a BDSM term)
  • Maddy; queer, mixture of mummy/mommy and daddy.
  • Muddy; queer, mixture of mummy and daddy.
  • Moddy; queer, mixture of mommy and daddy.
  • Zaza; queer, based on mama and papa/dada.
  • Zither; queer, based on mother and father. (Note, zither is also the name of a musical instrument.)
  • Baba; neutral, based on mama and dada. (Note, baba means dad in some languages and grandmother in others.)
  • Nini; queer, based on the N in NB, similar to mama and papa/dada.
  • Bibi; queer, based on the B in NB, similar to mama and papa/dada.
  • Cennend; neutral, Old English (Anglo-Saxon) meaning parent.
  • Cenn; neutral, short for cennend.
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    No one uses any of these suggested words (aside from "parent").
    – herisson
    Apr 22 '16 at 0:51

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