When talking about a specific, non-plural, child who is your son or daughter, is it normal to use "child" rather than "son" or "daughter"?

For example,

I went with my child to the doctor's today.

I did a quick google for "With my child", and mainly came across cases involving hypothetical children who are not of a specified gender, for example

How do I start a conversation with my child about stammering?

If it's currently not common to use "child" about a specific child, are people advocating such usage in order to not be discriminatory about gender?

  • 2
    (opinion) It's weirder than saying my son or my daughter, but it's less weird than saying my sibling.
    – user230
    Oct 20, 2013 at 6:29

3 Answers 3


I don't think child is a very common word to use in situations like this, but kid is quite common when the person you're speaking to doesn't know the gender of your child and the gender doesn't really matter. For example:

Hey Joe, can you cover my shift for an hour tomorrow? I have to take my kid to the doctor.

You could just as easily say son or daughter there, but if the person you're speaking to isn't really acquainted with your child I think kid might even be more common than specifying the gender. Child would definitely sound odd, though.


Only the most extremist political-correctness police would object to using son or daughter when speaking about a single child whose gender is known; the usual objection to using gender-specific language is when you're applying it to a generic-person-of-unknown-gender and making some sort of assumption. Most speakers talking about multiple children of the same gender would use boys or girls.

It is preferable to use a gender-neutral term (child) when talking about children generically, as in your second example, and the terms children or kids (much more casual) are generally used when referring to multiple, mixed-gender youngsters.

  • 2
    Sometimes a parent might use a more gender-neutral term (like children, or more likely, kids) when talking about more than one child. In other words, I might say, "I took my daughter to the doctor's office," but I might say, "I took my kids to the dentist." This is particularly true if the kids in tow are mixed gender; I somehow doubt I'd be likely to blurt out the more wordy, "I took my son and daughter to the dentist."
    – J.R.
    Oct 20, 2013 at 10:43
  • @J.R. Good point, and updated. Oct 20, 2013 at 22:33

In the USA, 'child' is commonly used in this context, but sounds a bit formal. A more casual alternative is 'kid'.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .