Wikipedia lists many honorifics for one's own family, but I don't see any for one's own (living) mother or father. How would an adult write the equivalent of "Dear Mom" or "Dear Dad" in an email? Does "亲爱的妈妈" sound childish?

  • 2
    I only use or . Even 妈妈 sounds childish to me...
    – user4072
    Jul 8, 2015 at 1:33
  • 2
    A lot of Chinese people (including myself) use 老妈. ”亲爱的” is rarely used when Chinese emailing their parents.
    – Zack
    Jul 8, 2015 at 1:47
  • 2
    In Chinese, emotionally charged words/phrases are almost never used toward anyone other than your SO.
    – Vlo
    Jul 8, 2015 at 1:54

4 Answers 4


Screenshot of an example letter written to one's parents from Using Chinese by Yvonne Li Walls and Jan W. Walls:

enter image description here

Using Chinese is a very useful book, it covers many topics text book usually skip, like proper names, geographic names, numerals, fractions, formal and informal letters, names of holidays, and many useful expressions (invitations, apologies). I am not affiliated with it, I just simply think it is a book that covers many questions that pop up during learning Chinese and it saves you from having to research them on your own.

  • 1
    The indents look so strange.
    – Stan
    Jul 8, 2015 at 8:26
  • @Stan The 2 character indents should be fine, the 5 character ones, I have no idea. Very likely, this is an idealized form of an informal letter, and because its an informal letter, it's up to you how much of this you apply to your real world informal letters.
    – imrek
    Jul 8, 2015 at 8:29
  • I guess the 5 character indents may be just a tab space. Anyway, as a textbook, it should explain where the informal usages are, or it will definitely mislead readers. Besides the indent problem, the blank line below "您两位好", the unnecessary space before "我的英文已进步了不少", and the weird format of "敬祝安康" and “儿 小明 敬上”, all of these indicate 小明 doesn't care about this letter at all XD
    – Stan
    Jul 8, 2015 at 8:55

You are always a child in mother's eyes,So ... childish is acceptable .

You can also use it to your close friend :




Email nowadays is quite informal, like sms. I never use any salutation to family members

I write paper birthday cards to them in which I start with 爸爸 or 妈妈 (depending on whose birthday it is)


To use “亲爱的爸爸” or "亲爱的妈妈" has nothing to do with being childish. In Chinese culture, we don't directly express our love for parents,especially people born before 1980.

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