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melamama 08-28-2003 01:41 AM

dd is 3 1/2 and right now she calls my friends and her friend's parents by their first name but increasingly I'm starting to think there should be more formality. it feels fine now, but projecting into the future I'm not especially comfortable imagining my 8 year old addressing adults by their first name.

part of this is my stuff--I still can't imagine calling our 90 year old neighbor by his first name-no matter how many times he tells me to

what do your kids call your friends? do all adults have a title?

mom at home 08-28-2003 02:01 AM

My kids are almost 6 and 8 and have only ever called our friends/their friends parent's by first names. I guess we live in a casual community but I can't imagine them calling anyone we know by anything else and we know a wide variety of people. I actually wish all teachers could/would be addressed by their first names. My youngest goes to a non-traditional school and her teacher does go by her first name, but my oldest's school is definitely more mainstream.

sunbaby 08-28-2003 02:03 AM

it feels to me like giving adults a title, and not kids, is somehow implying that kids are less deserving of respect. that is, assuming using mr mrs ms are really more respectful. although, in all practicality, i dont see why it is considered more respectful, it just seems more distanced to me, which doesnt necessarily equal respect, in my book. but i guess it depends on where you live and who you assosiate with. certainly if i think a person will be offended by being called by thier first name, i would respect their feelings, but that hasnt come up for us yet, as we live in a pretty liberal area. however someone introduces themselves is how we call them.

CurlyTop 08-28-2003 02:22 AM

One idea (for new acquaintances) is to have your dd introduce herself, "Hi, I'm Audrey!" and then call the person whatever they introduce themselves as, "Hi, Audrey! I'm Mrs. Dingo," or "Hi, Audrey! I'm Natalie!"

I have asked my older relatives and they almost all say, "Well! I was raised to show Respect and only use Mr. or Mrs.!" To me, this sounds like some kind of power trip. Children do not disrespect or respect adults that way, they just aren't that malicious!

I personally have a nickname that my friends and their children call me. I feel really loved when I hear this name.

My 2 cents !


mamahammer 08-28-2003 10:34 AM

We are going to have Thomas use Mr/Mrs First name. i.e., I would be Mrs. Jacqueline. For us it seems like a great compromise, because it shows respect, but isn't too formal. I think that's definitely a southern thing, though. My IL's have never heard of calling someone Ms. Ann before, but they grew up in New England. Forr my family, it's just normal, but we're all from Texas We will also be teaching him to use Sir/Maam with all adults, as well. My husband and I still use sir/maam in all of our everyday conversations with our elders/people of higher position.

NiteNicole 08-28-2003 11:09 AM

Mr/Mrs First Name, in almost every case. Most people I know prefer that, and I think people should be called what they want to be called. It's not up to me to decide how my kids address people, it's for the person being addressed.

Peppermint 08-28-2003 11:12 AM


My kids call people what they want to be called, they will be the ones who decide who they respect, and I don't think it'll have anything to do with how they address them.

eilonwy 08-28-2003 12:44 PM

i introduce myself to kids with my name, because that's how i want them to address me. my mother is offended when kids (read: anyone under 40) address her by her first name, so she introduces herself as Mrs. __. she grew up in an era where no one but a contemporary would address an adult by their first name, and it's uncomfortable for her.

ita with what jess said; a kid will decide who they respect, and it will have little or nothing to do with how they address a person.

lunar forest 08-28-2003 02:15 PM

it feels to me like giving adults a title, and not kids, is somehow implying that kids are less deserving of respect.
ITA! I don't want my children to feel that adults are more deserving of respect than they are! I try to have ds call people what they want to be called. Some people are very uncomfortable with children addressing them by their first name, but I like to explain to those people why I instruct my children how I do. I think some people just need to get over themselves. I do, however, want my children to have respect for ALL people, not just adults. I have my children address adults respectfully, and I also have them address children respectfully. I don't want to put the idea in their head that adults are greater than children.

mamawanabe 08-28-2003 02:39 PM

I agree that you'll have to let the person addressed make the call. There is no easy or right answer anymore. I learned this from threads on Mothering.

Mrs. or Miss offends some people, Ms. irks others, and first names bother still others.

So let you freinds know that they need to clue your children in on how they want to be addressed. My friends' kids call me by my first name, and I'm fine with that or with Ms., but I will not be called Mrs. or Miss by anyone. It is my own petty crusade (I yell at telemarketers daily for calling me Miss or Mrs . . .)

melamama 08-28-2003 06:44 PM

I like the suggestion of settling this during introductions. For us there are people we know who fall into all the categories (first name ok, ms., mr./mrs.)

I agree that there's no blanket acceptable answer-it really depends on part of the country, culture and often age.

mingber 08-29-2003 10:44 AM

Our family goes both ways. We have VERY close friends and the kids all use Mr/Mrs last name. That family prefered it, so we also go by Mr/Mrs. We have other friends who all prefer first names. Our children's parents mostly prefer first names or actually go by friends parent (Michelle's mom, I have a question..) That is so cute. I agree it depends on the introduction. On the other hand, since my kids are with my parents a lot they get called Grammie & Grampie by everyone, including adults... it's very funny.

momatheart23 08-29-2003 08:47 PM

I feel that respecting people is to call them as they want to be called. So I would agree with others that it all depends on how the person wants to be addressed. My name is Brianna and people would always ask me if they could call me Bri for short, but I would tell them no because I don't like it. My brother in law calls me it and it irks me. My name is also hard to pronounce, and well I wouldn't correct people if they got it a little wrong, I normally noticed that I felt the most "respected" by people that took the time to say it correctly. So I think respect comes down to calling people what they choose, whether it is their first name, last name or just taking the time to learn to pronounce their difficult name, (not expecting all children to do this one obviously, I find the mispronouncations by children cute, as I have been called Banana, Brown and Brona)

lunar forest 08-30-2003 07:45 PM

ITA, momatheart23.
My only concern with this issue is that I haven't found a way to instill that children are as important and derserving as adults. It seems to me that all the attention is on how to address adults (obvisously because they are the ones with the preferance) and that is giving the impression to chidlren that adults are more important. This is a big deal to me! I think that making an effort to call children what they like to be called. For example we have a William next door who keeps changing what he likes to be called (William, Will, Bill, Billy, etc.,) Right now it's Buba, and we call him that, but if he decides to be Billy (like his dad) next week, we'll call him that. Is there anything else we can do to make the point to our children that everyone is deserving of respect?

Peppermint 08-30-2003 07:59 PM

Lunar Forest,

I think the best thing is to tell them, repeatedly. I think children of APers can't help but know that their parents think they are just as important/valuable/respectable as adults. The problem is that not all people feel this way, there are lots of people that feel that children are not to be respected as adults are, and your children will learn this as they grow. What they need, like in every other area, is constant teaching from you, about how you believe things should be. Tell them that kids are just as important as adults, and that they need to remember that, to be respectful of their friends as they are of adults, that you expect it from them.

One big reason they need to know this is b/c of sexual predators. Children who are taught to always respect adults in general, can be more at risk, IMO.

But, they also need to know it so that they treat other kids with respect and so that they learn that respect is something that not everyone deserves, esp. due to being older.

I find my 3.5 y.o is most respectful of people who are respectful of her, she has already figured it out, now I just need to be careful not to squash that knowledge in her.

OK, I'm rambling. Sorry.

lunar forest 08-30-2003 08:09 PM

Thank you, jess! I like what you said.

eilonwy 08-30-2003 08:37 PM

ITA, lunar forest, that kids should be treated with respect. I still remember a woman coming up to me, squatting down and saying "Oh, how cute! How old are you?" and saying "I'm 3 and a half. How old are you?" She got all huffy and walked away, and I asked my mom why. She said "It's not polite to ask an adult how old they are." I said "But they always ask me!" to which she nodded and said "It never made sense to me as a kid, either."

lorijds 08-31-2003 07:09 PM

I do not want some kid calling me "Mrs. Lori." I don't want *anyone* calling me that; it seems so contrived. My kids call their friends' parents by their first name. people that *I* call by their last name (Mrs. Eaton, their teacher) they also call by their last name.

I agree, calling people by what they wish is much better than assigning them a name.

Teensy 08-31-2003 10:20 PM

In my neighborhood, little children use Mr. or Miss First Name, and begin to call adults by Mr. or Mrs./Miss/Ms. Last Name when the children get to be about school age.

I differ in thinking that children should be respectful of adults. Of course, I expect adults to treat children with respect and consideration also. But if an adult tells my child that not to do something (an unsafe act that another adult sees my child doing at the park while I am helping his brother, for example), I expect my child to listen, yes, just because they are an adult. Most child sex abuse is committed by family members, but I still expect my children to do what their grandparents or uncle tells them to do or not do.

I do believe in showing respect for elders. I call people in the generations above mine by Mr./Mrs. Last Name (unless they request otherwise).

I live in South Carolina and think most southerners do expect children to use titles.

AnnMarie 08-31-2003 10:30 PM

Originally posted by sunbaby
it feels to me like giving adults a title, and not kids, is somehow implying that kids are less deserving of respect. that is, assuming using mr mrs ms are really more respectful.
That's how I've always felt. I've never asked a child to call me Mrs./Miss./Ms. If they have I have always said to call me AnnMarie.

AnitaAddict 09-01-2003 06:28 PM

I'm trying to get DS to address people however they prefer to be addressed. Personally, I prefer first names, but I know some people prefer formal address and don't mind accomodating that.

I think there's a big regional difference involved, here on the west coast we tend to be less formal but in other areas people can get mortally offended by minor breeches of protocol. (Hint: NEVER use Ms. when adressing a older southern woman, no matter what her marital status. I caught a purse to the ear and a ten minute shrieking diatribe as a kid for that.)

The one-way nature of respect of address in schools bothers me a lot. A teacher shouldn't insist on being Mrs. SoandSo but then turn around and use nicknames for kids without asking. It just shows a lack of respect for children and I think they pick up on that subtle disrespect and it changes them.

CurlyTop 09-02-2003 02:27 AM

On the topic, I am always at a loss for what to call my parents-in-laws' friends. I wonder if it is totally insulting to call someone Mrs. if she is, say 50 (I'm 33). I work with people aged 24-60s so I am accustomed to using first names across multiple ages. I also live on the west coast and even the CEO of our company would raise his eyebrows if I called him Mr.

Is there an age when everyone is an adult and can use first names?

lorijds 09-02-2003 03:54 PM

I dunno....I just go by whatever anyone is introduced as. If my MIL introduced someone using their first name, I would use their first name.

Kirina 09-03-2003 06:46 PM

This is one of the most precious things I've found about Hawaii culture. For children it's simple, all middle-aged adults are called either "Auntie" or "Uncle". All older-adults are called "Grandma" or "Tutu" or "Grandpa". Following those thoughts, all other children are called "cousin". I've even had a child I don't know come up to me in Wal-Mart and call me Auntie...asking for help to find his Mama. This is not just for children...the adults continue to use these terms for the people they knew as children.

I love it because it helps create a very close-feeling community. However, I'd be more concerned about this in a city atmosphere...

Hope that helps.


mingber 09-04-2003 08:44 AM

Kirina - I can see where someone might like that type of close-feeling community, but I feel at odds with family terms being used by non-family members or just aquaintences. My kids refer to my best friend as Auntie soandso. I am ok with this, but we have friends in another state and the mother wants us to use those terms when refering to each other with the children and I am uncomfortable with it as is my DD. But on the other hand, most people call my parents Grammie & Grampie as do my children and their friends. I guess none of it really makes any sense when you think about it. I think it just comes down to what terms people are comfortable with and what their culture excepts.

spero 09-04-2003 10:26 AM

If the adult is the parent of a close friend, the kids call the adult by their first name.

If the adult is a senior citizen (like our neighbors) or someone my children are not well acquainted with, they use "Mr." and "Mrs." unless the adult says something like "it's OK to call me _______ (insert first name)". I think a certain measure of respect is appropriate for people over 50, who grew up in a different era with different rules of etiquette.

Dh and I have several friends and acquaintances who teach in my kids' school. The kids know that they must be addressed as "Mr./Mrs." while in a school setting. Likewise, I teach 5th grade Religious Ed; and the same rule applies with my students, except when I assist with Youth Group. The YG leader allows the older kids to address the adults by their first names. Our pastor and his wife are addressed by their first names, mainly b/c they are like members of our family.

Friends of dh & I are addressed by their first names, with the exception of one of my friends, who has always been "Uncle Billy" to the kids.

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