Mr and Mrs?

I feel really uncomfortable with how kids are not always told to call adults Mr. or Mrs. anymore. For example, the mothers in my building (we are not friends, just casual acquaintances) all refer to me by my first name to their kids, not Mrs. Soandso - for example - “Billy, hold the door for ‘Jenny’!” I am at least 10 years younger than all of the mothers (I’m in my early 30s) so I feel foolish asking them to say Mrs., but I don’t like 10-year-olds calling me by my first name.

Basically I have only once ever had a parent (my boss’s wife) have his or her child call me Mrs/Ms/Miss whatever. Sometimes I get "Miss ‘Jenny’ ", which is better than nothing…

If I am able to I have children I think I intend to tell them to address adults by their last names - but is this hopelessly old-fashioned? I still call my friends’ parents Mr. and Mrs…but I have noticed some of my friends not doing this. Obviously close family friends go by first names.

What are people’s thoughts?

Out of curiosity… do you know how they refer to their closer-in-age peers to their kids (i.e. are you the only one who’s not Mrs. Soandso to anyone’s kids)?


Of course, if the adult in question asks that the child refer to him or her that way then the child should comply.

I’m with you. I think parents should teach their kids to call all adults Mr or Mrs or Miss “Last name”. After that it is up to that individual to say no call me “First name” That way they are taught to be respectful and if that adult decides they want them to use their first name it is up to them.
I do not think it is old fashioned, I think it is the right thing to do. People have moved far from discipline and respect IMHO.


I’m in agreement. My children know all our adult friends as Mr. and Mrs. except for my closest girlfriend, whom they call “Aunt Michel.” I recently had an older lady from the North visit my home (we’re in Texas) and insist on the children calling her “Sarah.” Can’t begin to say how awkward and confusing that was for me and the kids!

Personally, I don’t even like the Southern tradition of calling adult females “Miss,” as in “Miss Mary” or “Miss Julie.” 1) Most of these women are married and no longer a “Miss,” and 2) it’s still rather familiar.

When a child slips and calls me by my first name, I just give them a knowing smile and wink say, “You mean,* Mrs. ____*, right?” They usually look sheepish and correct themselves right away. :wink: And saying this in front of the parents couldn’t hurt, either.

I take this as a symptom of the break down of authority in parents and adults in general. If parents are their kids’ best friends, then they’re peers, not authority figures, and all the kids’ friends know this. When I was growing up the only parents we called by their first names were the ones we didn’t respect.

Well, call me old fashioned then. I have taught my kids to call an adult. Mrs Soandso. They do so consistently (at least when I’m around :D) even when their friends call the same adult Miss Susie.

The Miss Susie thing is very common down here in the south, it seems. :shrug:

They yank my chain sometimes over it. For example, if I mistakenly say something about my friend Susie, my son will pretend he doesn’t know who I am talking about and then say “oh, you mean Mrs. Soandso?”

This doesn’t seem to be an issue with the men, only the women.

Well, even though there seems to be a trend in this area, my daughter does not permit my grandchildren to call adults by their first name, so I guess we, as a family, are a bit out of date.:rolleyes: There are a few of us still around. Maybe it will catch on again.

I’m 30 too and I prefer my daughter (4) not call adults by their first name. For some reason, she got into the habit of calling her father by his first name. :mad: I think this comes from her being around her cousins and them calling him by his first name and not daddy. I am trying my best to get her out of the habit and to have patience with my husband at the same time, who grew up calling his parents by their first name and sees no problem in it.

Some times, with friends of the family, she has names of her for them. A lady we know, she calls Uncle “last name” and another lady she calls Ms. Bones. :rolleyes: But I am in agreement and believe children should still be referring to adults by Mr and Mrs. Such and Such.

I got into ‘trouble’ with the people on my street over this. The kids starting calling me by my first name (they were motivated to talk to me because I have wiener dogs. Every kid loves wiener dogs) I asked to be called Mrs Lastname and that didn’t go over well. Even Mrs Penny would have been better. I asked them what they call their teachers at school, by their first name? They said No. So it shall be with me then, darlings. :smiley:

I asked the folks on the street why they didn’t want to be called Mrs Soandso and they said it made them feel old. So there you go. Listen friends, to a 9 year old, you are old! No big deal.

Good manners should never be out of style.


Make your preference known. If you do not express it, how is anyone else to know?

If you aren’t friends the mothers shouldn’t use your first name either, start introducing yourself as Mrs. xxxx and that is what people will call you.

I also regret the decline in manners when children address elders by their first names. I am teaching my children to say Mr. and Mrs. and Miss. For close family friends, I resort to the old southern manner of addressing elders, and, if approved by the friend, allow my children to refer to them as Miss. Jenny or Mr. John.

I’m 48, and I can barely bring myself to call my former neighbor anything but Mrs. K…

Ingrained . . .

I don’t have kids, but my nieces and nephews are always instructed to address adults as Mr./Mrs. I went on vacation with a friend (and my sister and her family). I introduced my niece and nephew to my friend “Jane.” I said this is Mrs. Doe. She said, “You can call me 'Jane.” My sister immediately piped in and said “Ms. Jane.”

I am from the south and grew up addressing adults as Mr./Mrs. unless told I could call them by their first names – and then we were instructed to address them as Mr. Joe/Ms. Jane. That personally doesn’t bother me because there is that level of formality there – and these are generally kids I know pretty well. In fact, I still address my elders with Ms. and then their name – this is generally social settings such as choir where first names are very appropriate, but I do not feel comfortable at all addressing an elder who is not a close, personal friend by just their first name.

Just my two cents.

I seem to be the dissenting opinion here. I prefer that kids call me by my first name. I’m sure it is partly because I grew up calling the adults around me by their first names and partly because I’ve never really been in a situation where calling people Ms/Miss Lastname is common so I’m just not used to hearing myself referred to in those terms.

Personally I’m more concerned with the attitude behind it than the actual form. I do think it is proper to refer to people as they wish, so for those who prefer Mrs. Lastname, that is how they should be spoken to. But I don’t see anything intrinsically disrespectful in using first names. :shrug:

You made a good point just now. I’m from Louisiana, so it is not unusual at all to hear grown adults (I’m 54) continue to refer to older family friends as Mr. Joe or Miss. Jane. I’m certainly not going to refer to my elder as Mr. Joe and hear my 6 year old daughter call him Joe.

Cannot STAND it when kids call adults by their first names. It’s called a BOUNDARY folks, kids need them. They are not adults and do not have the same privileges with adults. It elevates them to the status of an adult, which they are not.

Now my sons are 17 and almost 20, so if an adult asks one of them to use a first name, I leave it up to my son to decide. One can’t really keep things on that formal a level if it is adult to almost-adult, or it can be seen as insulting. I still prefer that they make an attempt to use the last name as long as possible.

Great post! This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I have 3 children and my husband and I are THE ONLY people we know in our group of friends who make our children say Mr. and Mrs. We used to fall into the pattern of allowing the first names because we were uncomfortable correcting our friends’ children until one day we were talking and we realized we both think it is totally and completely disrespectful and we want our children to grow up with the manners that we learned. A 4 year old is in no way on my level and in my opinion should not be calling me by my name.

Old fashioned? I don’t think so, its just a matter of teaching children respect for adults. When our neighbor’s kids call us by our first names, it elevates them and lowers us to their level. My neighbor is my closest friend and I explained this all to her and how we feel and can you believe her children still call me by my first name? I have a sitation where my closest friend allows her children to interrupt our conversations and speak to me as if I am around to be their friend instead! Its aggravating to say the least, but I don’t want to harm our friendship by reprimanding her kids. She already knows how I feel.

My kids are taught to be polite. Interesting enough, we moved our children to a Catholic school and I have never heard a kid once call an adult by their first name when around any child at that school! They are all polite and full of manners!

I think you’re right here, too. I mean, there isn’t anything intrinsically disrespectful in using first names, is there? I guess it is matter of custom or “how we were raised.” Like the original poster, I cringe when my children refer to elders by their first names, but I don’t automatically assume they mean disrespect by it. Still, I’m a creature of my own customs and would hope you wouldn’t be upset if my children did refer to you as Miss. KarenElissa if you should ever be introduced.

Not sure, actually…I’m really not all that close with them and only interact with the children in the elevator or hallway. I’d guess they would probably use Mr/Mrs with the very elderly people in the building but I’m not sure. I know I look young but I am over 30, married, and have lived in the building over 5 years.

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