Friday, November 4, 2011

That's Mrs. 'Cross The Pond to You, Kid.

Yesterday, I had brunch with a friend and we talked about how children do not address adults Mr. Mrs. or Miss like we had to as children. It seems our society is becoming less and less formal with each passing decade.

Granted, I feel far to young (read immature) to be addressed as Mrs. but it would be nice to have the option. Most of my friend's children call me Cate or X's mum, or Erin, my first name. I'm guessing it's okay for the little ones, but once they start turning 8 or older, I'd prefer they address me formally.

Why? Respect, perhaps. But I think it's more for the position of authority. I notice that kids can be really sassy toward their parents - even downright rude. Discipline is much more relaxed nowadays - and I'm not talking about spanking - I'm talking about what kids can get away with now. I would never, in a million years,  have talked back rudely to my parents - my mother in particular. You cross my mother and you'll walk away with a limp, I promise you that. I don't allow Cate to talk rudely to me. She tries, God love her, but when she does she is punished appropriately - the punishment is tailored to the crime, as it should be.

Mind you I'm not the greatest disciplinarian, and I have much, much to learn. But I do try to keep a level of respect 'round the place. And when I have guests, I expect their children to adhere to my rules, even if their parents are not enforcing them. But sometimes I get backtalk which I don't like. I cut off one 'friend' for something similiar and I'll cut more if I have to (don't really want to).

But I digress, the issue here is whether to have my daughter start calling my friends by Mrs or Mr and whether I want to have my friends kids do the same for me. What do you think?

I know I'm an old fuddyduddy, but there are some things that I think should apply: you should give up your seat for the elderly, pregnant or handicapped, you dress for church, you send thank you notes, and you respect your elders. That's not too much to ask is it?

I still address my parents friends and my childhood friends' parents as Mr, Mrs or what have you - and I always will. Where I come from it's a sign of respect and I know they appreciate it. I have been invited to call several people by their first names and then I do, but otherwise they get the Mr and Mrs treatment.

Even to this day, when I meet someone who is older or in a position of authority I call them by their surname. I couldn't imagine meeting President Obama or Prime Minister David Cameron (even though he IS younger than me by a few months) by their first names! And I MUST call my doctors by Doctor - even when invited to do differently - because for me to have faith in them, they must be in a position of authority - not an equal. Madness, perhaps, but it's the way I was raised. And I like it.

How about you? What do you think?


  1. Where I come from calling someone by their first name was a privilege extended by them. If not offered you used the formal last name. I think children should follow this rule. If an adult wants your child to use their first name, that is their option, not the child's. Most of this comes from people not wanting to be authority figures i.e. the bad guy. They want to be pals to children.

  2. I think it's different these days and it's different on each side of the Pond. When I grew up I called my friends' parents Mr and Mrs (NEVER their first names) and my parents' close friends "uncle" and "aunt". Later I started calling them by their first names but the title (uncle or aunt) still pops out from time to time.
    When me and my American friends first started having kids it caused a little discomfort. One of my closest friends insisted that her two little ones called me Mrs H. I felt that was far too formal but my opinion seemingly didn't matter. Now they call me by my first name because they're in their teens and have known me for a long time.
    I used to really ate the southern "Miss Toni" thing, but now, at least in small kids, it's quite cute.

  3. Hate, not "ate". Gah!

    PS. I was also going to say that even if kids call you Mrs, it doesn't guarantee respect and manners, I have found.

  4. I actually think it's more formal in the States. I've noticed here that kids will call, for example, a non-school teacher like a piano teacher 'Miss Maggie' rather than just 'Maggie' as I would have done. But most of my friends' kids know me as 'W's mom' - which I think is pretty cute, really.

  5. I tend to agree with you. It's also the way I was brought up. And I'm pleased to see that my daughter is following the same path with my two grandsons. One thing that really gets to me, although I've not come across it too often, thankfully, is kids calling their parents by their first names rather than Mum or Dad. Makes me cringe.

  6. I can see this from both sides! I was very strictly brought up to call elders 'Mr ...' and 'Mrs ...', so when I started college, I found it really uncomfortable to call my teachers by their first names. My son (who's seven) calls my close friends 'Auntie ...' or 'Uncle ...' generally, or just by their first names, as their children call me. However, there is one girl in Tobes' class who calls me 'Mrs ...' as I used to help out at school. I've told her she can call me Lucy but she insists on calling me Mrs, which is cute! I think I feel more at ease with children when they call me by my first name, and I am lucky that they are respectful too.

  7. Americans are much more formal. And calling someone Mr or Ms or Mrs does not guarantee respect.


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