Monday, January 28, 2013

Published 11:29 AM by with 6 comments

How Do Your Children Address Adults?

Every once in a while I have questions that roll around in my mind.

Well, actually, I have questions a lot of the time. I question stuff. I challenge myself "why" about my own answers. Sometimes I don't even have answers, just more questions.

Occasionally I would post one of my questions on Facebook to elicit responses from online friends. It was a great way to get different (sometimes polar opposite) opinions, see the thought process behind different answers, and spark interesting discussions. As long as participants kept the dialogue respectful and stayed with the original topic, everything was great!

Now that I'm not on Facebook, I'm going to post questions here from time to time. So this is the first one:

Do your children address adults by their first names, or by Mr. __ and Mrs. __ ? Do you call your adult friends by their first names, or do you address them by Mr. __ and Mrs. __ when in front of your children? What are your reasons for choosing these titles for other adults?

Please comment here with your answers! I'd love to hear what you think : )

P.S.  It looks like an application called Bloglovin', which I had signed up for a long time ago, is still working, which means that some of my posts will automatically show up on Facebook. Someone just notified me that this post just appeared on my profile, so... um, yeah!

This post is part of the "Questions for You!" series.


Jessica said...

Meh. It's totally a cultural thing, for us. We've never taken a hard stand, as some do, about whether we think it's "respectful" or "disrespectful" for our children to refer to an adult by their first name.

So we tend to just adapt to whatever cultural setting we're in. If we're in the deep south, it's more socially acceptable, so we do it. If we're in Canada, people aren't offended by first names, so we do it. When we go to south asia we'll adapt to whatever is culturally appropriate there.

kelly said...

Perhaps this is a cultural thing, as we live in the Pacific Northwest and people don't seem to use titles as often as they might elsewhere. Most the adults we know, we refer to them by first name. We do use titles when it comes to physicians, i.e. Dr. Smith or whatever, and my children (ages 8 and 10) have no problem calling those adults by those titles. I think it's pretty simple and straightforward to demonstrate to children we should call people what they prefer.

The street runs both ways. A few years ago at the age of 8my daughter changed her name and what I told her was that, because she was little, some people wouldn't respect her name change. I am happy to report three years later only one individual kept insisting on calling my daughter her old name.

I think many adults enforce manners on their kids, as opposed to modeling them most of the time, for two reasons - seated fear kids will not learn genuine courtesy, respect, and gratitude, and two, basically to "show off" their kids' performance. Both these fear-based attitudes are not necessary. Children, when treated with nurture and respect, will adopt tactful, courteous behaviors if we are modeling them. And "showing off" our kids is always unacceptable or at the very least, likely to be harmful. We can dig deeper and find out why we have this need. It's about US, not the kids.

MJ said...

Great post and great question!!
First, I tell my children, and myself, to never assume anything and just ask the questions. So we ask, "how would you like my children to address you?" My kids have learned now "different strokes for different folks", meaning just because we have a different way of parenting, we cannot impose our way of living on anyone. If an adult wants to be called Mr. or Mrs., then that is their prerogative, and calling them by what they want to be called is a reflection of this understanding. Have I met adults who want to "teach" kids respect by using Mr. and MRs? Absolutely. But we know, just by how we live, that calling someone MR. or Mrs. doesn't automatically mean they are earners of respect, it's just a formality. Knowing when, who and how to give respect becomes a naturally learned thing for kids, not by what they are "taught" but by how they themselves are treated by the adults they interact with, primarily their parents and teachers. When kids are told that they have to earn respect from adults to get respect, I often see the opposite happen. Kids really are not oblivious to the discrepancy between how they are treated vs. how they are expected to treat others. They know ;).
Hope this helps. Good for you for asking these questions when your babe is so young. I had a very late start, thank goodness it's never too late:).

jen said...

I grew up calling adults by their first name... mainly because we went to a casual church and we were all sort of like family. So my first instinct is definitely to introduce other adults to my kids by their first names as well.... but I follow their (the adults) lead. If they like to be called by Mr and Mrs, I respect that - even though it feels strange and formal to me. If they like to be called Miss First Name, which a few of my friends have done, I respect that. Etc. If I'm not sure, I ask. I don't think one can make a blanket statement about any one choice being more respectful than another... except that it's a sign of respect to call a person (whether it's an adult, child, whoever) whatever he or she would *like* to be called. :)

Lyssa said...

Thank you so much for commenting! I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Respect seems to be the key here in titles, which I absolutely agree with. said...

I have never insisted on formal titles, unless it is a formal relationship(like a Dr. or someone they don't know as well)