I beg your pardon, what did you just call me?

We ran into a lovely lady this morning who wanted to know our thoughts on children addressing adults by their first name.  So when our archivist got back from her coffee break we asked her to pull up one of our earliest pieces entitled The Name Game.  Reprinted below with permission.


The Name Game
First published November 17, 2009

It is the rare adult who truly appreciates being addressed as "Hey, Betty" by a five year-old; especially when he is her son. The well mannered modern mother knows that no matter how egalitarian or evolved she is in her own abode (or commune) when meeting new adults a polite child should address them as Mrs., Ms., Mr. or Doctor unless expressly asked by the adult to whom she is speaking to do otherwise. This tried and true convention should be seen not as means of repressing a brilliant and precocious child but as a way of making other adults feel comfortable and respected by your children. The well mannered modern mother realizes there are really not that many adults who consider people under 18 their social or intellectual equals. She will at times even reflect upon the interesting fact that even Karl Marx, father of Communism and defender of the proletariat, addressed the workers of the world as "Comrade Vladamir" not just "Vladamir".

5 comments:

jane said...

Oh my favorite one!

EBB said...

Thank you Mrs. K! I applaud your high standards.

Kate said...

Great post! I was shocked the other evening when my daughter's friend (13) called me "Kate" at the dinner table. I don't know her that well, and never said, "Oh, please, call me Kate." It just took me by surprise and I made a weird face. Here in the South, we have this sweet tradition of allowing our children to address adults with prefixes of Miss "fill in first name" or Mister "fill in first name" when addressing familiar adults (or preschool teachers). However, I grew up in the North and I tell my kids to use Mrs. and Mr. at all times.

EHP said...

I'm just going to add on a more serious note: Calling adults by "mr." or "mrs" is another example of setting some boundaires for children. It communicates to a child that adults are different and should be treated with respect. These kinds of boundaries help children feel more secure; they are allowed to be children and there are more experienced people (adults) out there who can help teach them to navigate the world. Just my Tow cents.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that most people reflect on how being called "Mrs." feels to them. How does it feel to the child to call an adult by his or her first name?

Post a Comment

We would be delighted to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please, do tell us!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...