honey 35 high

Do Your Kids Use Titles of Respect?

I was talking with some moms the other day and the subject of what our kids call other adults came up. One friend said she cannot stand kids calling her Mrs. So-and-So and prefers they use her first name.

Another said she requires her kids to use Mr. or Mrs.

A friend of mine from Georgia wasn’t there when we were talking, but we all talked about how her kids call us ma’am and it is pretty awesome. Gotta love those southern manners!

I don’t really have a strong opinion in this matter. I’ve been called Angela, Miss Angela, Mrs. Mills, Hey You, Coco’s Mom, and Hot Mama. Ok, I made that last one up.

In fact, we don’t have any set rules in our house. I usually refer to another mom according to what her kids call me. For instance, we have friends who always call me Mrs. Mills, so when referring to the mom around my kids, I call her Mrs. Smith. My kids call her that because that is what I call her when I’m speaking of her around them.

Then, I have friends whose kids call me Angela, and so my kids call that mom by her first name.

I’ll admit it, I’m a follower.

I do know that whatever you start out calling someone, it tends to stick. I used to teach in a mentoring program and a little girl there called me Miss Angela. She ended up being part of a group of girls that grew up for a few years with my daughter. Every other girl in that group called me Angela, but this girl was so used to me being Miss Angela that it stuck. It was cute, but a little strange because her whole family called me that and we ended up hanging out socially quite a bit.

I honestly don’t care what other people’s kids call me, but that is probably because my flower-child, hippie mom never cared, either.

But I am curious, do you have a hard, fast rule in your family? How do you handle this with your kids and what do you prefer other children call you?

If you have strong reasons, share those, too. Just don’t judge me. I’m the child of a hippie, after all.

Disclosure: Angela’s Mom was not a hippie in the drug-taking, free-love, hairy-armpits sense of the word. She did however, wear her straight hair parted down the middle, own love beads, and has a very carefree spirit, thus causing her children to refer to her as a hippie for the rest of her life.
Peace Out.

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  1. Melody says

    I have my kids call adults Mr. or Mrs. and most of their friends do the same with us. The children in my daycare program however call me Miss Melody. I just have always liked the way it sounds. :)

  2. Christy K. says

    My kids call other adults by Mr. or Miss FirstName, as do most of the kids around here. I never thought much of it until I realized that I always called adults by their first names growing up and no one every had a problem with it. I think it was because I was an only child and grew up around mostly adults so I was more comfortable around them. I’ll admit that it’s hypocritical, but I does bother me when kids don’t call me Mrs. when they’re speaking to me. As an adult it does seem disrespectful to me. Go figure!

  3. says

    I grew up being required to call adults as Mr. or Mrs. (or Miss, for unmarried women) unless those adults specifically asked my parents that we call them by their first name (none did until I was a teenager). My daughter isn’t old enough to do much more than gurgle as a 3 month old will, but I imagine my rule will be the same. I think it’s proper for children to use titles of respect for their elders. Though, I admit it IS still weird to hear someone call me Mrs.! I have worked with children for the past 4 years and they always called me Miss Sam/Savannah, and I’m still getting used to hearing my new last name of the past year.

  4. says

    Growing up I was supposed to call adults Mr. and Mrs. until they instructed me otherwise. Which they always did. Now I’m like you – if another mom refers to me as Mrs. Reed, then she will be Mrs. Smith. Most of our friends are all on a first-name basis, though. I have to admit, I love it when a child answers me “Yes, Ma’am” – doesn’t happen much here in California, but occasionally I hear it and I love it. It just screams “good manners” to me. (Well, not scream, because that would not be good manners). :-)
    Rebecca´s last blog post ..Thankful

  5. Claire says

    When I was growing up, everyone was Mr. and Mrs. I would love to implement the same rule with my son, but it’s harder today with hyphenated names, women keeping their maiden names, etc. So I have my son call adults “Miss Firstname” and “Mr. Firstname” (unfortunately, the “Mr. Firstname” sounds awkward) unless they otherwise tell him to just use their first names.

  6. MichelleH says

    Growing up, we always just used first names…except at church where it was Miss/Mr First Name. We did always use sir/ma’am. Now my kids use Mr/Mrs Last Name almost everywhere. We do have honorary aunt and uncles for super close friends who we feel ‘need’ a title, but Mr/Mrs is a bit too formal. If I don’t know a last name (a server at a restaurant), we use Miss/Mr First Name. The oddest thing is that I now use titles for older people that I used to refer to by their first name. lol I guess I got manners as I aged. It’s sad to me that sir/ma’am seems to have fallen out of favor. My kids get a surprised look every time they use it in public.

    With all that said, I think it’s fine to use just a first name IF it’s clear the child respects the adult. You can say ‘Thank you, Mrs. Smith’ with no respect just as easily as ‘Thank you, Beth’ can be sweet and respectful. It’s the intention behind the words more than the titles that shows respect. In my humble opinion, of course.

  7. Cassidi says

    I also grew up the child of hippie parents (teenage parents, btw) and was not required to use Mr. or Mrs. I called every adult by their first name. From firsthand experience, it lowered my respect for them. I didn’t exactly see myself as an equal, but I felt comfortable joining in any conversation. I think my mom thought it was cute, showing off how “smart” I was. Ha!

    Once I became a Christian (at 21), I immediately began using titles for anyone older or in authority over me. It was more about my heart and getting God’s authority structure right inside of me. However, I believe it also benefits the recipient. I have 4 daughters and we teach them to us Mr & Miss (Mrs is a concept that some don’t get, so we stick with Miss). We don’t make it an obvious rule, rather, we lead by example. We also introduce new people to them that way. “Emme, this is Mr. Charlie. Say hi!” If they don’t, as the 2 yr old often doesn’t, I gently correct her but don’t make a big deal out of it.

    I have had kids call me, “hey, Cass,” and it bothers me. Most kids in our church call me “Miss Cass” or “Aunt Cass”. Yes, we’re from the south, Louisiana and Texas, but it just seems right to me. :)

  8. says

    When my children were younger, the hard and fast rule was to call all adults by Mr. or Mrs. _________. Now that my children are older (14, 12, and 9), I let the adults in my two older children’s lives set the tone for what to call them. I know that the youth pastor and youth group leaders all insist on their first names, as do their swim coaches.

    Samantha´s last blog post ..Helpful Homeschool Hint- Make Homeschooling As Convenient As Possible

    • Homegrown Mom says

      That is true of us, too. I didn’t think about it but yes the youth pastor, group leaders, and dance teachers all go by first names as well.

  9. Nanamom says

    My children are required to use Mr/Mrs/Ms at all times. There are two exceptions, they can call their Godparents Aunt and Uncle and all relatives can have first names used but that is it. I had a woman tell me she got to decide what my children call her and I explained no one but my DH and I make decisions concerning my children. I grew up not seeing any other adults than 2 neighbors that I always called by their first names. We believe it is important to build respect for adults and that this is one of the first ways to do so.

  10. says

    Absolutely. Respect is sorely lacking in our American culture, especially respect for elders. I don’t just mean your 80 year old grandmother. Everyone has a title before the name in which we were introduced: sometimes first, sometimes last, and sometimes a nick-name. Mrs. Kimberly, Miss. Rachel, Mr. Bubba. Family is the same way: Uncle Christopher, Aunt Marguerite. Grandma Sarah, or Grandma Davis. Dr. McGrath. Staff Sergeant Hobbs. Colonel Meyer. Everyone has a title, not out of some weird power-trip but out of respect. If we can’t respect one another, how can we respect ourselves and receive respect from others. One can not demand respect. Respect is earned. One kind word leads to another…

    Even if we know a persons name the simple, respectful response is “Yes, ma’am.” “No thank you, sir.” “Yes, please, sir.” “Thank you, ma’am.”

    I just can’t imagine yelling, “Hey you! Yeah, you, up in heaven. Dude, bless this food!” Everyone has a title.
    Kimberly´s last blog post ..Mrs Mardi Gras

    • Homegrown Mom says

      I believe respect is clearly lacking, but I also agree with other commenters that it is more about the intention of your heart. But I think so much of it has to do with the culture you were raised in, too.

  11. says

    We don’t have a hard and fast rule, but the ideal would be that my kids start out calling them by the more formal Mrs. Mills, for instance, and then change that if the adult says, “just call me Angela!” With most friends, my kids end up calling them by their first name, and a couple of friends have the honorable title of “Aunt So-&-So” even though they aren’t related.

    And sirs and ma’ams are unfortunately not always said by my kids, but I’d like to get them saying it more often. I am, after all, born & raised in Georgia!
    Jamie @ See Jamie blog´s last blog post ..Sink or Swim

  12. says

    I really think it’s a cultural thing. When we lived in Syracuse, our kids called adults Mr, Mrs. Ms… Lastname, but here in the south kids (and some adults) say Mr or Ms. Firstname. We’ve been here almost six years and my husband is still adjusting to being called “Mr. James” instead of just James or Mr. Curinga.

    All of our kids friends say “yes, ma’am” and I love it! Adults here expect it. My son said “yeah” to a teacher when we first moved here (which is perfectly acceptable in Syracuse) and he got screamed at, “you don’t say yeah to me, you say “yes sir!”. I won’t share my thoughts on that one!

  13. says

    I’m fine with any proper name. I prefer Mrs. Giger, but don’t require it of other people’s children. I always feel respected when people call me that :) I don’t like “Miss” INSTEAD of a name. (for a while my daughter wouldn’t remember friends’ names either, choosing instead to call them “friend”! LOL) I do teach them to say “yes sir” to other adults, but only require it for myself when they’re being sassy ;)

    I encourage my children to refer to other adults as Mr. or Mrs. Lastname, but I do follow the lead of other moms. I always teach my children that a name is a sign of respect. If you call someone Mrs. Lastname after she has asked you to call her Sue, then you’re disrespecting her wishes. (Had this fight with my son about holding the door for girls. He insisted, even after they were yelling “I can do it myself!” I reminded him that the purpose of holding the door, as a gentleman, was to show respect and kindness. If they want to do it themselves, then that’s the respectful and kind thing to do!)

    I’m not a big fan of form for the sake of form. I like to look at the motive behind the action and try to honor the original intent. :)

    Disclosure (loved yours!) I was raised by a true Southern Belle who insisted on Mamm and Sir.

  14. says

    My kiddos use Mr. and Mrs. (or miss) some extra special friends they call Auntie or Uncle. Some folks are called by their last name (Mrs.Buller) Some by thier first name (Miss Lisa). I can not think of any adult they just come straight out and call by their first name though.
    Sarah Scott´s last blog post ..Paper Pot Seed Starting

  15. says

    For most of our friends, the girls refer to them as Miss “First Name” or Mr. “First Name”. We’re also military, so our girls learn early to refer to senior officers by their rank or by “Sir” or “M’aam”. Also, within our military “family”, we have very close, special friends that are “Aunt” or “Uncle”.

    But they are also taught that anyone else will be Mr. or Mrs. “Last Name” until otherwise noted — especially with seniors.
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..Its Going Too Fast!

  16. says

    I am pretty firm on Mr or Mrs or Miss in front of whatever name/nickname the adult prefers. Some folk fall into a required first vs last, mostly due to the name. IE I have about 10 friends of the ‘Chrisy’ variety, love them all, but in order to tell them apart it is first come first serve on the nicknames Also one fellow is named Ed, I an’t say Mr Ed without giggling so we use his last name. (of course pastor or Dr is used when appropriate)

    The one pet peeve I have is over some one else will not compromise. It isn’t respectful to refer to an adult by a name they dislike, so if I ask you NOT to call me Lady Chadwick, please don’t punish your child for listening! (and yes I know a family that is this way)

    Let’s compromise with Mrs C, or something, anything besides requiring your kid to be the stand out formal one, while the rest of the 100 or so kids running by me use a respectful but familiar name. (and no your kid can’t call me Princess – that is for my husband and close friends, as much as I love your 5 year old we are not that close.)

  17. says

    i do exactly what you do.

    and, although i’ll comply, it makes me totally uncomfortable when people that we see fairly often ‘require’ that our children call them Mrs. [Last Name] AND that their children must do the same to me–even though i’d rather just be called my first name.

  18. says

    I am step-mom to my 2 sons who called me by my name. My first child even called me by my first name and I didn’t even notice until my poor, shocked mom pointed it out to me! I then trained her her to call me mommy.

    In South Africa (and especially the Afrikaans), people use titles and surnames, and if they don’t know the name, then it is “Uncle/ Oom” or “Aunty/ Tannie”. It is a cultural issue, I think.

    • Homegrown Mom says

      Definitely a cultural issue, I am seeing that more in these comments here. My stepdaughter calls me by my first name, too. Anything else would just be weird. I can’t imagine making her call me Miss Angela!

  19. says

    I have my kids say Mr. / Mrs. Whoever uless that person says otherwise (or introduces themselves otherwise). In our old city, most of my friends reuqested their first name be used. But when we moved, as we met new people, we started using the Mr./Mrs. more – and no one has requested anything else. I think it’s important to teach children how to use formal nomenclature – it teaches them to give adults the respect they deserve.

    I got called Miss Rachel the other day by our neighbor. It was jarring, because I spend so much time at my kid’s school and they all call me Mrs. S. I don’t mind it, but it was strange to hear that again.
    Rachel´s last blog post ..Project- Simplify

  20. Angel says

    I have always called those older than me Mr or Ms Firstname. Even now I am 35 & still will refer to those my parents age as that. I only call my peers by their first name. I teach this to my children also. I am also a FIRM believer in yes ma’am, no sir, please & thank you. Manners are free and will get you a lot farther in this world if you use them. Also my kids call adult family memebers Aunt & Uncle. NEVER by their first name. I’m 15 & do the same. I don’t expect something different than what I am doing. My cousins are even called Aunt & Uncle if they are a generation older. My cousin Don is my Daddy’s age…therefor he is Uncle Don. His kids are Aunts to my kids. I think more people need to go back to manners.

  21. Kristen says

    Maybe its because I’m from the northern United States, but I grew up calling all my friends parents by their first names. Teachers, strangers, and elderly were Mrs/Mr last name. My kids (3 & 5) call my friends by their first names. When my oldest was about one (just as speech was arriving), I asked at a playdate how we all wanted to be called. Everyone agreed first names were just fine. I now teach at the preschool my daughters attend and the rule there is Miss first name. I could honestly care less either way. I really don’t think a name gives you respect. I have never had a child react to me differently based on whether they call me Mrs last name, Miss first name, or just first name.

  22. Joshua Caudell says

    When I work with people I like to go by Mr., Ms., or Mrs., with their last name because it sounds a lot more professional for me to do. If I use Mr., Ms., or Mrs., I use it with their last name unless otherwise told differently. This is more so in Politicts, Places of professionallity, Schools(i.e. schools, colleges, and universities), friends that I am a lot more comfortable going by Ms., Mrs., or Mr. with their last name becaust that was the way I was raised.

    The reason why I like to go by Ms., or Mrs. by a woman’s last name is because it sounds respectful. It is also a respectful thing to do and they like that a lot. If a woman likes Ms. or Mrs. with their last name, then go by that because one: they really like that a lot, two: they perfer that you show them proper respect, and three: They will respect you a lot more.

    The same deal applies to gentlemen when I use Mr. with their last name as well, especailly on a job scene.

    The only time that I break that rule is if that person is doing something that is disrespectful or they request that I go by their first name alone regardless of their profession which is wierd.

    I also have a problem with the proper respect not being used in today’s society because it raises the level of disrespect to the community and ultimately raises criminal activity.

    Besides the Point, when you address a woman’s name, Use Ms. or Mrs. with her last name. Ms. Lastname or Mrs. Lastname is a lot more respectful and proper thing to do. I will guareentee you that your friendship with her will go a lot further than you would expected.

    Same deal applies to gentlemen as well.

    If a person had a doctorate degree then Dr. With that person’s lastname unless otherwise told differently then It is Dr. with their firstname.

    The Most important thing is to go by Ms. Lastname or Mrs. Lastname with a woman, Mr. lastname for the gentlemen, and Dr. Lastname for those who have some sort of a doctorate degree in their name.

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