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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

First Name Basis

When I was young I was taught to call people by their last names. I even refused to call my mom's best friend by her first name. It has only been recently that I have since used her first name...and it still feels weird!

Also, my parents never told me/made me learn what their first names were. They were always mom and dad...even in my rebellious adolescence. I only learned what their names were by listening to their conversations with other adults. And I was even a little confused the first time someone called my mom by her first name. To me she was mom and nothing else.

But it's different today. A lot of children are being taught the adults first name instead of last. I'm having a hard time agreeing with this. I was taught that we use last names as a form of respect.

Now I am dealing with how to introduce my son to adults. Do I use their first name or their last? I would like to use last names, but it seems outdated. Also, I have been told that people feel older when called by their last name. But it still seems weird to me to have my son be on a first name basis with adults.

How does it work in your family?

Blogger Guru said...

My children call everyone by Miss or Mr and then their first name.

That is how it is done in the south (the stereotypical height of manners where I lived for five years) and I find it to be a nice balance.

October 05, 2005 6:22 AM

Blogger Trinity13 said...

Everyone including grandparents? Do you really think it's a nice balance to use a grandparents first name?

October 05, 2005 8:02 AM

Blogger TC said...

My little princess calls people what they ask her too. Mostly it is by their first name but that isn't too unusual around here. She does call some people, "Mr. or Mrs. Smith" and she calls close family friends, "Aunt Jane or Uncle Joe".

October 05, 2005 8:09 AM

Blogger Guru said...

No, I was talking about people unrelated to them.

They are supposed to call people Aunt Trinity and Uncle G. Or Grandpa so and so (basically whatever the relative requests).

Your post asked about introducing your son to adults. Since he probably already knows his relatives, I responded to the situation of meeting an adult, unrelated to the child.

October 05, 2005 9:02 AM

Blogger loelsh said...

It really depends on the people. For example, we call my dad's parents gma and gpa and their last name. Growing up, we did the same thing with my mom's parents. Then when my oldest came along, my mom's parents started refering to themselves by gma or gdad and their first names.

My mom also prefered to be "mamaw Jean" and was "ms. Jean at church. That was her choice. I respected that and that's what the girls called her. I think it would have been disrespectful for me to force them to call her something she didn't want to be called.

It's really a personal preference. I think mostly older people are still more into the last name thing. I think it's true that it makes younger people feel older.

It started at church for us that the child care workers would all refer to themselves as Ms. or Mr. first name.

Besides where do you draw the line with the last name thing? I've never heard any one called "uncle Smith" or "aunt jones". They're adults, do they not deserve the same respect?

October 05, 2005 9:06 AM

Blogger said...

i say teach them to use the last name. i think it is more proper and if the adult doesn't like this, then the adult can ask to be called by the first name

October 05, 2005 9:08 AM

Blogger Princess21 said...

I still use the last name system and I am 25! I think it is a repsect thing. Maybe if you know them on a more personal level, their first name is ok. Or even introduce your son to them as Mr. or Mrs. lastname and if they correct you with their first name then go with that!

October 05, 2005 9:33 AM

Blogger Jennboree said...

My daughter is just beginning to talk and I've pondered how to do this as well. My husband grew up with calling his mother's friends "aunt" or "uncle" so-and-so, but they aren't relatives! So I'm not sure I can do that.

I think I will teach her Ms or Mr unless the adult wishes to be called something else.

October 05, 2005 9:34 AM

Blogger Internet Street Philosopher said...

My parents always taught me to call people Mr., Mrs. or Ms. or whatever title they had and then their last name. I have called a couple of older adults Aunt or Uncle and then their first name, but that's rare. I wonder what I'm going to do if I ever become famous and older celebrties try to get me to call them by their first name. I'm still a person who believes in being very respectful to their elders.

October 05, 2005 12:07 PM

Blogger Better Safe Than Sorry said...

i kind of let the adult decide what they want to be called, some of my friends want the mr./mrs. before their surname, some prefer first name basis, i think part of it depends on how close you are to those people in the first place. i prefer to go by my first name. i also kept my maiden name, which adds to the confusion. usually, if the parents want me to be known as a mrs., i respect that, but ask that i be known as mrs.jane, no one has been offended by this suggestion as yet.

October 05, 2005 12:11 PM

Blogger Trinity13 said...

Lo, if your mom had asked you to call her by her first name, would you have respected her and done so? (Just curious)

Btw, I'm loving your input everyone! Thanks for helping me with this decision.

And one more thing, I wrote this post with two people in mind...the mom's of the boys I watch. I'm not sure how I want my son addressing them. He usually says red-head's mom or one year old's mom when trying to get their attention. So, I need to give him another way to appropriately address them.

October 05, 2005 12:27 PM

Blogger Dirk the Feeble said...

If I called my mom by her first name, she would cry.
If I called my dad by his first name, he would beat the shit out of me.
Yeah, they are always Mom and Dad. And I will always be Dad.

October 05, 2005 1:01 PM

Blogger loelsh said...

Yes, if my mom wanted me to call her by her first name, I would have done so, since that is all I would have known. Children do what their parents teach them to do.

I still think it is just as disrespectful to someone to call them by something they don't wish to be called.

What do the boys you babysit call you? Or how do their parents refer to you to their kids?

Keep in mind that just because someone doesn't do things the same way you do doesn't mean they're wrong or being disrespectful.

October 05, 2005 2:24 PM

Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

I would say it is good manners to address them as Mr X or Mrs Y until they ask to be called by their first name.

October 05, 2005 2:40 PM

Blogger Father of 3 said...

To me, it's more about the situation. I know several teens who, I want to call me John because we have similar interests and do some work togther. (We do video graphics.) This is different than a teen who watns to date my daughter. Then it's Mr.

October 05, 2005 3:23 PM

Blogger Oh great One said...

For us it depends on who it is. Close friends and relatives we use first names. Strangers etc. we use Proper names..Mr.Soandso.

October 05, 2005 3:33 PM

Blogger Guru said...

Disrespect is a subjective thing. I can call my FIL by his first name meaning no disrespect, perhaps it was how I was raised and how my parents addressed their FILs.

But, maybe he perceives it as disrespectful, but never tells anyone.

Am I being disrespectful if I've done how I was taught and never been told differently?

I agree with both Fo3 and OGO's comments about situationalism.

I always introduce people to my children as Mr. Smith, unless they are family friends (as most people my kids meet now are) or if I've heard them have themselves referred to as Ms. Jane by other children (as most of the people at our church do, or my southern friends). Then I just go with the flow.

It sounds like the consensus is that it is up to you. You asked for opinions, and there are certainly no shortage of those here.

October 05, 2005 4:10 PM

Blogger ghraper said...

"Mr. President?"

"Just call me George."


Even if he asked, I still think it would be more disrespectful for me to call him by his first name than to not honor his wishes. (opinions may vary)

He has a title for a reason. So do we as men and women in our society, and the proper respect should atleast be offered to one another.

I think it's ridiculous that an adult would become offended by being called Mr. or Mrs. Soandsoheimer as opposed to their first name. Especially if it is being done out of respect.

If I ever called my Mom by her name, I would have been slapped into the middle of next week (Momism). She never would have asked me to either. If somehow later in life her views changed on the matter, I don't know the reasons.

My son was taught to refer to her as "Mamaw", without the name part, because the very same woman had raised me to be that way. If she had ever expressed to me that she wanted my son to use her name, I would have been terribly confused.

For her to do a 180 on the traditional conventions she used in my upbringing would have been completely out of character,and irrational in my mind.

I've attempted, though not always successfully, to pass on the "old-fashioned" ideas of respecting one's elders, and not sparing the rod. These principles do affect what kind of adults our children will become.

A great philosopher once said, "I believe the children are our future... teach them well, and let them lead the way..."

rant off:

In a nutshell, parents are ultimately responsible for teaching/training their child in the way they should go.

October 05, 2005 7:45 PM

Blogger Trinity13 said...

Wow, thank you everyone for your comments/input! It's greatly appreciated and it will help me and my hubby G make the best decision for our son.

If you have any more advice, please feel free to email me.

Thanks again everyone!!!

October 05, 2005 7:56 PM


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