Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mr., Mrs., Ms., or just a name

When I started teaching one of the things that I remember the most is when my students first called me, Mrs. Tuttle. I had been married for a few years so it wasn't just the name, but the fact that they weren't supposed to call me Ms. Melissa or just Melissa. It seemed so formal! Of course in school I believe that the formality is needed in order to teach students respect and now it doesn't even phase me.

Out of school though, my kids usually address my friends or other adults as Mr. or Ms. and their first name. This is how I always addressed adults when I was growing up and it never seemed to be a problem. Matter of fact our relatives in Michigan thought it was funny because everybody just addressed everybody by their first name no matter what your age. However, Dave was telling me that he was taught to address adults by their title and then last name. He still often refers to the parents of his childhood friends as Mr. and Mrs. last name.

We have decided to allow Dylan and Zoe to address adults by their title and then first name (of course not their teachers), but I'm curious. How do you teach your students to address adults? Using their title and first name? Title and last name? By their first name? Does it differ depending on how close they are with your family or their age? I can't wait to read your comments!!


  1. This is definitely a regional thing - I was born and raised in Montana, and my brother and I generally just addressed adults by their first name (nothing disrespectful, that's just how it was). My hubby was raised in North Jersey, and he always did Mr. or Mrs. Last Name - unless it was a close family friend, and then it was Aunt or Uncle First Name. I think that gets rather confusing (and even he admits that there were many people that he didn't realize he wasn't ACTUALLY related to until jr high).

    I apent 4 years in TX, and children addressed adults by Mr or Miss First Name - and that's pretty much how we're doing it now (in Philly Suburbia). Casual, but still respectful. There are a few families in our circle, though, that prefer the more formal approach and have actually asked our children to use Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. All goes back to the they were raised...

  2. "Miss Sally" I am a stickler for manners and I want him to treat adults differently than he does his classmates (first name).
    However, the teachers here are much more "casual" and will "correct" him when he displays the manners I've worked so hard to instill.
    This makes me look like a stoic, regemented grandmom.

  3. We were doing the Mr/Mrs first name for a while and then it seemed to shift to Mr/Mrs last name. Growing up my parents insisted I do the Mr/Mrs last name. However, my 2 year old just isn't getting it and calls adults by just the first name. We're still working on it!

  4. Growing up I was always was taught to address our family by their title of Aunt, Uncle, etc. and then their name. Close family members were always title and last name unless otherwise stated.

    I grew up in the North and now live in the South. I believe there is a difference. I have noticed that people around here address others as their title and then first name. So I agree with Trish, I think a lot does have to deal with the region.

  5. My children refer to adults as Mr & Miss first name
    I did this with my parents friends growing up and 31 I still call my moms BFF as Miss Sarah:)

  6. I agree with Trish in that it is a regional thing. However, growing up as a southern belle, but having parents who were not from the south made it different for me.

    So, here is what I plan to do when I have children of my own! I want my own children to call you, let's say, Ms. Mel. Or if your husband was David, Mr. David.

    My students, call Mr. or Mrs. last name. Also, I have them call other parents in our classroom by last name unless the parents want to be called by their first and then they put Mr or Ms in front of the first name.

  7. we do mr and mrs now that we're in the northeast. when i lived in ca it was all first names! wierd!

  8. So interesting!

    Being raised in the NorthEast, we did Mr/Mrs. (last name) for parents of friends, etc. Aunt/Uncle (first name) for close family friends.

    Moving to the midwest, my parents were shocked to hear the neighborhood kids call them by their first name, but after a year or so of trying to fight it (correcting me and my brother, not the neighborhood kids), they joined the neighborhood in doing first names.

    Hubby, raised in Chicago, to this day refers to most of the adults from his childhood as Mr./Mrs. (last name)

    Currently, I'm Mrs. (last name) at school, and we do Mr./Mrs. (last name) for parents of all students unless the parent asks to be called by first name.

    With my own kids, it's Mr./Miss (first name) for our younger adult neighbors, Mr/Mrs. (last name) for our older adult neighbors and people like friends from church and school.

  9. This is very interesting! I was also raised in Montana and called everybody by first names except for teachers (title and last).

    We have our son address almost all adults by title and last (as do all our friends at church and school and a few others). For a few people, they were a bit uncomfortable with the formality, so we used title and first.

    I never thought about it being regional. I do prefer title and last for adults to show respect.

  10. I prefer title and last name but so many around here do the title and first name. So I've adjusted. Gotta go with the flow you know. LOL

    However, I will not let my kids call any adult by only their first name, they MUST say the title. We have a little boy that's a friend of my son's who only says the first name and I've corrected him so many times. I don't know what else to do.

  11. It all depends. Honey and I decided to aim for more formal and let the other person decide if they wanted to be called something else. We want Princess to respect her elders, even if the elder is barely old enough to vote.

    So if we introduce Princess to someone and we know their last name we use Title Lastname. Then if the adult says, "That's OK. You can call me Firstname or Title Firstname" we go with that.

    It is much easier to aim for formal and loosen up than to find out that someone thinks your child is disrespectful.

  12. this is for sure a regional thing. We do the Miss first name - Miss Shellie is our day care provider. My husband grew up in the south and it was Title Last name but since being north for 8 years he has adjusted. Even as an adult I still do the Miss in front of my mom's friends and ladies at church.

  13. We use Mr. or Ms. first name. Even our peditrician practice does this - the kids call the Dr. Dr. John or Dr. Shannon.

  14. We always did the Mr/Mrs last name as I was growing up. Now, with my son (not that he can even talk yet) we say Mr/Mrs first name. I guess once he starts being able to talk we will expect that he used the last name. I think it sounds a little more respectful.

    Althogh, a couple of weekends ago we were at friends of ours and they said to their daughter, "Say Hi to Mr and Mrs R (our last name)." It kind of took me back. I was thinking, Gosh, am I really that old that now kids are calling me Mrs R? Yikes! I would actally prefer Mrs. Tracey.

    Maybe you should ask the person what they prefer?

  15. We do Mr. Mrs Last Name. The one thing that really irks me about the Miss First name is that it often isn't true. Often the Miss is really a Mrs. and the child doesn't know the difference.

    I find it to be a generational thing. I feel that more people in younger generations use first names.

  16. It all depends on the relationship the person has with our family. Generally my kids are to call adults mr/mrs/ms + last name. If the adult is a good friend of mine or a parent of a good friend of theirs, they are allowed to use mr/ms + first name.

    For me, it's about respect and understanding boundaries.

  17. i was really curious to read everyone else's answers (weeks later)...i guess it is a regional thing (or maybe an age thing?). growing up in the city (phila) all adults were addressed as mr/mrs last name. hubby says the same (and he grew up all over the place) plus his family is more formal than mine. for the most part, i have the kids call the older adults mr/mrs last name, and the one of my generation mr/miss first name (so our friends). they have two "aunts" (my friends) who are miss first name. and i just found myself yesterday saying "miss first name" to our neighbour (my age) with my kids. but i think i must do it, so they follow me. the one i have issues with is our pastor, who wants the kids to say "pastor first name" and i hear my mom saying "NO NO" it must be "pastor last name". but we're managing ;-)


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