August 03, 2009

Toddlers and Manners

My daughters are becoming pretty good at saying "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome." Sometimes they need a prompt or two, but overall they're catching on. There's one aspect of manners that really has me stumped: how should children address adults?
Growing up I was always taught to call adults "Mr. X" or "Mrs. X." I remember one friend's mom told me it was OK to call her by her first name, but my parents still insisted I address her as "Mrs. X." I think I was out of college before I addressed a long-time older neighbor and friend by her first name. These days, however, I seem to only hear children call adults by their first name.
I don't know if it's necessarily rude. It doesn't really bother me when friends' children call me by my first name. I used my maiden name professionally even after I was married, so being referred to by my married name sometimes throws me for a loop. But how do you explain to children that they need to call their teachers "Mr. or Mrs." but other adults can be addressed by their first names?
If it's someone I don't know very well I will introduce the person to my children as "Mrs. X." When it comes to my friends, though, it's a different story. I'm never going to remember not to call my friends by their first names when talking to my daughters, so how can I expect them to call them anything else?
I know there are some adults who will correct children who call them by their first names. Is it a sign of respect? Absolutely. Do I think children who address me by my first name are disrespectful? No, not really. I guess I'm writing this post for input. How do you ask your children to address adults? Is it a big deal to call them by their first name?

14 comments:

LauraC said...

Here in the south, they are taught (at school) to address adults as Miss Laura or Mr. Jon. It cracks me up, but it does sounds a little more formal to me than Laura and I hate being called Mrs. Case. The only reason I changed my name was so that all four of us would have the same name and Jon refused to hyphenate!

Quadmama said...

I've done a lot of Miss Laura, etc. with certain adults (day care when we go, etc). I forgot about that one... and I kind of like it.

Stephanie B said...

I don't have an answer. When I grew up, it was as you said and I found it challenging to address adults by the first name, even after I became one.

My daughter is much less formal, but I find I take my cues from her and from whomever we meet. Usually, they introduce themselves to her and she addresses them correspondingly (perhaps that's a side effect of my inability to remember names). As she has always been sensitive to what others call her (we share a first name and "Little Stephanie" has long grown old), she might be unusually sensitive to calling people by an appropriate moniker.

Since my two youngest still don't speak, the juries out on what they will do.

Clearly, though, I'm not a stickler and answer to almost everything but "Stephie."

Quadmama said...

Good idea about letting the adults in question be the ones who set the standard.

Sadia said...

Yeah, I usually ask. The default here in Texas is the southern one Laura mentions: Miss Whatever and Mister Whatever.

I detest "Mrs. Rodriguez". I prefer Ms Rodriguez, so when kids use "Mrs." I ask them to please call me Miss Sadia.

Our neighbours all go by their first names with the kids, as do my coworkers, but everyone else is Miss or Mister.

Becky said...

I try to enforce with both my kids and my Church kids to address adults as Miss or Mr. "first name" Some of the older people I may introduce Mrs. or Mr "Last name" I do think it shows some respect....but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Quadmama said...

Interestingly enough, at our preschool the teacher goes by Mrs. "last name" while the aide goes by Miss "first name." I've always wondered why.

jungletwins said...

On my island, children address pretty much every adult as "Auntie" or "Uncle." This left me wildly confused at first. When I first moved here I remember thinking, I know this is an island, but they can't ALL be related, right? PLEASE, God. I'm totally on the autie/uncle bandwagon now though, it's so convenient! Especially since a lot of locals have names in the island's native language, names with about 10 Ks and 8 W's and 5+ syllables that I would most certainly make a muck of if I attempted to say ;)

Quadmama said...

LOL!

MaryAnne said...

I leave it up to the adult in question. All of my friends except for one prefer to just do the first-name basis thing. I think first names are easy because they tend to be more pronounceable, plus there isn't the awkward "I'm an adult now so what do I call you now" thing with long-term family friends later in life.

Quadmama said...

Good point... and congrats on your new arrival!!!

chubskulit said...

In the culture where I grew up, it is very important that we addressed the people that are older than us "Ale - women and Mama for men" it is very rude to just call them by their first name and I make sure that my two kids practice that too.. Even on siblings, we don't call each other by names, it goes with the age...

I love your blog... love to see your quad angels pics..

following your blog now..

sailor said...

the same way with my parents, they taught us to address elderly properly..

I am now your follower... Hope you can visit sometimes

Quadmama said...

Interesting to see how other cultures deal with this.. including among family members.

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