Is it about respect? Or is it stuffy?

11/02/2010 05:08:00 AM
When you were a child, did you grow up calling all adults by their formal title? (I.e. "Miss" or "Mrs." or  "Ms." or "Mr.")

As in, "Sweet little Louise, say hello to our neighbor Miss Kelly."


I didn't.

It wasn't a set law in my house to address adults by their formal titles. However, as I got older and found myself spending more and more time at my friends' homes, I'd always call their parents by their "title" until they told me not to, then I wouldn't. (However, still to this day there are some individuals that I will only call Mr. or Mrs.)

So, my pickle is this: When Lila and I are encountering friends, co-workers and the like - do I say, "Say hi to so-and-so, Lila!"? Or, should I be saying, "Say hi to Mr. So-and-so!"?

Thus far, I've forgone the title usage. I just feel like it's so very formal for a 16-month-old. Am I alone? How did you grow up? How do you handle this with your children? How do you like to be referred to?

As a child...
I always used formal titles.
I sometimes used formal titles.
Nope. Never. No titles.

Free polls from



  1. I'm excited to read responses. We ALWAYS referred to acquaintances such as neighbors as Mr/Mrs/Ms. Close family friends, however, we called by their names.

    We are doing that with our kids. They call our neighbors and people we only sort of know by their titles. . (Mr. Gary/Miss Nancy) but friends are called by their name.

    Can't wait to read others responses. . . great topic!

  2. I don't remember what we called people growing up...

    We are the same as Running Chatter. Our kid(s) refer to close friends/family by their name. Anyone else that we are not really close to, teachers, acquaintances we refer by title (Miss Andrea, Mr. Smith, etc.).

  3. We ALWAYS were told to and were introduced to people by their formal names. All my friends were the same way as well, so it didn't seem stuffy to me, it just seemed proper. But as we got older a few of the parents would say oh just call me Jane or just call me John.

    My daughters generation has been taught as little ones to call them their title then first name. Such as Miss Jane instead of Miss Doe.

    I think that it is really a more relaxed society now that people don't get offended by it.

    Now for me... I still feel like I should address certain people with thier formal name. Doctors, Teachers and people of older age than me, unless suggested otherwise!

    You could always ask the person what they would like to be called!

  4. I grew up pretty informal. My parents didn't like my friends calling them Mr. or Mrs. -- it felt too formal for them -- so they never insisted that we do that with others, either. (Of course, they raised us to be respectful, regardless.) That seemed like the norm in our church and neighborhood in general.

    Then I went to a high school where we called all the teachers (and administrators, too) by their first names, which only solidified my informal tendencies.

    I'm not sure what we'll do when we have kids. I kind of feel like they'll take their cues from us: If we call someone Mr. or Mrs. (in other words, if we don't know them well enough to be on a first-name basis), they'll probably follow suit. But if we call our neighbor "Jamie," I feel like it would seem weird to make our kid call them "Mrs. Postell."

    I don't know! Very interesting topic. :)

  5. When I was little, we used Mr/Mrs. Last Name.

    Now (since its how they do it in preschool) we do Mr/Mrs First Name for my friends (or sometimes just their first name). Unless they use Mrs. Last Name for ME. Then I use Mrs. Last Name for them too.

    For people older than me, sometimes I use Last Name but sometimes I just ask them and they usually say that their first name is fine. I'm realizing that I should just ask RIGHT AWAY what they'd like to be called. Otherwise, it feels awkward.

  6. Growing up it was always Mr. & Mrs and the last name. If they said I could call them by their first name I would say Mr. or Mrs (first name). My parents worked at the courthouse and were involved in many public/political I was suppose to be the polite daughter :)

    In my mind I have always thought (and it could totally change) that my kids would refer to their teachers, friends parents, or other professionals with a sorta-formal name. Mr. or Mrs. (FIRST name). Maybe certain people would be the formal name and it all depends on the kids age too.

    For friend it will either be just their first name or Uncle/Aunt and the first name. Casual. I agree with WP, I think it depends on what we would call them and how well we know the other people.

    This is not as important to me, what they WILL say is sir or ma'am when talking to people in public or when responding to ANYONE. "Yes Sir, No Ma'am". I really want to emphasize this. Both T. & I were brought up saying sir and ma'am and we both still use it everyday in our jobs or when at stores. I think this is good to start young.

    However, I would never judge others if their kids didn't talk like that. I think this is totally a preference for the parents!

  7. **VERY** good information, everyone.

    Thanks for the comments!

  8. If it's a teacher, sure. But I'm just a nanny and i feel uncomfortable when partens say things to the kids like "Go say goodbye to Miss Erika" It weirds me out. We never did things like that as kids - I think it's a newer trend honesty (and yes a stuffy one!)

    No, of course in middle school or highschool I would address adults I didn't know all that well as Mr. Mrs. but it didn't usually last that long. Our friends mom's and dad's were just "steph's Dad" and what not ;-)

  9. I reserve my Miss, Mrs. and Mr. titles to teachers only! I was raised very informal and we've been raising the girls that way. What's interesting though, is my husband is a teacher. So he refers to his friends, even at home, as Mr., Mrs. or Miss. It was a long time before I even knew any of their first names. So, the girls know his friends by just their formal title.

    When we first started dating my husand called my parents Mr. and Mrs. and they were freaked out by it. Ha! :)

  10. I always had to call adults (not family) Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Always.
    My kids grew up in the South and down there EVERYONE, even adults, refer to their elders as Miss Carol or Mr. Gene (first names) out of respect. Also my children say yes ma'am/sir and no ma'am/sir, to all elders! This is equal parts Southern/military.

  11. I just saw this article on BabyCenter and thought of this post!


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