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First-Name Basis

Photo by: Shutterstock

For the record, I don’t think we are ‘good’ parents and others are ‘bad,’ just because we teach our kids to call adults by their first names.

Some people introduce themselves as Mr./Mrs./Ms., and the kids follow their lead and use titles when addressing them. Most people around here, though, use their first name when they meet the kids, and that’s what they learned to call them.

As someone who didn’t grow up using titles, I find it odd when people do use them, but I also know it’s a cultural thing. If you grow up believing it’s important that kids address adults with their titles, I respect that.

My kids’ teachers use titles, and my neighbor calls herself Ms., so that’s what my kids call them. And since part of our job as parents is to teach our kids to respect others, we definitely don’t stop our kids from using titles, but my problem comes with people who think kids who don’t use titles are disrespectful.

I found this issue discussed recently on Dad Stays Home’s forum, and while I know it’s a cultural issue, I just can’t accept that premise. Here are some of the comments:

“I now have 1 friend who likes to have the kids call her by her first name and nothing else. I have heard it helps her feel like she is not getting older.”

“You can tell which families are the class acts by how their kids address adults.”

“I’ve had to correct my kids when someone says, ‘Oh, just call me Firstname’ I don’t care if they want to be called by their first name, at the very VERY least, it’s Mr/Mrs Firstname.”

So, this is how you teach respect for adults? By ignoring their wishes, and forcing your own ideas of respect on them? After one member said he only uses his first name around kids, another member told him that no matter what, if his kids ever meet him, they will call him ‘Mr. Lastname.’

Which makes me think this is not about respect. Using titles might have something to do with tradition and with local cultures, but it has nothing to do with respect.

Mamapedia readers: Do you think it is ‘disrespectful’ for children to be on a first-name basis with adults? Were you raised differently, but have since changed your mind about the subject?

I’ve been wrong before (probably), and even you disagree with me, I’d love to hear your viewpoint.

Oren Miller is a stay-at-home-dad with two children, who uses his cheap laptop to write for his popular site, A Blogger and a Father. He has been featured on CNN, HLN, The Good Men Project, and Redbook, among others.

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