One of many unexpected dilemmas I faced upon entering motherhood was how to teach my children to address other adults. It somehow felt too familiar and disrespectful to have my child address my friends and other adults by their first names. But at the same time it felt pretentiousness and old-fashioned to require them to use Mr. and Mrs. Lastname. I know that is very common in some areas of the country, but it is rare in the Southwest. I honestly do not remember how I addressed my friend’s parents as a child but I am fairly certain I never referred to them by their last name. I do remember addressing some of my parents’ friends by their first names and very close family friends as Aunt Firstname.
I have talked to a few other moms about this and most of us do not agree on what is appropriate. That difference of expectations can create a problem when an adult wants to be called something specific that other parents do not teach or enforce. It is a hard balance to teach respect and instill tradition in this modern and casual culture. For the most part, my children address my friends by their first names although we did start off using Miss Firstname. Adults they know from school are usually referred to by their last names, though.
I am curious what you teach your kiddos to call non-family adults like your friends and neighbors. Do your friends have the same opinion as you do on this issue? How do you handle any differences of opinion? What do you think is proper and do you think it depends on where you live (e.g. West Coast versus the South)? I am always fascinated by the variations in social norms, so please leave a comment. Share and let’s talk about it. How should children address adults?