Children’s Etiquette: How Should Kids Address Adults?
The onset of legitimate conversation and talking with Liam has caused a few questions to come up that I hadn’t really pondered before. Besides the fact that he’s a total parrot, making it suddenly very important to watch what is said in front of him lest it be shared with the world, it also brings up the issue of what he’s going to call people. When he first started talking, it was all about learning the names of family members who relished in him knowing and using their name. With that came cute little nicknames (Auntie Sara became Auntie Rara) and less cute nicknames (Auntie Ash became…well, let just say he had trouble with h’s at first). Now that he’s mastered the names of his inner circle, I find myself frequently wondering what he should be calling people in the “second tier” – mostly adult friends and extended family.
To exemplify my point, our neighbors are a very sweet older couple. The husband, Brian, is usually arriving home the same time we are each day. Liam has taken to walking over to say hi and showing him whatever truck or animal he has with him at the time. No matter how much we try to get Liam to call him Mr. C., Liam squeals for Brian each day as we get home (or occasionally Mr. Brian in an effort to try to conform to our guidelines, I suppose). Thankfully Brian has told us he doesn’t mind at all and just thinks it’s cute that Liam comes over to say hi, but I can’t help but wonder what the right protocol is here. Thinking back to my own childhood, it seems like a pretty mixed bag. I called some adults by their first name and others by their last name (in some cases, I still do) and my parents were of little help determining why that was the case.
Should he call every adult Mr., Mrs. or Ms.? Should it be dictated by age (it would seem odd for him to call friends of mine by their last name, but maybe it’s more respectful for someone a generation older)? Should we ask people what they prefer to be called? And, do we need to then start calling them by that name in front of Liam? I’m big on teaching manners so it seems crazy to focus so much time and energy on please and thank you and not have a plan for politely referring to adults.
So blog readers, help a parent out. How did you decide what your kids would call the adults in your life?
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