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What’s in a Name

We had a rare afternoon of sunshine last week which meant that our neighborhood was busy with kids out riding bikes and enjoying the weather. One of my neighbors, who I think I have spoken to only three times ever, was out walking with her 2-year old daughter. She stopped by to say hello, and our daughters played with sidewalk chalk while we had a brief conversation. When it was time for them to continue on their walk she said to her daughter, “Give the chalk back to Auntie.” Auntie?!? Are we related? In all honesty, I’m not even sure I know this woman’s name!

Yesterday I was out with my co-worker and both of our kids. When speaking to her son she used “Mrs.” when she referred to me. Mrs?!?! It sounded so formal – especially for our casual outing.

This got me to thinking about the way children address adults these days. I don’t think I have used anything but first names when talking to my daughter about adults. She calls her teachers, all of our neighbors, my college friends and the parents of her friends at school all by their first names – unless she refers to them as Jane’s Mom or Eric’s Mom…literally. I suppose “Auntie” is an attempt at calling me something more personal, but I tend to feel it’s a name that should be reserved for just that, Aunties.

I want my daughter to “respect her elders” but I’d like to think that has more to do with behavior rather than names or titles alone. Can’t she still be respectful even if she calls them Paul and Lori?


  1. Green Mom July 8, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I can't wait to see what others have to say on this topic. My husband and I have been pondering the same thing!

  2. Anonymous July 9, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I personally believe it should be Ms or Mrs until the person being addressed says otherwise. I could not imagine my child calling a teacher "Sara" or "tim" it should be Ms. Smith unless they say different. I have also seen it when the last name is hard it could be Ms. Sara or Ms Dawn but never just the first. Just my opinion

  3. Anonymous July 16, 2009 at 6:00 am

    We use the MS or MR in front of the first names. My mom told me it was "the southern way". I don't know where it came from, but it makes it easy & still respectful. So our neighbors are Ms Jen & Mr Jeremy,and our friends are Ms Maria & Mr Andy.

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