Parents, What Do Your Children Call Other Non Related Adults?

When I was a child, there was a strict rule, you NEVER, call adults by anything but Mr Smith or Miss Smith or Mrs Smith. You don’t address adults by their first names.

Seems like that rule died out sometime. I’m almost 47 and now-a-days, seems like kids call adults by their first names.

I’m not saying that is a bad thing. Certainly I’d rather be called Mark than the “fake” Uncle Mark, you know the uncle/aunt thing you assign to close non-relations.

So my questions is to parents, do you require your children to address other adults by their surnames or do you allow the first names? Or is it a mix? Or do you use the uncle/aunt thing?

I’m Auntie Lin to the two little girls of my closest friend, who says we are “sisters in everything but blood.” They’re a large source of delight in my life, and I love being called that.

I don’t interact too much with other children, though, so it’s not something I really pay attention to.

Officially, I require my children to address unrelated adults as “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Miss,” unless and until that person specifies any other preference.

In practice–they’re small yet–they sometimes forget the name and resort to “Beth’s mom” and “Emily’s dad.”

Our kids used titles, Mr., Mrs., Miss, except for one couple who were very close friends when the kids were little, and I’m not really sure how that exception happened. I think we just didn’t make an effort to call them by titles when we talked about them to the kids and then it was too late. There was one other couple who insisted that the kids should use their first names, and of course I went along with that, but otherwise, our kids used titles and a lot of the kids we knew did, too. In fact, my kids and the daughters of one of my best friends are having a hard time making the transition, now that they’re all grown up and it would be okay to use first names.

Of course, that was several years ago.

When I was a kid, my parent’s friends were usually Mr/Mrs etc. A few of them were referred to by their first names. Oddly, as I got older, I’ve started using their first names, but mostly because I do business with them*, if it wasn’t for that, I’d still be referring to them as Mr/Mrs.

My daughter refers to my friends by their first names. I’m not sure why, maybe we’re just in a less formal time, but it would seem odd to have her refer to them as Mr/Mrs.

Since someone mentioned up thread, I’ll say that I haven’t yet introduced her to the parents of anyone her age (classmates). I’m really not sure what she would call them. My ex-wife interacts with those parents, I’ll have to ask her one of these days.

Close: first names. Distant: Mr. or Mrs.

When my daughter was little, her friends (a shy lot) would look at me while whispering into SaliGirl’s ear, and SaliGirl would interpret. “Mom, Lulu wants to know if you’ll give her another glass of chocolate milk” or “Mom, Cindy wants to go home now”. I’ve been called “Saligirl’s Mom” more often than not. “Hi, Saligirl’s Mom, can Saligirl come out to play?”

I grew up calling unrelated adults Mr. / Mrs. / Miss Lastname or by title, Dr. / Sister / Father. My (now grown) step-kids followed the southern tradition of Mr. / Miss Firstname. Most kids (and a lot of adults at work) in my local world call me Miss Firstname too. Only when I go up north, where it takes me aback for a day or so at first, do kids tend to call me simply by my first name.

Mr./Miss Firstname. Like missred says, it’s a southern thing.

Mr. or Mrs. ______________.
Some of my friends have started having their kids call other adults Mr. “First Name”.

Like if your name is James, their kids call you Mr. James.

I find it really weird.

I’m 27

When I was a kid, close family friends were “Auntie” or “Uncle” xx. So “Auntie Julie” was my mum’s best friend, so was “Auntie Diane”.

MY friends’ parents were “Mr Friendlastname” or “Mrs Friendlastname” unless they insisted otherwise. Most of the time they’d ask me to call them by their first names after the first meeting anyway.

I’m finding it interesting that my 6 year old half-sister calls her teachers by their first names. THAT was never done when I was a kid. I’ve got a friend who’s studying his postgrad qualifications as a teacher, and he’s said a lot of teachers are moving away from Mr. Suchandsuch to more informal forms of address. That boggles me.

I’m 49 and was never required to call anyone anything but their first name.



My kids call everyone by their first name too.

I knew a guy who’s neighbors did, this, I cracked up to hear the little kid call him “Mr Ralph.” I was like, “Jeez it makes you sound like a hairdresser” :slight_smile:

I don’t hang out with many kids…I can only think of three that I spend enough time with to where they know my name.

One calls me Mr. Digital. One calls me Digital. And one would call me Uncle Digital, because that’s what her parents call me in front of her…but she’s only one and hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet.

In related news…I used to coach middle school and high school volleyball. During the school season, my kids called me Coach Analog. During club season, they called me Digital. Go figure.

I’m fortymumble, and I was raised to call adults “Mr. and Mrs. Surname”. I still refer to customers at work the same way. (Though I use “Mizz” with women - sort of an agglomeration of “Ms.” and “Miss”. Since this is the South, “Mizz” is perfectly acceptable.)

What about "sir’ and “ma’am”? I still use those words with my parents.

I did not use honorifics growing up, and I don’t now. I don’t see how it matters much how old someone is.

Oh right, kids aren’t real people yet. Forgot about that.

For my son, who’s 15, not a Child of the South and in a different country:

Teachers: Sir or Miss (never Mrs) as a term of address with no name attached, or last name only if less formal (so Sir in the classrom and Kerwin or Mr. Kerwin outside the classroom.)

Stranger/Not Close Friend Adults: Mr or Mrs Lastname, but he’s the exception. I suspect this is a holdover from my childhood manners, I’ve never been addressed as Mrs by any of his friends, and adults here are shocked (although nicely so) by it. When he was smaller, it was Mr or Miss Firstname, but that had to go away because it was quaint in terms of manners. But still, I insist (and am known to thump ears) on the formality for strange adults, because it’s POLITE, damnit. Grr, offa my lawn!

Close Friend Adults: First name, only because I know them and I know it would make them uncomfortable to have otherwise.

He also opens doors and pulls out chairs. Made his little girlfriend all swoony. :slight_smile:

I’m a Child of the South, so for me it was always (on pain of death) Mr or Miss Firstname. One close friend of my mom’s was Aunt Firstname.

The Miss. Firstname was true even of my great great elderly aunt’s elderly spinster friends.

Relatives are Aunt or Uncle Firstname, if adults, even cousins (my Grandaddy’s first cousin is Aunt Firstname, for example.)

Even teachers up to about second grade were Mr. or Miss. Firstname, but thereafter Mr. or Mrs. Lastname.

(And before you leave the house you get asked, “What are your manners?” and you answer: “Yessir, Nossir, Please and Thankyou, Mr and Miss and ThankyouverymuchIhadanicetime!” Or maybe that was me. I miss you, Aunt Wese and Grandma, I miss you so much.)

Grew up in Oklahoma, both of my parents were true Southerners. My sister and I always called adults Mr. or Mrs. Lastname unless instructed otherwise.

My kids will do the same. Hasn’t really been an issue yet, my oldest is only three so she hasn’t had a lot of interaction with adults who aren’t family. She does go to preschool, and her teachers there are Miss Firstname (whether married or no). That’s the norm there so I’m fine with it, I just think unless you have a standing rule like that, you should always err on the side of formality. Easy to go from formal to informal, not so easy to go the other way.

I’m not a parent, but I used to do a lot of children’s work. I was always called by my first name. Even the old “brother so-and-so” seems to have fallen away at church.

On the other hand, my sister is always called Miss Firstname by kids, and just her first name by teens. She says the former makes her feel more like an adult, while the latter makes her feel like a friend.

Not a parent, but the rules aren’t very different for my nephews than they were for me when I was a kid. Spain in the 70s, Spain in the 10s.

Names given to grown-ups vary by kid’s age; younger kids will address grownups by their relationship to another kid if possible. “Nacho’s Dad”, “Ana’s Aunt Cari”. There is an Important Moment when a kid gets this thoughtful look and asks Ana’s aunt Cari “can I call you Aunt Cari although you’re really Ana’s aunt and not mine? Anna’s Aunt Cari is so long!” and said aunt either approves of the new name or says “just call me Cari”.

I know several teachers who used to be known as Mr/Mrs/Miss [Name] in school until they started teaching kids who knew them from out of school. These kids would slip and call them by firstname without any Mr/Mrs/Miss (“Nacho’s Dad” doesn’t make sense any more by the time you’re in school), and eventually the whole class did. This is the biggest difference with my nephews: nowadays most teachers go by firstname from day one.

I insisted on my son using Miss/Mr Firstname for all of my friends, and instructed their children to call me Miss Tonya. My son never had an issue with it, and he’s 18 now and still uses Miss Kendra, Mr Don, etc.

It was much harder to get friends kids to understand that I wasn’t to be “aunted” than I’d ever imagined. Seems to me, with kids coming from families with like 8 sets of grandparents and when their parents might have tons of half and step siblings, they get enough aunts and uncles to contend with already. I’m not their aunt and shouldn’t be referred to as such. We’d all get a laugh out of some of the little one’s messing up and calling me Aunt Misstonya occasionally, but as they got older they seemed to appreciate having an adult in their life that wasn’t a relative but was there by choice and not familial obligation.