What do you call your friends’ parents?

It’s the eternal battle between politeness and relaxation…I’ve never known what to call my friends’ parents, and it’s much worse now that I’m an adult. I generally weasel out of it by avoiding any direct form of address, but it’s getting kind of ridiculous. They’re generally very relaxed hippie types, but I still feel weird calling them by their first names, and calling them Mr. or Mrs. Whatever sounds awfully stiff for people I’ve known my whole life. My own mom hates being called Ms. Luna, or even worse, Mrs. Luna; she says, “Don’t call me that; Mrs. Luna is my former mother-in-law, and there are WAY too many of them running around.” (Dad is on Wife #3.) Most of my old friends call her by her first name, and a few even call her Mom.

So has anyone found an elegant solution for this issue? How shall I broach the subject after all these years?

You say Mr. and Mrs. until they tell you that you can call them Bob and Jane… or whatever their name may be…
It is a sign of respect.

I second that one. I used to call my ex girlfriend’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Garza until they finally told me to call them by their first names. I hung out at her house alot, so it got to the point where I simply started calling them mom and dad. They didnt think it was strange in the least (it was actually a bit humorous).

My dad would never directly address his parents-in-law by name. He would just make eye contact and begin speaking.

I get confused too. I’ve known my wifes parents for 4 years now, and they have always been Patty and Al. A lifelong friend whos parents I have known for 30 years are still Mr & Mrs Klee. I feel rude calling them Don & Nancy.

Good question.

I am friendly with the parents of many of my long-time friends. What I call them varies.

One couple I still call Mr. and Mrs. Smith, because I did so when I was a child and they’ve never asked me to do otherwise. It feels odd, but then again, my friend calls my mother and father Mr. and Mrs. Jones still, for the same reason.

I address another friends’s parents as Mommy and Daddy Black, and she calls my mother Mommy Jones (no one would ever call my dad “Daddy Jones”, so she calls him Mr. Jones). Mommy Black, in turn, calls me “her other daughter.”

However, when I meet the parents of most new friends, they immediately insist I call them by their first names.

Oh, um, right, you asked a question.

I don’t think there’s a totally elegant solution. Either you keep addressing them as you always have, and wait for them to tell you to do otherwise, or you politely mention (with incredible tact) that you’ve known them so long that you feel you’d like to call them something less formal, if it’s all right with them, and let them suggest the alternative. I wouldn’t ask if you think the question will annoy them, though, so you might check it out with the friend first. If they’re hippie types, maybe they feel weird about it too, and just haven’t said anything.

Mr and Mrs first, and after awhile, Uncle and Auntie.

Option A is the elegant solution. It’s also the correct solution if you want to follow standard etiquette. The older person (or person with higher status in some way, like your boss or the President) in any relationship gets to choose how formal he wants to be. Call them “Mr. and Mrs.” (or, heck, “Ms.”) and give them the chance to ask you to call them by their first names.

As Miss Manners has pointed out, it’s far more delightful to be able to say, “Oh, please, call me Mary” than to want to say, “Please call me Mrs. Smith.”

It is certainly the correct solution according to Emily Post etiquette, but it’s not elegant if it’s causing people consternation or discomfort, IMHO. And yes, on occasion, being excessively formal CAN cause discomfort, even if it’s done in the name of “accepted etiquette.”

I’d usually default to Emily Post etiquette myself, but in a situation like this, you (probably) know the parents pretty well. When you become familiar with people, sometimes deviations from Emily Post are permissible and not at all boorish. Having class is largely a matter of knowing the rules well enough to know when and how deviations therefrom are not only permissible but desirable. Anyone can be a slave to the written rules.

You know these people and the relationship you have with them. If you can find a solution to your question without stepping on anyone’s toes, it’s fine–not rude, not inelegant, and not for anyone but you, your friend, and his/her parents to judge. That said, you need to be very confident of the reply before you broach the subject with the parents directly. I’d consult with your friend first and see what he/she thinks. Good luck.

It depends. Sometimes I’ll call my friends’ parents Uncle and Auntie (it’s the old cultural tradition thing :wink: ), sometimes Mr. and Mrs. LastName, and rarely by their first names. I want to show I respect them, so I don’t call them by their first names unless they insist that I do.


We used to call our friends parents by thei first name along with Mr. or Mrs… It just seemed alot homier without being too relaxed.

you know, if the lady’s name is Mary Smith, you call her Ms. Mary or Mrs. Mary.
Nowadays people tell me it sounds like something a redneck would do, but I am not a redneck, I promise.

I just call them “Hi, how are you!”

I don’t even call my fiance’s parents by name…they sign themselves “Mom and Dad Smith” on Christmas cards, etc…but I just can’t call them Mom and Dad. It feels weird. Nor can I call them “Mr and Mrs Smith” b/c they’ve already given themselves the Mom and Dad thing. So far I just speak directly to them. This has gone on for four years.

Someday this is going to cause a problem. I just know it.

I’ve called my best friend’s parents by their first names for as long as I can remember. They asked me to, and my parents did the same with him. But to this day, my friend calls my mom by her first name and my dad as Mr. Cuse. I never figured out why.

I asked my friend yesterday what I should call her folks (as I was meeting them for the first time) & she gave me the names.

If I spent more time with them, I would just ask them what they would like for me to call them. That’s like way easy to do & polite too :slight_smile:

I’ve always been a bit formal and a sticker-in-the-mud about these issues. I always called my parent’s friends Mr. & Mrs. (fill in name).

Recently, I was with my friend’s father and I wanted to get his attention, so I said, “Excuse me, Mr. (name).”

“Zev, it’s OK, you can call me Mike now,” he said.

Even so, I still can’t do it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to comfortably do it.

When I was dating my now-wife, I always called her parents Mr. & Mrs. Even today, they are Mom & Dad. I don’t even refer to them by first name when talking to others, let alone call them by their first names to their faces.

Zev Steinhardt

It depends on who, but some I call auntie and uncle and others I call Mr. & Mrs. but I’ve never called anyone their first name with out auntie or uncle before it.

I’ve never called any of my friends’ parents Mr. or Mrs. Always first names. And my friends have always called my parents by their first names. I once had a friend from Texas who called my mom Mrs. Last-Name, and my mom thought it was hilarious.

In fact, at the first elementary school I went to (a public school in San Francisco), we called the teachers and staff by their first names. I thought that people only used honorifics in books, as I had never encountered it in real life, with the exception of doctors. When we moved and I changed schools, I was shocked to have to address my new teacher as Mr. Lastname.

Everyone calls my mom Jayne, except for Scott who insists on Mrs. _____. I call most of my friends’ parents as Mr and Mrs, except for a few who I call Mom and Dad. They pretty much raised me through high school though, so it doesn’t feel weird at all

I call all adults Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Lastname until and unless I am asked to call them something else.

My best friend’s mom, with whom I spent half of my life from about fourth grade on and became pretty much an extra mother for me, is Sharon-Mom.

My in-laws would be Mr or Mrs but I usually try to avoid calling them by name - instead I just try to make eye contact and speak, or wait until they’ve spoken to me first.

I just say their names… My girlfriend used to say “Mr. e and Mrs. e” for my paernts… But I explained to her that it doesn’t matter. It’s not a lack of respect, it’s just more normal to call everyone by their first name.