Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Call Me Old-Fashioned

Since moving to Utah a decade ago, I've noticed a trend. Most adults here are addressed by their first names by children. In fact if I introduce someone to my children as Mrs. So and so, they will interject, "oh you can call me Jane." I thought it was a regional quirk, but after browsing through an online parenting discussion forum, 97% of the posters go by their first name with children. In fact more than a few of them thought it is degrading to children to have to use Mr. or Mrs./Ms.!! That using a title is an inappropriate form of respect and real respect comes from actions not words.

Well, in my ever humble opinion, words do convey respect or disrespect, and there is nothing wrong (and quite a bit right!) with using a title to express that. Kids are wonderful, delightful people, but they are not adults in miniature. Believe me, I live with two of them! I have yet to see an adult throw himself onto the ground kicking and screaming because he can't have the gumball he wants! Or decorate the walls, floors, and her body with markers. I think that with age comes responsibility, experience, and (hopefully) wisdom, right? Adults teach and protect children and as such are not on the same level. On television, could you imagine calling Mr. Roger, Fred? As in "Fred's Neighborhood?" I just don't see myself as the peer of a three-year-old! Likewise, those whom I grew up addressing as Mr./Mrs. or Brother/Sister, are still addressed in that manner, unless they prefer to be addressed otherwise now that I'm an adult.

However, my viewpoint is not popular. It's hard to teach Matthew and Melissa to address adults with a title when their peers don't or the adults prefer to be addressed by their first name. Even very casual acquaintances will ask to be known as Bob or Amy. Often I can compromise with "Ms. Amy." Really close friends and cousins have the honorific "Aunt or Uncle." I want to respect what other adults what to be called, at the same time I want to teach Matthew and Melissa good manners. It's tough to balance.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Rachel, I agree wholeheartedly about using proper titles for adults. It's all about respect. If not for the person, then for the position. I could go on and one, but I'll just say: Amen. Preach on, sista!