May 02 2011


How Should Children Address Adults?

When I was a girl growing up in Indiana, we almost always called adults by their first name. The only exception was teachers, whom we called Mr. or Mrs/Ms “Last Name”. I don’t think it was out of disrespect that we used first names only, but just less formal.

Since living in Southern Maryland, though, I’ve realized that most of the locals teach their children to address adults by Mr. or Ms. and their first name. In an effort not to offend people, I’m trying to teach Jacob to do the same.

But, to add more etiquette rules to the mix, my husband’s family is from Sri Lanka. In that culture, you call anyone older than you “Aunty” or “Uncle”. Anyone belonging your grandparents’ generation is called “Pati” (Grandma) or “Thatta” (Grandpa), whether or not they’re technically a grandparent. Actually, since several of their friends have 3- or 4-syllable names that I don’t pronounce correctly or remember, that’s not such a bad thing.

In the US, anyway, I’ll teach him to address all adults by Mr. or Ms. “First Name”, and they can let him know if he can use their first name only.

How do you teach your children to address adults?

Permanent link to this article: http://jenreginald.com/how-should-children-address-adults


  1. michbarn99

    Interesting-I grew up where we strictly called any adult Mr. or Ms. so and so. Even as an adult, now, I still have trouble calling another adult by his/her first name unless I know them very well. When thinking about it, though, I was not sure that I had taught my children any specific way, so I asked my 10 year old what she would do. She said that she would call the adult whatever they asked

  2. Jenny

    Michelle, you grew up in Virginia, right? I think that's what they do in the south. Yes, I probably wouldn't have really thought about teaching it, but people do it differently where we live now, so I'm trying to conform. "When in Rome…" :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>