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July 23, 2008


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Ultimately I think it is a sign of respect to have our kids call other adults by their last names and certainly a sign of good manners.


An interesting conundrum, the tension between good manners and comfortable familiarity! Sometimes I wish I lived in Iceland, where I understand everyone goes by their first names. But I live in sunny southern California, where I have to deal with the difficulties created by modern disparities in forms of address.

Like the family we know where mom kept her pre-marriage last name and the kids have hyphenated surnames combining mom's and dad's... I sometimes wonder what those kids will do when THEY get married and have children! Mostly, I try to keep it all straight in my own head and hope the kids will manage to do the same. We live in a society where individualism is highly prized -- and I guess I wouldn't want it any other way... even if the cost is that tension you describe so well. You just do the best you can in this, as in the rest of life -- and try to err on the side of formality and good manners in situations where there's any doubt.


I use to worry about the same thing until a friend of mine gave her kids some great advice. She told them to always adress adults by their last name until they are invited to call them by their first. Problem solved!


We have always gone by the idea that if the kids don't know them well, or if it's a position of authority (teacher, sunday school, things of that nature) they use the Mr/Mrs. LastNAme route. If it's a friend, they have to call them Mr/Mrs First/Name thing. I don't know, but they are NEVER to just call them by their first name.

Auntie Glo

Here's the thing!! I don't allow my nieces and nephews to call me by my first name--I don't care if they ARE 25yrs old--its a term of endearment and respect--which I love and I've earned!!

Secondly---I really really don't like children calling me by my first name. I think of myself as rather hip--trendy--certainly liberal---but I really don't want children calling me Gloria. So what to call me you might ask???

I live in the south--amoungst the alligators, HUGE bugs, snakes, 100% humidity and hillbillies. I make fun of the South ALL the time!! Having said that....the one thing that they did get right is children addressing their elders......

I am introduced to every child as Miss Gloria. I like it. Its polite. When adults speak to children--the children respond with a yes and no maam. when I speak to store clerks or acquaintances its with yes and no maam or sir. I love that about the South. Start a tradition Zen Mama Wannabe--people will Thank-You for it---Its only strange the first time!!!

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