They Call Me Mrs. Bowne…or Not?
What should I have my son’s teenage friends call me?
This issue abruptly arose when a group of his friends stopped by one Friday afternoon, as they often do. I sat at the kitchen table chatting with a few of them for a while. After they left me, my husband who had been listening to the conversation commented, did you notice that Nice Girl called you “Holly” while everyone else called you “Mrs. Bowne”?
I hadn’t. At least not consciously. When I thought back on the conversation though, I suppose it had registered dimly at the time, but I’d disregarded it in the flurry of our chatter.
Nice Girl was one friend I hadn’t seen in a while. She lives near two dear friends of mine, also moms of teens, who she’s accustomed to referring to by first name. In fact, one friend is so adamant about this that she actually refuses to respond if the teens attempt calling her “Mrs.”
Now I suppose I could correct the young lady. But the problem is, I’m a bit conflicted about this whole issue myself.
During my own childhood, this question never arose. All the parents of my friends were referred to as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” To this day, even though I’m 49 years old, if I were to run into the parents of a childhood friend, I would probably STILL call them “Mr.” and “Mrs.” (Although logically this seems silly now.)
Even when my own kids were preschool and elementary age, this wasn’t an issue. Whether it was perpetuated by classroom teachers, “All right class, can we thank Mrs. Bowne for her help today?”or simply because it was the way my generation had been raised, parents were unequivocally “Mr.” and Mrs.”
I know it’s supposed to be a sign of respect for your elders to refer to them as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” but before I had kids I recall thinking that it was ridiculous to force people to be called “Mr.” or “Mrs.” if they didn’t like it. Wasn’t it being disrespectful to address people in this formal way if it wasn’t their preference? Shouldn’t teaching our kids respect for adults be based on instilling courtesy and good behavior rather than using titles? Or do the titles matter?
One other thing I’ll toss into the mix, Nice Girl is a graduating high school senior--nearly 18 years old. An adult. In fact, now that I think about it, whenever I meet any of Ashleigh’s college friends, I introduce myself by my first name because they’re all 18 years old and up.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. Do you have kids address you as “Mr. / Ms. / Mrs.” or by first name? And if it’s “Mr. / Ms. / Mrs.” at what point do you make the switch?