They Call Me Mrs. Bowne…or Not?

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly old-fashioned. (In fact, as I’ve confessed in previous posts, in my own mind I’m still a hip twenty-something.) However, I’ve recently become aware that maybe I am old-fashioned in certain areas. And now I’m wondering what to do concerning one area in particular:

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?



Petula Wright said...

It doesn't matter if they're over 18 or not, I prefer to be called Ms. Wright or Ms. Lloyd (my oldest daughter's - she's 20 - friends still call me Ms. Lloyd). I also answer to Ms. P... some call me Mama P. Those who can't seem to find something they're comfortable with don't call me anything. Although I'll answer to my first name I find it very distasteful for a young person to not show that measure of respect. My daughter's sister (same father) has called me by my first name since she was about 7 or 8. I spoke to their father about it and he asserted that it wasn't disrespectful. Well, she's 22 now and I still cringe.

I guess it's a personal choice...

How you like those 3 cents? LOL

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oooh, that's tough. But I think over 18 adult can call you whatever you want them to call you. Anyone younger, might need the respect factor added in there.

It is kind of funny about seeing people who you used to call Mrs or Mr and not being able to break the habit. Even when my highschool friend refers to my mom by her first name I look at her funny. (and we're both 40 now) LOL

Ivy said...

I'm still at the parent stage where my son's classmates and friends have no idea what my name is. I'm just "Speedy's mom."

I kind of hope my son's friends always call me mom. It's my favorite name.

Richard Birney-Smith said...

I think it's the tone of voice that counts more than anything else. If the kids are respectful, that's what counts.

Annette Piper said...

Children of friends (that is, friends that I would visit or that visit me) I tell their children to call me "Annette", no matter what their age. If I'm not familiar with them I will not insist either way, but they usually take the safe route and call me "Mrs Piper" (a sign of respect I guess but it makes me feel old and like my MIL!)

When I'm introducing my children to an adult unless they're very close to the family, I'll introduce them as Mr or Mrs and let them correct the children if they want something more informal.

I've always taken the tack if I'm introduced to someone older than me as eg. Jack Brown, then I'll call them Jack. If I'm introduced and they're referred to as Mr Brown, then that's what I'll call them. Consequently I'm the only one in town that calls the local historian and past shire clerk (and rather elderly gentleman) Roy when EVERYONE except his wife calls him Mr Cameron LOL.

TeresaR said...

I like what Richard said (above)!

I have Chinese heritage and as you may know, we Chinese are very stiff and formal people. ;) My parents would just blanch if I called their friends by their first names (although some of their friends have tried to get me to call them by their first names after I was an adult, and especially after I had kids...guess having a family makes me an equal in their eyes?)

I don't care how my kids friends address me as long as it's not rudely. And for myself, I prefer to stick with the formal when addressing someone unless they've indicated that I can address them otherwise.