It irks me a bit when children call me by my first name. When I was a little girl my mother was serious about not calling adults by their given name alone. Women were either Aunt, Cousin, or Ms. So and So. Men of course were Uncle, Cousin, or Mr. So and So. The look of death she’d give me when I thought I was grown enough to call someone by their first name is still burned into my imagination more than 25 years after her passing.

I’m not sure where my mother learned her understanding of respect for adults. She died when I was young so I had yet to contemplate it. It was probably from her parents who probably got it from their parents. I still respect the rule to this day. I guess I’m thinking about it because in a few weeks I’ll have a child of my own. I will teach her the same rules of respect regarding adults. However, it was a source of discussion between my husband and I. He’s not opposed to it, but he doesn’t view it as necessary. There are children who refer to him by his first initial and he doesn’t mind it at all. I on the other hand, question your whole background of learnings back to your ancestors and imagine your total disrespect for adults if you’re under 21 and referring to me by my first name.

I don’t just leave it at that. I go home and consider the problems of the world with disrespectful teens and the apparent lack of respect for authority. My imagination runs wild with scenarios of said children growing up calling their teachers and grandfathers by first names. I know, I’m kind of old fashion. I’m almost certain the children don’t mean any disrespect. They weren’t taught that a prefix was necessary.

I have to wonder though, is my mother’s rule the reason I turn down my music in the parking lot when I see the elderly or a small child? Is her importance placed on respect why I instinctively change from the curse-ridden or raunchy sex music when I get closer to a place of worship? It has to be why I let old people say the darndest things without my usual snappy replies. In any case my child won’t be calling any adults by their first names. I want her to not just have respect for her elders, I want her to display it.

Comments (2)
  1. I ABSOLUTELY agree…the prefix is necessary. It teaches us children and adults alike that respect of another is required. Adults/Elders are to be regarded. I too am almost sure that the children that don’t know the proper behavior, mean any disrespect. My future children will address adults with Ms. … auntie/uncle…
    To know better… is to do better.

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