The name game: What do other people's kids call you?

Filed under: Tweens, Development/Milestones: Babies, Playground Bureau

Names can be a tricky thing; expecting parents agonize over choosing just the right name for their new bundle of joy. But the name dilemma isn't over once you bring the baby home -- sure, you've named the BABY, but now the renaming of the parents begins. I don't mean the choice between being Mommy or Mama or Mamacita -- I mean the much more sensitive issue of what your children's friends, and your friends' children, will call call you.

The basic name dilemma is first name versus last -- are you Jane or Mrs. Smith to the tots in your playgroup? And then there's the more complicated last name issue -- what if your last name and your child's last name aren't the same? Are you Mrs. Child's Last Name or Mrs. Your Last Name?

And why does it matter?

New York Times etiquette expert Philip Galanes thinks it shouldn't; in response to a query about a friend who insists that children call adults Mrs. Child's Last Name, rather than using the mother's actual last name, because that's the "proper" thing to do, he says, "Next time you meet one of your friend's children - preferably with his Stepford mother in tow - insist he call you Jules, J-Bird or another nickname that's as inappropriate for a 9-year-old to use as you can bear to suggest. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes just one sensible adult to bring down a regime that calls people by the wrong names for the sake of 'proper manners.'"

I disagree with Galanes. I think any parent who is encouraging her child to address adults in a respectful manner is doing them a favor. We constantly hear about parents who are NOT teaching good manners -- why attack the parent who is? And why encourage inappropriate behavior as a response?

What do your kids call the other grown ups? Do you ask other parents how they want to be addressed, or just go with the Mr. and Mrs. Child's Last Name shorthand?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.