Kids Can’t Call Me By My First Name

I recently reviewed Dena Higley’s Momaholic. Like so many books, this title gave me a dozen post ideas. In the wind down pages, the author poses the question: Do you allow your kids’ friends to call you by your first name?

My one-year old daughter has no friends. I doubt this makes her a social leper.

If I jump into my magic time machine and fast forward a few years, my answer to the author’s question is obvious. Will my child’s B.F.F.s get to call me by first name? Heck no.

First off, I doubt if a child can have maximum respect for an adult they can refer to as Christina or Kate. It all sounds too much like we’re having wine after the art show instead of punch after the recital.

When I was in high school, there were only a few adults who allowed children to call them by their first name. They were the “cool” parents. Which brings me to my second point.

As a kid, calling someone’s mom Brenda made me feel sophisticated. The more diabolic side of me felt like I was getting away with something. I don’t need my child’s friends, or any other human, thinking that they are slipping one pass me.

Then there is the mystique of being called Ms. or Mrs.

In my youth, I loved to be called ma’am. It meant that I was respected. A few thousand ma’ams later, the word just makes me feel like an old, shriveled up dishrag. But Ms. and Mrs. Robinson never gets old. Not that Mrs. Robinson.

In the end, parents and adults are owed respect regardless of what they choose to let kids call them.

Just don’t let them call you heifer. While I use the term regularly with women I love, kids don’t know how to use heifer with care and sensitivity.

Do you allow kids to call you by your first name (nieces and nephews don’t count)? Does your child call other adults by first name (it counts even if they add a Ms. or Mr. First Name)? Do you like to be called ma’am?


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About Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson is a Dallas-based freelance writer who specializes in college planning, parenting, women’s lifestyle, education, and self-help. But she's always hungry to munch on new topics. In addition to writing for The BookWormMama blog, Nicole provides content, copywriting and proofreading services for various publications.


Kids Can’t Call Me By My First Name — 26 Comments

  1. I don’t like to be called ma’am. I let kids call me Sara, because I don’t feel like I am old enough to be called Mrs. Phillips. Mrs. Phillips is my mother-in-law. Some friends from church have their kids call me Ms. Sara. I can handle that.
    Sara Phillips recently posted..Safees #ReviewMy Profile

  2. ♪ hey hey Mrs. Robinson ♪ Oops…got distracted.
    It’s a Southern thing, but I grew up calling many of my elders Mrs. or Mr. First Name (Mrs. Sandi, Mr. John) and still do. It’s completely respectful down here, but my Jersey born husband tells me that doesn’t fly up north.
    Jenn recently posted..MMAElite Apparel at Walmart#ShopMMAEliteMy Profile

  3. My children’s friends call me “Miss Rachel” unless their parents tell them to call me Mrs. Roland. Every parent is different, and I really don’t mind being called Miss Rachel – especially coming out of a little 2 yr old’s mouth – ADORABLE! But i abide by the other parents – if they are calling me Mrs. Roland, then I have my children refer to them by “mrs. (last name)”
    Rachel recently posted..40% of Food Wasted – What You Can Do About ItMy Profile

  4. I definitely do not like being called ma’am. 😉

    My kids once in a while jokingly call me Andrew but it’s rare and it’s cute. As for friends, they’re pretty much the way I grew up. They call most of my friends by their first name, but some by the last name. It depends really on how close a friend I am with someone. I really don’t think it matters, as long as you do whatever other parents want. I have no issues with other kids calling me Andrew, in fact I probably prefer it.
    Andrew Kardon recently posted..Big NFL Action in a Small Package – TeenyMates Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    • Thanks ma’am…I mean Andrew. Mirroring what the other parents do does seem to be the majority opinion. I can just imagine how popular I will be with the other parents when I insist on being called Mrs. Robinson. Might have to experiment a little and see what happens.

  5. I’m old school and feel the title Mr., Mrs. or Miss is a title of authority and respect. Too many kids today feel they don’t have to answer to authority and I blame a lot of it on the first name basis with all or most elders. Using a first name puts kids on even ground with the adult (in their mind) and respect is lost. I grew up calling all my friend’s parents Mr. or Mrs. Smith, Jones or Johnson. My parent’s friends were the same with the exception of a few very close friends who were giving the honorary title of Aunt or Uncle.

    When I started working with the kids group at church I felt funny being called Miss Dee but that slowly grew on me as I realized it was another way for them to show respect.
    Dee recently posted..Clocks; A Necessary EvilMy Profile

  6. I definitely allow them to call me by my first name. My mom raised me like that. When I encountered and adult I had to say hello followed by their first name. Now what *I* hate is yeah, what?! and naw. That’s yes, yes? and no in my house. :)
    Kenyatta Rodriguez recently posted..A Groovy GiveawayMy Profile

  7. At 30+ years old, I still have trouble calling my older managers and supervisors at work by their first names. It feels wrong. Most times I just avoid saying their names. I just walk up or knock on their office doors and once acknowledged start speaking.

  8. In my circle of friends, we generally let our kids call each other Ms. First Name. I think that mostly started at the library where we pretty much all hang out because the librarians let the kids call each them Miss First Name. I don’t know though, eventually I might feel comfortable with Mrs. Liberty. I don’t think of my mother-in-law when I hear that name, but I don’t think of me, either.
    Joanna recently posted..Poncho de Anda and Mamás para HuggiesMy Profile

  9. My son is 11 and all his friends call me Ms. Kim. I really haven’t been around any kids that call me by my first name. If they did, I would probably tell them to please call me Ms. Kim. I think it also has a lot to do with what their parents have taught them to say. But no, I would not allow a child to call me by my name.

    Great topic to discuss. Thanks
    Kim L recently posted..When Life Gets In The WayMy Profile

  10. I grew up calling most of my parents friends and my friends parents mrs and mr. Insert last name here. As an adult I would still call some mrs and mr mostly out of habit do something for over half your life and it sticks. I have had a few tell me to call them their first name and it feels weird. I remember my old best friends daughter asking her grandma why I called her that and her grandma said its a sign of respect. Right now it doesn’t bother me if they call me my first name. They are yound enough and most of them I am friends with their moms. I don’t really like the miss and a first name. It annoys me. Call me Sheila or call me by ms and my last name.

  11. We do first names around here and that is how I grew up as well. Respect doesn’t come from teaching kids to say mrs. Jones. Respect comes from teaching your child basic respect and manners for all. I once had someone introduce me to their kids as Mrs. Last name. I cringed. Too old fashioned for my liking.
    Nolie recently posted..Beginning My Driving Journey… AgainMy Profile

  12. As a youngster, I was never allowed to call my parents’ friends by their first names. Even as an adult, they’ve always remained Mr. or Mrs. As It has never really mattered to me how my kids’ friends address me. I always got some of both and I never had a problem with either. On the other hand, my husband was and is adamant about the more formal and respectful names. Now that my kids’ friends are in their thirties, most of them call me Mama V or Mrs. V. I like both.

    I agree with some of your other comments, it’s a southern thing and it has more to do with what kids are taught at home than with respect or lack of respect.
    Vicki recently posted..I Must Have BlinkedMy Profile

  13. My children are 6 & 9 and we live in North East FL. We use southern manners around here. My childrens friends call me Mrs. Joy or Mrs. Williams. I prefer Mrs. Joy. :) And they say ma’am and sir. We insisit on it. That’s how my husband and I were raised and we pass the respect/tradition down to our children.
    Joy Williams recently posted..Banner’s Bringing Families TogetherMy Profile

  14. When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60′, it was mandatory for us to call our elders Mr. or Mrs, Whatever, and we always had to call our aunts and uncles Aunt Sarah or Uncle Bruce. I have always been sort of disappointed that my nieces and nephews only called me by my first name, because I believe that those titles are forms of showing respect.

  15. Being a Grandma I have noticed some changes! I grew up in the 50s/60s in a small farm town and we didn’t call adults by titles such as Miss or Mr. with a few exceptions, such as our teachers. I called all of the Moms and Dads in my neighborhood by their first name and their kids called my Mom and Dad by their first name. Right or wrong it was how we were raised.

    When my own daughter came along in the early 70s I was living in southern California and again — titles were seldom used. I didn’t raise her to do it and apparently none of her friends parents were raised that way either.

    Then my Granddaughter came along 8 years ago and everything changed! I Love Love Love that she calls all adults (with very few exceptions) by Miss, Mr. or Mrs. and her friends do the same thing. *I* however, am the exception! I am Grandma Kc. I am Grandma Kc to all of her friends and to all of the neighborhood children — and I love it!!! Being “Grandma Kc” seems even more respectful than if they were to call me Mrs. Kc or Mrs. W or anything else! I feel that “grandma” is a title and I have earned it.
    Grandma Kc recently posted..Starting Third GradeMy Profile

  16. I spent many years working in the early ed field, both as a teacher and director. In most cases, children called me Miss Jennifer or simply, Jennifer. When I opened my own private daycare, I let the kids call me Jennifer or Nanny. At the time, my children also attended an alternative school where all adults went by their first names, including teachers and administrators.

    We have since transferred our children to a traditional public school, and I an loving that the children and parents address the adults with proper titles. I have chosen to go by Jennifer in the school but sometimes the kids ‘slip’ and call me Mrs. Jennifer! I don’t mind at all!

    I really don’t like being called Mrs. O’Dell Sample. Mrs. O’Dell was my mother and Mrs. Sample was my mother-in-law. It’s just something that I am not comfortable with. I do, however, prefer that my children address adults properly. By properly, I mean with appropriate titles. Since we live in Portland, Or, ‘sir or ma’am’ are not standard titles here. Few kids say that.
    Jennifer recently posted..Not a fun way to start the day.My Profile

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