What’s In A Name?:
Been There Done That

How do your children address other adults (Mr, Mrs, first names)?

What about all the different adults in their lives…Strangers?  Your close friends?  Adults they have known for a long time?  Most adults?

Teachers and Doctors?

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Our kids call our friends by their first names, as well as other adults. Doctors, Teachers and such are to be addressed by their titles, although this doesn’t always happen.

Tamara C

It’s a mix.  Close friends are addressed by their first names and acquaintances/colleagues (both my hubby and I are teachers) are addressed with “Mr. or Mrs.”


My Daughter addresses her Teachers as Mr. or Mrs as all children do in school. If it is an adult that we know very well and see on a regular basis, they call them by their first name, as most of our friends prefer it that way. If it is an adult that we have just met or are getting to know, they will address them as Mr or Mrs, unless they request otherwise.

Jennifer H

Addressing adults – for the most part, the adults in our lives are friends and family. Close friends we refer to as “Auntie” and “Uncle” as they are extended family to us and very important in our lives!  As for adults at daycare, they like to be addressed by their first name and are sometimes referred to as “Teacher” – but always first name.  Come to think of it, there’s no one I can think of that we refer to as “Mr. or Mrs.”


When the children are young they address strangers or acquaintances as Mr. or Mrs. with the appropriate last name.  Family is Grandma or Grandpa with their appropriate last name, auntie or uncle with a first name, like Uncle Mark or Auntie Rose. Friends of the family can be addressed by first names or by Mr. or Mrs. depending on the particular person’s preference and their relationship.


Since I was brought up to address all of my elders formally (except immediate family), I am not sure why I find it acceptable for my children to be so casual with adults. Our family has so many professionals involved with our children from Infant Development Program, Children Therapy and Family Resource, and Children’s Hospital. As many of these professionals visit us in our home, they have become friends and family. Unless an adult introduces themselves to my children in a formal way, we have decided to use first names. Hopefully we don’t offend anyone. Times are changing.

Tamara V

I’m an old-fashioned girl.  When I’m back home in Winnipeg and I run into the parent of a high school friend I still call them Mr. and Mrs. X.  But, my kids call everyone under the age of 80 (ie. anyone not at least slightly shrivelled and gray) by their first name.  There are two reasons for this; 1.)  Many families have at least two surnames to tackle so it gets complicated, and 2.) Although I want my kids to be respectful of others, I don’t want them to defer to the direction and/or opinion of others based on their age alone.


My answer will be irrelevant because my kids don’t talk to other adults! Aside from grandparents. They are super shy. But typically they are on first name basis.

Jennifer H

Titles are reserved for adults of an “official” position, not for any reason than that they are introduced in that fashion.  For example “Dr. Smith” for Doctors, Dentists, ect.  Ms. Jane for pre-school teacher.  Good friends are called by their first names and adult relatives are all called by their association and first name ie. Aunty Jane.  That said close personal friends are sometimes given Aunt and Uncle titles and my best friends parents are refereed to as another set of Grandparents.


For the most part, my daughter addresses other adults by their first names. If, however, I would address the person by Mr/Mrs etc. or I overhear someone else address the person more formally, I will have my daughter address them formally as well.


It depends on the adult.  For our friends/coworkers, first name always.  For friends of my parents, first names.  For friends of their other grandparents, it would probably be Mr or Mrs.  The teachers at preschool/afterschool care are Teacher plus first name (Teacher Sandra, Teacher Tara).  At elementary school, Mr/Mrs.


Well I suppose this depends on the person their addressing.  My kids will call our family friends by their first names and their teachers by Mrs/Mr.  With their friends parents it seems to be mostly ______’s mom/dad!


I guess I have set the precedent for what my children call adults by how they hear me address other adults.  If they are very good friends then my children call them either auntie or uncle or by their first name.  I just felt awkward having my children call my close friends Mr. or Mrs. when they hear me call them by their first names all the time.  Conversely, if I am introducing my children to other teachers who I work with, or have worked with, I always introduce them as Mr. and Mrs. and expect my children to address them as such. Sometimes, I let the other adults decide how they will be addressed and sometimes, even though I would like my children to address certain people in a more respectful matter, they have already developed their own relationship with the adults and have decided how they will address them.  This is true of my three year old and our retired neighbours.  I would have preferred for her to address them by Mr., but before I could discuss this with her she was already yelling from our porch or backyard “Hi Stan! Hi George! What are you doing?” So much for formalities…


They address other adults by whatever we have introduced them as, teachers are Mrs and Mr, we are pretty informal.


Our children address different people in different ways; we mostly go with what the person wants. So anything from the first name to Mrs. D or Mrs. Full last name. My littlest ones have been known to call close girlfriends Mama so and so. There’s no set rule in place.


When our first son started talking we made him always use Mr. Mrs. Miss etc.  We both wanted him to learn to respect his elders.  Personally I like being called Mrs. Kier, I feel respected and that I have earned the right to be called that! Lol.  I have found it very difficult though as more and more friends and family will tell our children “oh don’t call me that – it makes me feel old!”  so we have resorted to allowing our kids to call them by whatever that particular adult wants to be called by.  Strangers and teachers it is always Mr. Mrs. or Miss., doctors are always Dr. _____ never first names.  Aunts, uncles and close friends we usually ask and whatever they decide is what my kids call them.


My little guy is just 2 1/2, so he doesn’t believe me when I tell him that his friend’s moms have names.  He corrects me and tells me that Rowan’s mom is called “Mommy”.  We use first names.  Mr/Mrs seems reserved for authority figures (i.e. teachers)  We do have a close adult friend who is in her late 60s in our lives who our son is not related to and we call her “Nannie” which in her culture means she is a special person to him.


My kids call most people by their first name.  For myself… as a teacher, “Mrs. deVries” is what I hear at work so it feels funny to hear it from my younger friends (my close friends’ children).  That being said, it becomes interesting when I teach them and then they need to learn that “Liz” is not appropriate for in the classroom or on the playground.  When I meet new adults, I try to remember to ask them how they would like my children to address them before I introduce them to my children.

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