The topic of how children should address adults caught my interest last week while reading a blog on a social website for parenting issues.
Blogger Deanna Wong wrote that she was shocked to learn while reading a book to her 4-year-old daughter that the child did not know the meaning of the word "Mister."
Wong decried the increasingly casual approach to how children address adults. She has noticed a decline in the traditional method of children using Mr., Mrs. and Miss with the appropriate last name when speaking to adults. More youngsters are now calling adults by their first names, Wong wrote.
Bloggers on other parenting sites also are criticizing the trend, although some wrote that the practice remains culturally appropriate in southern states.
Wong asked family members and friends for their thoughts on the issue, and "unscientific research lead me to conclude that those who are between the ages of 42 and 50 can be blamed for the 'chummification' of the relationship between adults and kids and the disappearance of these formal terms."
I too have noticed a change in the way children address adults. My sons and their teammates almost always address their coaches by first name only. Our daycare supervisor asks to be called "Miss Jen." Even my priest is known to the congregation as "Rev. Gayle."
Some of my friends tell their children to call me "Miss Mary," which I don't mind because I realize Canonico is tough for a child to pronounce. Hearing "Mrs. Canonico" is somewhat jarring, so I admit "Miss Mary" makes me feel younger.
But then again, I am contributing to Wong's perceived chummification.
Thinking back to my childhood, I don't remember being allowed to address any adult non-relative by first name. I wonder what is fueling this trend toward causal social interaction between adults and children.
Are there social ramifications for this? I'm not sure. I wonder whether other parents have stricter policies on how they expect their children to address adults. I try to instruct my kids to use traditional methods of salutation, but they often do as other children are doing.