Valerie is a 42-year-old, single, Reformed Christian lady who lives in Baltimore. She doesn't remember a time
before she knew and loved Jesus, but she does remember accepting John Calvin into her heart in March of 2000.
Valerie is a member of Christ Reformed Evangelical Church in Annapolis.
Though her career aspiration is to be a housewife, Valerie has not yet found anyone suitable who wishes to hire
her for employment in that field (or, more properly, anyone suitable has not found her), so in the meantime she
earns her daily bread working in communications -- editing, writing, print design and website management.
Change of Address
When do you think it's proper for a young person to make the switch from Mr./Mrs./Miss/etc. to a first-name basis when addressing an adult? I'm assuming, with this question, a cultural milieu in which its generally agreed that children don't address their parents' peers by just their first names. The options that come to mind are a) after high school graduation, b) after college graduation, c) after becoming independent, d) after getting married, e) only when invited by the older person, or f) never--we should all go back to being highly formal in this arena. Your thoughts are of interest, so chime in!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10:12 PM
On September 29, 2008 12:17 AMBillwrote... I suppose I teeter between e and f, mainly because most of the young adults I know at church grew up calling me Mr. and just do it out of habit. What I find amusing is the several young men who have all recently graduated from USNA, therefore outranking me...and they still call me "Mr."
On September 29, 2008 11:05 AMAbra Mariewrote... I'm continually boggled by this one. Personally, I'm more comfortable addressing people formally. I was raised using Mr/Mrs/Miss and it never wore off. I feel awkward addressing folks by their first name unless they are my obvious peer. I usually use formality until they request I don't. But as to what would Emily Post do? I have no idea!
On September 29, 2008 11:39 AMpentamomwrote... Some of this will have to depend on the subcultures you move in. For example, in our church it's habitual for adults to encourage kids to start first-naming upon high school graduation. OTOH, using the more formal title is never, or ought never to be, a source of offense. (I dislike it when people act as though it is. I might gently say "Call me Jane" to a young adult when I think the time is right, but if they forget or persist in using the more formal title, I do not act as though it "makes me old" or any such silly modern notion.) Yet for a parent to insist upon continuing to use titles in a situation where those beyond a certain point are not expected to, or for an adult to insist upon being so addressed herself where it's not a usual expectation, might be placing formality over charity. As you well know, I don't believe the two are generally opposite concepts, but the overlap isn't 100%, either.
OTOH, there remain situations where, even though an 18 year old might be a social peer of an older adult, they're not positional peers. For example, I dislike the increasing tendency of college professors to accept being addressed by first name by their students. And I would think that a very young adult could still be appropriately introduced to a friend of a grandparent as "Mrs. So and So," though it hardly happens anymore.
So I think it is not clear-cut or at least not universal, and I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. Too much sloppiness is not good because it leaves people never knowing what the expectations are, but learning to navigate different levels and situations and do what makes the other person comfortable is part of mature manners as well.
On September 29, 2008 12:30 PMThe BadgerMumwrote... I still call my mom's friends Mrs ___. I remember the first time I started hearing some of the girls in my church calling our former 12th grade Sunday School teacher by her first name! I always called her Mrs S... and she never corrected me, and we were pretty friendly -- I'd known her my whole life.
OTOH, I have one young friend who still calls me Mrs Cumbee, even though some time after she married I told her she could call me Kelly. We'd only known each other a year or two before she married so it's not like we had the long relationship that I had with Mrs S. But still, I admit I do like it that she still calls me Mrs. :-)
In all, I'd guess it depends on the sub-culture as Jane said, and on the nature of your relationship with the young person in question -- whether y'all are peers, or if you're more of a mentor.
On September 30, 2008 4:05 PMrcwrote... Though this doesn't answer the question, I love the southern tradition of a title, followed by the first name. One of our elders is Mr. Don to the children, and one of our favorite infrequent visitors is known as Miss Valerie. This, I would guess, isn't so much a graduating kind of deal, so much as a blend of honoring our elders (that is, persons older, not officers of the church as in the above mentioned Mr. Don) while rejoicing in a relational closeness. The nice thing about it, though, is that it can go one forever.