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, Part 2
(In keeping with the principle that a long comment turned into its own post makes you look like a more consistent blogger, I place the following here instead of here. In keeping with the muzzy-headedness of a person coming down with a cold, it is long and rambling.)
In considering these forms of address, I note first one exception to any of these rules: kids I've known from times and places with different cultural expectations. I'd never expect Elisabeth or Paul or Kate to call me "Miss" anything. E & P have known me just as "Valerie" for a dozen years or do, and that's perfectly fine. K dubbed me "Bobbie" when she was a toddler, and that's finely perfect. I was taken a little aback, though, a couple years ago when I met an old friend's 6-year-old for the first time and was introduced as "Valerie." I let it slide because she's not a child I'm likely to develop much of a relationship with, but if she had been, I'd probably have asked her mom to make it "Miss Valerie."
As far as the time of transition from Mr./Mrs./Miss Soandso to a first-name basis goes, the consensus seems to be in keeping with what I've pretty much settled on: it should occur with the transition to independence -- college graduation or marriage or establishing one's own household as a single person.
As RC knows, I do prefer Miss Valerie to Miss Lastname, for the very reasons he mentioned in his comment -- it expresses affection and a familial sense, and one can carry on that sense into adulthood if everyone's content to do so. Miss Gloria, for instance, was always Miss Gloria to me and my brothers. We could never have called her by her first name alone. (Note here that "Miss Firstname" applies to both single and married ladies.)
But I can understand the few holdouts among my acquaintances who have kids in a school where Mr./Mrs./Miss Lastname is expected when addressing even faculty members who are beloved family friends. It's simpler just to be consistent and do the last name thing all 'round.
Where I run into a little more trouble is with kids who want to jump the gun a bit. And I will concede to the "Miss Lastname" folks that the too-eager ones tend to come from the families that do allow "Miss Valerie." I generally try to correct by asking, "Would you call Mrs. A 'Karen'? Then you should probably stick to 'Miss Valerie' for me." Or, "Would you call Mrs. B 'Angie'? Well, I'm older than she is!"
I'm comfortable with that line for church family kids, but it gets a little trickier when we go farther afield. So my next question is, how do I gently correct someone a little more distant without sounding ungracious? Or do I just let it slide? I don't want to be mean, but I feel as if I shouldn't treat it as unimportant. For instance, I had a Facebook friend request from a college student who addressed me as just "Valerie." I suspect this person (whom I don't know at all, and therefore probably won't accept, anyway) was raised with a cultural expectation that young people use honorifics for their parents' peers, and I don't want to undermine that. For one thing, I don't want subvert their parents' standards, and for another thing, I tend to think it's a good standard, myself, as an application of honoring "superiors in age" (WLC Q124).
I don't think Jane Austen's era was perfect, by any means, but I do regret that we've lost the whole concept of a clear system of social rules such as I know from her stories!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 6:04 PM
Yesterday's attempt got lost in cyberspace, so here I am again tempting providence. What I'd like to do, if such hijacking is allowed, is to marry two previous posts, and propitiously, do so by talking about me. That is, I struggle with similar issues as you address here, but as a pastor. I could be referred to by the sheep of Saint Peter as any of the following, Reverend Sproul, Pastor Sproul, Dr. Sproul, Mr. Sproul, RC, JR, or even Precious. My personal preference, as a general rule would be Pastor Sproul, though RC works fine for people who are not just parishoners, but personal friends. One way I seek to favor my preference unobtrusively is when I call the homes of parishoners. I always say, "Hello, so and so. This is Pastor Sproul calling. Can I speak with your mom or dad, please?" This, however weakly, creates some momentum in the direction I want to go. Having my own children refer to their pastors in like manner creates some more momentum. (Our parish pastor has for several years been known as Pito, I believe a familial Spanish form of Grandpa. Just recently I have asked my own children to call him Pastor Pito.
One way you might gather some momentum in your own context would be honest conversations with friends close enough that they could handle honesty. If you go to those who love you enough that you know they won't be offended, and ask them "Could you please have your children call me Miss Valerie?" then soon others wil follow. Honesty and subtely together- quite a pair.
On October 4, 2008 3:46 AMValerie (Kyriosity)wrote... I actually think I've had that sort of conversation with almost every family in the congregation. I guess that means we all handle honesty well! But there are a couple dads who are simply firm in their "Miss Lastname" standards, so my job becomes to reinforce that with their kids if the need arises. And a time or two I've nudged a parent or two to get their kids to be just a skosh more formal than a first-name basis. So I'm pretty cool with things at my own church. My current flummoxedness comes from young relative strangers whose families I do not know and to whom I cannot appeal, i.e., kidz on teh 'net.
On October 6, 2008 2:28 PMpentamomwrote... Maybe this is just an indication that I'm too lax, but I'm fairly sure that attempting to direct the etiquette of people (even children) on the Net with whom you have no other relationships, and who do not respond to a single gentle appeal toward your preference, is a lost cause, and something that simply needs to be covered by grace. It's just not your problem if people with whom you do not have actual real-life dealings are discourteous to you, just as it's annoying, but not your problem, when ill-mannered children at the Walmart push past you. I realize you have a somewhat more friendly relationship to the kidz you refer to, but ISTM the same limitations are there on your expectations of influencing them toward your own preferences, valid as those preferences are.
IOW, tell each one of them once, "I prefer to be known to my young friends as Miss Valerie," and leave it there. If they don't respond to that kind of appeal, it's probably because they've not been raised to think it important, and you're not going to change that. And I have to say that much as I prefer the kind of respect that more formal address toward adults signifies, and require it in my own children, the one who loses when it's omitted is not the adult, but the child. IOW, it doesn't hurt you when they address you discourteously, and if their parents haven't taught them either to address a grown lady properly or accede to her request when she asks them to, it's not even worth being flummoxed over. It's just life.
On October 6, 2008 5:26 PMpentamomwrote... Now to turn it around to my own problem: I'm sure everyone who's had kids over more than a few years' span has faced this, but it has me stumped.
There are grown women with children in our church, who grew up as older peers of my 17 year old. They were young teenagers when she was a preschooler, older teens when she was older elementary school age, etc. They were her friends more than anything.
But I also have a 7 year old.
It's really bizarre for me to think that at least one of my children, who's 17, can call these ladies by their first names, but at least one of them has to call them Mrs. So and So. And yet, one of them has a child who's only a few months younger than my seven year old. So she really is more the mom of his friend, than the friend of his sister.
Nothing seems to work logically, except what seems to be a strained formality, that leaves me not knowing WHAT to call these people (whom I first knew as little girls after I was already a mom) when we're talking about them over dinner! It's odd enough to refer to them as "first name" when talking to my older kids, and then walk into the next room and call them "Mrs So and So" with my younger kids. (And this doesn't even touch upon the no man's land of my 13 year old, who has vague memories of them as kids.) How can peers of one another not be peers of the same people? It is a puzzlement!
Does anyone have any thoughts? When did Lizzie get to start calling Charlotte Lucas, who was seven years older, "Charlotte?" ;-)