I’m a Southern-gal. Born and raised by my parents, both Southern folk. My mom, in fact, is a fourth-generation Texan. And, while my parents are quite progressive, there are some things that just stick with us, like unsweet iced tea, coordinating purses (especially at Easter), sitting with your ankles crossed, and addressing those that are senior to your age in a certain way.
I was raised to address my friends’ parents as Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so (without the actual So-and-so part). And, my friends did the same. Mrs. Berger would call my mom to see if I could spend the night with Michelle. Mr. Palumbo down the street drove a school bus and we were all a little bit afraid of him. And, Mrs. O’Keefe worked for the Mars candy company. She was EVERYONE’S favorite “mom” on Halloween!
Teachers were addressed much the same way, or at least with a “ma’am” or “sir” thrown in for extra measure. It was the way to address someone with respect at the time. And, it has become a dying form of communication.
I teach preschool now. My last name is quite a mouthful – a German surname with the harsh consonant rattles typical of the language. While it isn’t the most difficult name to pronounce (it does have vowels, unlike my teaching counter-part who has just two vowels in her 10-letter last name, and one is at the end), it can be a task for a four year-old to learn to say.
Many teachers at our school go by the “Ms. (insert name here)” rule. As long as the kids use the “Ms.” in front, they are welcome to use the first or last name. And, for a while, this was my rule, too. Most of my older son’s friends grew up calling me Ms. Judy. It bothered me a little, though. This isn’t how I was taught to address adults, and I wasn’t sure this is how I wanted my son to address adults. I had friends who asked that kids simply call them by their first names, but my son was taught otherwise. In fact, we did end up teaching our son to follow the “old fashioned” way – title + surname. Yes, it sounds more formal but, to me, it also sounds more respectful.
My kids in my class now address me by my last name (or by simply calling me “teacher” since a few of them can’t seem to be able to remember my last name yet). My parents of my kids in my class also address me by my last name. My hope is that my children realize that this method of addressing someone is a sign of respect. It goes hand-in-hand with ma’am and sir. For me, it is simply a matter of how we address those that are older than ourselves.
What are your thoughts? How do young people address you? How do you wish to be addressed? And, what is your reasoning?