Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Parent Trap

How many books do you think have been written on parenting? Lots. In fact, there are 62,604 listed on Amazon right now.

I've read my share of parenting books: 123 Magic, How to Potty Train your Child in Less than a Day, Parenting the Highly Spirited Child, Listen so Your Child will Speak and Speak so your Child will Listen. Parenting with Love and Logic, Playful Parenting, Connection Parenting, The Attachment Parenting Bible. On and on.

It's much more interesting to see how other parents do it, though.

As you know from this post, we were down south over the holiday weekend. There I observed one aspect of my SIL and BIL's parenting style during a large BBQ to celebrate my BIL's birthday.

A refresher: my nieces are 14 and 15. Their daughters' friends call them by their first names. It wasn't just the children of longtime family friends; it was all of the friends in their daughters' peer group. Not once during the weekend did I hear any reference to Dr. or Mrs. Conwisar.

I asked them about it.

Phil told me that their approach is to make their home a comfortable place where the girls want to hang out. Part of that is familiarity with the parents. They made a conscious decision to go this route and I applaud them for it.

Do we think this decision has geographic roots? I can hardly imagine my friend Kim, in Georgia, being called anything except for Mrs. Drew.

Dave and I are generally called Mr and Mrs. Morris. Unless the child is part of the European vacation clan, I've known their parents since before they were born or I've bathed them, I'm Mrs. Morris. We were up at Tahoe last summer at a restaurant with my brother's family and some of their friends. The friends' six-year-old addressed me by my first name. I said to her: Please call me Mrs. Morris. She gave me a funny look. C'est la vie.

The rabbi of the synagogue we have belonged to for the last eight years is my cousin. I went through a very short period of calling him by his first name. But then I reconsidered and went back to calling him rabbi as I think it's a sign of respect.

What do you think? Is it a personal decision? A geographically trended one?


The Glesser Family said...

I wouldn't be able to claim that this is geographical but rather personal for us. We always told our children to say Ms "insert firstname" as that is what we wanted to be called. For some reason being called Mrs. Glesser just didn't sound right to me. In fact there was a child calling me that once and I completely ignored him not realizing he was trying to get my attention. Alex's preschool followed this same method. But Jonathan's preschool went the Mrs route. He actually had to get used to it. This was all in the same town.

Thom Singer said...

We have not been too hard on this either way. If we are close, our kids use first name, if not it is more formal. I grew up and everyone called my friend Debbie's parents by their first name. I could not do it cuz of the way I was raised. Her parents preferred first name, and I was never able to do it. In the end, I think it is what the other person prefers. If I could do it over I would have called them Rich and Darleen.

Once at a summer party a kid called me "Mr. Singer", my reply was "you can call me Thom" which his mother, from the other room chimed in "NO HE CAN'T". I laughed to myself and respected the parents formal teaching.

Anonymous said...

We've always used first names - I was raised in Indiana and the kids in Arizona. The schools go all sorts of different ways - just seems to be based on teacher preference and not custom.

Paige said...

Oh I love this topic because I've literally never really thought about it! I don't even notice what people or kids call me. Plus in the church, they all call us "Sister" then last name.

But good for you telling that kid to call you Mrs. People should call you what you want to be called! Can everyone just call me "Sexy Mama"?