I Think “Miss Mamaw” Has A Real Ring To It

Okay. I really am working on deadline-y things. It’s been a good week in that regard (now I just have 6,000-ish words left), and I’ll be right back at it tomorrow morning. Or, if you’re feeling particularly punny, I’ll be write back at it.

I know. That was terrible. I do apologize.

Anyway, I hopped on here really quick tonight because I’ve been thinking about something all day (well, ever since I picked up the little man from VBS), and it’s one of those things where I’m dying to know how this situation goes in other parts of the country / world / etc. and so on and so forth.

Today, when I walked in the church for pick-up, I was on the way to A’s room when I saw a few of his friends from school. The first one said, “Hey, Sophie Hudson!” – and it made me laugh because oh, I do enjoy an outgoing child. The second friend said, “Hey, Miss Sophie,” which is probably the greeting that I expect more than any other because it’s pretty traditional here in the South (and most people say “Miss” in front of the name regardless of marital status). The third friend said, “Hi, Mrs. Hudson,” very sweet and official-like.

By the way, let’s hear it for children who look grown-ups in the eye and say hello. I AM A FAN.

I always introduce my friends to Alex as Miss First Name, but I’ve noticed that some of my friends introduce other moms to their kids as Mrs. Last Name. Since I grew up in a town where we weren’t very formal in terms of how we greeted adults, I’m most accustomed to Miss First Name (or even just First Name) – it feels homey and comfortable to me.

SO – here’s my question. What’s your preferred way for kids to address grown-ups? What’s the norm where you live? Do you have a preference one way or another?

Miss Mamaw

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  1. Stacey says:

    In general it’s Miss First Name unless there is a reason to be more formal.

  2. Stacey says:

    But I am in the south (LA). I recently moved back from an area of Florida populated mainly by northerners (from Chicago, NY, NJ, MA) and they all seem to just have the kids call adults by their first name.

  3. Around here (northern Indiana), we typically don’t even use “Miss” (or “Mrs.” + last name) unless the adult is their teacher or dance instructor or something. I grew up calling my friends’ parents (and my parents’ friends) simply by their first names.

    We do have some friends at church now who have their kids call us by “Miss” or “Mr.” plus our first names. So then we have that weird dilemma of what to have our kids call them. Mostly we try to match what each family does, but it gets confusing!

  4. Michelle says:

    For most people I say, “Miss First Name,” but there are some people that I use last name….like my boss. Basically if call them by their last name, I introduce her to them using their last name.

  5. cwtampa says:

    My parents are old-school, so it was ALWAYS Mrs. Last Name. I will never forget the humiliation I felt when one of my friends was corrected after calling my mother by her first name – long after college graduation. I live in SC, and it’s a split between Miss First Name and Mrs. Last Name. I encourage my kids to call everyone Mr. and Mrs. Last Name, but I don’t think anything about being called Miss First Name. I agree that it’s delightful to have a kid call you by any name instead of ignoring you until snack time.

  6. Robyn (3girlsmom) says:

    First, your little man is one of the most well-mannered children I’ve ever been around. Well done, mama.

    I’m a fan of the “Miss First Name” but I love a “yes/no ma’am/sir” more than anything in the whole world.

  7. Here on the West Coast, people are pretty informal and usually kids call adults by their first names only. But my husband and I were sticklers for manners, and we made our kids do Mrs. Last Name or Auntie First Name (for women only, obviously). Then we moved to Mauritania, and in our little circle of expats they were the only ones doing this. Sigh. Oh well. Didn’t hurt them. Now they’re all teens and I tell them it’s okay to switch to first names for most adults, but they’re struggling with how weird it feels.

  8. OH except for a family in the expat circle in Maur (see my previous comment) who were from Tennessee and called us all Miss First Name. It was so cute!

  9. Lauren says:

    I’m from East Tennessee, and my parents always introduced themselves to my friends with their first names. Even my grandparents wanted my friends to call them by their first names or by their “grandparent names” (Pop and Mamaw :) ). I don’t remember calling any of my friends’ parents Mr. or Mrs. unless they were teachers at my elementary school. (It was hard to get used to calling middle and high school teachers I’d known my whole life by Mr. or Mrs. Last Name when I was old enough to be in their classes!)

    The mother of a college friend recommended that all of her children’s friends call her and her husband Mr. and Mrs. Last Name until we graduated from college. It was so foreign to me and seemed so uncomfortable.

  10. Melissa S says:

    mostly Mr/Mrs. last name – some really close friends of ours Miss/mr first name – never just a first name. (nashville, tn)

  11. Stephanie says:

    The standard here in Idaho is Mr & Mrs. Last Name. All of our church friends and even youth leaders are Mr/Mrs. The only exception to that seems to be younger coaches – my high school aged son had a b-ball coach that was a college student who he called Coach First Name.

  12. I prefer “Miss Aimee” but “Mrs. (Last Name)” is ok, too. I wasn’t raised to call people with a Mr. or Miss before a first or last name, but once my kids came along, I wanted them to not address adults by only their first name.

    I live in West Virginia. So, to be honest, it’s common for kids to call any relative by a family nickname. “Sissy” is a common nickname for sisters, cousins, neices, you name it. And “Bubby” is common for little boys, particularly those with siblings, and “Bub” when he’s older.

    My grandmother’s nickname was “Babe” because she was the baby of the family. Her nieces and nephews called her “Aunt Babe.” But hey, we’re West Virginia. We’re the most northern of the southern states and the most southern of the northern states. Kinda weird and quirky, but good people. :)

    • My dad’s family called his sister (so, my aunt) Sis, so when we were kids, she became Aunt Sis. It didn’t even once occur to me that this was weird until my then boyfriend – now husband – went “wait, you call her what?”

      • My neices and nephews call me Aunt Sissy because that’s what everyone called me growing up.. haha! Never thought about it confusing them… but there’s already enough to confuse the mess out of them when it comes to my family. ;)

        • My nephews call me ‘Sissy’ because that’s what my sister called me when she was little, and when my nephews were old enough to talk, it was too hard for them to say my name (‘Aunt Angela’ is a mouthful!! hee hee)

  13. Carrie says:

    I’m in California and everyone is very informal and go by first name except us. My kids use Mr. and Mrs. Last Name or Coach First Name. My friends all think its weird, but we are sticking to outr guns! It’s a respect thing for us. They are your elders and you be polite and respectful.

    • ohlookaduck says:

      Amen. We do the same. Of course, respect is also an attitude (looking grown ups in the eye and saying hello goes along with that no matter what title they use!), but we think respect is a sorely lacking thing in our too casual California culture. And we do the sir/ma’am thing also.

      I’ve also had dear, dear older friends and I’ve comfortably called them Mrs. (last name) even though they felt like bosom buddies. I had no problem with it–some think it shows distance, but it never felt like it to us.

  14. Tammy Elrod says:

    We have recently joined a new church, very conservative and traditional. All adult females are addressed by Mrs. (or Miss) Last Name. Even the pastor (when around kids/teens) speaks to them in that way. It may be a little formal but it does provide the example of respect that is too often missing in our child rearing practices today. Our associate pastor calls my Mrs. Elrod as do all of the kids/teens. The men in our church are addressed as Brother Last Name. While it was different for us for a while, I have definitely noticed that the level of respect within our church at all ages is increased and uplifted.

  15. For little kids, we do Miss/Mrs First Name. Single ladies are Miss, and Married ones are Mrs. And it is a Big Super Fun Deal when a Miss becomes a Mrs. :) First names are easier for little ones to say here in California when you run into last names like Houk-Ishitoya.

    Older kids can handle last names, so when they meet some one it would be Miss/Mrs/Mr Last Name. But there’s also a level of friendship intimacy and longevity. If its someone they’ve known all their life, going from Mrs Tracy to Mrs Johnson, seems weird. And if its someone your family is close to, that level of formality seems too much. I have a set of “nephews” that call me Auntie Dawnie because I’ve known their mom over half my life, and it would be weird to have a formal name from the kids of one of my best friends.

  16. I just recently moved from Birmingham to Louisville KY….. (and oh how I miss home… But that’s another topic)
    When we moved into our home and were meeting our neighbor’s small children, I introduced myself as Miss Traci, which is all I’ve ever been called back home by my kids in VBS, Sunday school & my children’s friends.
    Our new neighbor promptly corrected me and said “he will call you Mrs. Collins. We are teaching him manners.”
    We’ll okay then.
    Louisville is not what I would call a Southern town & I have noticed way more children refer to me as Mrs. Collins.

  17. I think, especially with smaller children, that it’s important to have a Miss or Mrs. in front. I’m a huge fan of Miss. I’m especially thrilled with first names. It’s probably because I’m from the south too. ;) But I feel that when the Miss or Mrs. is added it shows respect.

  18. Christie says:

    I live in a small town in Deep East Texas, and I grew up calling my parents’ close friends Mr/Miss FirstName and other adults Mr/Mrs LastName. I’m almost 40, and I still don’t call adults that I met as a child by their first names. My children follow the same pattern, but also call some of our very close friends Aunt/Uncle FirstName. And, yes/no ma’am/sir are a habit.

  19. I’m in Louisiana and it’s definitely Miss First Name and Mr. First Name. Unless of course you are a young relative and they ALL call us Aunt First Name or Uncle First Name.
    I never thought this to be a problem until my son (an eighth grader at the time) asked me for help, because “I just don’t get this aunt, uncle, cousin thing!” He had been calling people “Uncle” all his life and then somehow figuring it couldn’t be right…or could it? He was thoroughly confused!

  20. I’m in OKC, (Go Thunder!) and I love Miss First Name, or Mrs. Last name, never just first name. I do think it’s strange for teenage kids to use the “Miss”, but my kids are still little, so we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

    • Lindsay says:

      I’m in Seattle, and I’m having a hard time being happy for the Thunder. Now I’m just licking my wounds. Ha! I’m sure I’ll get over it and cheer them on :D

      • My kids did the Miss First Name when they were young. Now that they are older they generally just use the first names. (I am in OKC, too! Stayed up too late watching the game but totally worth it! Go Thunder)

    • I’m in OKC too and yes! Go Thunder! We are also Miss and Mr. First name with a few of our elderly ladies in church who are Mrs. Last Name.
      I remember one time when I was a kid and I addressed one of my grandmother’s friends by her first name in front of my grandpa. It was the only time in my life he ever got on to me and I never forgot it!

  21. Miss First Name most definitely. I think using the Miss First name is so sweet and approachable. I still call all of my elders by Miss First Name, even though I’m 40 or so years old. I can’t bring myself to call the sweet little lady at church just “Thelma” when she is 20 years my senior.

  22. I prefer to just be called Jamie, but I understand the Miss First Name thing. I’d rather not ever be called Mrs. Last Name. haha!! Way to formal for me. The way we grew up, we just called everyone by their name. I had never heard of Miss First name until we moved to South Georgia. :) I am teaching my son proper southern manners though.

  23. I live in Oregon but was raised in Louisiana. SO even though we live in an area that it is very casual, I have alwasy introdiced my friends as Miss___. And I will say it has caught on with alot of my other friends. I love keeping the sweetness of this tradition.

  24. I’m from Minnesota and around here most children call adults by their first name. My children though, will be calling all adults Mr. or Mrs. Last name until they are adults themselves. I usually introduce myself to their friends as Mrs. Last name and the kids just go with it.

  25. My girls are adults; they still call some of my closest friends Miss First Name and some of my other friends Mrs Last Name.

    I am still called Miss Leigh by some of my friend’s adult kids and I love it. Some call me Mrs E., and I like that, too.

    I never let my girls when they were children call an adult by their first name, always a Miss or Mrs.

    I was raised in the South and raised my kids in Texas.

  26. Here in south Georgia, it’s Miss First Name, and that’s the way I like it. When we lived in the Atlanta area my son was corrected by his friend’s mother for saying, “Yes, m’am,” to her. (She was from New York.) What I want to know is what everyone calls their mother-in-law. My husband has always called my Mama by her first name, so I do the same with his mother, but it still feels weird after all these years (27 to be exact).

    • Since we have had kids we call our MILs by their grandma name. Actually come to think of it around here anyone that’s a grandma is called by their grandma name. I even started calling my best friends mom MiMi after she started having grandchildren. Texas Panhandle.

    • I wonder about the MIL thing, too! I was 17 when my husband and I started dating, so his mom was Mrs Last Name. I never knew when/how to make the switch so now after 13 years together–9 married–and two kids, it’s just super awkward and I avoid calling her anything at all! My FIL still calls his 85-year-old in-laws Mr and Mrs Last Name

    • Dianne says:

      My son (27) is about to get married. His fiance still calls me Mrs. Last Name. I hope she’ll feel comfortable enough to switch to my first name before too long, but I understand the awkwardness. It took me a few years to make the switch with my MIL.

      • My MIL was Mrs. Last Name until grands… then she became Grandma. Can’t call her by her first name. Just can’t do it.

  27. I grew up in Houston and Southern California (parents are from the Midwest) and we called everyone by Mr./Mrs./Miss Last Name. Some of my friends were allowed to call other adults by just their first name; I tried that once when referencing my neighbor in a story to my mom. Didn’t fly…at all. I had never heard of anyone using Mr./Mrs./Miss First Name until I was in high school; some of my friends used it for their close friends’ parents, but I just assumed that was because they had known each other forever.
    This is just the way I was raised, but with someone who is older than me (around my parents age) or in a position of authority (boss), I always default to the last name unless he or she tells me otherwise. I also do this for all of the parents of my students (the parents are all older than me). I’ve always seen it as a sign of respect, and it kind of makes me cringe to see a young person meeting adult Jane Smith for the first time and saying, “Hi Jane!” But I also think its silly for any older teen or someone in their early twenties to say “Hi Miss Jane!” to someone they don’t have a close relationship with. So I guess different situations call for different rules? And from reading the above comments, it looks like where you live can also set the rules. Yikes, this post sure has me thinking! In any case, I think the names of anyone significantly older than you or in a position of authority should have a prefix.

  28. Here in Ireland, as a kid our parents friends were always called “Uncle Firstname” and “Auntie Firstname”…..but now things are much more informal, and our kids friends just call us by our first names.

    Back in the day, all ministers and pastors were “Rev Surname” to everyone (adults and kids) but these days everyone (from toddlers up) just use firstnames.

    • my parents and their circle of friends were all German immigrants in the Chicago area and we called all those in that close circle “Onkel” for the man and “Tante” for the woman, or Aunt and Uncle. must be a European/non US thing.

  29. Holly B. says:

    My hubby and I live in France now, but I grew up in Ohio. I remember calling adults by their first names.
    In France or in the States, I prefer Mr. and Mrs. Last Name, or if too formal for my friends, Miss or Mr. First Name. I think that a title shows respect. Here in France, adults are almost always called by their first names. I plan on trying Mr. and Mrs. (either last or 1st name) when my little one is old enough to speak. My Anglophone friends from Ireland and S. Africa have their kiddos call me Aunt Holly (sweet).
    Of course, when it comes to school here in France, it’s even more complicated:

    Preschool: teachers go by 1st names.
    Elementary school: “Teacher” (in French, of course).
    Junior high/high school: Mr. and Mrs.

    As a former teacher and student, I can’t imagine having students call me by my 1st name! :o)

  30. I grew up in the home of two VERY Southern Southerners. We visited both TN and LA every single summer, and back there I was raised to use, “Miss First Name”.

    On the West Coast where I lived, it was “Mr or Mrs. Last Name” until the adult gave you permission to use their first name. At which time I used “Miss First Name”.

    As I got older, I continued with Mr/Mrs Last Name especially at work as a Contact Center Agent.

    But, and this would make my Grandma proud, every time I answered a call and the female voice on the other end was Southern? Regardless of their perceived age, it was “Miss First Name” and Yes, ma’am/No ma’am” *which went to the Southern gentlemen, too, of course).

    When we moved back ‘home’ to MS/LA for awhile, I became “Miss Kelli”. And I positively loved it. About as much as when I was 8, visiting my grandparent’s, and the much-older box boy called me Ma’am.

    I was tickled.

    At 40 something, I am still the same way.

  31. Michele says:

    Im in Virginia. We were always Miss First Name (except some very close family friends who were Aunt). Also, we did use Mrs. Last Name for most of the older ladies in our church.

  32. I’m from Georgia – and still live there. I am raising my children the way I was raised. Children should never address an adult by just their first name. Basically, if it is not someone I am close enough with to use their first name, my children and I both address them as Mr/Mrs last name. If I am close enough to the person to call them by first name, my children call them Mr. or Mrs. first name. I also call women who are older than me by Miss First Name – even if I know them well. And then there are the people who are not actually aunts or uncles, but are close enough to warrant distinguishing from Miss First Name. Like the best friends next door, or the cousin whose daughter is my daughters best friend. Those folks are “Aunt/Uncle First Name.

    Confusing, I know – but the bottom line is it is disrespectful for a child to address an adult by their first name only. And Yes/No Ma’am/Sir is ALWAYS required.

  33. Jeanie says:

    I live in the midwest and my children’s friends always called me Mrs. (Lastname). I always introduced myself as Mrs. too. If they were very good friends, we usually took it down a notch to my first name. Sometimes people have introduced me to their children as Miss Jeanie and I just try to kindly correct it to Mrs. (Lastname). It might be a generational thing…I’m almost 50 but the bug man, the post man, the lawn guy..they all call me Mrs. and I’ve known them all for decades. LOL

  34. Miss and first name unless it’s maybe someone in their eighties plus and then I’d do Mrs. Last name, I think.

  35. J. Johnson says:

    I grew up in central Illinois, and I was raised to always say Mr./Mrs. Last Name. With the exception of our pastor, who was Pastor Bill to everyone, and one lady at church who EVERYONE called by her first name. When I married and we lived in NC and VA (military), it seemed like the majority there were called Miss/Mr. First Name. Now that I am back living in a western suburb of Chicago, it is a mix. If the family is from the South, it seems like they call people Miss/Mr. First Name. If they were raised here, they use Mr./Mrs. Last Name.

  36. nlynch says:

    Miss First Name and I also am a HUGE fan of the yes/no ma’am/sir!

  37. I grew up in Rhode Island and my dad was big on respect. We always called people Mrs./Mr. Last Name. I remember him telling me when I was old enough to understand – “I don’t care if they say you can call them by their first name, you don’t, it is always Mrs. So an so.” It’s so ingrained in me now that I don’t know that I could do anything different. I don’t have kids, but if I did, living here in the South now, it would probably be Miss First Name or I may revert to Mrs. Last Name. But as a few posters already mentioned, it will always be Yes/No Ma’am/Sir. My cousin and his family just relocated down here from England and they are already thrilled with the southern manners and how that will have an impact on their kids.

  38. btw – it’s not that the kids (or the people we know for that matter) are rude, it’s just that there’s a warmth behind the manners in the South. We’re polite where I’m from, but sometimes it can come across as cold.

  39. Born and raised in Southern Ohio, Dayton in fact. We are a college and military town so, I’ve heard all these. I was raised to say Mr./Mrs/Miss. There were a few exceptions like our small church in a very small town south of us growing up it was more of the southern tradition of first names or Miss. My kids call everyone Mr./Mrs./Miss. We live in the town I grew up in, I work at the elementary school, and my husband is on City Council. Our kids have to meet a lot of people so we keep it pretty formal. Our oldest are teens and soon we will be thinking about when and how do we transition to letting or encouraging their friends to call us by our first names. With some of our friends that have college kids, I’ve asked them to please call me Emily.

  40. Officially I don’t know. But unofficially it’s Mrs. last name. I have never in my life called anyone Miss first name. I believe that might be a totally southern thing. And I live in the north. But I do think it’s sweet. It reminds me of Gone With the Wind – Miss Mellie and Miss Scarlet. That would totally get my vote.
    I worked at the HS before I went over to the elementary library. The kids at the HS knew me as Lee’s mom and so they all called me Mama last name. I thought it was sweet. Over at the elementary everyone called Mrs. last name. I hated it. But officially it was the norm.
    Once a parent is familiar with a child’s friend I think it’s ok to call just by the first name. Unless they get the name wrong, which has happened lol.
    Traditions tend to run in families and in locations.
    Are you confused yet?

    Hugs from Minnesota

  41. Growing up, I called my friends’ parents Mr/Mrs. Surname, and so did my friends. We all grew up in a suburb of Dallas. My husband and I moved out further east from Dallas (on the very edge of East Texas), and everyone in that town had kids call the adults Mr./Miss First Name. I like that, so we’re sticking to that (even though I so dislike the way Miss Amanda sounds…prissy to my ears, but that’s a personal thing, I would reckon). I did have a friend who tried calling my husband and I Uncle/Aunt, but that bothered my mom so much (her family is very particular about only calling family by family names) that when we had our first child and didn’t reciprocate with the aunt/uncle thing, my friend dropped it. That was awkward. But I wanted to honor my mom.

  42. I go by Mrs. Clark and Miss Wendy. I still call my mom’s friends (and I’m 39) by Miss ______.

  43. Lori H says:

    Usually Mr./Mrs. Last Name until the person instructs them to call them otherwise (my kids are 20 and 17 so by now some of our friends ask them to call them by their first name). I answer to whatever the parents told their kids to call me.

    • “I answer to whatever the parents told their kids to call me.”–This is a great point. While we are trying to instill manners in our kids with how we teach them to address adults, I don’t feel the need to tell other people’s kids what to call me. Unless they were calling me something ugly, of course. : )

  44. I grew up in GA and now live in SC. I prefer children to call me Mrs. Merritt. Some slip and call me Miss Nikki because that’s how their parents refer to me because that’s what most people go by. However, I prefer Mrs. Merritt not because it’s more formal, but because it’s more respectful. I am not my children’s friends friend. My mom let my sister’s friends (my sister is 20 years younger than I am) call her by her first name and I think that’s a slippery slope. They think of my mom as a friend, not as an adult whose rules should be respected and followed. I never called an adult by their first name until they invited me to do so (which wasn’t until after I was married, for the most part).

  45. Nate's Mom says:

    Here in Maryland, when kids are before about 1st grade, it’s Miss Mary, then it generally turns into Mrs. Land. The Mrs. is usually pronounced Miz, which doesn’t have anything to do with Ms.

    Among people we know, it’s kinda low brow to allow your children to use first name to address any adult, except maybe a cousin. Unless that cousin is older, in which case it’s Cousin Mary, not Mrs. Land. My child would be corrected for using first name only, and he knows it. He is 12, and a close family friend could be Mr. Bob. A coach can be Coach John, but only at his suggestion.

  46. I grew up in a small town in SW Ga. Everyone was Miss First Name or Mr. First Name. I even went to a Dr. First Name. After college, I moved to NE Fl, and everyone was Mrs. & Mr. Last Name, which I found all too formal and sort of stuffy. And my husband called some of his parents’ friends by just their first names, which I found a touch disrespectful. I’ve noticed a shift in that though, now my kids call all my friends Miss or Mr. First Name.

  47. Holly M. says:

    We are in East Texas, and mostly the kids use Ms./Mr./Coach First Name. Now quite a few years ago when my grandmother was still alive, everyone called her Ganga. I was the first born grandchild, and where I came up with that name is still a mystery, but it stuck. And when I sy stuck, I mean EVERYONE in town called her that. The folks at the store, the bank, church, etc… All of our friends, their parents, literally everyone. I hope someday I can be that special ;-)

  48. I am from and currently live in the south. It is the norm for kids to address adults as Miss Beth and Mister Dan. However, my husband is from the north where it is the norm (or at least was the norm when he was growing up – or coming along as we call it!) to use Mrs. Cotell and Mr. Cotell.

    We expect our kids to use Mrs. XXXX and Mr. XXXX for all adults that they are addressing. In school, they are expected to address their teachers like that and we think it shows more respect for their elders.

    While we prefer this for our children, it is perfectly acceptable for other children to call me Miss Beth. I am not at all bothered or offended by that. However, it really ruffles my tail feathers when an 8-year-old calls me Beth.

  49. I grew up in a (very) small town in Georgia and we all said Miss and Mr First Name. I always liked it because it’s familiar, but there’s still a sense of respect. But all of my Atlanta friends say Mrs and Mr Last Name and it still weirds me out to hear my parents called that. Whenever someone calls my dad Mr. Rhodes, he says, I’m Lee, Mr. Rhodes is my dad. I think I will have my children say Mr and Miss First Name, even though it’s not really the norm around here.

  50. My oldest two were born in California, and we taught them to address adults as Miss First Name. They were among the ultra-polite there, because other kids called adults by first name only (if they addressed them at all). Then we moved to South Carolina, where they became the moderately-polite, because many kids here are taught to use Mrs. Last Name. Our particular area of SC is populated by a lot of “transplants,” though, so you do hear adults addressed in any of the above ways. Side-note–as a kid growing up in Missouri, I called my parents’ closest friends Aunt First Name even though we were not related.

  51. I know a lot of people who prefer Mrs. Last Name, but I am just not comfortable with the formality. I prefer Miss First Name. I feel like it offers respect, but still makes the grown up approachable. In fairness, this may be justification I’ve come up with to deal with the fact that I hate to be called Mrs. Last Name.

    For closer friends, we also do a lot of Aunt, Uncle, Grandma. We’ve moved away from family, and it’s important to me that my kids get some adopted local family.

  52. Cherry says:

    I was raised using Ms. or Mr. First Name. We raised our daughter the same way. I’m 54 and still call my elders at church, Ms. Erma, Ms. Lucille, Mr. Don…. By the way, my mom had an uncle that all his siblings called him “brother”, so they called him “Uncle Brother.” When he died, they didn’t even know his real name, they had to go back to his birth certificate to find out!

  53. Mandy S says:

    I’m from Pennsylvania. I grew up calling everyone Mrs. Last Name. For the most part, I have my kids use Miss First Name. I feel it’s slightly less formal (more friendly) but still very respectful. The decision to switch to Miss First Name still gets funny looks from some of my friends and their kids though, because it seems that in my area, just using first name is acceptable. It’s a matter of respect for me, so my kids are taught to address people as Mr. or Miss First Name and I use the same format to introduce myself. And I have little problem kindly correcting kids who slip into just calling me by my first name. :-)

  54. I’m from Iowa, but live in Minnesota. I introduce my kids to new people as Mrs Last Name. Sometimes that person will be happy to be Mrs Last Name. Sometimes that person will say “Just call me First Name, if that’s okay with your mom”. Drives me nuts when people try to be all Southern and introduce me to their kids as Mrs First Name. Also, when adults call me and my hubby (with no children present) as Miss/Mr First Name despite the fact that they are our age.

  55. In Brownsville (Tennessee) it was Mr. and Miss First Name all the way. In fact, I was probably ten years old before I realized that other people had last names.

    We called our elementary teachers Miss First Name, but from fifth grade on the teachers insisted on using Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. Except for our high school principal and everyone called him Mr. Gordon. I never thought about it until now. Anyhoo, we also called our doctors and dentists by Mr. First Name. Our boys call their pediatrician using the same address, but we grew up with Chris, so it makes total sense to him.

    When some new neighbors moved next door when I was about seven or eight, Miss Susan told me that I could just call her Susan if I liked. Stunned, I told her that I could never do that or else Mama and Grandmama would kill me first and then have strokes.

    Good luck on the 6,000 words.

  56. I am not a southerner, but I introduce people to my children as Miss/Mr. First Name. I believe it shows respect and yet helps them know who we are talking about in later conversations. Or maybe it’s just because my last name is so hard to pronounce. Ha! Anyway, I think it’s very nice for kids to be able to talk with adults but also to realize that they are not exactly like their buddies and should be listened to and respected.

  57. Since my first name is Missy, I refuse to be anything but Mrs. ___Last Name. To teens or older, I’m plain Missy. For my own elementary aged children, I have them call my friends Ms. First Name. Family members get the label in front: Aunt Mindy, Uncle Rick, etc.

  58. We always said Miss so-and-so and that’s what I have my girls do. I have friends who INSIST on their kids saying Mrs. last name and all their friends hate it. I hate being called Mrs. Stamps but I cringe at hearing kids call adults by their first names. I think there should be some level of respect.
    All though when teenagers at church call me Mrs. Stamps or Miss Kelly – I feel like I need to go home and take geritol and watch Wheel of Fortune and knit.

  59. Nelson's Mama says:

    I’ll be fifty in a few days and can I tell how much I DISLIKE being called Miss or Mrs.!!!

    I like for sweet, polite little southern children to address me by my first name and to make eye contact and use “Yes, Ma’am” or No, Ma’am”.

  60. Born and raised in Boston, we use Mr & Mrs last name. Dance and VBS have been known to go by Miss First name. I am 42 and still call my moms friends Mr & Mrs and dad still calls my old dance teacher (who we are friends with ) Miss Jan even though she passed being a Miss many moons ago.

    I too love yes ma’am/no sir and my children do it. Some look at us strangely but it just seems polite.

  61. Well, we’ve kind of done it both ways around here (in Houston, and more particularly, with my friends and family). When my daughter (now 15 years old) was little, we had her call everyone Miss First Name or Mr. First Name. When she got a little older, say around 10-12, we mostly had her use last names. But one of my best friends is still Miss Wendy, and I’m still Miss Beth to her kids.

  62. I grew up just south of Houston (though I’m in DC now), and pronunciation-wise, all ladies are “miss” even if they are “missus” by marital status; men are “mister.” There were some adults that I called Miss/Mr. First and others I called Miss/Mr. Last, and I think that depended on their preference, not necessarily how well I knew them. In my church, the norm was that teachers were Miss/Mr. First (our pastor was Rev. First) and if you didn’t know an adult personally you certainly referred to them as Miss/Mr. Last. The first time I called an adult by their first name without an honorific in front of it was my friend’s mom in 6th grade, by her request. I actually asked my mom if it was ok for me to call Mrs. S “Laurel” because I was afraid I’d get in trouble. (Amusing side note: Laurel refers to my mom as Mrs. Last and me as Little Miss Last, which tickles me).

    Once I got to be college aged, certain people would randomly say “Kim, you can call me First now.” If they asked I would switch, and some people I just initated the switch at the same time. That depended on my relationship with them, though. There are still some people (regardless of relationship) that I call the same thing I called them when I was a kid- I can’t imagine calling Miss Lucy just “Lucy”!

    I prefer for kids to call me Miss Kim and don’t mind if they call me Miss Last. It’s slightly jarring for a child below 18 to call me just Kim, and I’m 26. I only have one close friend with a child at this point, and though he isn’t old enough to talk, she’s already referring to me as Auntie Kim.

    On the yes, ma’am/no, sir subject: yes, always, no question about it, no matter the age. When I worked with 2 year olds at a day care and they would come up to me, “Miss Kim, Miss Kim!” my response was always “yes, ma’am?” I remember adults doing the same to me when I was a child. How are you going to teach a child respect if you don’t show it to them?

    Apparently I have some thoughts on this subject :)

  63. As a pre-schooler, we taught our daughter Miss First Name. Most of the time first names are easier to pronounce. As she got older, we introduced adults as Mrs. Last Name. She has a few “honorary” Aunts– very close friends where something more initimate was appropriate. She nicknamed one of my dearest friends trying to say her name as a child and it stuck…kind of like a grandma name. She was taught to call these adults by these names UNTIL THEY SUGGEST SHE USE THEIR FIRST NAMES. I was taken aback one day when a friend’s daughter who has called me Miss Gwen all of her life dropped the Miss. Call me old-fashioned. I’m nearly 60 years old & still use Miss and Mrs. for ladies older than I, UNLESS the lady has asked me to use her given name. We taught her to say yes & no, mam/sir. We’re in FL and had one public school teacher in 12 years who objected (rather rudely!) to “mam.”

  64. When I was younger, my parents wanted me to address my friends parents as “Mrs so and so” which I did, but now I think it’s way too formal and I prefer just “Megan” or “Miss Megan” I was raised in VA, but am now in Knoxville, TN

  65. I grew up in the north and I always greeted adults as Mrs. (Last name) and had never heard of the Miss (first name) until I moved South (Kentucky). Here it seems that adults are all Miss (first name) and I’m good with that. I like it much more:) If my daughter doesn’t refer to my friends as “Aunt” (first name) then it’s Miss (first name).

  66. votemom says:

    i use a mix of “miss” and “mr/mrs”. never first names. i’m in michigan.

    when my older kids friends turn 21 i encourage them to start using my first name when they address me. it’s so awkward to make the switch. if i remind them enough, they almost always switch. there are a few who just can’t tho ;o)

  67. Generally, I introduce as Miss First Name. But with my oldest starting school in August, I’ve started more with the Miss Last Name since she knows some of the teachers by Miss FN but will have to call them Miss LN at school. Quite confusing for a 5 year old.

  68. Ashley says:

    My kids have ALWAYS called adults “Miss First Name”, they learned that at their preschool and it has stuck with them, even now, they are 1st and 2nd graders and I still think it’s too cute. O course I do get the occasional “Hey Mason’s Mom”, lol, I don’t mind that title either! :)
    and btw, we live in Hsv, AL…..not to far from ya!
    Ashley :)

  69. We feel most comfortable with Miss or Mr. First Name. Now that my kids are teens some of their youth leaders prefer to just be called by their first names. It feels wrong. I’ve told my kids at least in my presence to call them Miss or Mr. For me, during the school year I’m called Mrs. Mongold, so I get used to being called that and it feels right. I guess it’s just a teacher thing. Most kids call me that, so if a friends kids call out Miss Lisa or just Lisa I usually don’t respond because I don’t think they’re talking to me.

  70. I grew up in New Orleans and went to college in Columbus, MS and there’s no question about it — MISS FIRST NAME is the way to go. After college when I introduced my parents to my boyfriend (who grew up in Dallas), I was SHOCKED when he addressed them by first name only. They didn’t seem to mind, but it still blows my mind. Guess they do things differently in Texas…

  71. Melanie says:

    We are new to the Dallas area, having moved from St. Louis. I’ve taught my kids to use Mr./Mrs. Last Name, mostly cause I think there is a huge lack of respect these days with the current kid population, where they feel they can talk smack with their elders and get away with it. I figured teaching my kids to call them by a more formal name would signal to them that they are not equals, and that adults are deserving of their respect (of course, I think children should be respected too, but that is a different post).

  72. Well…I’m always Miss Meredith or Miss Merilee (since Meredith is difficult to push off a young tongue). If married, it’s Mrs. Last Name. The only really important rule in my family is the relation – Cousin Randy, Uncle Johnny, Aunt Nanda – never, ever, ever address a relative by just their first name, especially if an elder.

  73. Growing up, my mother always introduced adults as Mrs. Last Name – I still refer to some of my friends’ parents this way, although often “Mrs. Jones” was shortened to “Mrs. J” – My mom was from the midwest and I think things were a bit more formal in her upbringing. I introduce my friends to my little man (who is 7 months old – ha!) as Miss First Name, but I will introduce him to people who are not my immediate close friends as Mrs. Last Name. Wow, that was lengthy.

  74. Amanda says:

    If the put Miss in front of it, I just melt. But, growing up is was always Miss + last name. Now it’s more Miss+ first name.

  75. My husband and I grew up with people named Aunt Sister and Uncle Bubba, so we are really a weird Texas Southern. In our childhood, people were referred to as Mrs. So and So; however, our accents made it sound like Miz Bell, Miz Weaver, or Miz whomever. The Miz part sort of softened it, so it did not sound so harsh. Now I prefer the Miss ( insert first name) because it sounds less stuffy.

    • I have an Aunt Sister, also! The story goes that her younger sister couldn’t say her name so called her “Sister” and the entire family uses tat now as thought it were her given name.

  76. The most common way of referring to adults around here is “Miss Nicole.” Which is fine with me. A few of our friends do go more formal with “Mrs. Last Name” and that is also fine. I just don’t like kids under the age of 15 or so using first name only. Once they are older teenagers I don’t mind first name usage, especially since most of the teens we know refer to my husband by first name only since he has done retreats with them. If they are going to call him Travis then it sounds silly to call me Mrs. Last Name. I just like politeness, but have no preferences.

  77. Becky in 'Bama says:

    Regardless where I have lived (several Southern states) I would never have been allowed to call any adult by their first name. Always Mr. and Mrs. LAST NAME. Funny: growing up in a small church ALL the adults addressed each Brother ____ and Sister _____ while inside the doors of the church. Otherwise, it was back to first names (except the pastor of course – he was always Bro. LAST NAME). Hence, I raised my daughter to always address adults by their last name.

  78. Airlie says:

    I was raised in South Carolina and I have always said Mr./Mrs. Last Name. Now that I’m older (26) my parent’s friends keep telling me that I can use their first names, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. It seems too weird!

  79. Lindsay says:

    In the ultra casual Pacific NW, I make my kids say Miss Firstname or Mr. Firstname. It was strange at first, but I make my kids do it, even with our bestest of friends. I even have a friend who I call Miss Bo now, just because. Ha!

  80. I was born and raised in northeast PA, and I was taught to call adults Mr./Mrs. Last Name. We’ve taught our children to do the same, because we feel like it denotes the respect due to the adults in their lives. I don’t like when children address adults by their first names, even when the adults insist. We don’t like our kids to feel like adults are their peers which can sometimes happen when they are addressing adults by their first names (we’ve seen it happening more frequently as we entered teenager territory with our eldest).
    We did spend six years in various spots in the south during my husband’s Navy days, so we also became familiar with kids calling adults Miss/Mr. First Name. I don’t mind that, since it still conveys a distinction between adults and children. But I know a lot of my friends just tell kids to call them by their first names.

  81. I grew up calling adults Mrs. Last-Name, & I thought I wanted my kids to do the same, but when it came down to it, I often blanked on my friends’ last names! So we go with Miss First-Name (because my poor brain can handle that)

  82. Kimberly/OKC says:

    Around here, it’s Mr. or Mrs. Last Name unless you are around church friends and we are all the time so at church it’s Miss First Name most of the time and for the men it’s ALWAYS Brother First Name. PS. Love you, love your blog, gonna love your new book, can’t wait!!

  83. I live in North Alabama and it’s usually Miss First Name or Mr. First Name.

  84. I guess I’m old school, in addition to being from the South. I prefer kids not to be on a first-name basis with adults. When my kids were growing up, I liked being called Mrs. Last Name but found Miss First Name to be acceptable. And I always had my children do this! Once kids graduated high school, I usually had to tell them it was okay to call me by my first name. That just took some getting used to each time though! :-)

  85. strawberryrose says:

    I live in the south. My friends and I use Miss First Name and Mr. First Name with our kids. At school, the teachers are Miss Last Name and Mr. Last Name. I work with middle schoolers at church. I’ve had some middle schoolers ask if I want to be called by my first name or Miss First Name. I tell them that I am fine with either, but to say Miss First Name if that is what their parents prefer.

  86. Jessica says:

    I do Miss and first name unless it’s someone I called Mrs. Lastname. I am 34 and anytime I meet a friend’s mom I call her Miss firstname or Mrs. Lastname. If she says oh call me “firstname” then I will do that.

    Also – any of our good family friends were aunt/uncle.

  87. I grew up around St. Louis and we were raised to use Mr./Mrs. Last Name with people at church, teachers, adults we didn’t know well. Only with my best friends’ parents would I use a first name, after a long time.
    I have lived in NC for half my life and my kids use Miss First Name and Mr. First Nameā€¦UNLESS it is an adult I don’t know very well or a formal situation (work, etc). I am Miss Traci to every child I know under 21! :)

  88. I was born in Tennessee, my two oldest children were born in Tennessee (we were all born in the same hospital!), and even after moving up to the Northeast (New York) I still have my children refer to adults as either Mister So and So or Miss Here and There. My friends will give me “funny” looks, and tell me, as well as my kids, that they can call them by their first names, but growing up in the South, that was a BIG no no, so we smile sweetly, and tell them, “Oh, no ma’am/sir, (that really kills ’em!) I couldn’t! It just wouldn’t be right!” and everyone goes about their Miss or Mister business with no further discussion. Bless their sweet little non-understanding of the Southern ways hearts!

  89. For years I did Miss First Name, but as they’ve gotten older and in school, I’ve done Mrs. Last Name because you know that’s what they do in school.

    But, my closet 2 friends are either Aunt First name or just First Name. But there are only 2.

  90. I am from the New Orleans area. Adults were Miss First Name (regardless of marital status ) and Mr. First Name, but teachers were always called Miss Last Name or Mr. Last Name by their students.

  91. Up here near Chicago, I was raised to refer to someone as Mrs. Last Name. Once we crossed the line to almost-family-member close, it would change to Aunt First Name, but I think that’s more a family thing than a regional thing.

  92. In my neighborhood (Pell City) the kids usually say Mrs. First Name…. I just LOVE it. Mrs. Robin, Mrs. Jennifer, Mrs. whatever. It’s just charming. and I have trained my kids to yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir all the livelong day. :-)

  93. I’m from the north and grew up calling adults Mr or Mrs Last Name. My husband is from the south and he calls most ladies Miss First Name. I always get so confused by that because to me Miss means you’re not married! It’s just one of the many confusing topics that have arisen from our north/south marriage. I think the real debate will be how our children address grown-ups!

  94. Born and raised in North Carolina and I was always taught to say Mr./Mrs. Last Name. I never really loved the Miss First Name style until I lived in Texas for a couple of years and it became perfectly natural. Still, when it comes to my kids, unless it’s close family friends, I’ll still teach them to call adults Mr/Mrs. Last Name.

  95. I grew up in Ohio, and after living in the south since becoming an adult, I am mortified to say that we called all adults – regardless of age – by their first names. The only exceptions were teachers, who were always addressed as Mrs./Mr. Last Name. I am now of the conviction that adults should be addressed as Miss/Mr. First Name unless it’s a teacher. I still think they should be Mrs./Mr. Last Name.

  96. I have lived in Georgia all my life and I called my parent’s adult friends Mr./Mrs. Last Name, but most senior adultsor close friends were Mr./Miss First Name. When we had children, we taught them Mr./Mrs. Last Name, but as they entered kindergarten, and began to have more friends, they began using Mr./Miss First Name, especially for close friend’s parents. Even though my children are now young adults, I just love it when my daughter’s sweet friends still greet me with “Hey, Miss Lynn.”

  97. I was born in the Midwest but my parents are immigrants (from India) so we were raised to call any of our parents Indian friends Aunty or Uncle. That is common there – any one of the generation above you gets called aunty or uncle. You can add the first name if you wish.
    Our parents’ American friends were called Mr/Mrs So&so. The parents of our friends also…until we got to know them well then it was Mrs A.. etc(you would be Mrs H.)
    We moved to Texas when I was 14 – I got to experience the Miss First Name as well as Ma’am and Sir. I love it ….

  98. I live in an earthy-crunchy northeastern town and we do it all. Some first-name-only, some Miss First Name (well, in this town, probably Ms. First Name)–BUT–as my kids have gotten older, there has been lots more Mrs. Last Name. They are doing it too, even with close family friends–a woman who was only ever “Amy” their whole lives is suddenly “Mrs. ____.” I think school changes that for them. I’m not sorry either way. I grew up calling adults Mr. and Mrs., and even now that I am in my (ahem) 40s, I still call my friends’ parents by Mr. or Mrs. or Dr. Which they do not enjoy but a 40 year habit is hard to break!

  99. Either Miss first name, or Miss last name. I always addressed my friends parents by their first names, but only if they were very close family friends.
    I would like to add that I’d like to see “You Guys” stricken from the English vocab. It
    makes me sick everytime I hear someone address a couple as “You Guys”….ugh!

    • wow, really? “You Guys” is so very midwest and part of our everyday speech. didn’t know it was offensive to anyone.

  100. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I’m so glad you asked this because I’ve been wondering the same thing. I can’t wait to read all the comments but first I’ll answer :) I’ve been wondering about this because my oldest son is only 4 and so far he has called all adults Miss First Name–even teachers at Mother’s day out (all the kids do). But now he’s starting K4 at a “real school” next year and I’m pretty sure he needs to call his teacher there Mrs Last Name so I’m trying to decide whether he needs to make the transition all together? Sounds like such a silly issue, I know :) But clearly I’m not the only one! Growing up, I called my mom’s very best friend Miss First Name but everyone else was Mrs Last Name. Oh, and we live in Arkansas