What do your kids call other adults?

When my sister and I were young, we called adults we didn't know Mr (last name) and Mrs (last name) or by their first name if that's how we were introduced. Growing up it seemed like my parents had A LOT of friends. We were always doing something with their large group of friends and all of their kids on weekends and for holidays. It was so fun! With good friends of our parents it was Auntie ____ and Uncle ____ or by their first names. I don't really know why or how we decided which adults would go by first names and which would get Auntie and Uncle, but I never remember not knowing what to call someone. My parents probably taught us from a young age so we never had to think about it.

So I'm curious, what do your kids call adults? What did you call adults when you were young?

I've noticed the trend in Christian circles for kids to call adults Miss (first name) or Mr (first name), but I'm not the biggest fan. Maybe because it seems so foreign to me - I didn't grow up around that at all. Or maybe because we always called our ballet teachers Miss (first name), so that's where my mind always goes when I hear it, ha! But ultimately I think it's a bit too formal for me, especially with children of good friends, who I view in some ways as extended family. The first family I spent real time with as a young married girl was one we worked when we were in campus ministry. They're still dear friends and I love their kids something fierce. They call Brad and I, Brad and Emily, (or more precisely Ema-weee) and that's just the way I like it :)

So far, our kids call every friend of ours by their first name. I love hearing Lily's renditions of their actual names. Morgan is Morgie. Noémie is No-mee. I've called Jamie Auntie Jamie since before either of us had kids as a nick name because she is SO amazing with kids, and back then I knew next to nothing, but it's kind of stuck so she gets either Auntie Jamie or Jamie. And she's been calling our friend Phillippe, Foop as of late. But sometimes he gets Uncle Phil or Phil too (not sure why the Uncle got thrown in there, but it just sort of stuck. Maybe since they see him several times a week?)

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. For me, I find that the parents kind of lead the way with this. With our close friends (lots who are having babies) I would HATE if they called me Mrs. Passchier. So we definately go with first names or aunt/uncle.

    However, that being said there are older ladies in our church that would faint if a child called them by their first name. Also, I found as a kid sometimes my parents would let the other parent decide. For example, if it was a birthday party and my parents weren't good friends they'd tell me to thank "Mrs. So&So" and then it was kind of up to the other parent to let that stand or say " oh, call me Betty"... you know what I mean.

    1. Totally agree about the two-generation-gap! People old enough to be our grandparents are from a time when it would be considered HIGHLY disrespectful for a child to be on first name basis with an adult. Tough when I was recently in Florida with my grandmother all of her friends (in their 80's!) introduced themselves to Olivier with their first names! I was surprised... Talk about progressive for their generation.

      But in the end, we don't have more than a handful of people in our lives right now who aren't relatives and who are over 40 (young church!), so for us the context is assuming the adult in question is a peer or Mom and Dad or slightly older (Brad is in his 30's...)

  2. *peer OF Mom and Dad I mean :)

  3. I agree with you on this one. I have only ever heard the "Miss Morgan and Mr. Sam" at church and caught myself addressing myself as that to kids at times even though I dont love it. But I definitely lost my taste for that when some of the 13-15 year olds at church starting calling me that... I very quickly had to tell them to call me Morgan.
    I grew up calling most people Mr and Mrs unless otherwise directed. We had nicknames for my parents best friends, (their friends Ric and Shirley for instance we have always called "Rocco and Fifi"), but most of their other friends we would call by their first names, but again if they never referred to themselves as that they were Mr. and Mrs.
    Auntie and Uncle seemed to be reserved for people who were really close with my parents and spent a lot of time at our house and with us kids.

    I think it's better to teach kids to lean towards formality. I still call my very best friends parents Mr and Mrs (after 18 years of growing up around them) or sometimes call them Mom and Dad as an endearing term since we joke that they our my second parents (and vice versa with her to my parents) but they have never told me to call them by their first name so they will remain Mr and Mrs.

    1. I think once my kids start meeting friends parents through school, parents who have no relationship with Brad and I, then I'd definitely agree to go with Mr. And Mrs. Will be hard to navigate in Quebec though, since they won't share last names or likely be married!

      Right now our kids only know adults who we have a good relationship with, hence the intimacy over formality :)

  4. I'm originally from Poland and when my parents and I came to Canada I was surrounded by my parents friends and no actual family members. I ended up calling those around me aunt and uncle.

    My husband on the other hand, also from Poland, had quite a few family members come to Canada as well. He only called his family members aunt and uncle and his parents' friends went by Mr and Mrs first name.

    Since our kids will have plenty of family members around, we agreed that they will only call family members aunt and uncle whereas our friends and acquaintances will be Mr and Mrs first name or last name.

  5. Anonymous12.4.13

    My parents always required me to use Mr/Mrs last name for adults. That made for some awkward transitions as I moved from the teenage years into young adulthood. But I would rather err on the side of formal than offend someone. My kids call my good friends by their first name (unless their child puts a "Miss" in front of my name - then I assume they would prefer the same), but anyone I haven't gotten to known really well gets a title. We won't use Aunt or Uncle for anyone else, because my sister would be really hurt. She holds a special place in their life, and she would not appreciate anyone else having the privilege of that name!

  6. Roxana12.4.13

    Okay, since you asked for more comments. . . our little one is 21 months old and is not really talking, but we introduce our friends (depending on how close they are to us) as "Uncle/Auntie First Name" and then "Mr./Mrs./Miss First Name," Unless they are our grandparents' age and then it's "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Last Name" like you commented earlier. I feel pretty strongly that kids need a clear distinction in this regard because it seems to me that we let them into our adult-world sooner than our generation and previous generations were let in. The kids I see in our neighborhood (not from our church) are not respectful enough of their elders. In fact, our upstairs neighbor, who is 8, can be downright rude (obviously, we don't blame her); she seems to think we're all on equal terms. That said, as our son (and our little one on the way - btw, I'm due in Sept. too! But I'm currently on bed rest for placenta previa) get older, I'm assuming our friends will tell them "Call me First Name." I do that with some of our friends. I do think its appropriate/important to foster a sense of familiarity and closeness with other trusted adults and going by first names can help with that, especially as kids get older. Those are my two cents! Or twenty cents! :)

  7. My mom is Hawaiian and there, kids call older people Aunty or Uncle, or even Grandma or Papa. It is a sign of respect. We grew up calling older second cousins, strangers, my parent's good friends Aunty or Uncle. I have continued this tradition in my family though since we are in ministry, I limit it to our close friends. Otherwise, I have them call people Mr. or Miss first name, unless the people introduce themselves as Mr. or Mrs. last name. I will refer to myself as Miss Kristin (Mrs. Tibbils reminds me of my MIL, who I love, but I have known since I was very young and called her Mrs. Tibbils) or if they are kids of a close friend, Aunty. I think, especially in today's age, kids are not being raised to respect adults. Calling an adult by their first name should be reserved for peers. For instance, the teenagers we work with can absolutely call me by my first name but not the young Jr. Highers. Hope this helps!