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let’s discuss: what do your kid’s friends call you?

Let's Discuss: What Do Your Kid's Friends Call You? / via Oh Joy!

Let's Discuss: What Do Your Kid's Friends Call You? / via Oh Joy!

The other day, I picked up one of my kids from a playdate, and the other mom asked me, "What would you like my daughter to call you?" I had never had anyone ask me that question before. As a kid, I always called friends of my parents by their last name (Mr. or Mrs. or Miss) and would never call them by their first names even if they asked me to. Now that my kids are getting older, it made me think about my name to their friends. Mrs. Cho sounds way formal (or like they are speaking to my mother-in-law) yet Joy feels so casual (why should they call me by my first name when my kids don't even do that?). I am stumped. What do you guys do with your friends kids or what did you call your parents friends when you were younger?

{Photo by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

70 comments

  1. I always called my friends parents Mr or Mrs “Insert Last Name”. Even now (at 28) my BFFs mom tried telling me to call her by her first name and I just can’t!
    You could go by Mrs. Joy, best of both worlds! When I was a kid we called one of my moms close friends Mrs. “First Name”.

  2. Something I picked up while living in Texas is to call the adult with a title in front of their first name: “Miss Joy”- that way the kids are showing respect but it’s still less formal than using your last name. I think this is pretty common in the south and I love it! I also really loved how often the kids would add “sir” and “ma’am” when talking to unfamiliar adults- it was great etiquette training. Now that I’ve moved out west, the kids mostly call me by my first name- which I don’t mind too much but I do miss the way I described above!

  3. This is what we do in our family too. Before my husband and I had our children we were around families with kids that called us Mr. first name and Miss first name. It was very respectful and comfortable. We now introduce adults to our children in the same way.

  4. My dad would drop dead if one of my friends dared to call him Mr. “surname” haha.
    It really depends how you feel. My dad is cool and would hate it if my friends felt intimidated in his presence. My mom who has a more strict air to her still goes by her first name among my friends. After all, this is what their names are, isn’t it? I don’t understand why we should call them otherwise?
    Because I was raised this way, I don’t think I should like having a friend of my kids call me Mrs. That would be weird to me, like I am not fun to be around in a way haha.

  5. First names all the way! Our friends and we are not formal so do not expect our kids to be. As long as kids are addressing us politely I have no problem with first names.
    Our daughter is only 2 so right now I often get “{my daughter’s name} Mommy”

  6. I would add that the kids are only small for so long so you should pick the name you want them to call you when they are all older/adults because most people have a hard time calling someone by a different name after many years!

  7. I don’t have kids yet (one day over due!), but I’m a Montessori pre-k teacher. All of my students call me by my first name and so do most of the other kids in the school.
    Growing up, our neighbors insisted on me calling them by their first names and they’re like my second family now. Of my three closest friends, there’s only one set of parents that I still refer to as Mr./Mrs., but they’re more formal people!
    I think I’m going to stick with my first name. Especially since my hubby and I hyphenated our names. Way too long for kiddies! 😉

  8. I prefer everyone to call me by my first name only. I believe we should all get the same level of respect regardless of age, so we can simply refer to each other by our first names. I think the practice of giving all adults surnames is to denote not just respect but also authority, and for obvious reasons only a few adults have actual authority over my children.

  9. I like the happy medium of Ms. Joy, but I find what we are doing with our 2 year old is telling her to call people (close friends) Auntie/Uncle “First Name”. I’m not sure I that would work in your situation. I’m from California and, although I remember calling people Mrs. Last Name, it feels very old fashioned now (but I’m not yet in the school system again!).
    I also have the problem of calling friends parents by their first name now (especially the one who was my elementary school teacher!) and was chastised by an old teacher when I saw her in passing at a sports game and introduced my husband to her as Mrs. X.

  10. When I was a kid I called almost all adults by title and last name, and that’s what people tended to do with my parents. I was taught it was a sign of respect. Now as a young adult, my boyfriend calls my mother, a physician, Dr. Jane and my dad, a PhD professor, Joe. I think this works well. It is very cute and respectful to call her Dr. and her first name, and appropriate for my father calling him by his first name only. My mom would of course be fine being called just Jane. I really like the idea of Mr/Ms/Mrs/Dr Jane/John, I think it is much nicer than Mr/Ms/Mrs/Dr Doe.

  11. We do the same after moving to Texas and adopting our kids here. IT works great with my mom friends or other women, but I always feel weird having someone called Mr. Tim or Mr. Joe. Just sounds a bit creepy!

  12. Chiming in with another vote for Auntie/Uncle. We usually only say Auntie FirstName if there are other adults in the room you need to differentiate, otherwise just Auntie will do. Holdover from Hawaii.
    I jokingly called a friend’s dad literally “Erika’s daddy” for years. It’s probably creepy, now that I’m 30.
    My daughter’s friends call me by my first name, if they address me directly; a lot of conversation is filtered through my kiddo, ie “My friend wants to know…” I don’t love it, but it seems a bit late or a bit stodgy to insist on something different now.

  13. I’m not sure if this is a Southern thing or not since I’m seeing it in other comments, but I always called friends’ parents Mr. or Ms. [first name] and my kids friends call me and my husband the same.

  14. Hi!
    Yes, we have our kids call our very close friends Auntie and Uncle. And obviously their real Aunts and Uncles 😉
    Joy

  15. Coming from a Chinese family, everyone is auntie or uncle. In our generation, the kids call the adults “auntie (insert first name” or “uncle (insert first name”. Sometimes it’s even auntie or uncle in Chinese if that person speaks enough Chinese. One of our friends’ kid started calling his mom “auntie Carol” when he was younger cuz that’s what all his friends called her.

  16. Friends’ kids would use Auntie Joy or Miss Joy. Less formal than using last name! Our next door neighbor’s kid does address my husband and me by our first names and we are totally fine with it. For us, everyone was Uncle or Auntie growing up (Asian families).

  17. Haha! That’s why I never really thought about it because just now it’s getting to be that the older they get they need a real name to call me!
    Joy

  18. I’m in my early 20s and born in California. As kids it was sort of a toss up between first name or Mrs. last name. I think most parents just didn’t really have a preference. Oftentimes kids become friends with the parents too (like I, as an adult, am friends with some of my friends parents), and in that situation it would be weird or distant to call someone by a formal name. I think it’s different too that now a lot of people don’t share the same last name. My mom always kept her maiden name but also my parents were divorced so either way if someone called her Mrs. {my last name} it would be the wrong title.

  19. I don’t know if it’s a culture thing but I’ve found that amongst my Asian friends, they either call me “Ms. Audrey” or “aunty”. However amongst my non-asian friends, they call me by my first name “Audrey”.

  20. I grew up like you – Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. I think our culture is less formal now so I teach my kids Miss Or Mr. First Name. I don’t get upset if they don’t use it or if their friends don’t, I just like to model respect with them so I encourage it.

  21. I really do think this depends on regional culture. When we lived in Minneapolis and Chicago, I always had my kids use first names, or aunt/uncle for close friends. That seemed fine with everyone. But then we moved to Atlanta and discovered that in the South, using just first names was considered too informal and would offend people, and at the same time, using Aunt/Uncle was considered way too personal. Everyone here teaches their kids to say Ms. or Mr. First Name. Having grown up in the north I still find it weird-sounding, but when in Rome! 🙂 I want my kids to be perceived as respectful to adults, even if it’s different than what I would do if it were just up to me.

  22. My mom always wanted to go by her first name! I called other parents Mrs or Mr, but all the close knit moms in our neighborhood chose to go by first names. Worked well for us and I never gave it a second though as a child!

  23. This is a super southern thing to do! I still do it as a young adult with the women who I am close to, but respect as women who are mentors or friends’ mothers.

  24. I agree. This format (Ms. First Name) feels most comfortable to me personally. Respectful enough but not distant.

  25. I kept my maiden name. My daughter has her father’s last name. We are an Asian-American family. I grew up in the south and called my friends’ parents Ms. or Mr. (or Auntie and Uncle) First Name.
    Kids call me anything from Ms. Angel, Auntie Angel (Asian families), Ms. Auntie Angel (actually my favorite – this is from one little girl who also sometimes calls me Ms. Angel or Auntie Angel, I love that she just combines both), and Mrs. “Daughter’s last name”. No kids call me Mrs. “My last name”.
    Sometimes kids call me by my first name only and I correct them.

  26. Yes! I have kids call me Ms Kate and my husband is Mr Nate. Perfect balance of formality and comfortable-ness. In the south, all of the “cool” adults did this and I swore I would do the same when I was older.

  27. I’m not southern but went to school there, and I’ve always liked the Miss X term. My good friend is from Atlanta and her kids call me Miss Wendy. But the other friends of my daughter just call me Wendy. Of course, when she was younger I got a lot of “Gigi’s Mom.” And that was fine to. I would be weirded out by Mrs. Sykes.

  28. My boys are 14 and 11. Their friends refer to me as Mrs. Thomas. It’s absolutely fine with me if they call me by my first name but all the boys (there is a tribe!) have fallen into this pattern. I think it’s sweet and enduring. ❤️

  29. I’d prefer to be called by my first name – I like to keep it casual with my daughters friends. They often confide in me, and open up about stuff happening to them in school. I want to keep my relationship with other kids super warm and friendly – I notice that if you keep it fun and casual kids will open up and start trusting you with personal info, and then I have an opportunity to provide supportive advice.
    I also called my parents friends by their first names – and felt like some of them were like second moms to me.

  30. My first name. It’s easiest & then you also know when they’re all playing if it’s yr child (cuz yrs will say mom, mama, mommy, etc) or their friend. And don’t be surprised though if yr child starts using yr first name too for awhile just to test it out! Where I work, I work with children, they call me Ms. Wes. It’s more professional though but suited for work. I’d not want my child’s friends to feel as if I’m a professional when w/ their friends. That’s leisure time!

  31. I have a three month old, so none of his friends can talk ? but kids at church or the little kids of my friends will call me either Joanna, Miss Joanna, or sometimes Aunt Joanna if we are really close even though I am not their biological aunt.

  32. A habit I picked up from my Filipino/a friends is Uncle/Auntie [first name]. It’s for the closer friends, but I like the intimacy it gives.
    A lot of the kids I babysit opt for the Miss Betsy, which I prefer to the formality of a last name.

  33. In Hawaii, it’s common for kids to call other parents by Aunty or Uncle (+ first name, if they know it). It’s truly a large part of our local culture to treat all our loved ones as family, whether or not you’re related by blood! This helps establish a more casual relationship than the stiff Mrs/Mr/Miss title, but still a level of authority and respect. 🙂

  34. I don’t have children yet, but my friends children all call me “Auntie” or “Auntie Kayla.” Growing up, I would call my best friends parents “mom” and “dad,” some friends parents went by their first names, and others by “Mrs. last name.” My parents close friends were all just “aunt” and “uncle.”

  35. As a kid, my parents taught me, like you to call them Mr or Mrs last name and I still do that but now that I’m older (22) I’m finding myself in that weird in between of still needing to be formal but all my friends parents ask for their first names. Depending on the relationship sometimes they were auntie or uncle. But I used to baby sit my counsin’s little ones a lot and they call their friends parents Mr and Mrs First Name and so I thought that was a cool compromise and still kept it a little formal but not too formal

  36. Totally agree with “Ms insert first name”. You don’t even need the Mrs….that is how they do it in pre-school too. It is a very Southern thing and I love it. And for my besties we are all “Aunt insert first name” because you have never have enough Aunts!

  37. As a kid, I always called my parents friends by Mr. or Ms. and then they’re first name, and it was the same for my parents. I work at a daycare now, and we that’s the kids call the adults who work there. (Since we’re not quite teachers, but still adults in charge)

  38. Well said! I firmly agree. My kids do respect it if someone requests they be called Ms./Mr. Lastname/Firstname, as do I. But I definitely prefer to be addressed as an equal. I’m a mom, PTO presidency member, room parent, foster parent, former preschool teacher, and Girl Scout leader. Everyone calls me by my first name.

  39. As a kid, I always called my parents’ friends by their first name. However, my friends’ parents I always called Mr. or Mrs. and still do to this day. My son just turned three so I haven’t had to think about what his friends will call me. Right now he plays with our neighbors and she calls me by my first name, but we have the same name. When I taught summer camp I went by ms. Morgan (which is my first name).

  40. Yes! I logged in to suggest “Miss Joy” too. That’s how we do it. I still can’t call my parents friends by their first names and I’m 44! We do still call more reserved people by Mr or Mrs “last name” such as teachers.

  41. I’m Chinese American, so growing up I would call my parents’ friends, “Auntie” and “Uncle,” out of respect. It’s interesting to observe that my husband and his siblings call their biological aunts “Auntie,” whereas I am used to calling my biological aunts “Aunt” (except for one aunt who has allowed us to call her by her first name since we were much younger). My 3-year-old calls my friends “Miss” and “Mister” rather than Auntie and Uncle since the latter is confusing for those who are not used to those terms of respect. I must confess that I am peeved that my sister-in-law who has a daughter around the same age as my son does not require my niece to call me “Aunt” and allows her to call me by my first name. 😉

  42. If Mrs. Cho sounds too formal, maybe try Mrs. C? Shortening it to an initial can make it seem way more relaxed.

  43. My Grandkids’ friends just call me Tutu or Tutu Rosie. My girls were born and raised in Hawaii…. Tutu means Grandmother. They would call call my friends Auntie or Uncle…. Auntie Lani or Uncle Kimo, etc. yes

  44. You know…. living in Hawaii, everyone whether you know them or not is ‘Auntie’ or ‘Uncle’. Its a cultural expression of respect. Along with the moniker comes a hug and cheek kiss. It’s very sweet and when it’s authentic, it is lovely. It is something we will bring with us, and definitely something I’ll miss.
    The little Lilien’s love and miss Auntie Joy + Uncle Bob!!! xxooxxoo K

  45. My parents always taught us to use titles and surnames to address our friends’ parents, but the parents always said to call them by their first name. As a shy, socially awkward child I felt uncomfortable doing something I’d been told not to, so I called them Mrs [child’s name] so you would be Mrs Ruby or Mrs Coco, depending on who’s friend it is. It seems really weird now, but the parents actually loved it and thought it was sweet!

  46. Being from the Deep South I have always called all my friend’s moms Miss (insert first name). And my son’s friends just called me V or Miss V.

  47. I grew up saying Mr. and Mrs. with last name. I have my kids say Miss “insert first name” (whether a woman is married or not) or Mr. “insert first name”. It’s kinda casual yet still respectful.

  48. I love what my DIL has instituted for her children’s friends. She is Mama Lindsey and that makes sense to everyone. I imagine the Mama will drop off as the children age but for now it seems appropriate and comforting. She introduces her children to other adults as Mr. or Miss First Name. If/when an adult becomes a close family friend, it seems the Mr. or Miss eventually drops off which also seems appropriate.

  49. Wow.. this sounds so bizarre to me. Here in Argentina all my kids friends call me by my first name and the same did I when I was younger. Mrs… sounds so formal! They are little kids!!!

  50. My children would address my friends as “Aunty” and “Uncle”. Their friends would call me “Auntie Maya” or sometimes even “Mama (kid’s name)” which is kind of convenient, so I know which of my kids they’re friends with, but their closest friends would call me “Mama Maya”.

  51. As an Asian, everyone is “Aunty”. I went with “Mr xxx” with a ex-boyfriend’s father and that became the reason he’s an ex-boyfriend 😀

  52. I grew up in Northern California so everyone tended to be pretty casual about names. I definitely called my friends parents by their first names – or if I wasn’t sure I would just avoid saying their name! Now all my kids’ friends call me by my first name if they call me anything at all (my kid are just 2 and 5). My kids also occasionally call me my by first name and I think it’s so cute! I try to get them to shout my name instead of “mommy” if they need me at the playground, because it’s a lot easier for me to tell it’s them.

  53. I´m Colombian and we always called parents by their first name, last names are way too formal, actually to some of my closest friends´s parents we called them by the nickname as if they where almost family…

  54. We do the same (Auntie/Uncle for close friends/Ms. or Mr. First Name for acquaintances), though the kids don’t really repeat it. They end up just saying the first names regardless of what we say!

  55. My friends’ parents were (and still are) mr/mrs first name, the way we also call our teachers at school.
    It was weird when I didn’t know their names, but we made do, somehow.
    Last names would be too formal (and sometimes women go by their own last name, sometimes people are divorced, so I’d still avoid that), and I would never encourage my children to call any grown up with their first name only. I like the respect “mr” or “mrs” adds to the relationship.

  56. In Kenya, where I live as an American Expat, I am known among her school friends as Mama Cora (my eldest). Because it’s a cultural norm here, I didn’t really overthink it, and it works well. Of course other kids call me Ms Lizz or Auntie Lizz, both of which I like.

  57. In Germany we usually call our parents by first name and other kids doing so too, is normal. Calling someone Ms would sound very odd and antique. Usually Mr/Ms is used only in very formal business environments or with neighbours (with whom we are not close). If my kid would visit me at work, it would call my boss or the ceo by first name.

  58. I agree that we are not equals with young children/young adults. There must be some set guidelines for respectful perceptions of authority as grown-ups. Unless otherwise asked to be referred to by my first name, I prefer to have the respectful Ms. or even Aunty before my first name. I can’t have my son’s grown male friends calling me by my first name, I just think it’s too familiar.

  59. I like Miss First Name.
    Miss Last Name is good too.
    When I have heard teens call adults by 1st name… In my very deep southerners experience, it’s as if that child is thumbing their nose up at elders. Very entitled children. Not respecting elders. I only assume their parents have taught them no better.Shame on them.

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