Saturday, April 10, 2010


Growing up we were surrounded with people sharing the same last name. Our church district had 28 families and there were six different last names. So as you can imagine when talking about someone we used their first name. And talking about a family was always referred to by the husbands first name followed by an "s" The Robert Yoder family was never referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Yoder or the Yoders because there were multiple other Yoder families. Therefore they were referred to as Roberts. When talking about Robert's wife we would never say Mrs. Yoder  she was always Robert Naomi.

This is one of the hardest things for me to change since we left the Amish. To me a family still sounds better when referred to by the husbands first name.

Soon after we left we were invited to a family after church services. When we arrived everyone introduced themselves and then they informed our children they can call them Mr. and Mrs. __________  We felt a little flummoxed but ever since that day we have been trying to teach our children to address married people as Mr. and Mrs.  So far it's been a hit and miss deal because when my husband and I talk about someone we still go back to using their first name.

So my question is. Is this really a big deal every where or just in the area where we live right now?  We don't want to offend anyone, but somehow it just doesn't feel real when we put a bunch of Mr. and Mrs. into our conversation.  And by the way I still have not learned to not cringe when someone calls me Mrs. Kinsinger. I would much rather hear my name.


  1. We taught our children to refer to people ~ Miss Kitty or Mr. Leo ...
    it was an absolute no-no for us to refer to anyone by the first name ... it was always Mr. or Mrs. so & so.
    Mother would take our heads off if we stepped outside of social courtesy.

    I think that is kind of neat the way you all did/do it, tho. Habits are hard to reform, sweetie.

    I prefer for children not to call me by Marydon, it is either Miss Marydon or Mini or Mimi, whichever they are comfortable with.

    Have a lovely weekend.
    TTFN ~ Marydon

  2. Where I live it all depends. Some prefer Mr. or Mrs. Johnson. Some go by "Miss Susan" or "Miss Kate" even if she's married. Some of my husband and I's friends have no problem with my children calling them by their first names. We have friends who've adopted family addresses. My son calls my husband's friend Ted, "Uncle Ted."

    When my husband and I talk about our friends, even in front of our children, we address them by their first names. "Jim and Susan would like us to stop over tomorrow afternoon." But our children are taught to address them the way they prefer to be addressed.

    I'm used to being called "Kate" "Miss Kate" or "Mrs. Scott." I really don't care. :)

  3. The customs vary from place to place. When I was growing up, adults in the church (including the pastor) were addressed as Bro. Joe or Sister Katie based on being brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Where I belong now, adults refer to each other by their first names, but children call them "Miss Anna," or "Mr. Bob." It also depends on the person's age. Older people are almost universally called by their first name along with Miss or Mr. by both children and adults.

    Susan :)

  4. We live in Texas and it's fairly common here for children to refer to adults as Mister or Miss (whether they're married or not) and their first name. I'm actually pretty sure my kids and their friends don't even know most of our last names.

  5. I live in upstate NY, in the Richfield Springs area. There are quite a few Amish families here, but we are new to the area so we are just getting to know people. It is a Southern thing to refer to married adults as Miss Mary or Mr. Jim, but I like it, it sounds respecful but friendly and I've taught my kids to use those names. Nowadays you would be hard pressed to find an adult who insists on being called Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones. Most adults that I know say that being addressed that way makes them feel old. I have a question for you as well, totally unrelated: I'm not sure if you realize that cloth diapering has made a big comeback in recent years? I'm curious as to exaclty what kind of cloth diapers the Amish use, how are they folded, what kind of water-proof cover is used and what is done about rashes? I hope you will share that info!


  6. I grew up Southern, too, and referred to my parents' friends as "Mr. Bob and Miss Sue." Just yesterday, my friend's daughter, over here to play with her sister and my daughter, asked if she could call me "Aunt." Yes, of course! Because Florida is a mix of South and North, I usually initially refer to older persons with their last name, "Mr. Jones," until I know them better or they ask me to use a different name. I also say, "Yes, sir," and "Yes, Ma'am."

  7. I live in Ontario Canada, and we just call everyone by their first names. When we are going to someone's place, we would say (ie; using the names you have in your post :D) "we're going over to visit with Robert and Naomi". Even when we are talking to others in print (though the names get shortened to just the first letters) .. we would write/type.."we visited with R & N yesterday"

    we've been going to the same church now for over a year, and I still do not know most of the members last names lol

    Question though.. when you have two or more families where the husbands have the same first name.. how do you tell them apart then? For instance.. there are three families on my sideroad alone, where the husbands names are all "Ron"(not family relations.. just neighbours, soo all the last names are different)... would you just say the husband/wife name together, like you do when you are just mentioning the wife?



  8. K-Sue... I grew up in Florida too, and I was taught the same thing growing up, and now (even though I live in the north), teach my children the same.

    If it's a family friend, then they are generally referred to as Miss "first name" or Mr. "first name" regardless of whether or not they are married. If it's an older person, it's generally Mrs. or Ms. 'last name' or Mr. 'last name'. That is simply the etiquette that we use. We also do Yes Sir, and No Ma'am. Old southern habits die hard! :)

    I usually ask to be called Miss Laura. I might be a pastor's wife, but I'm only 24!!! I think it's a little young for a Mrs. B :o)

  9. I don't see it as a big deal. In fact I love being called by my first name and will introduce myself as Cristal to kids and tell them to call me that. What I dislike is for people to tell thier kids to call me Mrs. Ruiz. They will tell me it's to show me respect. How can it be respectful to call me something I dislike Mrs. Ruiz is my mother in law not me.
    Just my two cent.

  10. Like Susan, I grew up calling adults in the church Brother or Sister so and so. Family friends, and good acquaintances we always called by first name. We also are big nickname people. We called Deborah "Deb" and Nikki "Nik", but only with the people we were really close with and knew well. When I worked for a mothers day out, we always made sure we addressed teachers as Mrs or Miss and then their first name. I think it helped the really young kids differentiate between authoritative figures. But other than that, we were never Mr and Mrs. kind of folks, and nobody seemed to think we were awful for it. :) It seems so formal!

  11. My experience differed from your others commenters'.

    When I grew up, we would never call any adult by their first name. It would always be "Mr. and Mrs. X" -- or just Mr. X or Mrs. X if we saw them singly. Adults addressed each other by first names if friends, of course. But it was an enormous no-no for kids to do it and I never knew of any who tried. Nor were we allowed to call anyone Mr. First Name or Miss First Name.

    Even now, my son's friends refer to me by Mrs. X, and they are now grown themselves.

  12. As a child I was taught to address all elders as Me. and Mrs. until I was considered an adult which was long after I married. I still find myself using the Mr. And Mrs. much of the time though. It's a tough habit to break. As for aunts and unccles we always called them Aunt Dot and uncle Clinton. Always the aunt or Uncle. It was respectful. I still refer to them that way even though they are all gone now.

  13. Looks like you hit a nerve. :-)

  14. Here in the U.K.,I was taught to call people older myselfself who we didn't know very well Mr.,Mrs. or Miss and their surname.Once we got to know them as close family friends and with their permission,we addressed them as Auntie or Uncle,but never,ever by their Christian name alone.Although this method of address has lapsed in this "modern" society,where a lot of people prefer to be called by their Christian name alone,I still feel comfortable with the traditional way and I teach my children the same.I feel it's respectful.We do not use Sir or Ma'am unless we are addressing Royalty (which occasion to doesn't arise frequently!!LOL))Teachers are addressed as Miss,Mrs. or Mr(surname).We all have our ways and should,I think continue to do as we feel is best for us but take into consideration the other person's feelings too incase we offend them.If people question your motif for addressing them as you do,you could always explain that is the way you were taught.Afterall,we are all different in so many ways but it isn't necessarily a fault.

  15. Growing up we always called OUR friends mothers and fathers, Mr and Mrs last name and our parent's/family friends usually first names because it was accepted as a more intimate and informal situation. I know a lot of my peers would also use the term aunty or uncle for family friends but our parents always thought that was way too confusing as we had large families with lots of REAL aunties and uncles. Nowadays children here refer to most adults by their first name with no formal address. I particularly noticed this in the workplace when speaking with customers; under 30s called everyone by their first name but anyone above 30 always referred to customers older than themselves by formal titles. We have also as a society dropped the tags "nurse" and "sister" and "matron" but still use Dr. and Lady, Sir and Lord etc. but even so we are more informal and say "Lady Sally" and "Sir Ray". So thats my Australian version. Good question.

  16. When we were growing up, my parents made us call everyone Mr and Mrs, but I love the way you were taught, it is very unusual to me. I like things that are different and it sounds really nice. I would say do what feels right and is comfortable to you....I know I would not be would be rather sweet!!!
    Margaret B

  17. I'm much like Holly - my parents' friends were Mr. and Mrs. and my kids do the same thing. Adults are Mr. and Mrs. It's awkward for me when a young child calls me by my first name ~ and I'm not a snob, believe me!! Like everyone said though, it sounds like it's all different depending on where you live.

    It's funny for Scott because at his grocery store, everyone calls everyone by their first names of course because they work together. When he got jobs for our children's friends, they had a hard time calling him Scott and some would and some wouldn't - not because he didn't want them to but because they were taught that way. He'd always say, "Call me Scott," but for some it was tough. TOOO funny ~

  18. Thanks for your comment on my Foodie Blog some time ago. I am glad to be here.. and had a few good laughs as well, especially your last post about that knock on your door from the funeral Home! Jeez.. !


  19. I think this is a more southern, or old fashioned habit. We have our children call people older than ourselves Mr. and Mrs. Most of the time the Mr. and Mrs. tell the children to call them by their first name. There are a few people who are really charmed by the title of respect but mostly I have found people don't mind so much any more. ( I was raised by my grandmother so this is something I learned as a child) it just seems less important to most people.

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  21. At school my kids are to address the adults as Mr. or Mrs. but when we aren't at school we are usually less formal. I'm reading Cindy Woodsmall's books right now and there is a Yoder in them. I'm loving these books!

  22. Well I always tell my kids to call an adult by mr or mrs or miss until told they can use that adults first name by THAT adult.Their preschool teachers would be called Miss {first name} but grade school teachers are always called Mr or Mrs {last name}. I run a home child care and I dont want to be called Miss Becky the kids just call me Becky or sometimes mom lol.

  23. I was raised to call people "Mr." and "Mrs." I have been trying to teach my girls the same thing; however, I have found that most people will tell them it is okay to be called by their first name. I still feel uncomfortable when my girls call them by their first name, but I feel they need to be respectful of their wishes.

  24. We were raised to call adults Ms. "first name". Usually we only used last names in a formal setting or in letters, etc.

  25. My parents' friends, and the friends of my parents, were always Mr. and Mrs. Lastname. The only exceptions were very close family friends, who were "Uncle Firstname" and "Aunt Firstname." I think older English people in the North, like 60+, might expect more formal address.

    I'm surprised about "Robert Naomi" and not "Robert sei Naomi," which seems pretty prevalent around here.

    Rose (IamHIS), when there are too many folks in the same district with the same name, nicknames kick in. Either a man is distinguished by the addition of his father's and even grandfather's name on front (Joel Seth Johnny = John, son of Seth and grandson of Joel) or by a nickname on the front, like "Pud Sam" or "Push Johnny" or "Doggy Ben." Our neighbor "Yeffy's Check" is actually Jacob (Check = Jake) son of Jeptha (Yeffy).

  26. Here's the flip side.In the church I was raised in we were taught to adress others with the title Brother or Sister followed by thier last name. When I joined the Amish church it seemed so disrespetful to call everyone, yep even the bishop, by their first name! Took some gettin use to! And how did I explain THAT to my mother???!! After a while she got used to me talking aobut church friends on a first name basis. My present church uses the Bro/Sis title followed by the person's first name a lot of the time. A happy medium for me!

  27. Idoubt if any modern women would be offended if you called her by her first name.

    When I lived in Alabama, a restaurant owner who knew me very well always called me Mrs Steve (Steve was my husband). I was not especially happy with that name altho I was never rude and never corrected her. I'm a person with a name and not an extension of a man. I prefer to be called by my name.
    And that's just my opinion and I hope no one is offended by it.

  28. That's an interesting way to refer to families. It's kind of funny, because my husband's first name is Mason, commonly used as a last name. We get a lot of people referring to us as the Masons. lol
    I'm not sure if it's a Southern thing, but a lot of people around here teach their children to refer to adults as Mr./Miss and then their first name. I'm Miss Jen to many children. We did teach our children to refer to adults as Mr. or Mrs. and their last name, with exception of a couple we knew that had the same last name as two other couples in our church (and none of them were related!). They were Mr./Miss first name. And yes even though the Mrs. is married it still comes out Miss.

  29. Wow. Must be regional and/or sect based. I cringe when I hear a child refer to me by my first name unless it's proceeded by "Aunt," which is a term we close friends allow our children to use with one another.

    Putting my husband's name in front of mine would feel incredibly odd to me but I'm sure it's just whatever we're all used to. :)

  30. I'm in New Zealand. Here within Christian circles it is polite to call adults Mr and Mrs Smith. We would talk about them calling them Mr and Mrs Smith to our children and definitely expect our children to address them that way.
    At our church we have two brothers so two families with the last names.
    We still refer to them as Mr and Mrs Smith (for example) but sometimes our children ask "which ones" and we say, "Peter and Sarah Smith".
    I prefer children call me Mrs Morrison over my first name. It seems disrespectful.
    For young adults who are not married we do allow our children to call them by their first name.

    In NZ we don't do the Miss Sarah and Mr Peter thing. It is not unheard of (I know it is common in Southern USA) but it is not used in NZ. We always say Mrs if it is a Mrs, not Miss. Within a classroom setting (at school) teachers are usually referred to as plain "Miss" or "Sir" without the last name. Most teachers are happy with this but some prefer students to call them Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss so and so.

    Now outside of Christian circles it is more common for adults to request that children use their first name. I encourage my children to say Mr or Mrs so and so rather than the first name.
    Some people feel that it makes them feel old if they are called Mrs so and so. I have always felt very happy to be Mrs Morrison and I was married at 17 - maybe it made me feel grown up - haha!

    Of course there are exceptions to every rule! Some of our closest friends we allow our children to call by name rather than Mr and Mrs as it seems too formal with such close friends.

  31. In the family it is grandma or aunt plus first or last name. So it may be Grandma Cloud or Aunt Tina, etc. Outside the family the majority of people our children interact with and have cause to speak to fall within our church family, to whom we refer to as Sister or Brother with their last name. We discourage the children calling an unrelated adult by their first name.

  32. This post reminds me of two articles that were written in Family Life magazine a few years ago. The first article was a warning about naming your children worldly names.

    The next month there was an article written by someone who didn't enjoy being in a community with three Elijah Weavers (or something like that) folks would call him Elam's Elijah, identifying him by his father. Our family enjoyed that article so much!

    We teach our children to say Mr. and Mrs. since it is a sign of respect around here. When we had two Mrs. Browns, we called the older woman, Elderly Mrs. Brown.

    Enjoyed catching up on your blog. Wish I could help with your move. Take care and stay healthy.

  33. I think it must have something to do with German language not with Amish because as a child in a traditional Lutheran area of Wisconsin, families were often referred to in exactly the same way, also because there were also a lot of families with the same last name (and in this area most people were only one or two generations from speaking German at home). You'd always hear people say, "Here come John's." Meaning "John's family is arriving." "Are Joe's here yet?" "She's up at Bob's."

    Now I live in the south, and children where I am from are routinely encouraged to call adults by their first name preceded by Mr. or Miss So my husband is Mr. Joe and I am Miss Bethy. I like this... it shows some respect with out being as formal as last name.

  34. It must be in the culture... I also grew up Amish and I have a hard time being called Mrs. Furlong. I never thought about having children call me Miss Saloma. That is just about right... it's not so formal as Mrs. and yet not so informal that it sounds disrespectful. I wish I had thought of that when my boys were growing up.

    I enjoy your blog very much. Best of luck with your move! (You look so organized!)

  35. I dislike being called by my first name by total strangers. I'll sign in at the hairdresser's or wherever as Mrs. Rice. Actually, I never use my first name at all; most people call me by a contraction of my name before the Lord of the Manor and I got married. (The way you might call somebody named Anderson "Andy".) I had a patient at the hospital where I worked who was after me about my first name, and after trying to put him off, I finally told him, "Mr. Jones, my HUSBAND doesn't call me by my first name." The doctor was holding his sides, trying not to laugh!
    Once we are friends (about five minutes!) then I'm on a first name basis, and the kids call me Miss So-and-so, and that's just fine. But wait until I invite you, and I'll give you the same courtesy. (Yeah, I'm almost 70 - fussy old lady!)

  36. I generally call older people whatever they tell me to call them, except for when I was in grade school and would always address teachers as "Mr." "Miss" "Ms." or "Mrs.". After I graduated high school one of my teachers who I have continued to correspond with said I could start calling her by her first name, and I still decided not to because it would feel weird.
    I think that a lot of women do not like being referred to by their husband's name because they feel that it is belittling their own identity.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.