Please don't ask our children to call you by your first name

When we were young, our parents would introduce us to adults and say, "this is Mr. ____, or this is Miss_____ or Mrs. ____," and we would say "hello Mrs. ______." It was how we showed respect for an adult – someone older than us and had earned the right to be respected. We never thought about calling them by their first names. It would be rude and disrespectful, and our parents would be mortified. The idea of doing this wasn't even on the radar.

Recently someone asked our children to call them by their first name. I know they didn't think anything of it and meant no harm because it has become common. We are raising our children to respect the hierarchy, the chain of command. With a hierarchy, everyone pays their dues and reaps the benefits of respecting, working hard, and experiencing.

Some may disagree and think we should all be at the same level, but we are not. Respect is earned. Promotions are earned. Friendship is earned. Scholarships are earned. Rewards are earned. When you ask a child (under the age of 18) to call you by your first name, you rob them of the opportunity to respect the hierarchy. You put them at your level, and now YOU will find yourself trying to earning their respect. You will find yourself making all the effort. It's backwards.

Showing our young people the importance of the hierarchy has nothing to do with making anyone feel old; on the contrary, it's quite the opposite. It is about showing our young how to respect others and be respected themselves. It is how we establish their expectations for the world ahead of them. Life is not fair, and everything is not equal. Life is hard. These steps will help to prepare them for times when things are not warranted or equal.

If someone introduces you by your first name to someone under the appropriate age, it is perfectly acceptable to say, "please call me Mrs. or Mr. or Miss." It shows that you want to be respected.  

Senior football players rarely ask incoming freshman what play to run. Executives rarely ask the intern how to run the business. Generals rarely ask privates what the next move should be. Teachers don't ask students what lessons to teach. Parents don't ask children what time they should go to bed.

The next time you are being introduced to a young person, please don't rob them of the opportunity to respect you. You're helping them to prepare for what is coming and how to handle it.

Colleen Harding

President of The Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol.   I am a member St Raphael Women's Guild, Friends of the Westside Catholic Center and The Avon Oaks Women's Golf Association.

I live in Bay Village with my husband and 3 children.   

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:15 AM, 05.18.2021