Posted by Fitz

The Bean is starting to talk up a storm!  She has an impressive vocabulary (according to her proud mom), and seems to be coming up with new words every single day.  It’s amazing to watch her repeat words that we’ve been saying to her for her whole life, and it’s cool to see her start to call people by their names (especially my brother, who has somehow earned the name “Doo Doo” – hysterical).

Her ability to refer to people by their given name has brought up a debate between The Bean’s father and I.  How should we teach her to address our friends?  Should they be Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or Joe and Barbara?  Should the rules be different depending on the level of closeness to said friends?  We’re not big on calling people “aunt” and “uncle” if they aren’t related, so that isn’t an option for us.  Our friends with older kids seem to be veering on the side of first names, but I’m not necessarily comfortable with that.  Growing up, I always referred to my friends’ parents as Mr. and Mrs.; in fact, many of them scold me today when I still call them that despite the fact that we’re all adults and they have asked me to stop.  It’s what I was taught, and what I’m used to – it’s hard for me to change that.

Because of the way I was brought up, I feel that it’s important for The Bean to use “Mr. and Mrs.” to address my friends.  It shows respect, it shows who the kids are and who the grown ups are, and it harkens back to a day when better manners were used all around.  The interesting part of this debate for our family is this: how do we teach The Bean to call a friend Mrs. Ryan when her kid is calling me Fitz?  Will The Bean feel awkward about it?  Will her friends make fun of her for it?  Will our friends respect our decision?  Will we have the strength to persevere with our usage of formal titles when it seems that no one around us is in our camp?

This seems like too much controversy for a seemingly small decision, but it’s a decision I want to make consciously.  We have a long way to go before The Bean would actually be able to say some of the last names our friends are wielding, but it’s important for us to start modeling the right behavior now so she is used to the title when she can say it.  Perhaps it’s time for a sit down with our friends to see if we’re on the same page and can be consistent with our little ones.  Or, perhaps it’s time to realize that this is just one more decision where, as parents, we need to make the best decision for our family and let other families do the same.  Either way, I’ll be Mrs. Fitz to the kids on my block.

What is your family’s answer to this debate?  Share your answers in our comments section.