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March 10, 2007
March 20, 2008 10:18 PM
Stephen expressed it very well
I'm 44 years old, and when I was growing up, kids always used Mr. and Mrs. when addressing adults. Although the trend is changing, I still do think the title underscores to kids that we are not their peers and deserve to be respected since we've risen "through the ranks"-- as they will too.
October 25, 2007 12:49 AM
Lori,I have some theories on where calling by last name began to die. It seems to have started in the early 1990s. I personally beleive that the rise of the digital world was partly the reason.For one, when a kid gets an e-mail message, there is a 90% percent chance that they will see an adults first name in their inbox. The same is true with web pages, MySpace, and instant messages. Also, from the digital world, it seems as if the younger generation is more tech savvy than the older generation, and this has created an "elder gap" in this regard. Just look at how young the CEOs are for some of the tech companies! I personally beleive that in general, there has been an etiquette decline in the world. I feel that the "generation me" movement created a world in which the young are so empowered, narcisstic, and self focused. I also feel that with some of these movements, it caused social norms to change, and people are less concerned with what their elders are doing.I personally beleive that the trends in family structure change may have played a role too. If you look, unmarried is now the norm. We see a lot of alternative configurations with roommates living together, we see a lot more people cohabitating. I think with these changes, we are coming from a traditional family world, to a more diverse non-traditional family world, and with that change, social standing, and elder status is less important.While you are right Lori, that adults deserve respect, I feel that some of these changes have changed the playing field, and therefore people are abandoning the old etiquette customs. It is sad, but it does reflect the current world we live in.
August 8, 2007 9:11 PM
You are so right.
I have forwarded this clip on to many people. You expressed exactly how I've felt all along about this. I still to this day can't call my parents friends by their first name, yet my children's friends yell out to me like I'm another one of their schoolmates. I know I sound old and stuffy but I do think there is a lack of respect today and I think this does have something to do with it.
March 20, 2007 1:52 PM
I share your sentiments
I would like to thank you for all of your video clips. I was raised to speak respectfully with adults and that has always stuck with me.I think that it is wise to teach children the language or respect and that includes using appropriate titles. I have a few elders that I do call by their first names, but that privilege was earned. I think that's what some of the other viewers and your neighbor didn't understand-that children need that, they need to know that they have earned that privilege. Parents who insist on their children or children's frinds address them in an informal manner from the beginning of their relationship are doing their children a disservice. I admire you for sticking to your decision to show your children how to address adults properly. And although some may not agree with your decision everyone will be able to see the difference that it will make in their lives. It's a beautiful thing. Thanks again, Ms. Sara
March 20, 2007 12:09 AM
When I was growing up in the 90s, my mom always made sure that kids refered to her by her first name - she always hated being Mrs. Did the kids respect her? Absolutely. Why? Because they knew that she was kind and fair, they knew that she would look after them and respect them, and they did the same in return to her. I cannot recall one instance where anyone disrespected my mother - and she was never Mrs and she never raised her voice. Instead she became a confident, one of the adults we trusted. Lacking a title is lacking pretension; my mom showed that you can still be in control and be on the same level as your kids.
March 17, 2007 10:51 AM
This video was very good to to see.It certainly is a different generation for elders. With the growing American lack of values, I feel sorry for those who will be elders one day.
March 16, 2007 4:01 PM
You're The One Showing Disrespect...
I believe you were showing disrespect when you insisted that your children address the other adult by her first name, after she said it was okay to address her by her first name. Do not impose your standards on other people. If children do address adults by their first names, it means that they have a special rapport with them; it does not mean they are showing disrespect. The only exception is if these adults make it clear from the onset that they want to be addressed by their last names in a formal manner, which also can be interpreted as being too formal; it's like they are saying, "Don't get too close to me, let's keep our distance. This author reminds me of some adults I encountered during my pre-teen years. "You should never sass an adult correcting or reprimanding you, even if you're right. As an adult now I still get this from older folks who think that the general public should roll out the "Royal Carpet" everytime they leave their house.
david craft Israel,
March 16, 2007 9:24 AM
I have given my name to children for many years now as Mr. david or Mr. craft, etc. thank you for this clip, as many i know do the first name, and i see the effect, even back on those of us who use a mr., we are shown disrespect. thank you, and Shalom, david 14
March 15, 2007 6:59 AM
In response to anonymous's comment: In the Haredi school system, at least, teachers are called "HaMorah" - Teacher ... and often are even spoken to in third person!
March 14, 2007 5:52 PM
Regardless of your feelings....it's derech eretz (proper Torah behavior)
My husband and I decided early on in our parenting that our children would refer to all adults with a title. Even a "Miss Ashley" was standard fare for the 13 year old babysitter. We never regretted this decision, because the bottom line is that a key way for a child to develop respect for himself is by showing respect for others, and using proper titles for those older that himself is a respectful action no matter how you look at it. When confronted with the "You can call me Sara" scenario, I respond, "I understand, and I am sorry, that it may make you feel uncomfortable to be called Mrs. Gold. Nonetheless, for consistency and chinuch, we ask our children to call all adults by their last name. I hope you can understand and bear with us". Usually, this discussion is met with appreciation, and more often than not, admiration for those "old fashioned values". I also insist that children call me Mrs. Walles with a friendly, but firm, "You can call me Mrs. Walles". These children never complain, they just call me....you guessed it....Mrs. Walles. And, yes, when they call me Mrs. Walles, I heartily acknowledge how polite and respectful they are! Boy, you could be blinded by the smiles that I get from these kids!By the way, my husband and I were not religious when we decided to hold this way. What a great surprise when we became religious (a huge Hakoras Hatov to you, Lori!)to learn that the Torah asks this not only of our children, but also of us, as adults. I wouldn't dream of calling my doctor or my Rabbi by his first name. Once, I accidently referred to a community rabbi by his first name to his wife. Boy, was I embarrassed and immediately apologized (even though he identifies himself by his first name to me when he calls on the phone). Here's a quick Derech Eretz lesson my children brought home from "Project Derech", a Toronto-based middos development program:"It is a mitzvah of Yirah not to call a parent or a rebbe by name. Putting a title such as Mr., Mrs., Reb, or Morah before a name removes it from the category of calling them by name and is, therefore, permissible. For example, if someone asks, "Whose child are you?", one may reply "I am the child of Reb Plony ben Plony." (Pischei Teshuvah 240:2). Similarly, a title, rather than a pronoun, should be used when referring to parents or teachers, whether or not in their presence; for example "Abba said.." or "Rabbi Palatnik said...", not "He said...". Additionally, it is proper derech eretz that a minor not address any adult by first name.Finally, why do we want to act with derech eretz? From a Project Derech handout:"The foundation of all our actions, thoughts and attitudes towards others is based on the principle that man was made b'tzelem Elokim, in the image of Hashem. According to Ben Azzai (Yerushalim Nedarim 0:4), this principle is an even greater principle than "Love your neighbor as yourself." If transforms man from an insignificant being into the pinnacle of creation who must be repected accordingly. Kavod atzmo(self respect) is based on the responsibility to preserve the tzelem Elokim within oneslf. Because mankind was made b'tzelem Elokim, one's dignity(self worth) is sacred. A lack of respect towards oneself or others contains within it a lack of respect for the A-mighty. The more we internalize this awareness, the more careful we will be to behave in a way that emobodies derech eretz."So, for all those readers who think this issue doesn't matter to either themselves or their children, why don't you try a little experiment? For just 1 week try to refer to those you repect as Mr., Mrs., Doctor, Rabbi, or Morah. Include your children in this project. The grocery store clerk become "Miss Grocery Store Clerk" and the principal at your child's school becomes "Mr. Principal" or "Rabbi Principal". You get the point. At the end of a week, see if your or your children's attitude has changed. You might be surprised!
March 14, 2007 2:05 PM
wonderful as always Lori, but
i wonder Lori,perhaps on second thought might it not have been better to mention your philosophy to your children in private, not to give this woman tochacha in front of your children? might this have been a mild public embarrasment for her?i wasnt there, but as R' Salomon always says:"something to think about"
March 14, 2007 11:35 AM
What do you recommend your daughter in law and son in law call you? I have asked them to call me mom or ema but they still call me by my first name.
March 14, 2007 10:43 AM
Fifties and Sixties
I grew up in America in the Fifties and Sixties. I shudder to think what my parents would have done to me had I called their friends by their first name.
March 13, 2007 10:04 PM
Excellent comments on RESPECT
Good talk on the importance of continuing to call parents, teachers, professionals and adults in general by their title. This is mostly important that children use titles in speaking with adults and not first names, sometimes it may not hurt for adults to do the same as well. There would be a lot more RESPECT in the world.
March 12, 2007 10:12 AM
As a kid, my own experience was that the kids who were especially polite to adults tended to get into the most trouble when adults weren't around (call it the Eddie Haskell Syndrome), and the ones who had to be REALLY deferential toward their parents (i.e., calling them "sir" and "m'am"... and this was not in the South) were the ones who got into the most conflict with their parents later on. My guess would be that greater formalism often goes hand in hand with stricter, more authoritarian parenting. Which is not to say that too much permissiveness produces good results. But kids DO need to know that respect flows both ways (as long as it's deserved).In terms of family friends (as opposed to parents, teachers, etc. who possess special authority), I don't see a problem with kids using first names, if that's what the friend is most comfortable with. I've usually been on a first name basis with my friends' children, and I think it's helped them think of me as a friend and confidant, without it ever giving them license to disobey or disrespect me.
March 12, 2007 9:33 AM
I'm not Mr.
I earned my doctorate 30 years after my first masters. I insist that my students call me Dr. S-- or Professor S--; they are not my friends. Many of my children's friends knew me before I had the doctorate. I do not like my children's friends call me Mr. S--. It is just wrong. Respect does not come with titles. It comes from the way you treat other people. My children's friends and the other youngsters in shul should act respectful no matter what names or honorific they use. I should show them respect, too. If they want to call me Dr. S--, fine, but I'll be uncomfortable. If they insist on using an honorific then they can call me A--'s [fill in my daughter's or son's name] Abba.
March 12, 2007 9:19 AM
I have listened to this debate for years now and find it very senseless. It causes more hard feelings than anything else and in the end no one feels very good. Just sent chills up my spine when I heard how you "corrected" your neighbor in front of your children and my heart went out to her even though at the end it turned out okay. You were blest she was so gracious. To be corrected in front of children can be very embarrassing, not to mention insulting because basically what you said to her wasâ€¦."Sarah, what you think and want is not important...it is what I think and want that is important." If you felt that strong about what your children called her wouldn't it have been better to just let them say "hello" and then later on when you are alone with your neighbor to tell her in a kind way what you are trying to teach your children and something to the effectâ€¦"Sarah if you don't mind could my children please call you Mrs. Goldberg ? It would mean so much to me and would really help in reinforcing what my husband and I are trying to teach our children about respecting adults." â€¦and then let the final say be hers. In that way you are respecting and honoring her as a person. You mentioned several times in your video how uncomfortable your neighbor was and to me that is much more disrespectful than calling an adult by their first name.We have an 80+y.o. man in our Torah study group who really wants to be called by his first name and has specifically told all of the children to call him by his first name. It isn't a matter of the title "Mr." making him feel oldâ€¦he knows he is an older gentleman, he just loves his first name! It is a strong Jewish name and he prefers to be called by that. Does any child in our fellowship disrespect him and see him on the same level as young Joseph or Eli? I think not. All the children respect him because of who he is and would respect him whatever title or name they used. None of the adults in our group would think of correcting this kindly man or insisting that our children will call him what WE want to call him regardless of how he feels. As adults WE grew up saying Mr. & Mrs. and were told that it was respectful so WE as adults see it that way and so it makes US feel comfortable when our children use those terms but WE are forgetting that not everyone in this day and age feel the same. (See the point? WE, US, ME etc.) We have found that there are just as strong feelings about NOT being called Mr. or Mrs. so we usually politely ask. "May we call you Mr. Mrs., Miss," or "what would you prefer our children call you?" This is always met with warmth. We can also help other mothers when they are struggling about what to call someone by asking, "What would you prefer your children call me?" This too brings warmth and makes the other mother feel respected and valued in the things she is trying to teach her children. Yes, names are important, titles are important but it is NOT in the name or the title that we teach respect. nor is it in the title that our children find heroes and heroines. Just as they show great respect to Avraham, Moshe, Eliyahu without using titles of Mr., Rabbi, or Uncle, our children and most all of the other children we know are taught to respect and honor adults as the Torah teaches regardless of what name or title they use. They are taught that more important than any title and what brings greater respect and honor is the consideration of the other person and their feelings. To our family, this, is the heart of Torah.
March 12, 2007 7:09 AM
I grew up in Latin America and there, we were to call Mr. or Mrs. to anyone older that us. Here in USA,my children's class mates as soon as they finished high school did try to call me by my first name, I told them: "Mrs. for you." They thought I was a astuffed neck person. When teaching at the college, my students tried to call me by my first name, then I thought: am I not the professor?
March 12, 2007 6:27 AM
Agree but hard to do
Strongly agree but difficult to enforce in a secular social setting. Moshe Ben Eser
March 12, 2007 1:57 AM
While growing up in the neighborhood of Chicago in the 50', elders were always addressed as Mr. or Mrs.. IIf they were close to the family they were called aunt and uncle and they were not related.Bring back the old day's of simple respect.
March 11, 2007 10:40 PM
I have a very god friend from Srilanka and all her children address me as Aunty, even the ones that I do not know, which gives the correct respect to the adult.
March 11, 2007 7:55 PM
You are so right Lori. I absolutely dislike children calling their adults by their first name, unfortunately it starts at Child care when they are just one or two years old, they are taught to call the Staff by their first name, disgraceful!! No wonder they grow up disrispecting their parents, teachers, and everyone in authority.
March 11, 2007 6:37 PM
But... what about my neighbor?
I have a question. I am a mother's helper for my neighbor. When I started with them, they introduced themselves as their names. My siblings and I all call them that. My neighbor and her husband are both in their early 20's. I'm 13. I don't call my other neighbors by their first names, but I can't imagine calling these ones Mr. and Mrs!! Is there a such thing as an exception? Because I really do respect them... I learn alot from them! Please reply!
March 11, 2007 3:20 PM
If Adults Respect Other Humans Then Children Learn to Respect
Dear Mrs. Palatnik,Long before my children were born I decided that we all should use our first names. I wanted my children to remind me not to misuse my power as a father. Respect shouldn't be derived from any kind of title. It should rather come from humans listening to each other. Children learn from the parent's behavior. By showing my children respect they learned to respect me. That's a simple fact that I realized long before my children were born. I have heard many adults using titles and telling nonsense to children. It's my experience that children can learn at very low age to listen and to tell their own opion in a kind and respectful way. By showing my children respect, they in return taught me a lot that I wouldn't have learned otherwise.Some months ago Radio Denmark brought a discussion between the Danish chief rabbi, a protestant bishop, and a Muslim. The Muslim was the only person who used titles and family names. The others used nothing but first names. When watching children playing in the neighborhood, I have noticed that the Muslim children show more aggression than the others.Less than an hour before I listened to your lecture on the use of titles and on children's talking to adults, I wrote a letter to the former Danish chief rabbi. It started "KÃ¦re Bent" Dear Bent. Referring to Danish culture it would have been inappropriate if I wrote Dear Rabbi Melchior.I have no doubt that lots of children not using parents' and other adults' first names behave in a pleasant way. But I also have no doubt that some of these children in certain ways remain on a childish level.But further investigation may show a significant difference in favor of being on equal level.
March 11, 2007 2:06 PM
Right on target and...
It's an absolute must that adults be called by their "title". My best friend and I, 14 years ago, when our first babies were born and we were only 20 at the time!, discussed whether our children were going to call the other "Mrs." or "Aunt" and we've decided that considering we're best friends, we'll be called "Aunt..." (ditto for "Uncle"). This was the best decision made.I truly feel that the lack of respect that children have stem from the first "fundamental" missing, not learning to call adults by a "title". (This often stems from adults themselves not respecting themselves enough to request that youngsters call them by title ("rank and file" so to speak!) (After all "we're all friends, no?" Yes, we're friends, but of a different sort, I'm older and you're younger / different generation, and we do have a different relationship than friends in the classroom or kids on the block. Thank you for "speaking up"!
March 11, 2007 11:18 AM
We were the "groovy" baby-boomers, who "let it all hang out" and lost our self-respect
Hello, Lori, and thank you for your comments. As a Boomer born in 1951, I , too, became one of the freewheelin', free-lovin', let it all-hang-out-DIS -establishment, Dis-respectful hippies of the 60's. And, today, from my 55 year old perspective, I look back with deep regret; with deep dismay; with deep embarassment, at the antics of my fellow Boomers and their offspring of today. All authority: parents, grand-parents, policemen, professors (except those who smoked pot to prove their "grooviness) - - - all authoritarian figures were to be spat at; to be ignored. So, why wouldn't it be, that when "We" became parents ourselves; that we would shun being stuffed into that anathema called "Aged" or "Adult" or "Experienced" or, G-d forbid: "Wise???"So, nu? We made our beds, now we must lie in them? Or, can we parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, can we yet offer ourselves as symbold of respect to our children; and do so without embarassment? Can we finally come down from our 60's pipe dreams, and feel comfortable in the reality or our own Adulthood?
March 11, 2007 11:01 AM
I agree. unfortunately in Israel children call their teachers/ neighbors by first name.
March 11, 2007 10:40 AM
You are so right, I used to think that my husband was just being stuffy when he insisted on children calling Mr. or Uncle, but I have since changed my mind. Thank you for your insight.
March 11, 2007 10:27 AM
you're right but no one thinks so
I totally agree Lori. I don't know why my school lets us call the seminary interns by their first names--I think the girls totally respect them less because of that. But what should I do as a student?
March 11, 2007 9:39 AM
What happened to "Aunt" and "Uncle"
Lori is so right. When I grew up irreligious, no one would dare call their uncle and aunt by their first name. It was completely unacceptable. Today, even us orthodox Jews find nothing wrong with their children addressing aunts and uncles and other adults on a first-name basis. When I'm at a family get-together, and say to the kids "Uncle...", or "Aunt...",it seems all eyes are on me, as if I said a faux pas. Lori, do you think it would be considered interfering if I emailed this video to the parents of those kids (who happen to be my grandchildren)? Would it be considered as interfering and could it cause more harm than good. The other response is for me to continue addressing the uncles and aunts by their title in front of the kids, even if I appear old-fashioned. I look forward to other comments.
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