How do I ask someone to have their children call me Mrs._________?
Dear Mrs. Harding: How do I let a parent know that I want to be called Mrs. and not by my first name by their child?
Great question. Many adults today choose not to be called Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. Perhaps it makes them feel older. You may hear someone say, “Mrs. Smith was my mother, please call me by my first name.”
There is a long history attached to the words Mister and Master or the feminine, Mistress. All have been shortened to Mr. or Mrs. or Miss or Ms. These titles imply a level of respect for a person. For a woman, the titles are used to identify whether she is single or married. Today, Ms. is the proper prefix for all women.
If you are under the age of 18, assume you should use Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. This is the polite thing to do. You should wait until a person gives you permission to call them by their first name.
Some believe the problem with omitting the use of Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. is that you are eliminating the respect that goes with these titles. It puts everyone on the same level. Some adults are fine with this, but some are not. If you object, it is perfectly acceptable to ask someone to have his or her children address you using the proper title. It is actually rude for a child under the age of 18 to address you by your first name without your okay.
When it comes to rules of civility and protocol today, it is best not to assume anything.
Colleen Harding is the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. She has two certifications from the American School of Protocol in traditional etiquette and corporate training. Mrs. Harding is a resident of Bay Village. She is an active volunteer for the Westside Catholic Center, St. Raphael Women’s Guild and a broad member of the Village Foundation.