[LMB] forms of address, was Ivan's Aunties

Harimad harimad2001 at yahoo.com
Mon May 21 20:33:26 BST 2012

P> Pete wrote:
P> I never once used "Mom" for anyone but my own mother;
P> my own mother-in-law was "Mrs. Wade" (she hated me, and the
P> feeling was reciprocated).

MJ> On Fri, 5/18/12, Meg Justus <mmegaera at nwlink.com> wrote:
MJ> I don't know if the usage in my family is typical of
MJ> Southerners (we were expatriate Southerners living in
MJ> California when I was growing up <g>), but all of my
MJ> brothers-in-law (and both my husbands) call(ed) my parents
MJ> Mr. and Mrs.  Not because they didn't get along, but
MJ> just because that's what was considered respectful.  I
MJ> don't remember any discussion about it, or any resentment on
MJ> either side.  I grew up calling anyone more than half a
MJ> generation older than I am Mr. or Mrs.  That's the way
MJ> I was taught.  It ended up causing problems for me as a
MJ> young adult, first when I married at age 21 and my in-laws
MJ> were very insulted that I did not feel comfortable calling
MJ> them by their first names (like Pete, I absolutely did not
MJ> get along with my first mother-in-law, which made it even
MJ> harder for me to use their first names, and I know she knew
MJ> that and, I think, reveled in it), and second, when I got my
MJ> first permanent job, also at age 21, and had to call my
MJ> supervisor by his first name.  I managed it eventually,
MJ> but it took a couple of years before it felt normal.

At this stage in my life I expect to call all adults by their first names unless there's a reason not to.  The most likely good reason is someone who is very senior to me and in my chain of command.  I probably annoy some people at work - the military officers who are accustomed to being called by RankLastname but I don't see why they, but no one else, should get different treatment simply by virtue of military employment.  It's not meant to be sorting mechanism but I notice that it's mostly the stuffy ones who get annoyed.

Medical personnel are their own category.  If ze calls me FirstName, I call zir FirstName; if LastName then LastName.  As with military personnel, I don't think by mere virtue of that training they deserve disproportionate courtesy.

My husband and I call our respective in-laws by their first names.  No brainer on all sides for us.  He grew up working class in update NY, I grew up middle class (then upper middle class) on the East Coast.[1]

My father called his MIL "Mom," but that's a reflection of his high opinion of her as compared to his low opinion of his own mother.  He called his FIL FirstName.

Our children's default address for adults is Mr./Ms FirstName.

- Harimad

[1] For non US'ans, this means the east coast of the US that's north of the South.  Culturally speaking, East Coasters are Northerners, not Southerners.  This is not a purely geographic distinction.  It's easy find Northerners who live south of Southerners.

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list