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Adults by Their First Names? Sorta Long

I am an Aunt to three nephews and one niece. All four kids are from the same parents (my DH's brother and his wife). The nephews are old enough to address adults in conversation.

They call their teachers, Mr./Mrs. and the pastor of their church, Pastor ABC. But for my DH and me, they call us by our first names only. Not "Aunt Butterfly" and "Uncle Wolf." Just "Butterfly" and "Wolf."

My DS is speaking now and we are teaching him to address his aunts and uncles with "Aunt" and "Uncle" preceeding the family members' first names. Like "Aunt LouLou" and "Uncle Hans."

DH and I have asked BIL and SIL to use the "Aunt" and Uncle" when speaking to our son and we were hoping they would "get it" and have their boys start using "Aunt" and "Uncle" with us. But they have not.

We want to do this because we think adults deserve an added amount of respect and having a formal title in front of a name helps create that distinction. We are close to our nephews, but we still want they to see us as "authority figures" not some kids on the playground with them.

Additionally, the nephews tend toward disregarding many adults who help them and provide loving direction. Generally, this is a respect issue and the lack they possess for adults. And yes, this is a parenting issue. I know this.

So my question: Would you speak to BIL and SIL and ask to be called "Aunt" and "Uncle" or would you ask each nephew to use the titles the next time they address either one of us by our first names?

I just hate being called by my first name by a 10 year old. I want my son to learn the polite way to address adults. He is around the nephews a lot and does what they do and I don't want to unteach him their behaviors.

Re: Adults by Their First Names? Sorta Long

  • dont answer them when they call you only by your first name.  When they ask why you are ignoring them, say that you will answer when you are called Aunt Butterfly.
  • I agree with pp, if you want them to call you something else, don't respond when they call you by your name and tell them why/how you want to be addressed.

    Having said that I really think you are being kind of silly. If my brother told me that my kids had to call him uncle D instead of D, I would probably laugh at him and ask him if he was serious, if he was I'd encourage it with my (hypothetical) kids. I really don't think family needs to be addresses so formally...you are not thier teacher or thier pastor or thier parent, I don't really feel like you have the authority you want to have over them. There are bigger mountains to lose battles on then this.

    (My nephew calls me auntie but only because my and my sisters names are far too hard for a 1 year old to remember/pronounce, I would not be offended in the least if he learned my name, in fact I would be thrilled).

  • image MommyLiberty5013:

    We want to do this because we think adults deserve an added amount of respect and having a formal title in front of a name helps create that distinction. We are close to our nephews, but we still want they to see us as "authority figures" not some kids on the playground with them.

    Totally not your call to offer yourselves up as "authority figures". If your BIL wanted you in such a role he would support it.

    Additionally, the nephews tend toward disregarding many adults who help them and provide loving direction. Generally, this is a respect issue and the lack they possess for adults. And yes, this is a parenting issue. I know this.

    Not all family subscribe to the socially constructed hierarchy that puts adult over children in terms of pecking order. Not a battle for you to win if the parents don't support it.

    So my question: Would you speak to BIL and SIL and ask to be called "Aunt" and "Uncle" or would you ask each nephew to use the titles the next time they address either one of us by our first names?

    I just hate being called by my first name by a 10 year old. I want my son to learn the polite way to address adults. He is around the nephews a lot and does what they do and I don't want to unteach him their behaviors.

    You can ask your nephews to comply but thet can always blow you off. Perhaps you could bribe them. Otherwise, avoid them and raise your own child to behave differently. It's never too early to learn that every family has different values and ways of doing thinsg.

  • The young ones do address me as "Aunt".

    The older ones, I think there was too much of an age gap.  I spent a month trying to get them to say my name and they only got half of it right ;  That they call me that as adults as well, it doesn't bother me.

     My daughter addressed adults by title and even her now DH didn't call me by my first name until they were engaged.

     I do think you're overreacting here though.

  • I agree that kids should use titles for their elders, but I think the time to change what they call you has passed. One of the kids is 10 years old, so either you've been in their lives since they were born and just haven't mentioned it before (far too late), or you're new to their lives and just haven't mentioned it before (perhaps too late, since they're already in the habit of calling you something other than you want to be called). If you think you can get everyone on board with it, talk to them and try to have it changed, but you may not have any luck.

    Next time, bring up something that bothers you right away. People aren't mind readers.

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  • When my neices and nephew's call me by my first name, I just remind them that that's  "Aunt Lisa to you". My brothers and sisters have never had an issue with me correcting their children along those lines. I'm 35 and my oldest nephew is 26 and he always calls me "Aunt Lisa" Perhaps he can drop it when he's married with children :) Merely because we are so close in age.
  • I only have one niece and she's only 2.  She calls me my nickname.  Personally, I don't care if she always calls me that, or whether or not she ever calls me "Aunt".  But that's just me.
  • Thanks for all the responses. Helpful.

    To address someone's point - we just moved closer to these kids as in 12 hours before to now only 2 hours away from one another. We see then way more frequently now. Several times per month usually.

    This was not really an issue before (it bugged me a bit, but not enough to speak up)because 1. We didn't have kids. 2. We saw them so infrequently and not something to "battle" over.

    I agree that adults should be addressed with titles in most occasions. And, when my BIL and SIL aren't around and DH and I are watching these kids, we ARE "authority figures" in their lives.

    Anyway, I like the suggestion of just asking each boy to say "Aunt Butterfly" as it comes up.

  • To put it simply, if you would like to be called "aunt butterfly" then that's how it should be. Everyone deserves to be addressed he way they want. If I wanted to be called my my middle name instead of my first name, then I would hope everyone would respect that. I would simply tell BIL and SIL this, and also tell the kids you would prefer to be called that, because it's what you prefer. Same goes for them I they wish to be called by only their first names when your child is older. It's the respectful thing to do. 

    I agree that it's respectful to address everyone by their titles, but not everyone agrees with that. 


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  • image JemmaWRX:
    I only have one niece and she's only 2.  She calls me my nickname.  Personally, I don't care if she always calls me that, or whether or not she ever calls me "Aunt".  But that's just me.

     

    Same here. The funny thing is my nephew (my sister's son) calls my husband Uncle ____, but just calls me by my childhood nickname. But he's 2, so I find it adorable, and it doesn't bother me that he doesn't use the title "aunt" in front of my name. He knows I'm his aunt.

    On my husband's side of the family, I've been in all of the kid's lives either since they were born or for a good portion of their lives, but we just got married this year. The kids just called me by my first name before we were married, and once we got married the parents told them to begin addressing me as aunt mellimel. But that was what the parents felt was appropriate, I did not dictate that.

  • I would live with being called by my first name.  IMHO, saying something could only lead to trouble.  Your way, using "Aunt" and "Uncle" before the first name, is not the only "right" way.

    How a child addresses adults is a parenting choice.  You don't like the one that BIL and SIL have made but that doesn't mean that you should interject.  How would you feel if BIL and SIL came to you and asked that your child to address them by first names only?  My guess is that you would not like it because that is not what you want to teach your child.  Their beliefs are just as valid as yours.

    You will teach your child according to your own beliefs.  Your child will learn that his parents have different rules than the parents of his cousins.  If you hold your child to your rules, your child will not "unlearn" anything.  Asking other parents to change their rules is unreasonable.

  • Just out of curiosity, do you refer to your MIL as "Mom Susie", or just "Susie"?

    I mean, people get absolutely butthurt about their inlaws not being comfortable being called by their first names, and the typical advice around here is to call the whatever you want and they'll get over it.

    So unless you're calling your inlaws Mom and Dad, to respect their authority, I don't think you have a leg to stand on here. 

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  • image Puppylove*85:

    I would live with being called by my first name.  IMHO, saying something could only lead to trouble.  Your way, using "Aunt" and "Uncle" before the first name, is not the only "right" way.

    How a child addresses adults is a parenting choice.  You don't like the one that BIL and SIL have made but that doesn't mean that you should interject.  How would you feel if BIL and SIL came to you and asked that your child to address them by first names only?  My guess is that you would not like it because that is not what you want to teach your child.  Their beliefs are just as valid as yours.

    You will teach your child according to your own beliefs.  Your child will learn that his parents have different rules than the parents of his cousins.  If you hold your child to your rules, your child will not "unlearn" anything.  Asking other parents to change their rules is unreasonable.

    I'm in this camp.  I hate when kids address me as Mrs. LN.  It makes me feel old and uncomfortable.  My best friend insists that her children do this with all adults as a sign of respect.  It is her parenting decision so I don't ask her kids to call me just FN even though it is what I would prefer.

    I refer to my son's aunts and uncles as Aunt and Uncle so and so but if he drops the titles when he's older and talking I don't care at all.  I think it's perfectly reasonable that you can teach children to respect people without giving them formal titles.

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  • IMO, they aren't your kids, so this isn't really your call... I think this is something you just need to let go. Teach your kids to call people what you want them to call people (like aunt/uncle, whatever), but you don't really have the right (IMO) to tell other parents what they should teach their kids. Like PP said, if my sister came to me and told me she didn't like how my kids were addressing her, I would laugh. This seems like a pick-your-battles thing.

    The last part of your post where you said you don't want to have to "unteach their behaviors".. This is something you will have to do eventually. Say, for instance, they watch a show where the kids do something you wouldn't tell your kids to do (like eating a lot of candy, or watching too much tv); won't you have to un-teach that behavior?

    GL

  • Ultimately, this is the parent's call, not yours. If they are ok with the kids using adult's first names, then that is what will be done. I think there is a cultural element here as well. All my friends and myself always called each other's parents by first names. I used to call my aunt B "Aunt B", which was a term of affection, but now that I'm older, I sometimes just call her B. No biggie either way. I feel like you are making a bigger deal out of this than it needs to be.
  • My nephew does that and it drives me crazy! My BIL and SIL will use "aunt" and "uncle" when addressing my husband and I, but very rarely. My MIL never uses aunt and uncle when talking about us to our nephew. So he pretty much addresses us by our first names. It doesn't bother my DH, but it bothers me because of the authority issue AND I say "grandma", "grandpa", "mom" and "dad" when adressing them while talking to my nephew, it's not like I say "Go see (first name)". Seriously DRIVES ME BONKERS!

  • I grew up in a household where proper titles were afforded to my elders (Mr, Mrs, Dr, Aunt, Uncle, etc.) unless expressly told to call them something else by them.  Even as an adult, I still call my parents friends by their proper titles out of habit and I will instruct my children to do the same.  However, I wouldn't really bring it up with your family.  You can re-direct the children and just say "that would be Aunt ___" to you sir when they call you by your first name only.  They'll get it - eventually.

    Funny side note - so I refer to all my Aunts and Uncles by Aunt (name) and Uncle (name).  My Uncle got married to his current wife when I was a senior in college and his new wife expressed disappointment that I didn't call her Aunt (name) too. uhh - you're 8 years older than me and got married to my family member when I was 22 years old.  Yeah, that boat has left the harbor already.  Sorry.   

  • I agree with PP that this is a parent call, not yours. Just because they do not call you Aunt Butterfly doesn't mean you aren't their Aunt Butterfly. Aunt, Uncle, Grandpa, Grandma, etc. are just titles. They do not define the relationship. Don't let it get to you too much.

    I don't think you'll have an issue with your DS. If you are teaching him to call Aunts and Uncles by that, he will know this. He may be around the cousins, but he will learn from you and from interactions he has. I would continue to call Aunt SIL and Uncle BIL like you want your DS to call them when they are around. He'll pick up on that and form that "habit."

    I would like to point out that I am Auntie XYZ, but my niece refuses to call my FI Uncle XYZ. He will be her uncle in a few short months, but she has always known him as just XYZ, so that's who he is. She will probably never call him Uncle XYZ. She started calling me Auntie XYZ when she was little, so that name will stick with me for quite sometime.

    My boss is not called Aunt anything to her nieces and nephews. She has a handful of them. The oldest one (or any of them) could pronouce her name when they were little, so she just has a nickname. It is not related to being an Aunt, but more along the lines of what a little kid would say when trying to prounce her name.

    I have quite a few aunts and uncles in my life. I have two aunts on my mom's side. One of them I just call B sometimes, or sometimes Auntie B. The other is always D. Why? No idea, but it's what I've always called her without Aunt/Auntie. For me, that didn't change the role or my respect for them. I knew to listen to them when I was left in the care, and I know their relation to me without the title.

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  • I think that your nieces and nephews should call you by what you want to be called as a sign of respect to you as a person not so much as an authority figure.  A few years ago my brother-in-law said that he no longer wished to be called by his nickname which is what everyone else called him.  Instead he wanted us to use his real name.  It took a little while to get used to it but out of respect I made the switch.

    I have an uncle that I don't refer to as Uncle So-and-so.  It dawned on me a few years ago that he's the only uncle I do that to.  This thread has motivated me to ask my parents what he prefers to be called.

  • We insist that SS1 and SS2 call everyone by the appropriate title.  Sometimes they get confused and we correct them.  We view it as a sign of respect.  I call DH's aunt and uncle by "Auntie" and "Uncle."  I may be the only "in-law" that does it but I can't imagine calling them by their first names only when DH and everyone calls them something else.  I call DH's grandparents by their family titles (think "grammy/grampy"). 

    All being said...  DH's nieces and nephews only sometimes call me "aunt."  That is their parents' deal.  Just like we send thank you notes and others do not.  My brother would prefer to not be called "uncle" -- I told him it wasn't his call.  Now that he is having his own child, he understands the need for consistency and family values.

    You will raise your child the way you want to raise him and your BIL/SIL will do as they want to as well.  My BIL told me to stop having SS1 and SS2 send thank you notes because it was making them look bad.  Eh.  Too bad for him.

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  • image sgautschi:

    To put it simply, if you would like to be called "aunt butterfly" then that's how it should be. Everyone deserves to be addressed he way they want. If I wanted to be called my my middle name instead of my first name, then I would hope everyone would respect that. I would simply tell BIL and SIL this, and also tell the kids you would prefer to be called that, because it's what you prefer. Same goes for them I they wish to be called by only their first names when your child is older. It's the respectful thing to do. 

    I agree that it's respectful to address everyone by their titles, but not everyone agrees with that. 

    Ditto this.

    Wierd to me that people are writing "it's the parents job to determine what the kids call you."  Um, no, people get to be called what THEY prefer! 

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