DEAR ABBY: I am a 26-year-old married mother-to-be. Lately, I have been increasingly frustrated with children calling adults by their first name. I am not talking about adults to whom the children are closely related; I am talking about neighbors, friends, parents, etc. I have recently been introduced to the children of several acquaintances and neighbors by my first name. I realize that I am not elderly, but I AM an adult.
I was always taught to respect my elders and to refer to them as "Mr.," "Mrs." or "Miss" unless invited to do otherwise. It is not the children's fault -- it is the adults who allow them to do this.
I plan on raising my children to follow this rule of thumb: If you're not sure what a person prefers to be called, ASK! Some adults don't mind young children calling them by their first names, but have we become so informal that everyone is now a Tom or a Nancy? How do I get around this without sounding like a stick-in-the-mud? -- OLD-FASHIONED IN READING, PA.
DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: You are correct in your statement that your dilemma is caused by the thoughtlessness on the part of the parents, who should ask you, before the introductions are made, how you would like the children to address you.
Deal with this by making your wishes known in a friendly way. When a parent introduces you as "Nancy," say with a smile, "When Jimmy and Janie are 21, they may call me Nancy. But for now, I'd prefer to be called Mrs. Smith." And then direct a friendly comment (or question) to the child.