Dear Amy: My wife and I had a spirited discussion concerning whether adult children should call their parents by their first names or by their titles (such as “Mom” or “Dad”).
I was raised to address my elders by their respective titles and so was my wife, but she now feels it’s outdated and no longer applicable.
What’s your take?
Puzzled: Certain things never go out of style: the Parthenon (for instance), Myrna Loy, or the titles “Mom” and “Dad” (or any of their countless affectionate variants).
Are you having this spirited discussion because your adult children have decided to address you by your first names? Are you aware of other adults choosing to do this with their parents?
Your question prompted me to do something I seldom do: I “crowdsourced” it on social media. I posed this question on Twitter (@AskingAmy): “Has it become common for young adults to call their parents by their first name? If you are a parent and your adult child started calling you by your first name, how would you interpret this? ”
This question prompted more than 200 replies.
When it comes to how children should/do address their parents, no respondent (including me) agrees with your wife’s take on this.
Addressing parents by their titles is respectful, appropriate and emotionally intimate.
A few people remarked that they have been through phases of calling their parents by their first names, and all said it was because they were rebelling — or had lost respect for their parents.
One respondent noted: “I did with my parents once I started attending boarding school in the early ’90s. Only later did I realize I did this out of contempt for my parents, and no longer do it. I would not be happy now if my sons called me by my first name. ”
Teenagers sometimes enter a phase of calling their folks by their first names, and often do so when referring to their parents (to their peers) i. e.: “George and Martha are really on my case. ”
The only time parents seem to feel okay about being addressed by their first names is when they are in a crowd, and where “Mom” or “Dad” might get lost in the shuffle. (In those circumstances, my own daughter will call out, “Amy Dickinson!, ” and it always makes me laugh. )
Mainly, parents interpret their children calling them by their first names as a sign of disrespect, or as a denial of the parental relationship.
Another respondent reported a twist: “My mother invited me and my sister to call her (by her first name) when we turned 18 (in the ’80s). I mostly called her that until her death. She hoped it would signify that we were friends and equals. For me it was an acknowledgment that she didn’t want to nurture. ”
Dear Amy: I have struggled with lifelong dietary issues and food allergies, and at 25 have finally come to a place where I feel safe eating what I can, though my menu is very restricted. I prepare my own food and bring my own meals to work, social events or anywhere food will be served.
People peer strangely at my food, always ask what “diet” I’m on, what I’m eating and why.
I’m sure they are expressing innocent curiosity, but I am so sick of explaining myself when I just want to eat in peace.
If I explain, the reaction is always intense sympathy — and further questions!
Or I’ll skirt the questions and change the topic, which feels rude and makes it awkward. It’s gotten to the point I will not take my lunch break at work, or I’ll avoid joining people at restaurants to be able to escape the interrogations.
In the food and diet-obsessed culture we live in, I just want people to leave me alone! Do you have any suggestions for me?
Food Restricted: You want a response that covers all of your bases. Understand, however, that any response — however complete — will not stop the most determined interrogators.
Try this: “Oh, I have a bunch of food allergies and sensitivities. It’s pretty boring, so I hope it’s okay with you if we don’t talk about it. ”
Dear Amy: Please shorten your questions and answers. They are too long!
You should be able to get three or four stories a day into your column. Your answers are too long. Please run more sex problems plus sex stories.
Fred, in Ohio
Fred: Thanks, Fred. I’ll think about it.
© 2019 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency