Monday, May 16, 2011

Have at thee, sir...(or ma'am)

One thing my children learn about in their grammar curricula is titles of respect. As both an early childhood education worker and mother of kids who have friends, whether or not these titles need to be used is an ongoing question. I always tell me kids, when meeting a new adult, to ask them what they want my children to call them. In my place of work, I always introduce myself as Jenna. If it becomes clear the child's parents want them to use a title of respect, I go with Teacher Jenna.
I am not always accorded the courtesy I require my kids to give other adults.
As for me, I want everyone and their kids to call me Jenna. Not Miss/Ms/Mrs Jenna, not Ms Carodsikey-Wiebe, and certainly not Mrs Wiebe. Most of my kids' friends DO call me Jenna. My two younger children however, have friends, siblings who are required to call me Miss Jenna. They are not allowed to call me what I wish to be called because that would be "disrespectful".
Of course, I have given some thought to why I want to be on a first name basis with everyone. In no particular order, here's why:
Equality  Several types of equality come into play. Gender, age, socioeconomic.... If we still had a social convention of different titles for unmarried and married  men as we do with women, I might have embraced Mrs. As we don't, I didn't, and find the first name basis a great way to avoid the use of a sexist title. I also do not hold myself to be better than children. Even though they may have to obey and take instruction from me, I am not *better* or more worthy of respect.

Formality Or lack thereof. I live in a pretty casual part of the country and that level of formality just feels *weird* to me.

Age It makes me feel old. I don't work out, eat superfoods, and moisturise just so some kid can call me ma'am (of fail to card me. whippersnappers.)

But most importantly,

Titles of respect can too easily take the place of REAL respect
Anyone who's read a book with dueling knows this is true.
And almost anyone reading this has experienced this in real life.
I prefer real respect, in the way people treat me.


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