That’s Mrs. Tierney to You, Squirt (here’s why)

by | Sep 1, 2013 | Parenting, Things I Think, What I Wore Sunday | 22 comments

When it comes to being addressed by children, I prefer “Mrs. Tierney” to “Kendra.” I also prefer “Mrs. Tierney” to “Miss Kendra,” on account of me having all these kids and preferring to give off more of a married vibe (although I do secretly like the Austen-ness of Miss Kendra, but I’m the oldest, so I’d be Miss Dosé . . . aaaaand this is kinda getting away from me).

But anyway, if you’ve ever introduced me to your kids as Kendra or Miss Kendra, please don’t worry that I was looking at you like this on the inside:

It’s fine, your kids can address me as you prefer. But I’ll continue to prefer Mrs. Tierney, and MY kids will continue to be instructed to address you as Mr. or Mrs. Jones even if you introduce yourself to them as Steve, or Susie, or The Hulk. 

Because I really do think that Mr. and Mrs. are a superior form of address for kids to use. Here’s how I see it:

1. First names are NOT magically easier for kids to pronounce.

I’m not sure why, but everyone seems to think that they’re doing your kids a favor if they introduce themselves by their first name. It’s an odd assumption to make that somehow three year olds are capable of pronouncing first names, but not last names. It just doesn’t make sense.


2. While I’m all for expecting the best from my kids, I actually find that it’s much simpler for them to just have to remember one name per family.

It is easier for kids to put the members of a family into one group with one name, rather than be expected to remember individual names for each person. They know the last names of their friends, and they know which mom and dad go with which kids, so calling them Mr. and Mrs. is an easy and logical extension. Why complicate that by adding extra first names to the mix?

see? complicated. but I’ll bet they’ll ALL turn around if you just shout “Weasley!”

3. It takes away some of the specialness of their peer relationships if we insist on the same level of informality in child-adult relationships.   

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really need to be best buddies with your kids. And if not knowing first names puts a bit of a distance between my kids and the parents of their friends, I’m okay with that, too. I like the idea of the form of address being different between people who have different sorts of relationships with each other: Gramma vs Billy vs Aunt Mary vs Mr. Smith. Because different things are different and that’s okay.

So that’s how we roll, Mister.


And hey! It’s Sunday again. Here’s what I wore to Mass:

Stretchy Dress, from a couple Easters back: Target; Stretchy Skirt: because just about every dress I own is two inches too short: Ann Taylor Loft; Shoes: DSW; Earrings, Necklace, Bracelet: Murano glass (a souvenir); Bump: 27 weeks

And if you’ve read the How I Met My Husband post, you may be interested to know that those are they very steps upon which I received the ammo can! 

Linking up with the ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for another What I Wore Sunday. Have a lovely day!



  1. October Rose

    After much back and forth, we finally settled on "Mr/Mrs first name" for a few friends that we are close to and see very often, and "Mr/Mrs last name" for all other adults.

    To be honest, I would prefer all last names (except for a handful of very close adults that receive the title aunt or uncle), because it is simpler and makes sense to me. I grew up with all of my parents' friends being Mr/Mrs. But my husband grew up in California, where it was considered "sucking up" to call your friends' parents Mr or Mrs so-and-so.

    So that's the compromise we've reached!

  2. Laura Rydberg

    THANK YOU. I've really wanted to start insisting on "Mrs." and "Mr." etc., but have felt all alone in the endeavor. Not like that's a big deal . . . but it is when you overthink it. 🙂

  3. Caitlin

    Your reasons definitely make sense, but after growing up in the south, I just can't do it! I was raised to call everyone Mr/Mrs first name and that's what we'll do with our kids too. I still refer to my friends' parents that way. Since my husband and I met in high school, it was really weird to drop the Mr/Mrs with my in-laws when we got married!

  4. Erica Saint

    You look great! Layering the dress with a skirt is brilliant. Your jewelry is very pretty.
    I am Erica to the children of friends that I have known for 20+ years, but I am Mrs. Saint to all other children. I am never Miss Erica because that sounds strange to me.
    The Weasley family tree is neat!

  5. Mary Schneidau Sullivan

    I also grew up in the South, and while we called school teachers "Mrs. Last Name," everyone else (parents of friends, coaches, etc.) were "Miss First Name." That's what I prefer now, but I'm not another kid's parent, so I defer to them on Miss First Name vs. Mrs. Last Name when their child refers to me. I am definitely NOT a fan, however, of just First Name. Too informal. If it's the first time I'm meeting another parent, I usually ask what they prefer to be called by my child.

    I definitely agree with you on the point about kids pronouncing names. My maiden name is unusual, and it was often only other kids – and not adults – who could pronounce it correctly after hearing it a single time. And my daughter has a family name (now in its 6th generation) that while pronounced in the traditional manner, is not how most people today pronounce that name. When she is introduced to new families, often the kids get her name correct the first time (and from there on out), but the adults frequently mispronounce it repeatedly (and I correct them, repeatedly).

  6. Molly

    I'm definitely a "Ms. Molly", but I prefer that because that's what my grandmother was/is called and she's kind of my hero. I will be introducing the hubs as Mr. "Last Name" in the future.

    I think it's also a little confusing in my case to be Mrs. "Man's First Name" since my husband is one of those first name as a last name deals. If I was a "Walters" instead of a "Walter" it might be less confusing, but we don't hold with that plural nonsense around here. 😉

  7. The Nem's!!

    This is tough for me because my last name is hard to pronounce but if I have been asked what name I would like to be called, I feel a little weird saying "Mrs. Nem…" I'd just prefer all kids address others as Mr Mrs Last Name and I would tell them otherwise if I felt so. Story and a question: it does drive me nuts that our friends have their children call us Ms First Name, Mr First Name but my husband is a doctor (friends know this…our friend sells the other implants my husband uses!), so wouldn't you at least have your kid say Dr First Name? Picky maybe…but that is how I feel.
    But here's my question…we are teaching our kids to say Mr/Mrs Last Name…but when others say 'oh, just call me First Name', should I insist my child continue with the last name or do what the friend requests as an exception (but still with a Mr/mrs/miss)?
    So much to think about…almost amazing I can sleep at night!

    • Kendra

      I agree with you that your husband shouldn't have to forfeit his title! I'm a Navy brat, and my sister and I used to have to remember changing ranks, but we managed it.

      I personally go kind of passive aggressive in the face of requests like that. I don't say anything in front of him or correct him or officially deny his request, we just keep calling him Mr. Smith each new time we see him and just wear him down. It works great on acquaintances and casual friends, but could be problematic if tried on very close, very opinionated friends!

    • Mandi

      My husband has a PhD, so while not a medical doctor, he still goes by the Dr. title. It bothers me to no end that the only people who ever address an envelope to us with "Dr. and Mrs." is my parents, even his parents don't – and they flew out for his graduation! It irks me because he worked so hard for that title and he deserves to be addressed by it. We don't have any friends with kids old enough to call us anything yet, but when we do, I wonder how the "Dr." will play out. I prefer to just be called by my first name, but if their family uses Mr./Mrs. and would want them to refer to my husband as Dr.

  8. Tamara

    This reminds of the "Yes ma'am/Yes Sir" issue. My mom grew up in New York, where being called ma'am is apparently reserved for the elderly. She had a really hard time about it when we moved to Texas and everyone called her ma'am. Mom usually responded with something about not being old! But in Texas, and the South, it's just good manners… 25 years later, I think she's used to it 🙂

  9. Kim

    I just had this convo with husband. I want to be address as mrs! Its a title I earned. I stayed with my husband for thick and thin sickness and health etc for 16 years…I deserve to be called MRS.

    my kids refer to most people by mrs and mr except for close friends which get the honorary aunt and uncle title. Which to me is a step up from mr and mrs.

    as for the doctor thing, well,my husband's side is all doctors and all their friends are doctors etc and when we all get together I was asked to refer to all of them as dr so and so etc… I call them dr as per their request but i do not see the need for it. This is probably me just being wrong but the way I see it is, he is a doctor–ok–so. Its not like I go around calling engineers, engineers, or plumbers plumbers or lawyers lawyers or zoo keepers zoo keepers etc and etc…. i do not see the need for it. But, like I said, I still do it If I am asked to do it, out of manners and respect for my husband's family, but i still find it weird in my head when I say it. I realize its respect though.

    I guess I never thought about military titles though, that's another aspect to consider.

    • The Nem's!!

      I'm confused, are you having to refer to your friends as Dr so-and-so? That would be weird. I think Kendra's post (and my comment) was referring to children (specifically for me, my friends children). I don't see the need for YOU to call your friend Dr. Name, but I will say it IS a big deal to be a doctor! The level of training and education is something few of us can do (I would say the same thing for military…I could never do what they do either). My husband did 10 years of training beyond college…his family life (his career too) didn't start until he was 32!! I would expect (hope!) children (and anyone seeing my husband in a professional capacity) would call him Dr….his MD title trumps the use of Mr for him. (in my opinion)

  10. Mandi

    We have always referred to my parents close friends by their first name or "aunt"/"uncle" first name. My mom was always very uncomfortable being called Mrs. ______ by her goddaughter – it kind of hurt her feelings that she wasn't called by a more familiar/intimate name.

  11. Justine/ Sew Country Chick

    Growing up in Hollywood where I had never been raised to call our parents friends' anything but first names and then living in liberal Santa Monica where even the teachers of my childrens' classes instructed the children to call me by my first name, I found it refreshingly charming to finally be called by my last name when we moved to a conservative community. My kids use last names for grown ups except when speaking to my best friends.

  12. Ellen Johnson

    Yup, I'm completely on board with this. We're really emphatic about other adults being Mr. and Mrs. with our daughter. We didn't put our foot down when we moved to the neighborhood and our neighbor kids call us Ellen and Dave. It's just not right!

  13. Kendra

    I guess I am the old "Grammy" at heart but I just don't like 3 year olds calling me Camille. It can be "name of grandkid's" Nana or Mre. Dose but please not Camille. As you said we aren't best friends. I so agree with you.

  14. Anonymous

    I feel that the high incomes that doctors earn is their payment for all those years of service. I'm a teacher in a low-income inner city school and I work just as hard as doctors and get no special title. So sick and tired of the very few respected occupations in this country.

  15. Karianna @ CaffeinatedCatholicMama

    Oh, I am so with you on this one! What's funny is the number of my friends who like being called by their first names. So that put my husband and I in a quandary… while we like to respect the wishes of our friends, it can be perplexing to our kids (6,4 and baby) that some adults are Mr/Mrs and others are first name basis.

    IDK, I guess for me, the first name thing is a level of familiarity… and I grew up calling my Grandmother "Grandma LAST name." I don't think I ever uttered her first name.

    I love the color of your dress! Looks smashing!

  16. Anonymous

    All my children are taught to say Mr or Mrs. When we meet someone, I ask their last name so my children know what to call them. If I am not there and my children meet a new coach or the like and they aren't given a last name (and my children don't ask), my children know to call them "Coach John" or "Teacher Jane"

    If we meet someone and the person says "oh they can call me Sue". I straight out tell them "I'm sorry, my children can't address you so informally" they will either tell me their last name or if they insist on their first name (which some have) we put a Miss or Mr in front.

    CTK Parkday

  17. Anonymous

    I'm not sure if my first comment went through so sorry if this is a repeat 🙂

    We did a mix of the Mr/Miss First name and Mr/Mrs Last Name growing up. My mom is from the South, and anyone she could influence got the first name title. I think it was just what she was used to and grew up with. Adding the title made it more formal – just calling friends' parents by their first names would have seemed weird to me as a kid. Once we got to school and were introduced to friends' parents in other contexts, the last name title was more common.

    My dad is a doctor, and he thinks people treat him differently when they find out he's a doctor – kind of put him on a pedestal. He wants to be on equal footing outside the hospital so he's only Dr. Last Name at work. Mr. pretty much everywhere else except for formal invitations! I'm in med school and I will probably do the same once I graduate. My school puts a big emphasis on humility and how we shouldn't use our title to gain favor with other people (for example, don't wear your white coat while doing errands), which is similar to how my dad feels. I don't necessarily think anyone who does ask their kids' friends to call them Dr. Last Name is being proud, but I think that worked out for my family well so why not do the same thing myself?


  18. Adrie Little

    I've found that a lot of the naming thing is rooted in geography. I grew up calling my friends' parents "Mrs. and Mr. Johnson." And everyone did! Then we moved to our teeny tiny town in Iowa, and my friends looked at me strangely when I called their parents "Mr and Mrs VanderBerg." It's almost seen as… unfriendly (?) to be so formal. It took me a looong time to break that habit. If we ever have kids around here, I'll probably end up going the first name route, maybe with an added Miss or Mister before the first name.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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