Insist your kids us “Mr” and “Mrs”, then last names of adults in their lives.
Within the last few weeks, I have been introduced to children by adults as “Mr. Mike”, “Michael”, and “Coach Mike” (I coach high school basketball). Mind you, these were people in their forties introducing me to children 8 – 12 years old.
Back in October of last year, I wrote another blog entry about this called That’s Mr. Dude” to You (click to read).
For those who don’t understand this one, let me clarify simply: I insist that children refer to me as “Mr. Spehn” or “Coach Spehn” for their sake, not mine. Calling me “Mr. Spehn” is a small measure of respect that the children need, not me. It instills respect for authority and clearly defines our stations.
I introduced my kids to a neighbor once. I said, “Jack, this is Mrs. Smith.” She shook it off hard and corrected me. “Oh, no. He doesn’t have to call me that. It’s okay, he can call me Mary.” I told her, “It’s not for you that he calls you Mrs. Smith. It’s for him.”
These days a lot of grown-ups really don’t want to grow up. Everyone remembers those first few times they were referred to as “Ma’am” or “Sir” by some kid. It was jarring to realize that I wasn’t the kid anymore. I was “sir”. A lot of adults don’t actually want to be “sir”. They want to remain child-like. It’s a lot more fun staying young. They get to look, dress, act, and talk like teens and best of all, no one expects too much from them.
The harsh reality is that someone has to be the grown-ups. Kids need to know that someone is driving the bus. If you’re their pal, or their friend, or that “cool dad” who allows kids to call them by their first name, down deep it scares them. They’re not sure who’s driving the bus. The lines are too blurry.
Someone has to be the grown-ups. If you’re in your thirties and forties, it’s your turn. Step up.