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Should kids be forced to call adults by their honorific?

Carolyn Hax
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Dear Carolyn:

I hate honorifics for myself and want to be called by my first name, period. Some kids in my life have parents who say they HAVE to call me Ms. Lastname or at least Ms. Firstname. They insist it’s important to them that their kids “show respect.” I keep telling them the best way their kids can show respect is by respecting what people want to be called! The parents get really upset when I tell the kids, “Please just call me Firstname.” We are at an impasse.

— Name

I admire everyone’s passion. I guess.

If you were all my little Lego people and I were running your world, both sides would have backed down and said, “Whatever,” because — whatever.

Names are certainly significant and worthy of respect as elements of identity.

But in this case, you’re not trolling each other or taking disingenuous, political jabs at name choices. Both of you have made and stood by valid, well-meaning points that ably express who you are and what you believe in. You are living your truth on individuality, good for you; they are living their truth on responsibility, both parental and societal. Good for them.

So I find myself wishing both parties would recognize the integrity and goodwill of the other — and therefore the relative unimportance of a win or loss on the specific expression of said values — and just drop it. These kids can call you Firstname without their entire societal education caving in on itself. And your being called Ms. Firstname by one set of kids won’t scald you like holy water on a vampire.

Then the kids will turn 18, game over.

Since I’m talking to you, not these parents, you’re the designated dropper: Defer to them in the name of friendship, and if that’s not persuasive, then bigger-fish-to-fryship will do.

Dear Carolyn:

I got engaged nine months ago, and we settled on a very small wedding/elopement.

My family is NOT happy. I keep reiterating that this is what I want to do and stating my reasons — money, not having to pick and choose family, introvert who doesn’t want to be the center of attention, more attention paid to the marriage and not the wedding — but I can’t seem to get through to them that this is non-negotiable. I have said they can help in other ways, like help me pick out where to go, what I’m wearing, etc., though with no money involved.

How do I get them to understand? Everything online comes down to, “Offer that the insisting person can pay for the extras they want,” but my family would happily pay to throw a huge shebang, which sounds like a nightmare.

— K.

If it’s non-negotiable, then stop negotiating.

That’s what all your explaining sounds like, I promise you.

Wanting them to understand no doubt seems like a reasonable goal — but they’ve rejected your explanations and refused to budge. So, budging them is not a reasonable goal.

Fortunately, you don’t need them to understand. It would be great if they did, but not necessary. You can get fully married without it.

So, do that — stop explaining yourself and get married your way. To all complaints: “I’m sorry to hear that.” To any threats: “I hope you’ll reconsider.” To your intended: “I do.”

Email Carolyn at [email protected], follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.