Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mrs or Miss and Other Titles of Respect

Afternoon Tea

In ballet class, the students are required to call their teacher "Miss" and then her first name. This shows classical respect. This was also common manners when I was a child. A Friend who visited was called "Miss Annie."

If it was a very close family friend, one who was beloved, she was given the title of "Aunt." I had a few "Aunts" who seemed like they were part of our family. I would not have ever dreamed of calling them by their first names without using the title "Aunt."  (My own children have a dearly loved "Uncle" who is my husband's closest friend.)

We had visitors from the south in summer. The small children would call me "Ma'am" even though I was their cousin. It was because I was their elder.  Have you ever heard a sweet child with a southern accent call an eleven year old, "Ma'am"? It is precious!  The children would never say a simple "no" or "yes" without a "Ma'am" or "Sir" when speaking to the older generation. It was common courtesy. (The adults responded the same way, as an example, by saying "Ma'am" and "Sir" as well.)

In those days, the world was family - centered and adult  - centered. Children were cherished, but were taught to give up a seat for an older person. When company came, they would gladly give up their bedroom for the guest. The children would sleep on "pallets," or blankets, on the living room floor. They were happy with this arrangement and knew no other way.  Children looked forward to the privilege of being grown and looked forward to growing up and getting to be an honored adult.

Children were also taught to "go play" during adult conversation. Parents and visitors would talk quietly about the news of the day, or some trial in the family, so as not to upset the innocence of children. This was part of respect and manners in the home. Children did not live in the adult world. They were honored and protected as children.

One of the greatest blessings in life was to earn the title of "Mrs."  Girls were called "Miss" until they married.  I remember being called "Miss Sharon" growing up and I loved it.  There was some dignity and elegance to the title of "Miss," just like in ballet class. If I was helping in Sunday School, the little students called  me "Miss," or "Ma'am." 

 But when I became "Mrs. White" I was honored and delighted.  Suddenly I had protection, in a sense. I had a covering and a very special reason to act accordingly. I had a husband who expected me to be a lady, and an honor to his name.   Women used to proudly address themselves as "Mrs." . . . When out in the stores, they would say hello to each other by showing respect to the family and husband by saying, "Hello Mrs. Smith! How are you today?"  It brought out the grace and dignity in all. (Of course, in close, personal visits, first names were used.)

When titles are used, it brings out gallantry in gentlemen and refinement in other women. In the old days, no one scoffed at titles like they do today. This is part of the reason we have an extremely casual self-centered society. No one wants to give place to respect and honor.

In the old days, Ladies dressed like ladies. They were in skirts and dresses, not sweatshirts and sweatpants. Women and Children dressed up to go to the store, the church or out visiting. We presented ourselves in our best because this brought out the best in others.   Ladies also gave their best to their families, at home, by dressing nicely.  They did not wear ratty, casual clothes. They would wear a comfortable, but pretty, house dress with an apron over it. This meant they cared about how they looked and wanted to please their families by looking sweet and pleasant. They were also ready to greet unexpected guests. This does not mean they were in their Sunday Best, but they looked nice and were not embarrassed when someone came by. This carried into their homes.

When we use Titles and Have Respect and know the place and the value of Manners, we not only look nice, but our homes look nice. We also treat others in a more civil, kind way. We respect the family, the institution of marriage and the love of home.

One of my greatest wishes is that they would do away with the term "Ms." because it brings confusion. Originally, we know that Miss means unmarried and Mrs. means married. Why then the term of "Ms."?   I would also love if unisex clothing went out of fashion.  I would love if our town and our state and our county realized the potential for traditional royalty and started to act accordingly. Truly this would trickle down to our children and succeeding generations and bring more pride and love for values and manners.

Recently I saw a picture of a modern family. It was a Husband and Wife with all their children. They were dressed up and smiling.  Even though they looked lovely, I could sense a casualness to them. I contrasted this with an early 1900's historic photograph (in black and white) of my grandfather when he was a small boy. His siblings and parents were also in the picture. The dignity and pride came through in their stature and poise. Their clothing was amazing, even though they were far from rich. This was the traditional family of which I speak. This is where titles and manners and customs of the old days brings out the richness of our heritage.

If only more ladies were proud of being called "Aunt" or "Miss" and thought it endearing. If only neighbors and friends were commonly called, with a sweet smile, "Mrs."  If only children were taught to give up their seat for their elders and learned to honor them with titles.  While the adults, likewise, protected their innocence and taught them by example.  Maybe we could recapture the joy of family and understand that royalty and dignity is possible, once again, in this great nation.

Mrs. White

The Way of the Old Days - Building our Homes with Little Money.

A Precious Sermon - The Godly Home, Marriage and Family.

What do you Think? - Do We Really Care About our Homes?

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Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

Hello Mrs. White!!! I love your reason for wanting the Mrs. I will ponder on that. When children ask what to call me I say Miss Angie or Mrs. Wright, depending on your parents choice, and then they go with Hey You, sigh. I think I will prefer Mrs. Wright from now on. ;)

Dolores said...

I loved this post. My parents always addressed other adults as Mr. and Mrs. Only children were addressed by their first name.I am 56 years old and still feel strange when a child calls me by my first name. I would love to be called Mrs. Lynn by others but sadly I don't think we will ever go back to this custom. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog Mrs. White.

larlee said...

Nice article.
I think the reason for so many Moms wearing ratty sweat pants(I am so guilty) is not that we don't want to look nice, I think it is perhapse we feel guilty spending money on our clothing or we lack the time to go out and purchase pretty, yet functional classic clothes that could go from housework to an outing. If you have any tips on building a wardrobe that would be a great post for later. I apoligize if you already did and I didn't know.
Thanks Have A Blessed Day!

Mama Rachel said...

What wonderful reminders! A truly lovely post-- thank you.

Mrs. Young said...

Thank you ever so much, Mrs. White. I can't express to you the blessedness of reading this with my daughter. I'm a 43-year old, "old-school" mother from the South. This is how I was raised, and I must admit that in this day and age, that kind of raising is sorely missed. I appreciate people who still believe in the "good way" and "the old path". Thank you.

Becca said...

I love this post and agree wholeheartedly! I am the first to admit I have a long way to go in implementing it into my daily life, but I am trying. Thank you for writing this!

oakread2 said...

I'm doing my best to instill this in our son. When he sees other ladies, their names are usually Miss So-and-so, even if they are wearing a name tag with just their first name. It's how I grew up with my teachers and others.

As for the clothes, I totally agree with larlee about feeling guilty about spending money on myself. In a one income household, I would rather see that my husband has the appropriate clothes for work and my son has clothes that are not too small. I also would love to wear skirts year-round, but I get a little too cold for that and nylons snag too easily when I wear them. I always look forward to warmer weather so that I can wear my skirts again.

SydneyKathryns said...

Ladies, the clothing is out there, and when you get serious with the Lord on this, He will provide. I ran a clothing ministry for 10 years. I started it in my home. A friend had asked a consignment shop what they did with the clothes after a consignment period was up, if the customer did not want them back. (These were high quality clothes--L.L. Bean, Coldwater Creek, Maggie Lawrence, Eddie Bauer. I'm not into having a Brand for the sake of the label, but because they were high quality, they would last longer for a family.) She found out they donated them to Goodwill or other such places. We asked if we could pick them up to distribute to families in need. They allowed me to do that for many years. I passed it out to all of the families I knew, and the outreach grew. Once or twice a year we would hold an event in the church gym, for free clothing for anyone in the community. Once it caught on, people began to contact me to donate, rather than have a yard sale. Eventually, we were given a building to use, and were open several days a week. We were able to share Christ, while meeting their physical needs. Over and over, we watched Him answer prayers.

On another note, about the skirts, I wear leggings under mine, and dress boots. Then your legs stay warm, but you still have the style you want.

I knew a woman who said she "couldn't" wear dresses (she wasn't sure she wanted to...), so she told her friend she couldn't afford to buy any. The next day, the friend showed up with 2 bags full, in the correct size! Test Him, and see how he answers!

Southern Ladye said...

Absolutely enjoyed your post. Being from the South, I often take for granted the respect that is shown to our "elders" here but I have noticed that even here, we are losing some of that respect that Southerners are known for. My husband and I have made sure that it is part of our children's vocabulary to say "ma'am" and "sir", hold doors for ladies and elders, and if one of my boys ever walked in a door in front of a lady... well, let's just say that does not happen very often! I sincerely hope that my children pass on these things that we have taught them to help keep those lovely traditions alive. As a public school teacher, it saddens me to see how children have been raised without that respect. Hopefully, our new parents will realize the injustice they are doing to their children by not raising them to be respectful and will instill these lovely gestures of kindness and honor into their beautiful children. Thanks for your posts. I enjoy them very much.

The Prairie Homemaker said...

Amen Mrs. White! I too despised the term Ms. I find it insulting.
Miss Mel.

One Ordinary Woman said...

I was raised in the south, using titles like this. "Ms." is used for older women who were considered 'off' the market but were unmarried. That is, if I remember correctly. I had some older teachers who never married and it was always "Miz Smith" instead of "Misses Smith". It's not for women who are widows--they continue to use the "Mrs." title for the rest of their lives. "Ms." is especially for the older never-married woman.

busymomof10 said...

Beautiful post, Mrs. White! I agree with much of what you say!

I live in the Deep South where children still say Yes Ma'am and Yes Sir and call parents Mrs. ____________ or Miss ______. I like the gentility!

However, I have always preferred to be called Mrs. or Miss Elizabeth to Mrs. Ours. it may be because I associated Mrs. Ours with my MIL! Or maybe, it made me feel old! You have brought up some good points!

What bothers me is the number of women who refuse to even take their husbands name and continue to go by their maiden names. It seems to contradict a one-flesh union to me. What do you think??

Grace and Tea For Me said...

Dear Mrs. White:

I enjoyed your article today. It does remind me of how I was raised in the 60's - 70's. I would not have called an elder or one of my mama's friends by their first names as I would have flown to the moon.
I live in a conservative community in the south and we still have much politeness and gentility here, especially among the older set. It is a hoot to hear the elderly ladies in Belk's talking about their "bigga-hay'ra" styles and shopping at the Clinique counter and where the gentlemen still open doors for the ladies. I usually wear dresses, in fact almost everyday, and I am treated with much consideration out in public. And, we all say yes ma'am and yes sir! So, manners are not completely gone, but they are far and few between and pocketed in places that is for sure.

Kind Regards,

Mrs. B

Katrinka said...

I appreciate the post about widowed ladies still being called 'Mrs'. I remember reading an article YEARS ago that stated that married and widowed women were called 'Mrs. Robert Jones' even if she was a widow. She was only called 'Mrs. Carol Jones' if she was divorced... but she still used the 'Mrs.' title. Of course, 'Miss' meant an unmarried lady. Just think of how much confusion was avoided by these etiquette rules!

Deanna said...

A beautiful manner to be called Mrs. A beautiful name.
Sweet Blessings,

JKaye said...

My husband, a good southern man, often says Yes Ma'am to me! At first it made me irritated, since I came from a state farther north where we only used such phrases with elders, but not our family members. But now I realize it is something he was taught that is very precious and not something to be discouraged or made fun of.

Keowdie said...

Thank you for this post. My husband and I are raising our 2 sons to use Ma'am and Sir, to open doors for women, and to stand when one enters the room, among other "lost habits."

My parents divorced when I was 13, and my mother was a bit resentful of the ways that motherhood limited her freedom. Homemaking and child rearing was at the bottom of her list of preferred activities. She used to tell my 3 sisters and I that we didn't need a man in our lives, and that she was raising us to have successful careers outside the home; not to end up stuck in a house full of kids and laundry.

Now I'm the wife and mom, and I have discovered that I enjoy taking care of my husband, children and our home more than I enjoy working at my career. This is a shocking and slightly uncomfortable experience for me; I don't know how to be a homemaker. I just wanted to thank you. I am learning through your blog (and some other similar blogs) that a love of homemaking is not a shameful or disgraceful thing. I am learning how to make a home and adjust my daily habits and attitudes to align with my Chrisitian, domesticated heart. Thank you, Mrs. White!

Gidgit Graham said...

Mrs. White, Thank you so much for reminding us about gentility and respect. I am raising two daughters. One is 24 and we adopted her at 17. She has struggled with being respectful to her elders and I pray every day God will show her how to be a good role model to her 2 year old sister.

I truly enjoy your blog and love sharing your wisdom with my friends!
May God Bless you!
Mrs. Graham

Anonymous said...

I just had a friend rant about not wanted to be called Mrs. and it upset me. I believe many of my generation do not understand what you put so nicely: Mrs. is respect not age. It is identity with your husband. To deny both it to sell yourself short. Is it so bad at 45 years old to be treated as an adult?

Anonymous said...

Oh! I very much agree with your thoughts here. The unisex dressing as well. I notice many families where the husband and wife have mstching clothes, such as "khaki pants and polo or tee shirt"-- I cannot understand this.
Mrs O

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