Jacksons call dad Joseph: Is first name OK for parents?

There’s been a lot of talk on Atlanta radio and on this AJC site about the Janet Jackson interview with Robin Roberts on Wednesday night.

I didn’t see the interview but apparently one of the big points for discussion is the fact that the Jackson family calls their dad by his first name Joseph. Basically, the patriarch of the family told them to. “It is what it is,” Jackson said.

A lot of the callers on Atlanta radio this morning felt it very disrespectful to call a parent by his first name. My boss wondered if it is a Southern thing that people got so riled up about it.

Kind of related, it makes me think about when I was little growing up in Georgia and we often called adults by first names BUT always had a Miss before it – so the preachers’ wife was Miss Jodi and the ladies at my mom’s office Miss Vera and Miss Gloria.

Today my kids call all my friends by first names but with the Miss attached – Miss Robin, Miss Margaret, etc… I definitely think that is a Southern thing.

What do you think: Is it disrespectful to call a parent by his/her first name? Do you think people from the South are more offended by it than people in other regions?

What about other adults? Do you use first names, last names? What about the Southern first name but with a Miss or Mr. attached? (My other favorite Southern nomenclature is Pastor with the first name. I grew up going to my friend’s Baptist church all the time with Pastor Buddy!)

70 comments Add your comment

princessnik

November 19th, 2009
12:18 pm

I think it may be a Southern Thing just like Ma’am and sir, people from other places think it unneccessary to “show respect” by adding a handle…Mr., Miss…….to someones name. However at the same time if the parent has requested that the children call them by their first name who are people outside the family to say anything. Apparently the parent does not find it disrespectful. My daughter will never call me by name not to my face anyway.

Amanda

November 19th, 2009
12:19 pm

It depends on the situation. I would never call my mother by her first name because I love and respect her. But my father and I have had a very bad relationship and therefore I’ve called him by his first name was since I was 14. Joe Jackson is arguable not the greatest father in the world, which is why I don’t see anything wrong with Janet or Michael (God Rest His Soul) calling him “Joe”. Respect is only for those who deserve it, after all.

ABC

November 19th, 2009
12:26 pm

Michaels death is the best thing to happen to Joseph and his brothers in 30 years. “Tito, go outside and get a switch.” – Joseph Jackson

The American People

November 19th, 2009
12:27 pm

“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” – President Obama.

lakerat

November 19th, 2009
12:31 pm

Good call on moving on from the original topic posted today – not much interest there!

The “Miss” or Mister” in front of adults’ first names is definitely a southern thing, but there are those that do not make it a mandatory southern thing. We have many friends to whom my sons address them as “Mister Gil” or “Miss Julia”, but their kids just refer to us by our first names only. We also have one very good friend who is known by everyone as “Marla”, and my kids even call her that.

Regarding the parent thing, I find it someone objectionable for parents to be called by their first name by their own kids; at the same time, I also find it somewhat disrespectful not to call any adult by Mister, Miss or Mrs. when kids are speaking to them. Call me old fashioned, but that is the way I was raised, even though “Marla” would have a fit if my kids put the “Miss” in front of her name!

Felicity

November 19th, 2009
12:56 pm

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but, generally speaking, I DO have a problem with children referring to their parents by their first name. It just seems very disrepectful to me.

However, in Joe Jackson’s case, he obviously encouraged and, according to Janet, INSISTED that his children refer to him as “Joseph”.

Must be a lot easier beating and exploiting kids who call you “Joseph” than the ones who call you “Daddy”.

JJ

November 19th, 2009
1:40 pm

When I’m teasing my mom, I call her by her first name.

But she’s Mom, always has been, always will be. Not Momma, Mommie, Mother, just plain old Mom. My brother calls her Mother.

Sometimes I refer to her as “Your Mother”, when talking to my brother, like “Did you hear what YOUR mother did yesterday???”.

All my daughter’s friends and kids in the neighborhood call me Miss JJ. Very good friends of my daughters and kids I have known since birth call me by my first name. My best friends’ kids me Auntie JJ.

motherjanegoose

November 19th, 2009
2:04 pm

To me, it is a southern thing when folks call you Miss Nancy or Mr. Joe. I never heard it growing up in the midwest nor do I hear it now when I re visit. I was always instructed to call women “Mrs. Ackerman” or men ” Mr. Kingston”. We never inserted the first name anywhere.

Having lived in Ga for 20 years, my kids grew up calling “Miss Kathy” etc. as that is the way it typically is done here.

I had a student named Chad who ( in Kindergarten) called his Mom “Wendy”. This was 20 years ago and all the teachers were taken back.

I am not for children calling their parents by their first name..especially as children….but that is just me. If a parent instructs their child to do this…I guess it is their choice.

Armyvet

November 19th, 2009
2:06 pm

In my 43 years I have never addressed my parents by their first names. But there was always Yes Ma’am, No Sir when responding to them. My kids were raised to address other people by Sir or Ma’am or by stating Miss or Mister before the first persons name.

My teenage daughter doesnt realize she addresses me differently but I do… haha

Mommy- she wants something
Mother- means she is mad
Mom- everything is ok

motherjanegoose

November 19th, 2009
2:29 pm

HAHA Armyvet. I always refer to my husband as Daddy, with our kids. My 17 year old daughter’s friends say, “Why does your Mom say Daddy?” We have just always done it. The kids call me Mom or Momma, unless they are telling the dog, “Mommy is home…” She races to the door.

RE: Yes M’am and Yes Sir. I admire families with children who have these values. To me, this is also more of a southern thing. I do have some children who reply, “Yes M’am…” when I ask them questions. We never heard this much growing up in Chicago and I still never hear it much outside of the south. My neighbor’s kids are very polite and always use it when addressing me.

Are you from the south and do you hear it more in different parts of the country?

Tiffany

November 19th, 2009
2:33 pm

Joe Jackson does NOT DESERVE to be called Dad!
I was raised to never call adults by their first names…it is kind of funny how times have changed. I do think that the Miss or Mr. in front of a first name makes it more polite. I would never call my parents by their first names, and hopefully my kids would not do that to me. Growing up I always thought kids who did that were WEIRD.

JATL

November 19th, 2009
2:47 pm

I grew up with a friend who (along with her brother) called their parents by their first names. Not sure why, but it was no big deal in that family. I always called my parents Mommy or Mama and Daddy as a child, then changed to Mother as I got older and for YEARS now I’ve called my father “Old Man” or “Mister”, but it’s a term of endearment -nothing disrespectful. I do still call him Daddy sometime. I was raised to put a Mr. or Miss in front of an adult’s first name, and even now I call older people that way. I have issues with children calling adults by their first names. I DO think it lacks respect, and too many kids seem to have the idea that they’re somehow peers of adults instead of kids. I introduce myself as Miss _____ and enforce that with my kids as well. Our 3 year old tests out calling us by our first names, but we remind him that we’re Mommy and Daddy.

penguinmom

November 19th, 2009
2:56 pm

I think there is a difference between adults calling their parents by their first names and children doing it. Once you get married, it is likely your spouse will call your parents by their first name so it becomes easier to slip into doing that also.

My kids call their school teachers Mrs or Mr with the last name. Teachers at church are typically Ms or Mr with the first name.

I remember being friends with a young couple when I was in elementary school. They told me to call them by their first names. The first time my dad heard me refer to ‘Steve and Peggy’ he nearly ran off the road he was so surprised and upset. Fortunately my mother was there to explain that they wanted me to call them that.

Sean

November 19th, 2009
3:01 pm

My parents divorced early on, my father was always very distant, there was never a connection, so i never called him anything. As an adult, i call him by his first name. I always call my mother… Momma, or Ma. I was a very good kid, yet very head strong and militant in a sense. I told my mom that i would no longer use the words “Maa’m and “sir” because i felt it derived from slavery after watching the Color Purple and Roots. I was in the 3rd grade at the time. She was taken aback, yet impressed; she also told my Aunts and Uncles who were equally impressed. Until then, i dont think they ever thought of it that way. They didnt make me say it anymore, as long as I addressed them with respect. I could never say Nope, i would have to say “No”. Or Yes, instead of “Yep”. I would use Mrs, Ms. Miss depending on if they were married or single, or if they were older. There were no exceptions, but early on, i refused to use “Maa’m” and “Sir”. Funny thing as an adult, i used it quite often. I guess the joke’s on me.

Wayne

November 19th, 2009
3:01 pm

I’ve always had an issue with kids calling their parents by their first names. As mentioned, it’s disrepectful. When my kids call me by my first name, I don’t answer. Eventually (sooner than later, now that I’ve been tested) I get Dad or Daddy.

Carolyn

November 19th, 2009
3:07 pm

You’d be surprised at how many children don’t know their parents’ first names. That is a safety problem!

Wayne

November 19th, 2009
3:16 pm

You’re correct in that one! My six year old knows how to spell my last name – it’s an Italian one and not to easy – and he knows his address and Mom and Dad’s name(s). We didn’t so much drill it into him but made it a game – especially considering he’s quite active and prone to moving a bit faster than we do. We’re working on that…

JJ

November 19th, 2009
3:21 pm

Ha ha Armyvet…I get those names too and their meanings.

What I can’t stand is kids calling grandparents Mimi, Nana, Nannie, Me Maw or Pee Paw..or names like that..GOD I HATE THAT…..I have a friend whose kids call their grandmother Sue-Sue (because she never felt like a grandmother). This is also a southern thing, as I had never heard those names until I moved here.

When the time comes, I want to be Grandma.

new stepmom

November 19th, 2009
3:42 pm

I sometimes refer to my parents by their first names in conversation-like that would not have been tolerated at Sue and Johnny’s house…but it is usually in a joking manner. I would never refer to either of them by their first names. One thing that I think is weird in our family is we have always called aunts and uncles only by their first names with no Aunt or Uncle in front of it. I think it may be because my mom has a nephew that is 2 years older than she is so her neices and nephews never called her Aunt… But it has recently struck me that it is strange that we do that.

I love kids who use Yes Ma’am and Yes Sir etc. I grew up mostly in the south but spent three years outside of Philly and we were admonsihed for using those terms in school-they saw it as being smart alec-y. I started using it again consistently with strangers when I worked as a bank teller through college in small town southern banks. We want our kids to use it too.

JJ, the grandparent nicknames are a southern phenomenon. I always called my maternal grandmother Missy because at age 2 I could not get Grandmama out (like the other 12 grandchildren called her). When my mom became a grandmother I suggested she be Missy and my brother informed us there was only one Missy, so mom is Mimi (short for Missy). I think it is cute to call grandparents names like that especially with blended families. My stepdaughter has 2 Grandmas and a Mimi and I think she likes having a differentiator….

RJ

November 19th, 2009
3:48 pm

@JJ that’s funny! I do have a co-worker from Chicago though who won’t allow her grandkids to call her grandma. She says it makes her feel old (she’s 48). They call her Nana. Guess our southern ways have rubbed off on her. As as kid I always called my grandmother Grandma.

My kids will always call me Mom, Mommy, or Mama if they want me to answer lol!

Tiffany

November 19th, 2009
3:51 pm

JJ… The good thing about the unique names for grandparents is that if there is more than one in a family, a special name can identify them more easily. In my family- we had four great grandmothers and two grandmothers. They couldn’t ALL be Grandma!

JJ

November 19th, 2009
3:53 pm

New stepmom, that’s cute, but I still don’t like it….LOL. But I understand the blended family thing. and having three or four sets of grands, it probably gets confusing.

My nieces call me Moo or Aunt Moo. Only becuase the little one kept calling me Mooey (she couldn’t pronounce my name at 2 either) and they just shortened it to Moo.

I don’t care what they call me, as long as they call me. :)

Sheri

November 19th, 2009
3:57 pm

My brothers and I call our parents a variety of names and or nick names, along by their first names. We have done it since my older brother and I were in middle and high school, we started calling our parents madre and padre after learning it in spanish class. It is still one that is used often even 20 years later. But primarily in 1995, we started a family business and since then we have addressed our father by his name or his initials, and the same thing with our mom. It was more out of respect for the non-family employees to not feel like they were in the middle of a family conversation or situation. But now it’s just my brothers and I and our dad (sometimes) running our business, and we all address each other with all sorts of different names. None of which are bad!!!

Growing up here in Gwinnett, all of my friends parents made us call them by their first names. And now I teach my son to ask his friends parents what they prefer to be called, and 99.9% want to be addressed by their first names. I like that comfortness in a home.

JATL

November 19th, 2009
4:06 pm

Carolyn brings up a good point! DO make sure your kids can tell a safety officer or store clerk your first names and pronounce the last name in case he/she gets lost or separated from you. We have a long last name, but our 3 year old can pronounce it well enough for someone to understand him -and he knows to tell a grown up if he’s lost our first names and his name.

Really

November 19th, 2009
4:25 pm

does she know Nana makes her sound just as old?? LOL

FCM

November 19th, 2009
5:05 pm

As I understand it (reading biographies on MJ), Joesph wanted to be seen as a business manager not a father. It was about his public image and he wanted them calling him that so they would not cross over to the wrong title in public. He pinned all his hopes and dreams on those kids. SHAME. He felt that if he were seen as their Dad then he would not be taken seriously in negotiations.

I think the southern tradition is Miss First Name or Mister First Name. That is only reserved for close friends though. My children better address their friends’ parents as Mrs or Mr (or Ms) Last Name.

They have been taught to say yes ma’am/no sir as well. In fact, their out of state granparents say they are the most polite of all the grands.

My oldest is upset with me when she rolls her eyes and says MOMma! In place of her usual Momma.

FCM

November 19th, 2009
5:18 pm

Actually I looked at my Dad the other day and said “Dude! What were you thinking.” My kids cracked up and my Dad gave that look only Dad’s can give you “Dude?” Chagrinned and with a sheepishgrin I said “Sure why not?” He shook his head and grinned and so “OK why not.”. I do not think I will make that mistake again and folks let me tell you I am way old enough to know better. I occassionally call my folks Mom and Dad. However, I usually just call them Grandma and Grandpa since they answer to it more often then anything else when the family is together.

MJG I would imagine that you call him Daddy for much the same reason my Mother calls my Dad Dad or Grandpa. Or why I refer to my folks as Grandma and Grandpa. You were teaching your children what to call him and it became habit. :)

My Brother calls my Mother Mom. I am not sure what he calls my Dad.

For years my (then) husband would speak to my Dad without addressing him with a name. I asked him one time, he said, your Dad never told me what to call him. I went to my Dad and said you have to tell him. He said “he can call me Mr. Smith”. I said DAD!!!!! He finally relented and said ok he can call me by my first name.

new stepmom

November 19th, 2009
5:45 pm

JJ, that is funny. I like Aunt Moo. Maybe my nephew can call me that.

I can understand the dislike of the funny grandparent names. I have heard some crazy ones…I like that my mom’s name has history!

martha

November 19th, 2009
6:09 pm

why would anyone want their kid to call them by their first name? in-laws yes — own parents — why?

catlady

November 19th, 2009
6:47 pm

My older daughter calls me by my mother’s first name when she thinks I am acting like her–not good!

catlady

November 19th, 2009
6:55 pm

When I became a grandmother 27 months ago, one of the first questions I got was, “What do you want her to call you?” My reply, “Anything she comes up with will be perfect.” I am called “Grandma” in front of her and now I am “Gamma” which is the best name in the world. I wonder what my grandson will call me? It doesn’t matter (except NO Granny)! Any love name is music to my ears. I gave both my grandmothers love names. In fact, everyone who knew one of my grandmothers after I came along throught her name actually WAS the name I came up with–even at her funeral people were surprised to find out it was not her “real” name. She told me it became her real name when I gave it to her! What a joy to be a Gamma!

fk

November 19th, 2009
6:58 pm

My sister-in-law and her siblings called their parents by their first names. It started out as a joke, but once the names took, that’s the way it stayed. My mother was a bit taken back when my brother referred to my sil’s parents by their first names (they were dating and he was about 19), but that’s what they asked that he call them. I fail to see why it would be an issue. If the parent doesn’t have an issue with it, why should anyone else?

My parents and my husband’s parents were grandparents long before we became parents. They already had their names — they were all called Grandma & Grandpa. When my son was very young, we differentiated geographically, they were Grandma & Grandpa in NY or Grandma & Grandpa in FL. By the time my son was 3 or 4 , he used surnames when speaking about them, but always called them Grandma or Grandpa. My parents are great-grandparents and are called “Gigi” and “Gigi-Pa.” My dad always said, “Call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner.” The kids always laugh at that.

My cousin’s grandchildren call her “Honey”. I like that, but I had better not become a grandmother for many years!

fk

November 19th, 2009
7:01 pm

Catlady: My sister-in-law is “Gammy.” The first grandchild, too, started out with Grandma, but Gammy just took.

The Mrs.

November 19th, 2009
7:06 pm

I call my biological father (who I didn’t have a relationship with until age 11) and my step/legal father (who separated from my mom one year into their marriage) by their first names. Neither have a problem with it. They know I love and respect them both. BTW, my bio father is from West Virginia and my step/legal father is from Georgia.

The Mrs.

November 19th, 2009
7:16 pm

BTW, my mom drilled it into our heads to address adults as Mr. and Ms and close friends of my mom as Uncle and Aunt. She was fine with my calling my bio father and step father by their first names ironically.

JATL

November 19th, 2009
7:37 pm

fk -Do you pronounce “Gigi” with a hard or soft G? My mother was called that by my oldest son (youngest too young to talk). We started out referring to her as Granna -she thought she would like that, but he came up with GiGi on his own. I really love that for a grandmother!

JATL

November 19th, 2009
7:38 pm

Oh -and we used a hard G. My nieces and nephew and out California refer to one of their grandmothers as “Lolly”. I like that one a lot too.

fk

November 19th, 2009
8:31 pm

JATL: Soft G. I like Lolly, too.

CD

November 19th, 2009
11:01 pm

Speaking as a parent now, I would never let my children refer to me as anything other than “mom,” “mother,” or something like that. They usually say “mommy” for now since they’re still under 10. I do not allow them to address any other adult by their first name unless the “Miss” or “Mr.” is attached also. It just seems blatantly disrespectful (and yes, I grew up in the south.) A friend of my son’s calls me by my first name & it always rubs me the wrong way. I don’t say anything though since I’m friends with his mother.

But I do remember when I was a teenager myself and my dad stopped me while I was talking to him. I was most definitely a “daddy’s girl” and would never in a million have disrespected him, but he said I had just called him by his first name. I didn’t even realize it but he was old school himself enough to catch me. He said that although he was surprised by it, he would be okay if I wanted to call him by his first name as long as I would still remember to speak respectfully towards him. I was shocked myself that I would have ever have done something like that – it seemed like something taboo, still does – but never did take him up on that. I still refer to him as “dad” or “daddy” even now, even after he’s been gone almost 15 years. I don’t know what came over me that day. :)

CD

November 19th, 2009
11:12 pm

There is a caveat though with the issue of step-parents. My husband is stepfather to my oldest 3 (God, bless him!) and they call him by his first name, which he’s fine with. But they all show him the respect he deserves – he’s been more of a father to them than their biological one. My oldest daughter recently said that she would like to start calling my husband “dad” now. She (very logically for a 7 yr. old) said that although she knows she has a “daddy,” she could call her stepfather “dad” and that should be okay.

HB

November 19th, 2009
11:36 pm

CD, I totally agree on stepparents. I knew one stepfather who made his stepsons call him “Mr. [last name].” They lived with their mother and him almost fulltime, and it just seemed so cold. They never did develop much of a relationship with each other. I think stepparents should be called by either their first name or a suitable nickname.

On one side of my family, there’s actually an unusual pattern of calling parents or grandparents by a kid version of their first name – not planned, it just happened and stuck. My dad and his siblings called their father by a shortened version of his name, but it was unique — not a common way of shortening it. My understanding is as toddlers they were trying to imitate my grandmother calling him by his name and it stuck. 30 years later, my aunt named her son after him and we’ve always called him by the same nickname they had given my grandfather — it always felt very sweet to me. It was also a tradition in the family to call grandparents “Papa [first name]” and “Mama [first name].” My oldest cousin couldn’t quite pronounce my grandmother’s name, came up with his own version of it, and at some point, “Mama” was dropped, so we all grew up calling her by that sort-of first name.

penguinmom

November 20th, 2009
12:11 am

JJ, I think the reason there are funky grandparent names is that it is soooo very cute when your little grandchild manages to say your name that your heart melts and you can’t imagine ever being called anything else. My m-in-law was very clear that she wanted to be called Gran so I was very, very careful to make sure my oldest did that. Our nephew came along and his parents started calling her Grandma. It always irritated me a little that I never got any credit for trying to abide by her wishes and they got away with calling her whatever they wanted.

Biggest problem with odd grandparent names…. finding greeting cards to purchase for them from the kids.

BlondeHoney

November 20th, 2009
12:32 am

I LOVE that even though my boys are 24 & 23 respectively, they still call me Mommy; although I suspect the 23 year old still does that because it impresses girls :)

XYZ

November 20th, 2009
6:37 am

I don’t think my kids even know our names. Just mama and daddy.

BRC

November 20th, 2009
6:59 am

Scout called Atticus Atticus and was obviously very Southern.

Sp Ed Teacher

November 20th, 2009
7:38 am

I was about 10 years old before I realized my Mother’s name was not “Honey”. That is what my Father called her; but I would have never used that name. It was always Mother and Father.

Before our daughter was born, we discussed what names would be used, and how to spell it with both sets of “Grandparents”. Mama and Papa, as Grandmother and Grandfather were still living at the time. The other set already had grandchildren, so they already had a name. My DGD calls me Grandmother.

motherjanegoose

November 20th, 2009
7:39 am

@xyz…I wrote a song about names and have been singing it with the chldren, at the schools I visit. During the song, they say their name, a friend’s name, a teacher’s name and then their Mom and Dad’s name.

Last week, a 3 year old proudly said, “Neal” ( for Daddy) and the Preschool Director told me that the look on his face was priceless…he was so cute.

I agree that knowing you parent’s names is important and hope that the kids will go home and ask their parents their names.

Jacks Mum

November 20th, 2009
7:40 am

My family is southern through and through. We wouldn’t think of calling a parent by anything other than their title (Mama, Daddy – or versions thereof). About 15 years ago my grandmother complained in front of my father that she never had a nickname. Her first name was Charlotte, so he started calling her Chuck. While it took a LONG time to get used to my father referring to his mother as “Chuck”, she seemed to really like it. Now my son calls her Mother Chuck.

I agree with the poster who says it rubs them the wrong way when children address them by their first names. We use the traditional southern Miss/Mr [insert first name] for our close friends. One of my child’s best friends addresses my by my first name constantly and it makes me want to turn her over my knee or wash out her mouth with soap!

Jacks Mum

November 20th, 2009
7:42 am

And to the poster who enjoyed the toddler version but now is called just Grandma…my son called my stepmother MaMaw for the first few years. I didn’t care for it, but she just loved it. She comments sometimes about how much she misses hearing MaMaw now that she is just Grandma.

Becky

November 20th, 2009
8:14 am

When I was growing up as long as we were polite, we called most all adults by their first name..I have never called any of my aunts or uncles anything other than “Jack”..This is something that everyone in my family is comfortable with..I only remember one grandmother and that was my Dad’s mom..Most of the time we just called her old biddy..She was not your typical grandmother..

My Mom was always called Granny “last name”..This is because there were so many of us growing up that always had a bunch of friends over that this was easier..It never bothered her..My two little ones call me Nanny and like others said, it doesn’t matter to me what they call me..I have a coworker tha refuses to let her granddaughters call her anything but Grandmother..She thinks anything else makes her sound old..