At What Age Is It Appropriate to Start Calling Adults by Their First Names?

Yes, ma’am!

On Thursday’s episode of “The Real,” hosts Tamera Mowry-Housley, Jeannie Mai, Loni Love, and Adrienne Houghton reacted to a Reddit thread that discussed how old one should be to call an adult by his or her first name.

To start, Mai noted that in the Vietnamese culture, people do not call each other by their moniker, and instead use titles related to age.

“For me, that’s an American thing. In my culture, you don’t call people by your first name,” Jeannie explained. “In fact, you know how we have ‘you’ or ‘me’ in English? In Vietnamese, we don’t have that. We have ‘you’ as in ‘sister’ (older you) or ‘me’ as in ‘younger sister,’ or ‘you’ as in ‘sir,’ or ‘me’ as in ‘younger.’ Everything is by age.”

For Love and Houghton, calling someone by their first name or by terms such as “ma’am” or “sir” depends on where you grew up.

“Really Southern black folks, we are taught to say ‘ma’am,’ ‘sir,’ and ‘yes, ma’am,’ ‘yes, sir.’ We don’t call people by their first names,” Loni exclaimed.

However, the same can’t be said for New York native Adrienne!

“That’s where it gets confusing… We don’t do this in New York. Nobody does that ‘ma’am,’ ‘miss.’ I didn’t grow up doing any of that,” the singer revealed. “It was just like, ‘Oh, that’s my mom’s friend, Liz. Oh, that’s Enid over there.’ We just didn’t do that.”

During Girl Chat, Mowry-Housley detailed a hilarious story where she accidentally addressed her mom, Darlene, in a very informal manner.

“My mom… She likes to be called ‘Ms. Darlene’… and I could never, as her daughter… call her by her name… I made a mistake one time,” Tamera dished. “We were kiki-ing, and I said, ‘Girl, you crazy.’ And I was like laughing… My mom’s looking at me, ‘Oh, first of all, don’t ever call me crazy.’ And then she was like, ‘Second of all, don’t ever call me ‘girl.’ I am a mama to you.’”

At the end of the day, Loni says the underlying issue is about respecting your elders.

“I don’t want little kids calling me ‘Loni.’ I think we need to teach our kids respect, and to respect the older people,” she said. “If they’re little, I appreciate them saying ‘ma’am,’ or ‘Ms. Loni,’ or something like that. It just shows, to me, reverence, and that’s what we need to show and teach our children.”


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