Gone is the thrill of learning an el­der’s first name

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - LIFESTYLE - Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

WHERE did all the hon­orifics go? I’d love to pin­point the date when it was sud­denly OK for chil­dren to be on a first-name ba­sis with adults, in­stead of call­ing them Mr or Mrs or Ms So-and-so.

Maybe it’s dif­fer­ent round your way but most of the kids I know – in­clud­ing mine – call most of the grown-ups by their given name, bar­ring Mum, Dad, key rel­a­tives and se­lected of­fi­cials.

When I was a lass it was manda­tory to use the for­mal ad­dress with ev­ery­one. We wouldn’t dare call our friends’ par­ents or our par­ents’ friends An­gela or John.

Usu­ally we didn’t even know their first name. Discovering it could be a thrilling but deeply weird mo­ment. But some­where be­tween the du­ti­ful 1980s of my late child­hood and the du­bi­ous 2016 of my mid­dle par- ent­ing, the un­writ­ten rules have been re­laxed.

Nowa­days from the chil­dren it’s all “Thanks for hav­ing me, Chris” and “Mira, can I please have more”? The sit­u­a­tion has de­te­ri­o­rated fur­ther at my house. To other peo­ple’s kids I’m not even Mi­randa. I’m Murph.

My coun­try GP fa­ther firmly pre­ferred to be called Dr Mur­phy by ev­ery­one.

In­deed, it wasn’t un­til my wed­ding day that Dad, in his speech, told my part­ner of 10 years that he could now use his first name. “What is it?” called out my hus­band.

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