One of the facts of military life we have to deal with, like it or not, is that our families are a reflection on the active duty member. For our family, with four roiling and active children with so much energy that we have been nicknamed "The Horde" by friends and family, this can cause some issues and creative parenting.
One thing that we absolutely demand from our children, and which has earned us the "Fascist Parenting" label from our civilian friends and family, is that they are never, ever, EVER under any circumstances to refer to adults by their first names. In fact, as they get older and that military osmosis kicks in, they refer to active duty members by their rank and last name.
I know, I know; it's one step away from the marching to whistle calls of the Von Trapp family parenting guide. But it works for us. Until we meet those people who refuse to take our rules seriously...
Every so often we meet people who are uncomfortable being called "Mr So and So" or "Mrs This or That." Usually our solution is that the children will call that person Mr or Mrs followed by their first name; thus Ms. Jane or Mr. Joe. It usually works. Usually. And, of course, there are all sorts of amorphous rules about what constitutes enough age range to qualify for the "Mr/Mrs" title. Obviously my 14 year old is not calling a 19 year old neighbor "Miss Britney".
But sometimes even those evolving rules are too much and we encounter someone, who when referred to as Mr. Jim or Ms. Laurie, says, "No, just call me Jim."
My eldest, who has a finely developed sense of sarcasm (I have NO idea where that came from) will reply, "Sure, Mr. Jim."
"No, it's just Jim."
"Mr. Jim, would you like some soda?"
"Please, just call me Jim."
At this point, I often break in, "You know, I'm really not comfortable having my children call adults by their first names."
"Well, I would like them to just call me Jim. I'm not a formal person."
"Well, we kind of are. If you don't want to be called Mr. Jim, they can just call you Sir."
We've never had anyone who felt the situation needed to be argued further.
So what does this mean to hubby's career, anyway? Who cares what my children refer to people as, right? Why should it matter?
Well, because by the time my children started reaching ages where they could be understood when they babbled, hubby had been in for quite awhile. He had worked his way up after enlisting at 17 in his senior year of high school, and the biggest lesson that I wanted my children to take away in life is that just because your Dad, or your Mom, or whomever had gained some rank did NOT mean that rank applied them, my children, too. The expressions of respect for other adults are applied across the board, to those people who work under hubby and those hubby works for.
So far, it's worked very well for us.