1. Johanna

    Hello everyone,
    I have an issue with my first name not being representative of my gender. I am a woman but as my name is a foreign name and doesn’t end in “a”, I am often mistaken for a man when writing correspondence. In languages such as French I have the possibility to sneak words in my letter that reveal my gender (adjectives, verbs), however I can’t do so in English as almost all words are gender neutral. I feel like it’s pretentious though to sign letters and e-mails with Ms. First name Last name.
    How would you address this issue? I can handle being called Mr. now and then but it’s very awkward to embarrass people when I meet them in person and they were expecting a man…

    • Alicia

      Many names are gender neutral. Adrieane, Chris, ect. Many foreign names well I look at them and have absolutely no idea on gender. Not ending in a is no excuse as not all female names end in a and the faux pax is on the side of the people who assume your gender before knowing you. You are not embarassing people they are embarasing themselves.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      If you have reason to think the person you are writing to wrongly assumed your gender, you can sign your name (Ms.) First Last.

    • Chocobo

      I agree, the best way to handle it is to wait until someone makes a mistake, then in your next correspondence sign yourself “(Ms.) Firstname Lastname”. After that, I would leave it and agree with Alicia — you are not embarrassing them, they are embarrassing themselves for making assumptions.

    • Johanna

      Thank you all for your reply, the parentheses are a perfect solution! I just noticed that a former colleague with a foreign name has written “First Name Last Name (Ms.)” followed by the rest of her contact details in her work e-mail signature, I think I may follow her example for my work e-mail.

  2. Taylor

    I have a four year old daughter whos kind of a tomboy. She spits on the ground, picks her nose in public, and my personal favorite, when she has to go to the bathroom she says she has to ”Piss”. I’m trying to teach her manners and how to behave like a young lady, but its a little hard when her aunts aren’t exactly ladylike either. How can I teach my daughter manners and get the rest of the family on board?

    • Elizabeth

      Well, I don’t know that being a tomboy has anything to do with it. A girl can love to climb trees, play with bugs, etc and still “excuse herself to use the restroom.” This has to do with the discipline and boundaries that you set as a parent.

      So, I think the answer to this question would be the same no matter what kind of misbehaving she engages in. Explain to her the rules and the consequences if she breaks them. I don’t know what kind of discipline you do (time-outs, loss of privileges, sent to room, etc), but any of them could work. You wouldn’t let her hit her friends, talk back to teachers, run screaming through church, etc – this is the same. Just because other people to bad things doesn’t mean that she’s allowed to do them. Different people of different ages have different rules applied to them. You unfortunately do not have control over other people’s kids, your sisters, etc – and she’s old enough to understand that. You do have control over her, and you just have to stop tolerating it.

      If you’re out and she says that she has to “piss,” then you can explain that you won’t take her to the bathroom until she asks properly. Then ignore her until she does. If she starts to pick her nose, pull her hand away from her face and send her to the bathroom for a tissue, explaining that we don’t do it in public. If she spits, make her wipe it up. Stop whatever fun thing you were doing until she does it. The idea is to give her a clear path to satisfying her needs/wants, and not to allow her to satisfy them when she asks or goes about it incorrectly.

      Those would be my ideas. Any one else?

      • I agree, Elizabeth. Children don’t generally fabricate this sort of behavior from nowhere – she learned it. Now she must be disciplined, as would any other child. That is the responsibility of the parents.
        My parents raised me as a tomboy. I ran around our ranch in boy’s clothing, owned Hotwheels, and as grew older, rode around on our tractor and hauled hay. Still, my parents were very strict about the words I could use (“pee” wasn’t even permitted), and spitting on the ground in public certainly wasn’t tolerated. However, unlike Taylor, I didn’t have other adults who were poor role models. Ask the aunts to help, not by blaming them, but by explaining that a child so young can’t yet differentiate between casual behavior around family and better behavior in public. A little help from everyone will let the child understand what will be acceptable by others who don’t yet know the wonderful young lady, and those who know she is simply playing around.

        • Alicia

          I am still a tomboy. I play sports, love to be outside, bought myself a sawzall recently, ect. I use a tissue, ask where the ladies room is, do not spit, ect. Being a lady and being a tomboy are totally able to be the same thing.
          Just simply do not accept it. My neice was picking her nose. To stop it her folks made her every time stop excuse herself and go blow her nose and wash her hands before she could resume doing whatever she was doing. It worked within a week. When she says she needs to piss say “No you need to be excused to go to the restroom( or ladies room) ” Make her repeat after you. Fast enough she will be saying “I need to be excused to go to the ladies room”
          Spitting means cleaning up the spit and the area around it.

    • Vanna Keiler

      I would keep it simple and make the rules strict with your daughter. Tell her she is getting older and won’t be able to behave like this anymore. Tell her specifically what you expect from her, and explain logically why this behavior won’t help her as she becomes a young lady. Then reward her when she follows the rules until they become second nature to her. Regarding outside influences, children tend to copy their parents first and/or follow their lead, so if you have tolerated your sisters’ behaviors this long, you are by silence approving their behavior. There is no point in trying to change your sisters’ behavior but you can certainly control how your daughter behaves, at least when she is with you, especially at this young age. There’s hope!

  3. eric

    Elizabeth is exactly right: being a tomboy has nothing with poor manners. I underscore what Just Laura wrote about enlisting the aunts for help. Your daughter looks up to those aunts, so they need to be made aware of the impact they have on your child and your consternation as a result of their poor behavioral model. If they dismiss your concern, you might consider limiting your child’s access to these aunts.

    • Elizabeth

      I don’t think it’s a bad idea to enlist the aunts. however, depending on their personality, it could be quite offensive for them to hear: “Hey would you mind stopping X,Y, and Z behaviors that you always do, because I don’t want my daughter to grow up acting like you.” (obviously that’s not what would be said to them, but what they might hear) In any case, the aunts simply may not comply. In the end, children will always be exposed to bad manners, bad language, customs that are foreign and unfamiliar, etc and just because someone in the world does something doesn’t mean it’s ok for you. (Who thought as a child that they were allowed to swear because their dad did?) It’s not a bad lesson to learn that people have different standards, and what might be ok at one house isn’t ok at another.

  4. Eric

    Of course, Elizabeth, I can see how the aunts might be offended. Tact would be key in any discussion. I think a lot of times adults are unaware of the impact of their behavior on others or that children watch them so closely. It seems as though the aunts need to be made aware of their impact on Taylor’s child, at the very least. There are many ways that this realization could be imparted, and this in and of itself might go a long way in muting their behavior around Taylor’s daughter. For example, Taylor might share with the aunts the time she was in the super market line checking out when her daughter announced to the world how she had to take a piss. Taylor might describe the incredulous looks from those in line and share with her aunts the utter embarrassment she felt. The aunts might chuckle at the story, but they also might see how they influenced that situation and witness the emotion attached to it.

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