Respect your Elders: Is it Improper to Call an Elder by their First Name?

Q: I am recently married for the first time. Sam, my wife’s 11-year-old godson, has referred to my wife as ‘Aunt Sue’ ever since he was a toddler. However, he calls me only by my first name. For proper respect to an elder, I think he should call me ‘Uncle John.’ I’ve been reluctant to bring this up with Sam or his mother; for fear that they’ll view me as too prudish. Sam calls his stepfather by his first name, so he probably doesn’t see a problem with calling me by my first name. But deep down, I’m not comfortable with it. Do I have a legitimate concern, or am I an old-fashioned prude?

A: A child calling an adult by first name without being invited to do so may be perceived as rude.  However, since Sam calls his stepfather by his first name, he probably thinks it’s fine to call you by your first name especially if his mother hasn’t said anything.  Nonetheless, it would be fine to tell Sam and/or his mother that you would prefer to be called “Uncle John” since he calls your wife “Aunt Sue.”  Neither should object.

Please Remove: Can I Ask Guests to Take off their Shoes in my Home?

Q: We have nearly white carpeting throughout our brand new home. We have some family members who seem to have a hard time with the concept of removing one’s shoes when entering the home. Is it in ‘bad taste’ to ask people to extend the courtesy of removing their shoes?

A: Well, it is your home, and if you don’t want guests to wear shoes, it is your choice. However, it is most thoughtful to tell invited guests that this is your rule so that they bring slippers or indoor shoes with them. No one likes, at all, being told to take their shoes off if they are unprepared to do so; they may have holes in their socks, or runs in their stockings, or feel they have a foot odor problem; and you might put them in an embarrassing situation. If the visitors are drop﷓in guests, it is thoughtful to have several pairs of disposable, paper slippers by the door so that when they remove their shoes, and may also be unprepared to do so, you have something for them to slip into.

Thank You All: How do I Address a Thank You Note to a Group?

Q: I recently retired from my job and my division took up a collection for my gift. How do I address the thank you note if it’s to a group of people of about 14? I am going on a vacation and was wondering if it’s acceptable to send a thank you note on a postcard.

A: Congratulations!  You may address your thank-you note to the person who organized the collection and purchased the gift and ask him or her to share your thanks with the others who contributed.  It would be fine to send the note on a postcard, and you might even want to add a line such as “As you can see, I’m enjoying my retirement!”

Rest Assured: Is it Rude to Not to Offer My Bed to a Houseguest?

Q: I recently moved to a small condo with two bedrooms; my bedroom and a smaller bedroom which I am using for a TV room. This room has no bed or sofa. A friend from invited herself to come up and stay with me for over a week. Am I obligated to give up my bedroom for her to sleep in? I have a nice full-sized air mattress, but I feel guilty asking her to sleep on the air mattress on the floor. However, on the other hand, she invited herself! I am certain she doesn’t know the sleeping arrangements here and would not expect me to give up my bed, but I still feel guilty if I don’t give her my room to sleep in.

A: No, you are not obligated nor expected to give up your bedroom for your guest.  You shouldn’t feel guilty asking her to sleep on an air mattress.  Furthermore, it would be fine to let her know what the sleeping arrangements will be.