Wedding Etiquette Forum

No Name In-laws

I found this strange, but when FI and I first started dating he let me know that his parents will expect me to call them Mr. and Mrs. lastname and I shouldn't use their first names.  He told me this after my parents said "Please, call us Sally and Bob". 

I found this strange since I consider myself to be an adult (out of college, professional career) and no longer a child, but, whatever, I figured that would change once we became serious.

Now that we are getting married in a few months - I still don't know what to call his parents.  In my mind, I want to call his parents by their first names as I find it demeaning that they insist I call them Mr. and Mrs. like I'm 12.  FI tells that that his mom wants me calling her "Mom".  I will not do this - I don't feel right, and honestly, don't care for his parents very much and do not want to call them something so intimate.

So - it's either Mom or Mrs. lastname - but I'm thinking I will just out and call her by her first name one day.  Would you do this?  Does anyone call their in-laws Mr. and Mrs. after marriage?  I would find it strange to refer to my children's grandparents as Mr. and Mrs. one day.

Another reason I have issue with this is his parents still have not cut the umbilical cord.  I could go on and on about instances where they try to take a more controlling hand on decisions made by FI and myself as if we were children (really, I'm going to be 30 next year!).  I feel this name issue is just another way they try to keep me inferior to them and I feel we should be equal.  However, I do understand they are FI's parents and should be respected - but not put on a pedestal .
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Re: No Name In-laws

  • I don't think its demeaning to call some one mrs. last name.  Many adults refer to one another that way, it just depends on the region and the people, my parents have old friends they refer to as Dr. so and so. 

    Basically I think your reading an insult where there may not be one.  On the other hand go ahead and try changing it (though ask your Fi first, some people really hate it).  If your Fi says they would hate it, is it really that big a deal?  They won't change how they treat you because you call them by their first names. 
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  • This is such an awkward situation.  I could not call my FIL by his first name for the life of me.  It felt weird and icky.  He asked me several times but I kept calling him Dr. [Last name].

    Finally he told me, a month before the wedding, that I should call him Dad.  Now I am super close with him and I love him so I call him Dad.

    My dad will be Mr. [Last name] or Sir for the rest of his life.  Dropping his first name in casual communication would not go over well - which is why H hasn't tried it.

    I think you need to go with your gut and, if necessary, have an open convo about it.  These people are going to be in your lives forever and you should know how to address them.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:5543deca-02e1-499b-b20c-38a9651285ab">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'd let a first name slip and see how they react. Personally, if they themselves said "call us Sally and Bob," that's what I'd call them. <strong>Have you talked to your fiance about this since?</strong>
    Posted by brookelynpaisley[/QUOTE]

    Well, yes.  Hence the reason for my post.   Apparently, he <em>thinks</em> she will be be insulted if I called her "Jane" but "Mom" is OK.  So I want to just go ahead and use the first name.  But what if she gets all bitchy about it?

    So it's Mrs. or Mom - and I don't like either.

    Neb - I have never used anything to address them either!  It's been only 3 years, and I'm not sure how long I can keep up not calling them by anything!
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  • edited September 2010
    Hmm, I would probably just tell her that by calling them Mr. and Mrs. makes you feel like a child and is doing it out of respect and courtesy to their elders. Yes, they are still older than you, but you are right, you are married to their son and you should be able to call them by their first names. After all, you don't call the adults you you work with Mr. or Mrs., you use their first names unless addressing an invitation or something.

    Heck, I would always call my childhood bestfriend's parents Mr. and Mrs, which is what I was taught. And they told me one day when I was about 12 years old to call them by their first names, that calling them Mr. or Mrs. made them feel old.

    I call my in-laws by their first names and always have. I love them and get along with them better than my own parents. I would never call them Mom or Dad since I have one of my own and I feel like nothing can really take the place of my real parents if you know what I mean.
  • That's tricky, I call my ILs their first names, I know DH tries to avoid saying my parents names alltogether, but if he does he uses first name. I think it all gets easier when you have kids because then you can talk about them as Grandma and Grandpa
  • I call my future in laws by their first names.  My Fi and I have been together for over 5 and and a half years.  When we first started dating I called them Mr. and Mrs. because I figured best to err on the side of formal until told otherwise.  It didn't take long to be told otherwise...  My sister-in-law calls my parents "MIL" and "FIL" and they jokingly call her "DIL", so there are lots of options. 

    Since your future in-laws told you to call them by their first names, I'd go with that unless they actually object when you put it into practice
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:e0e17c8c-bf73-4eb0-8d62-fe4f156b741e">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't think its demeaning to call some one mrs. last name.  <strong>Many adults refer to one another that way,</strong>
    Posted by KatyRoseM[/QUOTE]

    So, as an adult, I should have FMIL call me Ms. mylastname?

    The demeaning feeling comes from many other issues besides just the name thing.  There is a longer history of instances that I didn't write here.
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  • SarahPLizSarahPLiz member
    First Comment
    edited September 2010
    My dad and stepdad both address my maternal grandfather as Mr. First Name. My step-siblings' spouses address my stepdad as Mr. First Name, or Poppy, because that's what the grandkids call him. My grandmothers were called Miss First name (not be cause they weren't married, its like a southern slang thing, i guess) until they became grandparents, and then they were Mema and Grandma B. 

    Like Nebb, I don't think I have ever addressed my FIL's by their names. They would be entirely comfortable with me calling them Mom and Dad, though. 

    I think still using the title, but using the first name instead of the last name give an air of respect, with familiarity. 
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  • I think thats pretty rude of them to dictate your options for what to call her, and quite presumptuous to think that you even WANT to call her mom. Thats intimate. If you cant even call her Jane, why would you call her the same name you call the woman who gave birth to you??
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:89b1479b-4930-444a-8dcc-310917a2d910">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE] <strong>Since your future in-laws told you to call them by their first names, I'd go with that unless they actually object when you put it into practice</strong>
    Posted by cherbein[/QUOTE]

    No, they didn't.  I was told, by their son, to call them by their last names.  He said he dated his ex before me for 4 years and they never "let" her call them by their first names. 

    Now that we are getting married, I'm being told by FI that they want to be called Mom and Dad.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:7e7977e8-a23b-49cc-a4de-2477ecaa3b63">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]I think thats pretty rude of them to dictate your options for what to call her, and quite presumptuous to think that you even WANT to call her mom. Thats intimate. If you cant even call her Jane, why would you call her the same name you call the woman who gave birth to you??
    Posted by Nebb[/QUOTE]

    True.  This woman is a real peach, let me tell you. 
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:9209f2b2-77ef-4a29-9a60-9c24abdf034e">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: No Name In-laws : No, they didn't.  I was told, by their son, to call them by their last names.  He said he dated his ex before me for 4 years and they never "let" her call them by their first names.  Now that we are getting married, I'm being told by FI that they want to be called Mom and Dad.
    Posted by M&R7111[/QUOTE]

    So basically, they were testing you when they said to call them by their first names but actually expect Mr. and Mrs. treatment. Nice. They don't get to tell you to call them Mom and Dad. That's very presumptuous on their part. As I said before, I'd test the first names, and if they object, go back to Mr. and Mrs.
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  • I would just make up nicknames for them. Slappy and Twiggy. There you go.
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  • It's been 8 years and I have yet to call Scott's parents anything other than "Scott's parents/mom/dad" or "Hiiii!!!  How are yoooooou?!?"  It's worked out pretty well actually.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:e9a1fd4f-a2ab-435c-adbe-9ce61f46d506">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: No Name In-laws : So basically, they were testing you when they said to call them by their first names but actually expect Mr. and Mrs. treatment. Nice. They don't get to tell you to call them Mom and Dad. That's very presumptuous on their part. <strong>As I said before, I'd test the first names, and if they object, go back to Mr. and Mrs.</strong>
    Posted by brookelynpaisley[/QUOTE]

    Booo, so this means I have no say in what to call them?  It just feels icky - like there is a huge wedge between me and them if I have to use such a formal name.   

    Main issue, though, FMIL still feels like she can be demanding to us as if we were children.  I want to let her know I'm the new woman in town.
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  • I think that regardless of the inconsistancy your FMIL has in insisting either Mrs. Lastname or "Mom", if she's going to feel insulted that you use her first name I wouldn't do it.

    Obviously we don't all know the history of your relationship with her, but I don't see how it solves anything by calling her something that your FI has warned you she wouldn't like.

    If it really bothers you that much, I'd sit down and try to talk to her about it and express your feelings on why it makes you uncomfortable. See if you can reach an agreement that way.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:3fb78f5e-bf15-467b-a93c-c426eea5c67d">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: No Name In-laws : Booo, so this means I have no say in what to call them?  It just feels icky - like there is a huge wedge between me and them if I have to use such a formal name.    Main issue, though, FMIL still feels like she can be demanding to us as if we were children. <strong> I want to let her know I'm the new woman in town.</strong>
    Posted by M&R7111[/QUOTE]

    It sounds like you two also feel a bit competitive with each other? How does your FI feel about all this? If she still treats you as children, does he ever speak to her about it?
  • Brooke, I think maybe you read this wrong:

    He told me this after my parents said "Please, call us Sally and Bob". 

    What I'm getting is that his parents never said anything, but after her parents did he thought it would be a good time to bring up "oh hey, that Sally and Bob thing?  Not gonna fly."
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:fd3d990e-f185-4a9d-ab1c-89459687d8ef">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: No Name In-laws : It sounds like you two also feel a bit competitive with each other? How does your FI feel about all this? <strong>If she still treats you as children, does he ever speak to her about it?</strong>
    Posted by heyimbren[/QUOTE]

    Well, she is a hard lady to deal with.  But we do things about it. 
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:070beff5-c6aa-4779-b902-f70b35d89ba5">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]In the 7 years ive been with my husband I cant say ive ever addressed my IL's by name - ive addressed cards to them with their full name on it, ive called them "your mom and dad" or "Adams mom and dad", but Ive never said "hey darlene...". I guess its just never come up so it IS possible to avoid it all together. That said, I think you should just call them by their first names.
    Posted by Nebb[/QUOTE]

    i do the same thing, if we actually talking to them i mostly refer to them as "you" as in "how are you?" or "can you please pass the salt"
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  • FWIW I think you should continue to call them Mr. & Mrs. Lastname until they say something to you, at which time you can then explain that calling them mom & dad makes you uncomfortable right now and that maybe you can come up with some type of compromise that works for everyone.  Marriage isn't just about compromising with your spouse; it also means compromising with each other's families.

    I don't know that I ever heard my dad call my mom's parents by their first names or even Mr. & Mrs. Lastname while they were living.  He almost always referred to them as wife's mom & dad or grandma & pap pap. 

    You can sidestep actually having to address them.

  • [QUOTE]Brooke, I think maybe you read this wrong: He told me this after my parents said "Please, call us Sally and Bob".  What I'm getting is that his parents never said anything, but after her parents did he thought it would be a good time to bring up "oh hey, that Sally and Bob thing?  Not gonna fly."
    Posted by kimheartsscott[/QUOTE]
    That's what I got. Her parents told FI to call them by their first names.
  • edited September 2010
    Hmmmm - so I think I'll try the first name thing.  If that doesn't work - "please pass the salt" will have to do until grandkids come along!

    At some point I'll have to "inform" FMIL that while she's still FI's mom, she's not "mom" in terms of our life decisions and actions anymore.  I'll probably throw in the first name then just to make my point Wink

    You know what pisses me off?  That my FI doesn't have to deal with bat-sh*t crazy in-laws!  I keep telling my parents to get on his case or something - start making his life hell!  lol.  He lucked out.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:ee120efd-0d39-4bb1-9181-c2ccf7c4c42b">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: No Name In-laws : I dont mean this rudely but I think its time for your FI to cut the cord and give his mom some hard truths about his independance and ability to act like an adult. She sounds nutters.
    Posted by Nebb[/QUOTE]

    Agreed - 100%.

    FI's excuse:  She has no hobbies and no job.  We are her hobby.

    And it's true.   If she wasn't mothering someone, she would probably die.

    And to quote FFIL one night during a heart-to-heart at a bar and after many martinis:  "You need to just be yourself, because, though we love her, 'Jane' is a bitch.  She's a bitch, but she's our bitch.  'Ray' will always be her son, and she's not gonna let anyone get between her and him"
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  • That is a stick situation. I just avoid addresssing FI's parents altogether. But 2 things that might help...
    My mom calls her inlaws Mother and Father....she always said she had a mom and dad so she wouldn't call them that.
    Also, we always now call my mom MAAMA (which is what my neice and nephew call her) Once you have children you couldd just call them grandpa an grandma...or whatever it is your children will call them. This might be less weird for the whole situation....
    good luck
  • I feel like you may have posted about her before. I seem to remember a story about FMIL and making lunches. That could have been another Knottie though. I call FMIL & FFIL by their first names. FBIL (FSIL's husband) calls them Mr. & Mrs. Lastname. I think that has a lot to do with him and FSIL meeting in high school and that's what he's called them all along. We're pretty informal. I don't know that I'll be calling them Mom and Dad ever. It seems strange. I do remember my mom calling my dad's parents mom and dad, and vice versa for mom's parents.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_name-laws?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:292ee7a9-73d5-4117-af4d-64452db0126aPost:ee120efd-0d39-4bb1-9181-c2ccf7c4c42b">Re: No Name In-laws</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: No Name In-laws : I dont mean this rudely but<strong> I think its time for your FI to cut the cord and give his mom some hard truths about his independance and ability to act like an adult</strong>. She sounds nutters.
    Posted by Nebb[/QUOTE]

    This. 

    As for the name, go with first names and she what she does. 
  • I think your FI really needs to talk to his mom and cut off the parenting ties a bit. It's his job to step up to that, but that's a tricky thing to do of course. She really does take things way too far (as explained in your history with her) but I don't think calling her by her first name is going to win her over at all, if that's something she may not like (and after your FI warned you not to do that).

    I think both Katie and KatyRose make good points that it's the individual who gets to decide how they're addressed. I see this as a situation where you're very frustrated with how she treats both you and your FI (understandably so!) and I think you're reacting strongly to the name thing because of those feelings.

    Have you talked to your FI about just casually slipping in her first name one day? I know he initially warned you not to, but has he said anything about it since then?

    Good luck with all of it though... she does sound like a difficult FMIL.
  • I plan to call mine mom/dad after I have kids.. but first names now.

    Even if you don't like them that much- mom/dad is appropriate in my mind because it represents the unity you and FI will share.  I view marriage as a marriage of families and even if you don't have kids- if that is what will make them happy.. why not?
  • I don't really have a suggestion to give to you in terms of the name thing, because I find it weird calling family members "Mr" and "Mrs." I don't call my aunt's and uncles "Mrs. X" and "Mr. X" so I wouldn't for my FMIL and FFIL. I find it weird that they even insist on the nieces and nephews referring to us as "AUNT Birdie" and "UNCLE Birdie." But it's different strokes for different folks and I would do what makes you and your family comfortable.

    HOWEVER, it's clear that this isn't the real issue. I think your FI (not you) needs to sit down with FMIL and explain that he's an adult now and she needs to treat him and you as such. I really don't see any good coming from this if this message is delivered by you.
     
    My mom had empty nest issues with me when it came to things like moving out, getting my own bank account, my own cell phone plan, etc. Even now I have to tell myself that I don't need my mother's approval on if I leave my hometown bank or not, even though it still bothers me that she doesn't. I have to remind myself that I"m an adult and I make my own decisions now. Her advice is welcomed, but I don't have to adhere to it.  I don't mean to be rude, but it sounds like your FI has a lot of issues with this that he has to work out himself.

    I also get what you mean by you being their hobby. I felt like this with my family until my brother finally had a child. However, I can't stress enough that you should nip this in the bud now before you have kids, or it will just get infinitely worse.
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