Miss Janel

I taught Sunday School for the first time today. I was really looking forward to it, ’cause, you know, kids are my jam. Well, there are only four kids in our church, so I figured it would be fun and relaxing. One of the kids came up to me first thing this morning and said, “What do you want us to call you?” and I said, “Just call me Janel.” “Miss Janel?” In which I replied, “Nooo, don’t call me Miss Janel!”

I don’t know what it is about the name “Miss Janel”…..wait, I do. There was a person way back in the day in my youth group that we all called Miss________ and it bothered me on so many different levels. So, I decided that I did not want that certain title for me. I would just go by Janel. No big deal, right?
Wrong. The mother of this child comes up to me and says, “I want the kids to call you Miss Janel, okay?” I told her I would think about it. And now, I feel very conflicted and a little annoyed. I completely understand why parents want their children to call adults by their title. In fact, I think that all parents should teach their children to do it.  However, I truly feel like if that adult says, “Just call me by my first name,” then the child should respect that. It is, after all, my name. Don’t I get a say in what I am called?
When I was a kid, we had this family friend named Geoff. My parents kept telling me and my siblings that we had to call him Mr. Rayment, or Mr. Geoff, or something like that. But he insisted that we call him Geoff. I remember as a kid feeling like I was betraying my parents if I gave in to his insistence. I looked hesitantly at my dad, wondering who I should obey. It felt really uncomfortable from then on out what I called him, so my decision was pretty much to avoid calling him anything after that. 
I would hate to put these kids in that position. Who should we obey: parents or the person to whom we are addressing? Personally, I plan on teaching my kids to always address someone by the most respectful title/name first, unless they give you permission to call them something else. 
I don’t know…am I wrong? I ended up telling the kids that I strongly prefer to be called Janel, but if their parents insist that they call me Miss Janel, they should respect their parents. But even with that, it feels like I am selling out. I have always been the person who never wanted a nickname. I just love my name and don’t care for any deviations from it. To be honest, Miss Janel feels like a deviation.
*sigh* Help me out, folks…

4 thoughts on “Miss Janel

  1. I agree with you. I hate it when people put Mr. in front of my name. It's also inconsiderate of parents to insist that you be called something that you do not want. Respect isn't about a title, it's about knowing that person and what they prefer. I call a lot of people, Ms., Ma'am, Mr., Sir and the like. I also use a lot of people's first names. It is their preference. Parent's shouldn't be teaching a universal fix-all like Ms. Janel, but should instead be teaching them how to respect people and their wishes.

  2. I think that serving in a church is a wonderful thing, Janel. But it is just that, service. Putting other's needs above your own. Having the mind of Christ Who was obedient and submissive to the point of death, even death on a Cross (Phil 2). The call of the Gospel, in a very real way, is a call to die to self. I think that if you feel called to serve these kids as their Sunday School teacher, then serve them according to the wishes of the ones who will have to give an account for them, their parents. Here's another blogger's perspective on this issue. Check out # 10 on the list: http://www.stevekmccoy.com/reformissionary/2013/02/advice-parenting-young-kids.htmlI hope that helps! God bless! I'm encouraged to hear that you and Aaron are doing well! Love y'all!

  3. Andy, thanks so much for your perspective and the article! Ultimately, I felt in my heart that I should respect their parents; it is more important for the kids to learn to respect their parents than to call me by my first name. After all, I would want the same example shown for my future children. *sigh* It is certainly a tough pill to swallow, as I still hate being called Miss Janel! Ha!

  4. Janel,there is such a struggle in our culture for children to respect adults. It is encouraging to see parents working on that in their parenting. I see this as one of the ways the parents are helping their children distinguish between who is "just" one of the kids and who is someone they should look up to. Also, we pastored in the deep south for two years. It was a different culture from northern Indiana and a child would NEVER be permitted to call an adult by their first name down there. We had 3 little tykes then. We wanted to fit into their culture, not the culture we came from. I don't know what the culture is like, you are in the southwest, not the deep south. But in all honesty, you need to show respect to the parents (good) wishes in order to establish a repoire (not sure about that spelling)with them which will in effect, build a repoire with your SS children. Maybe subtly it's 'cause you are no longer a "Miss" ha!

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