Author Topic: Addressing older cousins  (Read 3993 times)

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SamiHami

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2014, 02:06:05 PM »
In my family, cousins are on a first name basis regardless of the age difference, and we do have some very large age differences!

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gellchom

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2014, 02:08:49 PM »
I'm more than 20 years older than some of my cousins, and they have always called me by my first name only.  They are adults now anyway, so it would be silly to be called anything else. And I have one cousin around my age -- her son just calls me by my first name too. Why not?

Do you really not understand why not?  I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the way your family does it -- there definitely isn't.  But are you truly unfamiliar with the practice other people have in showing respect and affection through using family titles?

As this string clearly demonstrates, there is a wide range of practice on this subject.  Geography, ethnicity, family size, and many other factors play a part.

Many adults call adult relatives, especially older ones, by a family title -- like "Mom," "Grandpa," or "Aunt Clarice."  (And other families even call grandparents by first name, as we have seen in this string).  How is that "silly"?

For many people, "Cousin David" is really no different from "Aunt Clarice."  For others, it sounds unfamiliar, and they don't do it.  So what?  I am perfectly fine with my northern cousins calling me just by my first name, but I'd find it very rude if they laughed at my southern cousins calling me Cousin Gell.

It isn't necessary for everyone else's way to be wrong for your way to be right.  There is no need to declare that it is "silly" or "Victorian" or "strange" to do it the way your family doesn't. 

I think this is an area particularly deserving of caution in this regard, as there seems to be a strong association of ethnicity and family title practices. 

lmyrs

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2014, 03:49:59 PM »
I have a pretty large family that spends a lot of time together. There is a wide variety of ages where uncles are basically the same age (or younger) than nephews and cousins (first, second, first once removed, etc) range decades. Aunts and Uncles (and great aunts and uncles and great, great aunts and uncles) are always called Aunt (or Auntie) and Uncle first name. Even by adults. Cousins are called Cousin first name or just by their first name.

That family is pretty careful about only using Aunt & Uncle for actual aunts & uncles, not for cousins or friends or others. I'm not sure why but it rubbed off on me at an early age. Just last week, I was with a group of about 60 family members from 4 generations and in all the chaos someone would occasionally say to a young kid (say a 1st cousin's kid), "Go ask Auntie lmyrs for that.... I mean Cousin lmyrs." So, it's pretty automatic to me.


Peregrine

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2014, 04:35:04 PM »
We use the honorific cousin so-and-so.  I have exactly 4 cousins, two 8 and 11 years older than I am and two about 5 and 8 years younger than I am.  My son has only met they younger two.  My husband hasn't seen any of his more than 200 cousins in many years, so it hasn't come up for that side of the family yet.

Miss Understood

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2014, 04:44:45 PM »
I had similar situations growing up because a) my parents had me relatively late in life and b) my father had chilldren from a previous marriage.  All of my cousins and my parents' friends' children, not to mention my half-siblings, were adults or teenagers by the time I was born.  I'm pretty sure I called all of them by first name though.  I don't have kids of my own but my DSS and DSD have met my half-siblings and first names were used (of course DSS and DSD were also adults by the time they met). 

I do think "Mr." and "Mrs./Miss/Ms." are too formal for family, but I like the idea of "Cousin ____" just as Aunt or Uncle would be used.

Yvaine

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2014, 04:50:34 PM »
Using the title "cousin" along with a name sounds awkward, and kind of Victorian.

It's funny the mentions of Victorians and Downton Abbey--I first encountered this usage while reading L.M. Montgomery. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why this one cousin was Cousin Whatshername while a bunch of other cousins were just "Jane" or whatever. I don't think the narrative ever actually said the one woman was older. Why? Because I think I was supposed to infer it from the honorific being used in the first place!  ;D Ah, the things that "everyone knows" in one setting that don't necessarily click when a reader reads them from a completely different perspective.

We never did the Cousin So-and-so thing, though the age differences were never more than about ten years on each side of the family anyway (one side is way older than the other, but they don't really mingle).

Mammavan3

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2014, 08:40:23 PM »
We must be a formal lot. My DD and her friends all call their friends' parents "Mr." And "Mrs." even  though they are in their late thirties.  Our cousins' children all call us "Aunt Mammavan" and "Uncle Pappavan," as DD calls them. We call our cousins by their first name, not "Cousin Jane," so it sounds odd to my ear but charming.  This is true for both sides of the family, and AFAIK, was never discussed. It is just the norm.

I find it to be as much a sign of affection as of respect. When DD addressed her wedding invitations, she wrote "Uncle Bob and Aunt Jane" on the inner envelope; it sounded warmer and more intimate than "Mr. And Mrs. Van."

Yvaine

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2014, 09:10:59 PM »
I'm more than 20 years older than some of my cousins, and they have always called me by my first name only.  They are adults now anyway, so it would be silly to be called anything else. And I have one cousin around my age -- her son just calls me by my first name too. Why not?

Do you really not understand why not?  I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the way your family does it -- there definitely isn't.  But are you truly unfamiliar with the practice other people have in showing respect and affection through using family titles?

In fairness, I don't think it's that kind of "why not." It's a figure of speech and doesn't really mean she has no idea why anyone would do any differently.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #38 on: July 21, 2014, 09:36:19 PM »
I'm the eldest of 16 grandkids and the youngest is 22 years my junior.   In our family cousins were just called by their first names regardless of age, so my youngest cousin just calls me by my first name.
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pharmagal

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #39 on: July 22, 2014, 03:30:26 AM »
I agree with veryfluffy. 
My eldest cousin is in her early 60's, my youngest cousin is possibly 18 if he's lucky and there may actually be younger, I lose track.  I'm one of 50 odd first cousins on my Dad's side.  They are all called by their first names.  Their kids call us by our first names.  Some of my Aunties and Uncles are called with the title, the majority are called by their first names. 

It's not a lack of respect, it's calling them by what they have asked to be called. 

Mommyoops

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #40 on: July 23, 2014, 02:50:51 PM »
 My dad is the youngest of 5. My Grandma had him at 40 and most of my uncles/aunt were getting married when he was little. I call my cousins by their first names. However I am an only child and my aunt and uncle had 11 children. We grew up together for the most part and someone decided since they were all aunts/uncles to the next generation that I should be called Aunt. I consider it an honor and a sign of how close our family is.  ;D

mechtilde

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Re: Addressing older cousins
« Reply #41 on: July 23, 2014, 03:22:11 PM »
Cousin Firstname was a common usage in my family in my father's generation (Mum didn't have cousins)

I have two cousins, both just about young enough to be my daughters, and they both call me by my first name. They also call my parents by their first names rather than Auntie and Uncle- but their parents got really sniffy with me when I called them by their first names once- never tried it again.
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