Sunday, July 18, 2010

Honey, please don't call me Sweetie....

That was the headline for a column in The Dallas Morning News yesterday that was written by a 90-year-old woman, Helen Mitchell.

The point of her column was that nurses and medical staff often refer to the older patients as Sweetie, Honey, or Darling during exams, x-rays and other medical procedures. She acknowledges that the intent is not be be patronizing or condescending. "You're just trying to be nice and you think that just because I am old and weak and sometimes in a wheelchair that I'm fragile or delicate - like a child.

"But I'm not a child."

I remember hearing similar sentiments from patients when I was working in a large hospital as a chaplain. The patients often asked me why medical staff has a tendency to do that. Like Mrs. Mitchell said -- I can't refer to her as Helen as she did not give me permission to - I don't think people realize that using those endearments is anything but endearing. When staff was open to it, I would suggest that perhaps they rethink that approach to the older patients. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't.

Now that I have a few more wrinkles and a little more gray in my hair, I'm experiencing the same thing sometimes, and I cringe inside when I hear it. I also don't like to be called by my first name by everyone in a doctor's office, especially on a first visit. If I must call you doctor or nurse, then you can call me Mrs. Miller. After we have established a rapport, then I may give you permission to call me Maryann.

Here is a LINK to the full article by Mrs. Mitchell. Well worth the read.

What do you think about this issue? Or is it even an issue for you?

9 comments:

Mary said...

As I have been divorced for over 30 years I really don't care for the title Mrs.
Most of my adult life has been spent in the inner city where the children and their parents refer to me as Miss Mary.
I love that.
I would not care to be referred to as anyone's "Sweetie, Honey, etc." And they would know it--nicely of course.
Giggles and Guns

LINDA M. FAULKNER said...

I have a bad habit of calling small children "honey" or "sweetie," but I would never call an adult by such an endearment.

Over the years, I realized that many men call women by such endearments. I can only guess at the reason. As a woman, if a man calls me "honey," I automatically assume it's because he can't remember my name.

That's NOT a way to endear himself to me...

Maryann Miller said...

Mary, the kids that I work with here at the local Art Center call me Miss Maryann, which is fine with me, too.

Linda, I think a lot of us tend to call small children by those endearments, and I think that translates somehow to the tendency to call older people by the same.

Maryann Miller said...

Mary, the kids that I work with here at the local Art Center call me Miss Maryann, which is fine with me, too.

Linda, I think a lot of us tend to call small children by those endearments, and I think that translates somehow to the tendency to call older people by the same.

Simon Templar said...

I used to hear those terms from wait staff and restaurants.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using mister or misses or miss. I feel that shows a bit more professionalism and those who don't like it will often correct others and let it be known how to address them (and did not that bit just sound so proper...)

LuAnn said...

Like Simon, I've noticed those terms used in restaurants, especially some of the chains ... Applebee's comes to mind!

It seems to be the younger wait staff that calls us that and it almost comes across as disrespectful.

Laura Eno said...

I've heard that so much through the years that it isn't so much as an issue to me...it's more of an eye roll. :)

I do prefer it to ma'am...

水慧 said...

幸福沒有鑰匙,只有梯子。.................................................................

Carol Kilgore said...

Oh, I totally agree with Laura - don't ma'am me. Other that that little quirk, I'm not too picky.