Honey, please don’t call me Sweetie….

HONEY, PLEASE DON’T CALL ME SWEETIE was the headline for a column in The Dallas Morning News yesterday that was written by a 90-year-old woman, Helen Mitchell.

This isn’t Helen, it’s me as Mildred in the play “Squabbles.”

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. Sometimes I even respectfully ask wait staff to not call me “sweetie.”

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 thoughts on “Honey, please don’t call me Sweetie….”

  1. 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

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…)

  6. 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.

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