Call me Sister?

human bra
30 Rock Meme

I chuckled when, on the TV show 30 Rock, a fictional son of  Mitt Romney talked about “Brother Dad, which is Mormon for Dad…”

While we Mormons usually exempt our immediate families from such titles, I sometimes find myself befuddled about whether I should use Mormony titles with other people outside of church.  What do you do?

April Young-Bennett
April Young-Bennett
April Young-Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at


  1. Always, if I can remember their name at all. I’ve a hard enough time remembering last names when I use them more often on Sundays; remembering a first name is very, very rare, since I never use it when I see them most.

  2. The other day at work, someone from my ward came in, and he needed a little extra help and I took him over to the right desk and was explaining the issue to my coworker and completely blanked on his first name. COMPLETELY. And then, I said Brother X as opposed to Mr. X mostly out of habit, I think. I was MORTIFIED that I had forgotten his first name.

  3. Never. I don’t even use titles in church. I call our bishop by his first name, too. I think titles like “Bishop” and “President” create distance and reinforce hierarchy. And Sister or Brother Smith seems so formal. Friends call each other by first names, so that’s what I do.

    • P.S. Ha! to the 30 Rock joke. I missed that one — pretty good. I’m listening to Tina Fey’s Bossypants right now, and it is awesome. I just plug in my earphones and listen to it while the kids run around and try to talk to me. I nod and smile and keep on listening. It’s my latest successful parental coping strategy.

  4. Wish we got 30 Rock here! Ha! Anyway, I chose “other”- I don’t like the brother/sister stuff… I prickle when people call me “sister spunky,” so I rarely use it.

  5. Great question! I really only have kids who I am leading call me, “Sister” more as a way to teach them that some people prefer that (and honestly, I find it helps with behavior for the 10 and under crowd).

    I use “Sister” on the phone so people can place where I’m from more quickly (and we don’t have a relationship outside of Church), but that’s about it. Those are my two exceptions to the rule; other times, I just use my first name and call people by the same.

    My last two bishops are men who are in our friends’ circle. It felt strange to call them bishop, so I pretty much only call them that in church or in front of my kids. It’d just be weird to be at dinner with them and not call them by their first names.

  6. I’m in my late 20s, and at this point I’m comfortable calling most people under 60 by their first names. My grandparents’ generation at church I still call “sister” and “brother”.

    What I’m not sure about is what to teach my children. I very much want adults to have titles when interacting with children. If the adult in question is their primary teacher, than sister or brother makes since. But what about friends’ parents? I grew up calling adults Ms or Mr Lastname. But to make life more difficult, I’m now in the deep south, so the librarian is “Miz Julie”, the daycare teacher is “Miz Tori”, the neighbors are “Miz Margaret and Mr Johnny”.

  7. Growing up, we were taught to use titles – but “brother” and “sister” conveyed some distance. Anyone close, we called “aunty” or “uncle” (leading to permanent nicknames from the childhood slipup of “uncle Kim and aunty Steve”!).

    As a teen, at friends’ houses, I’d call their parents by their “title” of “mum” or “dad” or whatever my friend called them.

    As an adult, I call anyone younger than my grandparents by their first name, like Kate mentioned. Except Bishop. I wouldn’t interact with him except that he has that calling, but I don’t use his surname with it to make it slightly more informal.

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