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As adult, OK to call Uncle uncle?

Dear Annie: At what point am I supposed to call my uncles by their first names only? I am a 59-year-old male and recently spoke with my “Uncle Bill” on the phone. I referred to him as “Uncle Bill,” and he screamed, “I’m just Bill!”

So now I wonder about all my other relatives. I will soon be hosting a family reunion and don’t want to create a problem. Am I too old to keep on referring to my uncles as uncles?

I talked to my older brother about this, and he hasn’t a clue what to do. I love my relatives and don’t want to hurt their feelings. So what is the correct form of address? – Eagerly Awaiting in California

Dear California: This is entirely a matter of personal choice. Your Uncle Bill obviously wants to be “just Bill,” but your “Aunt Mary” might love that you still use the full title. Many people stop using “Aunt” or “Uncle” when they reach adulthood. Since this has not been the case in your family, please ask each relative for his or her preference. (We suspect most of them won’t care either way.)

Dear Annie: “At the End of Our Rope” described a common problem: having a young adult child who does drugs, still lives at home and doesn’t work.

A friend dealt with this well. When their son was 19, they refused to let him live at home unless he found a job or went back to school and took a drug test once a week. He refused and was ousted, although he was allowed to come home to eat, shower and do laundry.

After a year of sleeping on friends’ couches and in his car, he was arrested for DUI. It took several more months before he finally agreed to the drug testing and found a job. This young man now rides his bike to work, tests clean and is building his life again. – It Can Work

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