"I have noticed among Mennonites when referring to a family, they refer to them by the husband's first name. Like for example , 'Tims are coming to visit' ....or when referring to Grandpa and Grandma were at church, they would say, 'Grandpas were at church'."
I guess I am a true dyed in the wool Mennonite. I must confess, this question had me scratching my head at first. How else would you say it? Do non Mennonites actually say it a different way? Hmm...
And then, one day I was telling my daughter about this whole Q & A thing and describing some of the questions and, wa-la! Light bulb. I then checked back with the person asking, just to make sure I wasn't way out in left field.
So, here's my guess. Generally people would refer to a family as "The Brown family" or "The Jones family". Among Mennonites, this gets complicated very quickly. In our church, for example, there are eight Miller families and five Weaver families. If I say, "We had the Miller family over last Sunday evening", I'm going to answer a lot of questions before everyone understands that it was actually the Daniel Miller family who was at our place.
Now, I'm not sure why we don't refer to a family by their first and last name. Maybe because we're lazy? But I'm guessing the fact that there are often multiple families with the same last name among Mennonites circles is likely the reason we refer to families by the husband's first name.
I haven't come up with an answer for saying, "Grandpa's were in church today" instead of "My grandparents were in church today", although some of that just depends on the context. I think it is also a Mennonite thing for a husband and wife to address each other as "mom" and "dad".... Maybe I'm wrong; I'm painting broadly here and I'm sure it's not true for everyone.
I do think that Mennonites generally do not place an emphasis on addressing people respectfully. Teaching our children to say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" is not common. As a teen-ager, I babysat for some neighbor children and they were strictly taught to address me and my family as "Miss Bethany", "Miss Lavina", "Mr Elmer"; no Mennonite child that I know ever did that! It's kind of shameful and sad, really. I wonder why that is a part of our culture? Any insight?