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Saying "Yes, Ma'am/ Yes, Sir"? Regional? Polite? Outdated? - Page 2

post #21 of 57
Common here, and has absolutely nothing to do with equality. Just a polite custom...really! My kids use it, yes, but are often addressed as "Ma'am" by their technical elders.
We're a strange little pocket of "south" though; no one here really uses Mr & Mrs. even as we Ma'm and Sir the hell out of each other. I can't think of anyone my kids aren't on a first name basis with.
I have gotten a few strange/offended reactions...always listen to the accent before using! wink1.gif
post #22 of 57
I don't think it's at all about children being inferior. It's just a quaint artifact of the culture here (in Coastal Texas). I know LOTS of parents who say, "Yes, sir," and "No, ma'am," to their children as a way of teaching them -- similar to the way most parents will call each other Momma and Daddy when the kids are around. My grandparents still call each other Mom and Dad.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

I live in the Northeast and ma'am and sir is no typically heard across the board.  It isn't unusual for a store clerk (or anyone unfamiliar) to say "ma'am" or sir to someone to get their attention but I would find it very strange to hear a young child use either term.


The "Miss" thing really rubs me the wrong way.  There is a group of moms in town that started the Miss business.  As far as I know, none of them are from the South. 

I alienated myself when I told one mother that if she wanted her child to not call me by my first name, that was fine but please call me Mrs. (last name) not Miss Caneel.  To me, Miss is a label for an unmarried woman or a 20 yo babysitter or preschool teacher, not a mid-40s married woman.  I continued to correct the mother and child to the point of many eye rolls, I just could not stand the sound of it. 

My kids call adults who aren't relatives or close friends Miss or Mr. Firstname, but I would consider it incredibly rude to continue using that form of address if someone had asked them not to. Especially if someone asked to be called Mrs. Lastname. I've always told my kids, "If someone asks you to call them X, then you respect their request." The whole point of teaching certain forms of address is RESPECT, after all!
post #23 of 57

We don't use "sir" or "ma'am", but I teach my children to respect all people.  When we meet adults I'll introduce them to my kids as, "This is Firstname Lastname.  They may want to be called Title Lastname, you will have to ask them what they prefer."

 

When we're walking out and about and the kids need to watch our for someone I'll say, "Watch out for that lady," or "Watch out for that gentleman."  They say "Excuse me," to get an adult's attention, and they expect to get it.  It's very frustrating for me and them when they're ignored by adults.

post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

My kids were little in the South. Manners matter there. Now we live in Portland , Or. People are polite/nice but very seldom do you hear ma'm and sir. You will hear "excuse me" or "no worries". Or "so sorry" if accidentally bumped.

I think manners matter in most places, it's just that the social norms of what "manners" are differs from place to place. Where I live, saying "Yes sir" or "Yes ma'am" is borderline ... I don't want to say rude, but it would make someone uncomfortable, like they might think you were being sarcastic.
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

I think manners matter in most places, it's just that the social norms of what "manners" are differs from place to place. Where I live, saying "Yes sir" or "Yes ma'am" is borderline ... I don't want to say rude, but it would make someone uncomfortable, like they might think you were being sarcastic.

I agree with this. As a teenager, I went with my best friend to visit her mom in France. I was told that it was rude to just wave at all of my friends when arriving at a gathering -- I was supposed to personally greet each person with a kiss. In Texas, people like to get a hug, but no one expects a kiss, and waving is just fine. But you sure couldn't say manners "don't matter" in Texas. They're just different.
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

I live in the Northeast and ma'am and sir is no typically heard across the board.  It isn't unusual for a store clerk (or anyone unfamiliar) to say "ma'am" or sir to someone to get their attention but I would find it very strange to hear a young child use either term.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali2tx View Post

Its very common in here in West Texas. We're not native Texans but assume our daughter will grow up saying 'Yes sir' and 'thank you ma'am.' Its just the culture here. Everyone also seems to encourage their kids to call grown ups 'Miss Becky' 'Miss Stephanie' etc.

The "Miss" thing really rubs me the wrong way.  There is a group of moms in town that started the Miss business.  As far as I know, none of them are from the South. 

I alienated myself when I told one mother that if she wanted her child to not call me by my first name, that was fine but please call me Mrs. (last name) not Miss Caneel.  To me, Miss is a label for an unmarried woman or a 20 yo babysitter or preschool teacher, not a mid-40s married woman.  I continued to correct the mother and child to the point of many eye rolls, I just could not stand the sound of it. 
We do the Miss Firstname thing and I never thought about it as odd! Mrs. Lastname sounds so old and stodgy like my MIL! I'm not ready for that from a child!

Plus we moms call each other by our firstnames so it's clearer to LO's who mom's talking about. And as they get older, it puts less emphasis on how many moms don't share a last name with their child.
post #27 of 57
I have mixed feelings on the Miss Firstname. I kept my maiden name & my daughter has my husband's last name. We're still new here & I don't think many have figured this out yet. I don't need to be called 'Sarah's Mommy' but I don't love the idea of random kids from play group or storytime calling me by my first name. I just don't have a problem with my friends' kids calling me by my first name like thier parents do.

I have been trying to teach my daughter to use Miss Firstname when I notice they've had their kids use Miss for me.
post #28 of 57

Regional, polite.  I grew up saying ma'am and sir and please and thank you and would you be so kind, and all those little niceties.  Most folks around here do not; it's very brusque.  I like the way polite talk sounds, I have DD call her teachers Teacher So and So and Ms. Firstname or Mr. Firstname, and such, but I've resigned myself to the idea that my daughter will probably talk more like her dad than like me - and he doesn't have really any of those little social graces.  Oh well.

post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclamen View Post

Regional, polite.  I grew up saying ma'am and sir and please and thank you and would you be so kind, and all those little niceties.  Most folks around here do not; it's very brusque.  I like the way polite talk sounds, I have DD call her teachers Teacher So and So and Ms. Firstname or Mr. Firstname, and such, but I've resigned myself to the idea that my daughter will probably talk more like her dad than like me - and he doesn't have really any of those little social graces.  Oh well.

Just to be clear, most people who live in regions in which "ma'am" and "sir" are uncommon don't completely do away with politeness! We simply conform to the cultural niceties of *our* area. Please and thank you aren't regional customs the way sir and ma'am are.
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post


Just to be clear, most people who live in regions in which "ma'am" and "sir" are uncommon don't completely do away with politeness! We simply conform to the cultural niceties of *our* area. Please and thank you aren't regional customs the way sir and ma'am are.

 

Around here many people do not say please and thank you so much.  They aren't doing it to be rude, they just don't say it.  They communicate politeness in other ways, or they have other ways of determining what is polite.  To me it sounds rude, but not to anyone who grew up around here.  There's also a lot of sarcasm and brusqueness and people don't friendly talk on the street.  

post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by michelleepotter View Post

My kids call adults who aren't relatives or close friends Miss or Mr. Firstname, but I would consider it incredibly rude to continue using that form of address if someone had asked them not to. Especially if someone asked to be called Mrs. Lastname. I've always told my kids, "If someone asks you to call them X, then you respect their request." The whole point of teaching certain forms of address is RESPECT, after all!

 

I'm really glad you said this. I've seen people insist on their children using whatever form they've taught them, even in the face of requests to the contrary. I find it really rude. If someone doesn't like being called "Mrs. LastName" (as an example), insisting on calling them that isn't about good manners, imo.

post #32 of 57

Since it's come up a few times, I'll add that I find the "Miss FirstName" usage really bizarre, because it's just not a thing around here. The only place I've ever encountered it is in dance schools.

 

It just popped into my head that one of the moms in our townhouse complex teaches her kids to the call the other moms, "Mama FirstName", so I'm "Mama Lisa". The first few times I heard it, it seemed a bit odd to me, but I"m used to it now. I kind of like it.

post #33 of 57

Just to clarify a bit on what I said about "children as inferiors"...I have very rarely seen the "sir" and "ma'am" stuff taught to kids in an environment where the titles are used in a reciprocal fashion. Children are taught to "respect their elders", but it's not what I call respect. It's a way of saying "adults are better than you, so show them deference". My kids don't have to respect their elders, in the way that phrase is usually used. I want them to treat everybody with respect, but I see no reason why adults are deserving of special deference.

 

Mind you, I think our cultural (Western European/North American) concepts of manners, etiquette, etc. are deeply rooted in a very offensive class system riddled with sexism and racism. I remember going through an etiquette book once and thinking "wow - 99% of this is about making sure everyone is consistently acknowledging that they know their place". The culture around the concepts has changed, but I think manners should be rooted in the Golden Rule, not in the idea that some people are better than others.

post #34 of 57

My son won't call his parents "sir" and "ma'am".

 

There are no other polite forms of address to attach to a man or woman whose names you do not know. What would you prefer that the store clerk called you? "Have a nice day, lady." "Hey you! Would you like help carrying your groceries?"

post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

There are no other polite forms of address to attach to a man or woman whose names you do not know. What would you prefer that the store clerk called you? "Have a nice day, lady." "Hey you! Would you like help carrying your groceries?"

 

I've only been called "ma'am" a handful of times (mostly when visiting Knoxville). I've never had anybody be rude to me in those situation. IMO, "have a nice day" or "would you like help carrying your groceries?" are inherently polite and don't require a label or form of address at all. 

post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

I've only been called "ma'am" a handful of times (mostly when visiting Knoxville). I've never had anybody be rude to me in those situation. IMO, "have a nice day" or "would you like help carrying your groceries?" are inherently polite and don't require a label or form of address at all. 

 

Ok, but it's easy to think of a situation where you would need to address someone. For instance, what if (on our hypothetical grocery trip), we dropped some of our groceries on the way out but didn't notice? Someone would have to call after us. What should they call me? Ma'am. I am an adult woman and it's polite.

 

I teach young children, and I make them refer to me by my name. But for when you don't know a woman's name, I can't think of anything better than "Ma'am". 

post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

 

Ok, but it's easy to think of a situation where you would need to address someone. For instance, what if (on our hypothetical grocery trip), we dropped some of our groceries on the way out but didn't notice? Someone would have to call after us. What should they call me? Ma'am. I am an adult woman and it's polite.

 

I teach young children, and I make them refer to me by my name. But for when you don't know a woman's name, I can't think of anything better than "Ma'am". 

 

I can't really think of any situations like that. I've done that - dropped something that was noticed by a stranger - and people generally just say, "Excuse me - you dropped something".

 

I think this is probably just a regional thing, but "ma'am" and "sir" just sound really excessively formal around here. I very occasionally run into it with someone in a service job, but it's just not something you hear around here very much. Personally, I really dislike the sound of both terms, especially from kids.

post #38 of 57

Regional.

 

I grew up doing this, but I'm military/southern.  We also used Mr/Mrs/Miss lastname (or firstname sometimes, if we were close to the adult).  My kids don't but out here I've never heard anyone doing it.

 

I used to ask adults what they would like my children to call them, and now that my kids are old enough they know to ask themselves.  I'm all for addressing people as they wish to be addressed, and I think it's good for kids and adults to extend that courtesy to others.  I think it's okay to not have blanket presumptions on how kids should address adults, and it only help their social skills/confidence to interact with people beyond their peers if they learn to ask and take that into consideration.

post #39 of 57

I am in the Deep South. Growing up we would be spanked for forgetting to say Sir or Ma'am. It was that important for some reason. I DO NOT teach my kids to say it. They did pick up saying it to certain people as they got older but I had nothing to do with it(and they all have a knack for knowing which people "need" to be called those terms). I can't stand to be called ma'am and always tell the person to not call me that. Even kids. Their parents can force them to say it but it's rude to call someone that who doesn't want to be called it. JMNSHO lol.

post #40 of 57

And also, I NEVER hear anyone pronounce "Mrs." properly, they only say, "Miss" for Mrs., Ms. or Miss. It's all pronounced the same.

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