I am new to this forum, so please be patient with me as I try to understand some new perspectives.
To me, "authority", being used the context of jurisdiction, I feel, my dh and I *do* have over our children. Thus, the right to make decisions concerning their welfare. We settle disputes, and though we listen carefully and take into consideration our children's perspectives. Important decisions belong, by right of position (don't hit me), to the PARENTS. That said, I believe very strongly in providing them the freedom that invites interior consent, and strive for an optimal emotional environment for them. Keyword, being strive.
For example, I let them decide if they want to go to school, or be homeschooled (then advocate on their behalf to dh). It is their education and I feel they should be the ones to decide, and *if I can* I will accomodate them. But if life circumstances, determined that I would need to return to work fulltime, I might have needed to trump their desires. And they would have been trumped, by way of my authority.
I don't think authority is the same as CONTROL. And I don't think influence is wrong on it's own. I think, like anything it can be abused.
More on topic. I grew up in the South, always said maam and sir, although I never did with my mom and dad.
Then I moved North, and stopped, I did get laughed at.
When we moved to MD, (kind of in between North and South) some people said it and some people didn't.
Well, I found myself slipping back into it.
I LOVE saying maam and sir. I'm getting unhappy as I get older because I have less people I can say maam and sir to. I can still say it to the children though. I love to call them "little missies too, and little sirs."
and if they ask me for something, I yes maam and yes sir them all the time. But I am weird. This is nothing.
I don't insist my children call me maam or sir. My daughter does it, when I am giving her directions. It's kind of like her way of saying, "check!"
I do understand what you mean by authoritarian in a bad way, though. My FIL used to do it to my dh and he tried it on our firstborn. He would smack his hand on the table like a military sargeant and say sternly, "say YES SIR!" I put a stop to that quick! For the same reasons already described. And me, thinking of maam and sir as a term of endearment, could not understand why someone would misuse it in such a way.