Saying "Yes, Ma'am/ Yes, Sir"? Regional? Polite? Outdated? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 57 Old 07-24-2013, 09:53 AM
 
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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.


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#32 of 57 Old 07-24-2013, 09:56 AM
 
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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.


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#33 of 57 Old 07-24-2013, 10:02 AM
 
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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.

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#34 of 57 Old 07-24-2013, 01:44 PM
 
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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?"

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#35 of 57 Old 07-24-2013, 02:19 PM
 
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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. 


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#36 of 57 Old 07-24-2013, 03:28 PM
 
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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". 

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#37 of 57 Old 07-24-2013, 04:00 PM
 
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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.


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#38 of 57 Old 07-26-2013, 10:46 PM
 
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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.

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#39 of 57 Old 08-02-2013, 12:01 PM
 
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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.


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#40 of 57 Old 08-02-2013, 12:10 PM
 
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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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#41 of 57 Old 08-03-2013, 01:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

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.

 

I think the above  statement kind of nails for me my feelings of not feeling comfortable with some of these terms. I also live in the Northwest, where sir, ma'am are rarely heard.   I work at a shelter for homeless kids and one of the youth who was black and I believe from Somalia, but who had also lived in the States,  would call me Miss Lesley. This was the first time I had ever been called this.  It really made me feel uncomfortable. I knew he was being polite and showing respect, but I finally talked to him and asked him to please just call me by my first name.  

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#42 of 57 Old 08-19-2013, 10:03 PM
 
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It's all based on culture and when teaching "manners" or politeness, one must be very aware of one's cultural context.

 

I grew up calling my parents friends by their first names, but also used a default "Mr. last name or Ms. last name" unless I was introduced to the person as "first name" or  invited to call them by their first name after I called them "Mr. or Ms.". All my teachers in school were Mr., Mrs., or Ms. "Mrs. Chadwick, Mr. McGartey, Ms.Cole".

 

I grew up calling people I didn't know "ma'am" or "sir". For example, at the hardware store "Excuse  me, sir, where can I find the plungers?". Or just "Excuse me..."

 

In the context I now live in, an unrelated woman my age or a but older will be usually called "JieJie" - older sister, or "Xiaojie" - which many translate as "Miss."  My husband will call almost any man over the age of 16 "Gogo" which means "older brother". A lot of people will call an elderly unrelated woman "PoPo" meaning maternal grandmother. Kind of like in Russian, calling an older woman "Babushka". 

 

And yes, these titles have a LOT to do w/ hierarchy & age.  I met a Taiwanese guy who thought it was wrong that my kids called him "Suk-Suk" which is common in Hong Kong Cantonese for an "unrelated uncle" - I think it's father's younger brother; but it's kind of generic for "man of my parents' generation or older" & he said "No, they should call me "BoBo" meaning (I think) father's older brother.

 

Even friendly people used to call each other "old (family name)" or "young (family name)" based on their relative ages.

 

Even using English in HK, people will teach their kids to call unrelated people "Aunty" or "Uncle".

 

 

 

But, in a US context, it's very rare to call a woman you don't know well "Sister" or "Granny".
 

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#43 of 57 Old 08-19-2013, 10:36 PM
 
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i think its all 3. and should be used in the right context. if someone ma'amed me here in california i would think they were being sarcastic. but i know the valet will always use that. sometimes its makes you feel 'upper class' as at posh establishments everywhere i hear the sir ma'am. 

 

however sometimes i have been ma'amed by a teenager. that's the day i discovered in the teen world i am considered old. 

 

i will use it and expect dd to use it where appropriate. 


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#44 of 57 Old 08-20-2013, 03:25 PM
 
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I noticed today (probably because of this thread), that in our circle the kids get "ma'am and sir"-d far more than the adults! Seven kids between us and I heard a ton of "No Sir! Get off of the roof!" "Can I have more water?" "Yes ma'am, here you go."
So at least here I'm not getting the disrespect of children vibe at all. smile.gif
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#45 of 57 Old 08-21-2013, 08:33 AM
 
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Since this thread, I have been noticing also. My kids are teens. They would never say sir or ma'am to anyone they know. Our style is more casual than that. But they address strangers in the polite form: "Excuse me, ma'am, I think you dropped this", or "thank you, sir" to a store clerk. I have never taught this, but probably unconsciously modeled it. 


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#46 of 57 Old 08-21-2013, 08:49 AM
 
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We ask for yes ma'am/yes sir as opposed to back talk from our boys when we ask them for help or give them instructions. A simply "ok" or something to that effect is fine too but when they're trying to have some self control over a contrary will it helps to make a point of a proper response. I'll say yes sir to them in a friendly way when I'm giving them what they ask for too sometimes.

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#47 of 57 Old 08-22-2013, 08:34 PM
 
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Here kids call adults Miss firstname and Mr. firstname, for their friends parents, random adults, and teachers every place except actual schools (i.e. they do this for classes at the rec center, homeschool classes, etc, but in school their teacher would be Mrs. lastname)

 

Ds uses "sir" and "ma'am" for older adults, if they talk to him in a "serious" way.  He doesn't do it for everyone, and somehow seems to know who to use it with and who not to, people he usues it with always seem to appericate it. 

 

He also calls me ma'am when he knows he is in trouble.

 

 

I don't know where he got the "sir" and "ma'am" thing from, I never ever use those terms.     And the Miss. firstname thing he picked up when we moved here when he was 18months old (he was already a very good talker), it just seems to be what everyone does here, I think its weird, but have stuck with it.

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#48 of 57 Old 08-22-2013, 08:41 PM
 
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Even using English in HK, people will teach their kids to call unrelated people "Aunty" or "Uncle".

 

 

 

I grew up in Hong Kong and I've taught ds a lot of this - many of my close friends who are totally unrelated are called "auntie" and "uncle" by him.   We call the 2yr old I nanny for "mei mei" sometimes too!  

I also still call my friends parents from HK "Mrs. and Mr. lastname, and they do the same with my parents, even though we have known each other's families sense we were in middle school.  

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#49 of 57 Old 08-23-2013, 09:47 AM
 
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I grew up in Hong Kong and I've taught ds a lot of this - many of my close friends who are totally unrelated are called "auntie" and "uncle" by him.   We call the 2yr old I nanny for "mei mei" sometimes too!  

 

Same in our family (I was raised in the US), DS calls our close friends "aunt" and "uncle" and it is a role that they fill in his life.


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#50 of 57 Old 08-23-2013, 06:55 PM
 
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The idea that kids need to say ma'am or sir as a sign of respect to their elders rubs me the wrong way. The fact that a person is older automatically gets them more respect than anyone else? What if I don't think that person deserves respect? To me respect is earned on a personal relationship level, not a 'just because they're older' way.

This might be my anti-authority coming out or my Seattleness, where they cops are being investigated by the FBI for their record of brutality. I have a hard hard time addressing them as sir or being respectful to them at all. Sorry off topic. 

 

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#51 of 57 Old 08-23-2013, 08:37 PM
 
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I grew up (and still live) in Northern CA, and I never addressed an adult as Sir or Ma'am. It's something I've really only seen on TV.


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#52 of 57 Old 08-26-2013, 06:20 PM
 
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Certainly not outdated, def. regional, though.  I was raised that way and still address most people older than me that way, and anyone else I feel like, children included.  I think it's it great to show people, in general, respect.  Makes life so lovely and I am all about little lovelies.  I get it where I can. 

 

And I can't relate at all to hating being called 'ma'am'...I just love it :)  <3

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#53 of 57 Old 08-27-2013, 07:20 AM
 
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A wise but crude friend of my husband's once told me "Ma'am doesn't mean you're old it just means you're not a skank." which was his odd way of saying respectable, I think. We were watching a western last night and a young man was defying somebody and kept repeating "No, sir!" I just loved it, the politeness remained whilst refusing adamantly.

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#54 of 57 Old 08-29-2013, 08:37 PM
 
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I feel like by even saying this, I'm going to be "heard" wrong. But this is my experience, and definitely NOT a negative comment.

I am white, and never grew up saying ma'am/sir. It wasn't expected, it was rarely heard (maybe when we were trying to suck up to an adult?) I called my sister (who is like my mother) ma'am once and she flipped. This was in the country about 10 years ago.

Fast forward 10 years and move to a large urban area. My sister is married to an African American man and he grew up required to say "yes ma'am" or "ma'am" when answering his mother instead of "what?" My sister has her children say ma'am/sir. Her mother-in-law is one of my best friends and she asked me why I don't have my kids say "ma'am" and "sir", I told her it was never said when I was a child. She said she thought (in our area at least) it was more of a racial thing and that white people didn't reallly expect it from their children, but black people still do. And in looking at it, I realized that at least in our city, that seems to be right. SHE said she thinks it has to do with her generation being required to say it to white people, so in turn they just said it to everybody and it stuck? (Note, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with saying it or not saying it. I hate bringing up race because I feel like it's going to be taken wrongly, especially since you can't judge a person's tone on the internet.)

The area of the city we live in now,  is 94% African American. The majority of the people who we interact with on a daily basis are A.A. All of my daughter's teachers are A.A. and they expect it from their students, whereas her previous school and teachers did not. I have since started having my children use "ma'am" and "sir" because it's expected. There's definitely no harm done in having them say "sir" or "ma'am".


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#55 of 57 Old 08-29-2013, 08:42 PM
 
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Oh and I'd like to add, that definitely seems to extend to me as well. Even as an adult, I feel obliged to call our campus coordinator/landlord/daughter's teachers, really anyone in "authority" that I see ma'am or sir, As well as Miss her-first-name, because everyone else around me does it. Even my sister's mother in law who is a close friend of mine, I call Miss her-first-name. But I live in a very large city, and I feel like if I just travel to the other side of the city, it's pretty much nonexistent.


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#56 of 57 Old 08-30-2013, 08:43 AM
 
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West end, I suppose? I'm from Germantown originally. I consider it a positive and respectful thing whatever culture encourages it. But if I regularly demanded it from my kids I'd personally feel I was being uptight and outdated. Which in so many ways I already am so maybe that would bring it over the top.

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#57 of 57 Old 08-30-2013, 01:33 PM
 
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West end, I suppose? I'm from Germantown originally. I consider it a positive and respectful thing whatever culture encourages it. But if I regularly demanded it from my kids I'd personally feel I was being uptight and outdated. Which in so many ways I already am so maybe that would bring it over the top.

Yep, West End. I have no problem with people saying it. It doesn't hurt to do it even if not expected. I'm just saying I went from an area where it wasn't expected to an area where it was. Now my kids are trying to get used to it.


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