Saying "Yes, Ma'am/ Yes, Sir"? Regional? Polite? Outdated? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm from Colorado, now living in Oregon.  Ma'am and Sir weren't something we grew up with, though I'm sure my dad would have liked it if we called him sir. lol.gif  I don't hear kids here using either term.  Do kids where you live say ma'am and sir? How do they address adults?  Do you think that ma'am/sir is polite? Or is it outdated?


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#2 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 10:22 AM
 
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I, for one, would be taken aback if a kid called me "ma'am"! ROTFLMAO.gif It's bad enough enough when a store clerk does it, it makes me feel old! orngtongue.gif

 

It isn't that common here in the Midwest either, really.  We don't really use titles like that at all, just speak directly with please/thank you/excuse me as necessary.


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#3 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 10:56 AM
 
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I think it's outdated mostly except when trying to be polite so you don't get a ticket or when in the military where it is required.
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#4 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 11:02 AM
 
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It's absolutely common here. I'm not just in the South, but in a military town in the South. The kids in public school are all taught to address their teachers as ma'am (or sir, not that there's a plethora of make teachers here). I hear kids call their parents sir/ma'am all the time.

I am originally from WA state, so the whole thing seems ridiculous and antiquated to me. Also, I HATE being called ma'am. HATE IT.

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#5 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 01:39 PM
 
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I think it's outdated and/or regional. People just don't talk that way around here, and it would sound excessively formal. DH used to say "ma'am" to servers in restaurants and such (he's from TN), and it actually made me feel vaguely uncomfortable. Some of the servers - mostly in the hotel based restaurants - took it without a second thought, but I did see the occasional one give him an odd look.

 

I'm not really a big fan of the "children as inferiors" school of manners, so I wouldn't even think of teaching kids to use "sir" and "ma'am". Around here, most people give kids their first names. My kids, for instance, use first names for the parents of all their friends. DD1 has one neighbourhood friend whom she's known since they were about three and four. I didn't even know her dad's last name until about a year and a half ago. Things are just very loose around here.

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#6 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 02:51 PM
 
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I call children and all of my employees ma'am and sir. as well as my partner and my kid. Idk.i always like using it. My son is little sir.
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#7 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 03:22 PM
 
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When I lived in the South it was pretty traditional...My L was taught in daycare and school to address adults with Ma'm,Sir and Miss or Mr....I was okay with it..Just a form or respect...Now that we are living back in the North I don't hear it from anybody else..lol But my L still says it...My relatives love to hear her talk..she has been here a year so she has lost her southern twang but not her manners...lol And I also say Yes Ma'm to her....

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#8 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 04:47 PM
 
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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.
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#9 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 07:18 PM
 
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We live in the South, so, as others have said, ma'am and sir are commonly heard. It's respectful. My son has fallen out of the habit, but my daughter still uses ma'am and sir with everyone except her close friends, regardless of their age. I think it's a martial arts thing. They are all about respect.

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#10 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 07:22 PM
 
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I'm not really a big fan of the "children as inferiors" school of manners, so I wouldn't even think of teaching kids to use "sir" and "ma'am". 

It doesn't have to be about children being inferior. My daughter was taught to use ma'am and sir with everyone to show respect (not by me, but by her taekwondo instructors). She even says ma'am or sir to little kids, which seems a bit weird, but she is so used to it.

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#11 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 07:52 PM
 
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I'm from Tx, it's normal here. I don't make my kids say it but other people encourage them to so they do most of the time.


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#12 of 57 Old 07-22-2013, 11:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by HelpNeeded View Post

It doesn't have to be about children being inferior. My daughter was taught to use ma'am and sir with everyone to show respect (not by me, but by her taekwondo instructors). She even says ma'am or sir to little kids, which seems a bit weird, but she is so used to it.


Fair enough. I've never seen it used that way - only used to reinforce the adult's superior social position. I've always found the "sir" and "ma'am" stuff a bit bizarre, but I was also raised in an area where one just doesn't hear it very much.


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#13 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 06:01 AM
 
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Fair enough. I've never seen it used that way - only used to reinforce the adult's superior social position. I've always found the "sir" and "ma'am" stuff a bit bizarre, but I was also raised in an area where one just doesn't hear it very much.

It's along the lines of saying please and thank you here. Just something you say because it's polite.

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#14 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 06:39 AM
 
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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.
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#15 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 06:46 AM
 
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It's not commonly heard in the places I've lived, but I confess that I think it's adorable when I hear it from children. I haven't taught my own children to say it so I don't think it's particularly rude not to say it and I don't think it's particularly subservient to say it.   

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#16 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 07:24 AM
 
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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.

 

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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. 


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#17 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 07:49 AM
 
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I live in the Northwest. Here in the white community, it is rarely or never heard. But in the African-American community, it is fairly common - a sign of respect, politeness, of being "raised right". Perhaps from families with Southern roots. I find it cute here, but it made me uncomfortable when I lived in rural Georgia. There, racism was overt, and it felt like another little way of maintaining distance between races, ages, whatever.

 

When I lived in France, I learned that it was considered rude to to answer a question or greet a person, without their name or the equivalent of sir or ma'am. They never taught that in high school French! But that was 40 years ago, and could have changed since then for all I know.
 


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#18 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 07:55 AM
 
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I think it is a regional/ cultural thing. I live in the South and we say it.  I'm a grown woman and I still say it to my elders.  It's considered polite and a show of respect here.  I teach my kids to say it as well. 


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#19 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 08:10 AM
 
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Here in the northwest I've yet to hear a sir or ma'am pass anyone's lips, unless it is involving someone in the military. My husband used to use oretty formal language as a youngster even thiugh he grew up in the Northwest. he just liked formality and gestures of respect. But when he was working in a sub sandwich shop as a teen, a woman once pulled the knife out of his hand and threatened him with it for calling her ma'am. Apparently she thought it made her sound old. Now he won't call ANYONE ma'am!

The children in my daughter's public school are encouraged to call the teachers and school staff by their first name. My daughter really seemed to want a bit more formality and would address them as Teacher Annnie, Teacher Rich, etc. now that she is getting older and no one else is doing it she's switched to the simple first name.

Most of our adult friends would be hideously uncomfortable if she addressed them with a formal total, so we are on first name basis with almost everyone.
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#20 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 08:29 AM
 
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I am going to teach my kids only to say "sir" or "ma'am" when they're being sarcastic. LOL just kidding. Honestly, though, growing up in the Hispanic culture where such formal language is actually built in, I confess it gets on my nerves. I know it is my stuff but I still feel the "children are inferior" thing when I hear such language. I want my kids to
bow to no one! I realize I am going overboard but I just want them to know they are equal with every single person.

When I was a social worker I was addressed as "Miss" dalia. Totally fine with that. We call our doctors by their first name, like "Dr. Jack" and "Dr. Jill".

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#21 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 09:09 AM
 
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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.
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#22 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 09:23 AM
 
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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.
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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!

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#23 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 10:43 AM
 
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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.


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#24 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 10:56 AM
 
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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.

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#25 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 11:18 AM
 
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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.

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#26 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 05:37 PM
 
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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.
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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.
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#27 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 07:07 PM
 
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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.
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#28 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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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.

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#29 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 09:34 PM
 
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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.

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#30 of 57 Old 07-23-2013, 09:44 PM
 
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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.  

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