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Monday, March 21, 2011

"Yes Ma'am, No Sir”: Teaching Children Manners


I didn't grow up in the South, but was raised by a southern mom and dad whose roots sprouted from the South.  The moral values of respect, compassion, dining etiquette, listening skills, service, etc. were taught to my siblings and me at a very early age.  There wasn't a question when my husband, also from the South, and I had children that they would refer to us as "Ma'am" and “Sir.”  We wouldn’t tolerate the "Yeah," "Huh," and "What." 


Everyone isn't a fan of using those responses, but we believe that it shows a sign of respect to your elders. To this day, I refer to people that are older than me in this manner.  I'm a firm believer that polite behavior will be rewarded.  These terms are as important as "Thank You," "Please," and "You're Welcome."  Instilling politeness and good manners at a young age are vital.

11 comments:

  1. I have never made my children say Yes Ma'am or No Sir because I did not like that this originated from slavery. I do however teach my children to say Yes, No, Thank you and please. My children are very mannerable and respectful and I believe the important lesson is teaching them to have manners whether they say Yes or Yes Ma'am.

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    1. Can you clarify your statement that the usage of yes and no ma'am and yes and no sir orginated from slavery? If this is the case, what did you get your information? Thanks

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  2. Hello - Thanks for the post. I can understand your reasoning. As long as it's not "Huh," or "What." Thanks for the post!

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  3. I agree with your parenting style. I have 5 boys ranging from 5 -17 years old. All five are required to say yes sir/no sir and yes maam/no maam to all adults including us(their parents). I actually require athe use of a proper "sir" or "maam" at the end of each sentence. They learn to show respect at all times to authority and no back talk.
    Jake Turner

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  4. Hi Jake - I agree that saying "sir" and "ma'am" shows respect. How many of your friends require their kids to use those terms?

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  5. Crystal Lowery :)June 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    I completely 100% agree!! I was raised the same way you & your Husband were raised & theres nothing at all wrong with showing respect. I still respect my elders, kin or not, & I always say "yes ma'am" & "no sir". I'm 23 years old, & I sound like my Grandparents by saying this but (most) "Kids these days" aren't taught to behave the same way we were taught. Alot of my friends that have kids rarely get on to their children & they act like hoodlums in public, they scream & throw tantrums during a moment of silence for prayer & run around the grocery store! I applaud you & your Husband for being such great Parents!! Thank You Ma'am :)

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  6. Thanks for the comment! Keep up the great work Ma'am!

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  7. Keep in mind, Respect is what you "do" not what you "say." Saying "Yes or No Ma'am/Sir" means nothing when your action shows differently. We get so caught up in traditions and looking good to others that we never take time to really listen or see what we are saying or the effects it may have on others in the name of "good manners." We get so mundane in what mama and daddy told me to say that we don't take time to see and develop our own world of perspective.

    I can understand young children using the words "Yes or No Ma'am/Sir" but over 18 begins to falls on making judgment on what age you feel a person is and thereby put the "Ma'am" "Sir" label on them. In addition, some "older' people request to be called by their birth names, but those that are so caught up in tradition and what they were told to say become offended and continues to refer to these human being (who are not just age numbers) by names that are not theirs (ma'am and sir). If you know these so called older people's name and continue to call them names based on tradition, what kind of respect is that? The older people get the less that become human; they become age numbers by people who feel good by calling them by names that is not theirs. Very few people ever correct others by asking to be called Ma'am or sir, but I have heard on many occasions that request to be called by their actual name has been request.

    Some so called manners are for those that are "saying" them, not from those receiving it. Let good manners be seen and not heard. Traditional manners can be self serving.

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  8. I AM FROM THE NORTH AND WE WERE NOT TAUGHT TO SAY YES MAAM/SIR AS PROPER MANNERS(ALTHOUGH MY MOM WAS FROM THE SOUTH).HOWEVER WE WERE TAUGHT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANNERS AND REALLY TREATING SOMEONE WITH RESPECT.THERE IS A DIFFERENCE AND SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSE AS ONE IN THE SAME.WITH MANNERS YOU CAN TAKE CLASSES, IN THE CASE OF RESPECT IT COMES FROM THE HEART. I USE TO BE VERY UPSET WHEN I MOVED TO THE SOUTH AND CAUGHT A LOT OF FLACK FOR NOT USING THE PROPER LANGUAGE, POPULAR TO THIS REGION(ALTHOUGH I TREATED THEM KINDLY, WHICH IS WHAT I WAS TAUGHT).YOU CANT SEE THE DIFFERENCE IF YOU WERE BROUGHT UP THAT WAY BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO THINK THAT THE WAY THEY WERE BROUGHT UP IS THE RIGHT WAY.

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  9. The fact that someone (Anonymous) said that sir and ma'am originated from slavery shows - pardon my bluntness - extreme ignorance. You were intelligent enough to find this blog and type out your thoughts, so use that same intelligence to do a simple search of the origins of sir and ma'am. Slavery came several hundred years (American slavery anyways, bear in mind slavery has been around for thousands of years) after the beginning uses of sir and ma'am.

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  10. Lol this is not from slavery. I know we all like to take everything there and it's normally a great excuse, but this originated from madame French. And was shortened to ma'am in the 1660s. Good try though

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