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kristie911
10-24-2007, 04:41 AM
Yeah, I know you heathens are probably not the best group to ask about this but I'm going to anyway. ;)

My son is 3. Of course, I've been trying to teach him basic manners like please and thank-you and how to be polite at the table. But I've also been working on teaching him to say sir and ma'am as a sign of respect. Surprisingly, he's really caught on. What I'm wondering is...is this out-dated? Antiquated? I think it's polite, it's what I learned as a child. But when I go out to eat or even just to a store, all I see are misbehaving kids who probably don't even know what sir or ma'am means. Am I dooming my child to be the "dork"?

Carrie in PA
10-24-2007, 04:43 AM
Ma'am and Sir depend on where you live. In the south, it's appropriate and expected. Around here, it's weird.

Please and thank you are adorable no matter the location. :)

stormie
10-24-2007, 04:56 AM
Yep. What Carrie said. Just teach the normal, everday-type manners like chew with your mouth closed, wipe your mouth on a napkin, not your shirt, hold the doors for others, say "thank you," "no, thanks," etc.

If he has already caught on to "ma'am" and "sir" I wouldn't discourage it, since he might now get confused. I wouldn't encourage it, though, unless you do live in the southeastern US. Even then....

(ETA: Now, now, Kristie, calling us AWers "heathens." You could at least have put the "h" as a capital letter :D.)

Esopha
10-24-2007, 04:57 AM
My mom and dad were always "ma'am" and "sir" when I was in trouble. I always fall back on "sir" and "ma'am." It comes in handy - especially when I volunteer. Everybody is "ma'am" or "sir," because I never know who is an important official.

It's not a bad habit to have. That's coming from a hip, swingin' teen.

Hillary
10-24-2007, 05:02 AM
I live in Massachusetts, but I nannied in Tennessee. Children down there referred to all men as "sir" and all women as "ma'am" or, if they were on a first-name basis, they stuck "miss" in front of the name.

I got such a kick out of kids saying "Yes, ma'am" or "Yes, miss Hillary."

Not a priority to teach, but not something to discourage. I've found with little ones, the hardest thing to teach is the appropriate level of being outgoing toward adults. A lot of kids are either annoying loudmouths who make adults want to shout "Don't speak unless spoken to!" or the kids clam up entirely and don't respond to adults and thus appear impolite. If he's not a pro already, I'd work on getting him to greet adults politely and answer the simple "How old are you?" and "What's your name, what do you like to do?" kind of questions and such. Looking people in the eye when talking, not scowling or digging faces into parental legs, etc. are all good things to work on.

poetinahat
10-24-2007, 05:08 AM
I agree with everybody so far -- what a fine group you are, ladies and gentlemen!

Kids may not *use* all their manners when it becomes uncool to do so, but there will come a time when they'll be glad to know them. It's a lot easier and more comfortable to adjust to local conditions than to be caught out and have to learn them later.

Shady Lane
10-24-2007, 05:10 AM
Welllll I go to hippie school where we call teachers by their first names. So I automatically call all adults I meet by their first names, which is a problem.

Anyway, my boyfriend was taught to say Sir and Ma'am. He's 6'6'' and looks much older than he is. When he sirs/ma'ams, people think he's being sarcastic and they don't like it.

DamaNegra
10-24-2007, 05:10 AM
Ah, here in Mexico, there are two ways of addressing people. The more relaxed, friendly "tú" and the more formal "usted". I've bene taught to use "usted" when referring to any adult but I usually feel like a geek using it. Especially since everyone tells me: "Don't say 'usted'! I feel like an old person!" But I still use it until they tell me to quit. Sometimes. It gets me too confused. Sometimes I just go around to avoid using either.

Mandy-Jane
10-24-2007, 05:21 AM
I think sir and ma'am are lovely, but yes, I also think they're outdated. I've never heard children use them, not in Australia anyway. All the kids I know, including my own, call people by their first names. And that's perfectly acceptable where I come from.

JoNightshade
10-24-2007, 05:21 AM
I've run into a couple families lately who have taught their children to address adults as Mr. Lastname (or Mrs. or Ms.) I don't think this comes off as unusual or dorky at all, it's just polite.

I, on the other hand, was raised to call all of my adult relatives by their first names. The only people I ever used Mr. or Mrs. with were teachers (whose first names I did not usually know). I don't think it was intentional that my parents did this... I was an only child and I was included in a lot of adult activities, and of course the adults are all on a first-name basis. I always assumed I was as smart and witty (yeah right) as adults, so I also used their first names.

When I got to college, I referred to professors simply by their last names until they invited me to use their first names. IE Fitzhenry (or Fitzy), Cokal, etc. But it was a pretty relaxed department. :)

melaniehoo
10-24-2007, 05:23 AM
I like the way poetinahat put it. It teaches respect and that's hard to train at an older age.

WendyNYC
10-24-2007, 05:37 AM
My children use Mr, Mrs and Ms (it's the norm in my neighborhood), but I never hear sir or ma'am. I agree it's a Southern thing.

Deadbeat 007
10-24-2007, 05:37 AM
I've danced ballet nearly all my life, so pretty much every instructor I've had was either Ms. Nadya, Ms. Susan, Mr. Han, etc. I think, since prefixes like that crop up all the time, it's a good idea to enforce that early on. When I'm addressing a stranger, it's always "Miss" or "Sir"... Other kids my age use those terms, too. Maybe it is just location.

maestrowork
10-24-2007, 05:40 AM
For me, it's always either "hey" or "you."

WendyNYC
10-24-2007, 05:41 AM
I've danced ballet nearly all my life, so pretty much every instructor I've had was either Ms. Nadya, Ms. Susan, Mr. Han, etc. I think, since prefixes like that crop up all the time, it's a good idea to enforce that early on. When I'm addressing a stranger, it's always "Miss" or "Sir"... Other kids my age use those terms, too. Maybe it is just location.


Oh yes, in the case of a stranger, I do that to. You mean like, "Sir, you dropped this"?

Fingers
10-24-2007, 05:42 AM
I live in Oregon. My dad was from Mississippi. As a kid we used to get the snot slapped out of us if we didnt say yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am. I didnt make my kids say it pretty much for that reason. But the thing that irritated me the most was answering Yeah, Huh?, What? My kids said yes or no. I beg your pardon or excuse me. I was always complimented on how polite my kids were. YMMV


yer pal Brian

writerterri
10-24-2007, 05:43 AM
Yeah, I know you heathens are probably not the best group to ask about this but I'm going to anyway. ;)

My son is 3. Of course, I've been trying to teach him basic manners like please and thank-you and how to be polite at the table. But I've also been working on teaching him to say sir and ma'am as a sign of respect. Surprisingly, he's really caught on. What I'm wondering is...is this out-dated? Antiquated? I think it's polite, it's what I learned as a child. But when I go out to eat or even just to a store, all I see are misbehaving kids who probably don't even know what sir or ma'am means. Am I dooming my child to be the "dork"?

Of course! Dorky is always good. And those are my kids in the store who don't behave. Just be thankful they aren't going home with you. K?

It's all good. You're a good mom to teach him that. He will learn more from how you act toward people than anything else. My kids try to be polite but they have a spit fire trait they got from my grandma. Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Just try to controll it. I know it's hard, I tell my kids.

kristie911
10-24-2007, 05:45 AM
I should have specified that I'm not teaching him like he's in the Army or something, where he would finish every sentence with sir or ma'am but when someone asks him if he wants something he would say, "Yes, ma'am" or "Yes, sir". But if he's just saying thank-you (not thanks), he doesn't say it. Nor does he say things like, "I'm three, sir" if he's asked how old he is. It's selective. He is a very polite child. I've had several waitresses comment on it when I take him out to eat. I'm proud of him.

And yes, I will admit it's not common to hear children use sir or ma'am here in Michigan but I think in defense to the horribly behaved children I see, I'm trying to make my son even better! I can't believe what parents let their children get away with.

One night I took him to Brann's for dinner and there was a family sitting a couple of tables over from us. Parents and two kids, a boy about 5 and a girl a little older. When the food came the boy refused to eat what he ordered and ultimately flung his full plate on the floor. The parents just sat there while the waitress cleaned it up and then ordered the kid something different. Wow! I never would have let my son get away with something like that. I'm not big on spanking but that would have warranted at least a smack on the butt and he would have been the one picking up that food. Not the waitress. I was horrified!

writerterri
10-24-2007, 05:58 AM
We got it, dork. :D We know you're secretly a military wannabe momma.


My little brother flung a plate of food he didn't want on the people behind us when he didn't want his food.

wordmonkey
10-24-2007, 06:11 AM
Do it.

I've pushed my kids on manners and we ALWAYS get comments about how polite and well mannered they are.

I get them to say please and thank-you always. When dinner is finished, knife and fork goes together on the plate. When they open a a packet of chips, the offer them around to see if people want some.

When our oldest was three, we were in Sears. I had junior and my wife was looking and underwear. We were done and headed back to my wife but another shopper was blocking our route. Junior stands and waits for the woman to move. No dice. So he says, "Excuse me, please!" and she moves. Then looks down and sees it was a three-year old, looks up and says, "Did he just say, excuse me?"

Way too much rudeness. Manners are free and make a big impression. Also make the world a little nicer.

I don't bother with the sir amd ma'am thing, though the oldest has picked that up and says it when he's getting busted. Go figure.

Deadbeat 007
10-24-2007, 06:17 AM
Oh yes, in the case of a stranger, I do that to. You mean like, "Sir, you dropped this"?

Yeah, exactly. On second thought, I think that's pretty universal.

JLCwrites
10-24-2007, 08:06 AM
My three year old calls our friends and neighbors by their first names. However, we are very big on using please and thank you. Even if your child is a maniac in a public place, if he/she says please and thank you, they are instantly forgiven by surrounding strangers. Nothing replaces being polite. ;)

BenPanced
10-24-2007, 08:15 AM
I use "sir" and "ma'am" in public situations, like Wendy described, or once in a while when I get an older person on the phone at work who may not be used to the current customer service trend of using first names.

My mother made sure we knew basic manners: how to hold eating utensils properly, "please", "thank you", proper titles (Mr., Miss, Grandma, Uncle Judy and Aunt Lars), wait your turn, "indoor voice", etc. Mostly because she wanted my sisters and me to succeed and become independent adults, mostly because she knew that if we were absolute monsters in public, it would reflect poorly on her.

RLB
10-24-2007, 08:20 AM
I use Sir and M'am only with my (very Southern) older relatives, and I'm almost thirty. Last Thanksgiving my grandmother corrected me because I was cutting a bite off my meat and not setting my steak knife back down on my plate before taking a bite. Who knew?

Southern_girl29
10-24-2007, 08:28 AM
I'm teaching my four year old to use sir and ma'am, because it is a Southern thing. I grew up using it, and I just think it sounds best when a child says yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am or no ma'am.

She also calls our neighbors Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. With friends and relatives, I don't have a problem with her calling them by their first names.

louisgodwin
10-24-2007, 08:53 AM
I think it's good to teach kids to say "sir" and "ma'am," but I'm from Texas where this is pretty much standard practice among parents.

Voyager
10-24-2007, 08:56 AM
When they were little, I taught my kids sir and madam. Now I beat them if they don't call me master mom before asking for the money.

kristie911
10-24-2007, 09:01 AM
I just want to give him a good base but I'm sure it won't last forever. But at least when he's an adult, maybe he'll remember the manners I taught him when he was little. Even if he doesn't remember when he's a teenager! :D

Voyager
10-24-2007, 09:04 AM
My son still shakes hands and says sir or ma'am whenever he's introduced to someone who isn't a peer/pier/pear? I hate that word. It's an excellent gift to give your children manners, it's right up there with structure and self-discipline in skills that will give him a better life. If other people like him, he will be a much happier person for having learned how to make a good impression and be a kind person.

ErylRavenwell
10-24-2007, 12:07 PM
Manners are great, I reckon; but make sure you don't turn him into the subservient type. A child must have a rebellious side as well, in a very small measure of course.

ErylRavenwell
10-24-2007, 12:10 PM
My son still shakes hands and says sir or ma'am whenever he's introduced to someone who isn't a peer/pier/pear?

Don't take this the wrong way. ;)http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/peer

WendyNYC
10-24-2007, 04:37 PM
Yeah, exactly. On second thought, I think that's pretty universal.


Oh, believe me, it's not. I think "Hey, you" or even "Yo! You dropped this!" is much more common. At least here in NY.

RumpleTumbler
10-24-2007, 04:42 PM
I vote yes on teaching good manners.

You can't force respect but good manners can be exhibited regardless.

wordmonkey
10-24-2007, 06:26 PM
I just want to give him a good base but I'm sure it won't last forever. But at least when he's an adult, maybe he'll remember the manners I taught him when he was little. Even if he doesn't remember when he's a teenager! :D

He'll remember.

My seven-year old already has a sass-mouth, and I am constantly giving a prompting "Ah-hem?" when she says, "I want some milk!" That's usually enough, but there's no milk coming until I hear a "May I have some milk, please?"

But I know ('cos I've been told repeatedly) that my kids always use the manners when they aren't around me (at a friends house or at school, say).

On the sir/ma'am thing. Where I'm from, "Excuse me?" is what we use. "Excuse me? I think you dropped something."

NeuroFizz
10-24-2007, 07:02 PM
When I moved to NC, one of the first things I noticed was the politeness in addressing others (the ma'am and sir thing). I'm not going to any great lengths to get the kids to use them, but I am using them. I hope is percolates to the little ones through my example. With people in the neighborhood, it's Miss Holly and Mr. Brent for the little ones, and they caught on to that formality very quickly. I don't think politeness is ever out of date (or at least is shouldn't be), although it is expressed differently in the various regions of the US.

jodiodi
10-24-2007, 08:24 PM
I use sir and ma'am and wish the stepkids did, but their mom is a heathen so they don't find it coming naturally. My husband uses sir and ma'am and he grew up in the Philippines and Chicago.

Of course, I was born and raised in the south and my granny was the definitive southern lady. I recall reading this huge tome of Emily Post Ettiquitte (which I can't spell) when I was a little kid. I can set a formal place setting with the best (including the late Victorian 120+ pieces per place) and can put the placecards in the seating order according to rank. But then, I read everything I could get my hands on when I was a kid and Emily Post was fascinating to me.

I called my relatives aunt, uncle, etc and rarely used first names except for cousins. I don't like over-familiarity when meeting people for the first time.

I suppose it's what you're accustomed to hearing. Tone and attitude go a long way, much more so than mere words.

As for disciplining kids, If I'd been the plate throwing kid's parents, I'd have taken his little heathen butt and given him a choice of cleaning up his own mess or never ever going out in public to eat again until he was an adult and paying for it himself. He'd also have gone home hungry and maybe, if he was truly contrite, might get breakfast the next morning. I still wouldn't let him go out to eat for at least a month or more. I'm a cruel mama.

Jaycinth
10-24-2007, 08:34 PM
I live in Massachusetts, but I nannied in Tennessee. Children down there referred to all men as "sir" and all women as "ma'am" or, if they were on a first-name basis, they stuck "miss" in front of the name.

I got such a kick out of kids saying "Yes, ma'am" or "Yes, miss Hillary."

.

My family is from N.C so this was de-rigeur. My husband's family is from Connecticut so they were kind of surprised that I continued to call my Mil and FIL Mr. Pete and Ms. Jenny. And I taught my kids to use that form of address.

As teens and twenties they continue to use it and I get stopped by folks in the neighborhood who are impressed that my kids are polite 'like kids used to be when they were coming up'.

Kristie...don't stop! The more you impress manners on him, the more likely he is to stay out of trouble

Shadow_Ferret
10-24-2007, 09:11 PM
Awww. Kristie. I think it's sweet that you're trying to raise a dork.

I was just thinking the other day, "You know, what the world needs is more dorks."

threedogpeople
10-24-2007, 10:05 PM
I think that teaching children to address adults appropriately is a sign of respect.

There will still be plenty of "old school" people in positions of authority when you son enters the workforce and his manners will give him an advantage over those that don't have good manners. It will help him stand out over those that are less polished. Think about it, if you are the CEO of a company, who would you want representing your organization.

If you look around, polished speech, good writing skills and good manners are some of the common qualities in leaders (political, corporate, etc.).

My nieces and nephews are grown, many of them have children of their own, and they still refer to me as "Aunt Judy" or "Aunt Sissy". All of the children in the neighborhood call me "Miss Judy" (much easier than saying our last name).

My opinion only, no disrespect intended to anyone that has a different perspective.

Judy

Voyager
10-24-2007, 10:14 PM
Don't take this the wrong way. ;)http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/peer

:Hug2::roll: Oh thank god, now I can write about them. Thanks honey.

donroc
10-24-2007, 10:15 PM
And then there are the unthinking news readers on TV who repeatedly refer to male criminals as "gentlemen".

www.donaldmichaelplatt.com

Inky
10-24-2007, 10:38 PM
Let me tell you something:
Having traveled the world, one thing remains constant, no matter the country: rude children are an instant reflection of their parents.

In Germany, young children greet you as you pass by. They look up into your face, smile warmly, and say Guten Morgan for Good morning, or Hullo. They are not sullen, nor do they snivel when their parents tell them no. In stores, they are well behaved, not running around with their mothers chasing after them, bargaining with cookies or threats of time out if they don't behave.
Sorry if this seems crass, but I can't stand when mothers use food as a bargaining tool for good behavior. You've no idea what you are teaching the child in the way of 'food rewards'. Besides, this isn't your dog Spot, this is a human being OUR FUTURE.

In Scotland, they're as young as one, and already saying: Ta (thank you). The Asian culture teaches that everything you do is a reflection of the entire family; do NOT bring dishonor to the family!

A child must understand who's in control.
A child must be taught to have self respect.

I've taught my girls that, no matter where they are during the day, someone is ALWAYS watching; therefore, how do they choose to conduct themselves? Teach a child self respect, and the respect for others follows as a natural process.

Me? I was born in California, but was raised by European parents, so my lessons in manners were taught by the queen B of girls finishing school in wales--uber gag. We didn't say ma'am or sir on the West coast, nor did we say things like Ms. Lucy. We called adults by their last name: Mr. Costas, or Mrs. Winchester.
Now, marrying a southerner, I've several nieces who respond to my authority with a 'yes ma'am', and you know, it's refreshing. They instantly understand an adult is speaking to them, whether to put them back on the right course of proper behavior, or simply calling their name to draw their attention. There's never that dispicible 'huh'? God, I hate that! Furthermore, the expression: 'what'? isn't allowed in my house. You say, 'pardon', or 'I'm sorry, I didn't catch all that you just said'.

A man grows up to be a gentelman. A girl grows up to be a lady.
We the parents hold a vast power in our hands to put etiquette back in our society.
What do you choose to do with this power?

So, Kristie, teaching your son to have self respect, and respect for those around him, and to show that he has class and dignity by teaching him manners in how he speaks to others, most especially his peers/elders, is a reflection of you, the parent. I think it's awesome that you are starting at a young age to instill in him a gentleman's way of addressing people.
No one will complain about his address to an elderly woman as 'ma'am, but they'll be quick to frown at you (a bothersome concept, isn't it?) if he looks up at her and says: whatd'ya want, lady?

C.bronco
10-24-2007, 10:42 PM
I often say "yes, sir!" to my son. I've also taught him to introduce himself to kids on the playground and in school, which has helped him make friends. He is polite for a five year old, but I don't expect him to extend his pinkie when drinking his go-gurt.

P.S. Interesting points, Inked. We've been working with him on The Golden Rule for a while. I think that covers a lot of situations, and showing respect for others (and oneself).

Inky
10-24-2007, 10:45 PM
I often say "yes, sir!" to my son. I've also taught him to introduce himself to kids on the playground and in school, which has helped him make friends. He is polite for a five year old, but I don't expect him to extend his pinkie when drinking his go-gurt.
The...visual....:ROFL:....good one!!!

reigningcatsndogs
10-24-2007, 11:41 PM
Hey, Kristi! I was just wondering how you feel when someone else calls you ma'am? If it doesn't offend you, then go for it. The first time someone called ma'am up here, I almost cried because its an expression that is sort of saved for the 'mature' woman. That first 'ma'am' is sort of crossing the bar, ya know.

As for manners in general, my rule is that my children address any adult as Mr. or Mrs., until they are invited by that person to use first names. I think it's more polite, it's more professional when they get older, and it instills a sense of respect for others. I know respect is never automatic, that it is earned, but until you know the person is a jerk, you treat him politely and give him the benefit of the doubt. (and yes, I know I used the masculine form there, because women are never jerks.)