I just have to know.

Do you teach your children to say “Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir?” 

Kris and I are strong believers in our children responding to adults in this manner.  I’m learning rather quickly that this form of respect that I grew up practicing is not shared by all other parents.

One mom told me after hearing me correct John Henry on “Yes Ma’am” that such manners were a southern practice.  Are they really?  As a matter of fact, most of the students in John Henry’s class use a simple “Yes” and “No” when responding to their teacher…..most, save John Henry.

I feel that when my children use good manners, they not only exhibit courtesy to others, but they also become aware of their own behavior. 

“Excuse me.”  They have been taught to say this to adults as well as their peers.  It is important that they learn to respect other human beings.

“May I be excused?”  My children never get down from the table without first asking this question.  EVER.

So, am I trying to practice a lost art or are such manners central to various parts of the country?

I just have to know.

What do you teach your children?

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.”  – Emily Post


Filed under Motherhood, parenting

21 responses to “I just have to know.

  1. Dusty, I was raised by northern parents, and taught, “Yes Ma’am, Yes Sir”, my children were taught it, my Grandchildren are taught it too! I think it shows respect, something they need to be taught. Good job Dusty.

  2. I think it is a lost art but it’s still beautiful and necessary. I try to get my boys to do that, too, but I am not always faithful to plug it. I am teaching them respect for others and will say that both of my boys will often hold doors open for others when we are in public places.

    That always makes me smile.

  3. Doug

    I am a firm beliver in children having good manners. I definately agree with “Yes Ma’am, Yes Sir”. I still use it myself to this day. I believe it is mainly respect for others. I also don’t think you can ask you children to do something that the parents don’t practice themselves.

  4. manymeadows

    I didn’t teach it well. But I commend you…DO IT!! And don’t let what anyone tells you change your mind!

  5. Judy

    I believe the root of most rebellion is a lack of respect….I think your generation does not understand the power of the small things we teach our children that turn into really big character builders…you will not regret teaching your children respect…NEVER

  6. You will be my hero if you can successfully pull it off – and I suspect you can. We’ve got the “may I be excused” going here but the yes ma’am/yes sir thing is consistent only when they know they are in trouble. I’d like my kids to refer to adults as Mr —- and Mrs—–, and give up their seat for a lady if no seats are available , and hold the door for me, and look people in the eye… and oh, it never ends!!

  7. I still say “Yes, Ma’am” and “No Sir” when appropriate. Another thought: you would never hear anyone in the military say anything other than “Yes, Sir” to a superior.

    I understand that it’s easy to drop the ball with staying on top of our children’s manners. It’s been said that “life happens while you’re making plans.” But, I can honestly say that Kris and I have been diligent in correcting every situation we deemed impolite. For the most part, it has become habit for John Henry. We still have to stay on top of it with Anna.

    We have had to teach proper use of the elevator. Always let the others off before you get on, we’ve told them.

    Lynn, it’s interesting that you northerners were taught that! Who would think that of a New Yorker? LOL

    Doug, I can honestly say that I’ve experienced firsthand the courtesy of your children. They are two of the most respectful kids I know. And, their phone manners are impeccable.

    Judy, “the root of most rebellion is a lack of respect.” Well, you’re just a wise one, aren’t you?

    Kim, It’s no easy task pulling it off. But, like my dad always said, “We discipline for attitude, so we don’t have to discipline for actions.” I’ve never forgotten that.

  8. Melissa

    “We discipline for attitude, so we don’t have to discipline for actions.”
    I love that! Your Dad’s a smart cookie. Bye the way, On my frequent trips to Wal-mart I have to say that manners are a lost art even here in the south. I do teach and correct my children when not using their manners . I beam with pride when my shy son holds the door open for a lady or when I hear them say excuse me in a store while most adults do not extend the same courtesy.

  9. Ken

    Since when did you do or not do something based on what other people do. Let’s see…..most people do not teach the bible or its life principles, most people do not set boundaries for their children (and enforce them), most people don’t teach their children to think through a problem before reacting, most people think their children’s uncontollable behavior is cute to everyone else. Shall I go on? I believe you know what Uncle Ken thinks.

  10. PAPA JOE

    Well Dusty, hooray for you and Kris. Thankfully my grandchildren are being taught “manners”. Not always successfully, but most always reminded by their parents or grandparents when they forget. Respect by people “out in the world” though seems to be almost lost.

  11. Amanda Morgan

    Call us old-fashioned. We are a yes ma’am, yes sir kind of family. We always say please and thank you. Marcus always holds the door for all of us, no matter where we go. Instead of saying huh? We say Excuse me I
    didn’t hear you. May I please be excused is mandatory before exiting the table.

    We all need gentle reminders from time to time and I do wish our children were more respectful to each other but it is a good start in a world of disrespect.

  12. Joey

    Stick with it. I taught mine what my Mom and Dad taught me. My Dad would always say, “Yes ma’am, yes sir and holding doors for people will take you a long way.” My kids made mistakes but if they forgot (or tried to let it go) I would remind them what my Dad said. They still use it today at 28 and 26. PS – ditto about Doug and Sharons kids. I gave them a ride to church a week ago and they were soooo polite and gracious. Good job guys!

  13. el gringo

    It’s the dismal tide; it’s not the one thing.

    Have you seen “No Country for Old Men”? It’s not a family film. It’s a movie based on the Cormac McCarthy novel. At one point, two old Texas sherriffs are discussing the downward spiral of things in general, when Tommy Lee Jones’ character sums it up: “I think once you stop hearing ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’, all the rest follows.”

  14. MikeT.

    Bobbi Jo and I try to teach our girls manners. They are pretty consistent with “yes maam, no maam, yes sir, no sir.” I was in the living room yesterday and called for Jaelyn to come here, She yelled back, MAAM! She tries.

  15. Sharon

    Aw you guys are so sweet! Doug and I try really hard to make sure our kids use their best manners. Nothing warms my heart more than when John Wesley opens my car door. And yes Dusty, I too have heard that “yes ma’am and yes sir” are a southern practice. I think it should be universal!

  16. Judy

    Just had a conversation with the carpet guy…he said the “in thing” now with teens is deciding if they will be bi-sexual or gay….We talked about the blog…I wonder how many of these teens respond with ma’ma or sir….that conversation scared me!!!

  17. Dennis

    I can’t agree with you more. Southern thing….maybe. Respect thing…..Definitely.

    One more thing they should be taught is another Southern Tradition. It was coined by Larry Munson, “Hunker Down Dawgs!”


  18. John

    As a Southerner, being born and raised in Texas, I would have sworn as a child that it was mandatory to use “yes/no Sir and yes/no Ma’am,” not to mention “please/thank you” and holding a door for ANY lady that was entering/leaveing a building.
    I have worked very hard with my two oldest boy’s (the youngest hasn’t learned to speak yet so his time will come) to pass this understanding of respect on to them. The understanding of respect and honor were passed on to me by my Great Grandparents (who raised me most of my life) and these things will be passed on to my son’s as well. It is my goal in this area to be able, when they are ridiculed for being “Old Fashioned,” to hear them reply with a big Thank You and walk tall, as I do.

  19. Gayla

    I defer to Papa Joe….my children have been taught good manners…they don’t always remember with family…I do hear from teachers and other adults that they do have good manners….Joey’s right…I, too think the things he mentioned will take you far…

  20. Christie

    ALL those and OPENING THE DOOR FOR WOMEN!! Michael is the master of this, charmer that he is. John – he’s a little oblivious to the world, but he’s getting better.

  21. We just went to my daughter’s parent teacher conference yesterday. One of the things that her teacher said is that it has been years since she has had a child in her class that says yes maam, no maam, may I please. Hope (my daughter) says that she gets laughed at sometimes for it but she “doesn’t really care because you treat your elders with respect, you make your peers earn it.”

    I just gotta love her. Sometimes it is hard to remember that she is only 13 and other times I wonder when it happened. LOL

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