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Mr. & Mrs. / Sir & Ma'am


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  #1  
April 11th, 2008, 04:44 PM
Jenneve's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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These topics were brought up on another message board I'm on. I was actually surprised at the number of kids who don't use Mr. & Mrs. when addressing adults and don't use sir & ma'am. It's been speculated on the other board that this is mostly a southern thing, so now I'm curious. Is it a southern thing?

I encourage my kids to address adults with Mr. or Mrs. and the last name. However, if it's a close friend I don't mind them using Mr. or Ms. with their first name. Dh has one good friend that the boys tend to call "uncle" eventhough he's not their uncle. I just feel that the child is showing respect to the adults by using these titles. The same goes for sir & ma'am. To me, it's a respect thing. One mom even commented that using sir or ma'am sounds condescending!

So, what is everyone else's opinion on this topic? Do your kids use sir & ma'am and Mr. & Mrs.?
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  #2  
April 11th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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having grown up in NY then having lived in VA - then moved to Ohio I have found it to be a southern thing. My son right now is in a private school with really good kids - but none of them say sir or maam and they are all well behaved kids. (they also rarely say please or thank you) GRRRR! I taught school in VA for 10 years - both middle school and 2nd grade - and rarely would a child NOT say yes ma'am - regardless of the type of family that they grew up in. I have to admit that the first time an 8th grader said Ma'am to me - I thought they were being disrespectful to me (like sarcastic - KWIM?) because I grew up in the North and while I would always be polite - please and thank you etc.... - ma'am and sir were not words I was taught to use.

Fast forward to my kids - they are being raised in the North - but are expected to use ma'am or sir - they are expected to say Mr. or Mrs. and please and thank you. Regardless of whether they are the only ones around here that use it - I dont care. Like you - people we are really close to - they say Miss Kristina or Mr. Rob but that is as close as they get to using an adults first name.

It really is a disservice that kids are not expected to use manners everywhere! (ok - stepping down off of my soap box!)
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  #3  
April 11th, 2008, 06:02 PM
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I expect Ds to say Mr. and Mrs. as well as uncle/aunt, Grandpa etc. When I talk to my kids about an adult I only call them by Mr. or Mrs. So and so- so ds naturally calls them that. It's only when I am talking to them do I call them by their first name. I think its respectful to adults. JMO

ETA that I was raised on the west coast, but have lived on the east coast, mid west, northwest, and now the south and I've always thought kids were rude if they didn't address an adult with Mr. or Mrs.
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  #4  
April 11th, 2008, 06:16 PM
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We require our kids to call adults Mr/Mrs Last Name, until that adult gives them permission to call them Mr/Mrs First Name. They can never call them First Name. As Retrocutie said, I call grown ups that to my kids, so it is what they are used to. We babysit a boy who is almost 2. It drives me out of my head when he calls me by my first name. Sometimes his 5yo brother stays with us when he is out of school. I had a sit down with him and told him in no uncertain terms he is to call me "Mrs. Farmer's Wife". I know their parents just call me by my first name to them, so that's what they do. And I never thought I would be the type that gets bugged by that, but I do.

We live in the deep south.
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  #5  
April 11th, 2008, 06:34 PM
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We use the Mr/ Mrs thing and I am SOO not southern..LOL.. I also expect and require Sir and Ma'am. Close friends are usually Ms. Nancy or some such thing..we never use Aunt/Uncle unless they ARE the aunt or uncle. I am very much about basic respect shown to people, I still can't call the neighbors i grew up next to by their first names even though they've told me to 100 times, it's not in my nature. Heck I even call my own kids Sir and Ma'am when addressing them often.
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  #6  
April 11th, 2008, 08:19 PM
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I was born and raised in Canada, and was always REQUIRED to use Mr./Mrs./Miss and the last name with everyone until I was about fourteen, and then my parents kind of left it up to the adult to decide what they wanted us to call them. When we didn't know someone though, it was always ma'am or sir.

My husband was raised in the South, and I find that his family is a lot more strict on the ma'am/sir thing... I'm not a big fan of it, and we've still got to decide if we're going to enforce it as strictly as his niece and nephew have it enforced on them. Seriously, when addressing a person, I would prefer a "yes, [name]" when possible instead of suddenly making it a formal occasion, but that's my preference. On the Mr./Mrs./Miss thing, he was raised similarly to me, except that he was permitted to use the first name if permission was given.

We have decided that on the Mr./Mrs./Miss issue we want to go with the last name at all times, no first names. And, as I said, the ma'am and sir strictness is still under discussion.
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  #7  
April 11th, 2008, 08:49 PM
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Wow you would think we are really rude then, I have never heard a kid use the terms Sir or Ma'am. I have heard it on some old American tv shows is all. Normaly I ask the adult how they want to be addressed and 9 times out of ten they prefere the kids to use there first name so that's what they do. Otherwise they use the adults last name or if they know them better it would be Uncle or Aunty.
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  #8  
April 12th, 2008, 04:45 AM
Jenneve's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Quote:
Heck I even call my own kids Sir and Ma'am when addressing them often.[/b]
Same here, Alison.

It just blows my mind how diverse opinions and cultures can be. I have been called Mrs. Last Name by some kids and just Jennifer by others. I have to say it drives me bonkers for a kid to address me so commonly. I even had one little girl calling me Jenny! Now, I hate to be called Jenny by anyone, but a 6 year old? Uh-uh. IMO, it seems as though they're putting themselves at the same level as adults and that's just not ok in my book. I don't mind Ms. Jennifer at all. I just feel like using a title when addressing an adult is respectful. I also call other adults by Mr. or Mrs. when talking about them to my kids. Sometimes they may be confused about who that is, so I'll say so-and-so's mom or dad.

Something else that's funny. Dh had a friend from work over the other day. He's 27 (I'm 35). Apparantly he was raised to not only show respect to adults, but to women in general. I just about fell over when he called me ma'am. I expect to be called ma'am by children, but it was just so funny to be called that by someone not much younger than myself.
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  #9  
April 12th, 2008, 04:49 AM
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We do it the same way you do it, Jenn. It's just a respect thing with us and I think it sounds so cute.
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  #10  
April 12th, 2008, 05:16 AM
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I won't say I "Strictly enforce" it.. honestly because it's just always been the way we do things and it's the way I speak to my children it's normal for them, just like i never had to teach them Please and Thank you.. we say it to each other so the children just picked it up..kwim?
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  #11  
April 12th, 2008, 05:44 AM
Butter's Avatar Heather the Mama Duk
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It's a southern thing And living in a southern state, it's a where in the state you are thing for VA. I live right outside of DC in northern VA. Kids address adults that they don't know as Mr. or Mrs. LastName, but for people they know it tends to be just the first name. I personally don't like that so I have my kids call my friends Mr. or Miss FirstName. I get a lot of comments about how unusual (and nice) that is. (Only once have I had someone take offense to my kids calling her Miss FirstName and insist they drop the Miss immediately. Never have I had anyone want to be called Mr. or Mrs. LastName. Of course most of the people older than me that we know are at church and *I* call them Brother or Sister LastName - in our church we refer to people as Brother or Sister, not Mr. or Mrs., and so my kids call them that, too.)

As for Sir or Ma'am, that is only used by people working in retail. If a child addresses an adult as sir or ma'am it is 99% of the time being snarky and NOT okay. Like saying "Yes, ma'am" in a sarcastic way. Needless to say we have not and will not be teaching our kids to use sir and ma'am because of this.
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  #12  
April 12th, 2008, 10:40 AM
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I grew up in new york never used sir or ma'am. Miguel uses sir or ma'am if he does know a persons name.
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  #13  
April 12th, 2008, 12:20 PM
Butter's Avatar Heather the Mama Duk
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Quote:
Miguel uses sir or ma'am if he does know a persons name.[/b]
I assume you meant does NOT know the person's name. That is the case with our kids as well.
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  #14  
April 12th, 2008, 12:33 PM
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We do the same here. I definitely think it is more common in the south though. I know Tim's family has a hard time hearing it and they are from the Boston area. It is a big deal for us here though bc it is a total respect issue.
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  #15  
April 12th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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Yes sorry
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  #16  
April 12th, 2008, 03:41 PM
Jenneve's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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This is just so FUNNY to me! I never even thought about the opinions on sir/ma'am being so different in various parts of the country & world. I guess I always assumed it was a universal respect thing. Shows what I know.
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  #17  
April 12th, 2008, 06:25 PM
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I think I would crack up laughing if a kid called me Ma'am. I find it hard enough that dh apprentice who is just 18 forgets and calls me Mrs Riedel even after I have told him to use my first name lol.
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  #18  
April 14th, 2008, 06:09 AM
Xx5Xy1+'s Avatar What's your superpower?
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I don't know if its due more to my time in the military, or from living down south for a while, or my grandfather (I grew up in Illinois, but he was a veteran... so again... miliary lol)... but my children are expected to use Sir and Ma'am (especially if they are being specifically addressed by an adult). I also tell them that they are to address adults as Mr. or Mrs. (first or last name, depending on the surroundings and the person... the Generals wife would be Mrs last name, but another spouse who's soldier works with my husband might be Mrs first name). They are expected to do this until that adult tells them to adress them in a way that is preferable to them (I can fully see the generals wife telling my daughter to call her by her first name... thats just the way she is), but until that time, they are to address the adult formally.

I think, beyond respect, it also shows self discipline on the part of the child and reflects positively on them. How many times have we parents heard "Your son/daughter is so polite".

When my daughter (so far only one is old enough to do it) is in trouble and dh and/or I are correcting her, she is expected to answer Yes Sir/Ma'am.


I also saw this discussion about a year or so ago on a forum I used to go to and there was one mom who posted an objection that I hadn't ever thought of to this debate. The title Sir/Ma'am/Mr./Mrs. denotes a position of authority over a child which can easily be abused. If its an automatic thing for ALL adults, it can be a bad thing. The child is automatically subjected to this adult stranger, and may be less likely to assert themselves when a bad situation arises.

While I can somewhat understand where she's coming from, I think it may be a bit of an overprotective objection. Regardless of how my children address an adult, there is always the risk of impropriety, it falls on us as parents to protect our children whether they are just "Coach Bob", "Coach Smith", "Mr. Bob", "Mr Smith" or just "Bob". I think the honorifics are simply polite common curtesy and I really wish more people used them (along with please, thank you, excuse me, etc).

Ok, thats my 43 cents worth lol Keep the change.


ETA.... Having said all that, I can't stand it when my husbands soldiers call me "Ma'am".... I'm not old enough to be called "Ma'am", and to me, thats what you call a female officer... I was enlisted, so its just doesn't sound right to me. When I introduce myself to kids (I coach a soccer team and a volleyball team) its either Coach Missi or Mrs Melissa.
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  #19  
April 15th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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I can't tolerate being around a child who doesn't show respect to an adult by addressing them properly, but then again, I am from the South!!!!!!!!!!!
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  #20  
April 15th, 2008, 10:39 AM
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My kids call almost all adults by Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. There are a few exceptions like my best friend, her husband, her mom, and my cousin, who are all Aunt or Uncle First Name. Also, the few times that they talk about someone I work with, it's Mr. or Miss First Name, only because I don't know all the last names of the people I work with!

Their friends call my husband and I Mr. and Mrs. Last Name, and so do all the kids at church. It kind of cracks me up at work when the "kids" there (16 and 17-year-olds) call me by my first name, because if I knew them in any other setting, they would be calling me Mrs. LastName.

We don't use sir or ma'am unless we don't know the name of the person we're talking to, like at a restaurant or store. It's just a respect thing. As someone else said, a child calling an adult by their first name seems to place them on a peer level.
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