Child-rearing: for non-southerners, do you teach 'sir' and 'ma'am'?

Seeking opinions on this subject… for Americans not residing in the southern states, do you find it at all disrespectful when children don’t respond to adults with “yes sir” or “yes ma’am?”

I’m struggling whether to teach my kids this or not. My aging parents will be displeased if I don’t. But I hope my kids will leave the south (at least mentally) someday, and I don’t want them to carry the baggage of any cultural practice that might seem backward or benighted. Nor do I want them to seem rude.

Because I was raised that way, I can’t even begin to think about it objectively. I have an automatic negative perception when I see kids who don’t observe that formality, even though I’m unconvinced that it’s a worthy practice. Naturally I do plan to teach them proper respect for adults, just not some empty coerced verbal thing.

What say you all?

I only say sir or ma’am if I’m unfortunate enough to be talking to a police officer or if I want to get the attention of someone I don’t know because they’ve dropped a bill or a left a wallet behind or something.

I wouldn’t worry about what northerners would think. I don’t worry about my minnesotan accent. I don’t see why they should worry about their sirs and ma’ams.

No, it wasn’t part of my upbringing and it hadn’t occurred to me to teach it. If I met a child who spoke to adults that way I would be charmed.

Same here. Unlike many other traditions, this one doesn’t bother me at all.

No, didnt teach it. When I encounter it being said by kids to me, I personally find it off-putting. Not enough to react negatively or anything, but it just makes uncomfortable.

No, didn’t learn it, didn’t teach it to my son.
Strange though because half my family is southern and none of them use ma’am and sir either.

Coming from a southerner it sounds natural, coming from a non-southerner it sounds sarcastic.

Nope. And not from the south. I do teach my kids to be polite. "

I wasn’t taught to say “sir” and “ma’am” and I did not teach my son to say it either. Both of us born and raised in northern CA.

I did teach him strict manners and he is to answer questions with “yes” or “no” not “uh-huh” or “yeah” type words.

I think I’d just about hit the floor laughing if some kid called me ma’am. Or maybe it would be from shock.

Do those of you who teach kids to say “ma’am” and “sir” also insist that they call adults by Mr. or Ms/Mrs in the name of “politeness?” It’s not polite to call somebody something that they prefer not to be called, so I don’t get why these kids are being forced to call me “Ms. Lastname” instead of what I’ve asked them to call me, which is “Firstname.”

No, I wasn’t taught that and never told my daughter to do it. I had a student who was calling me ma’am the first week of school and finally the light bulb went on and I said, “You’re from the South, aren’t you?” And she said, “Yes, ma’am!” They had just moved here.

I know someone who moved here (Illinois) from Texas and finally asked someone else if the kids were being disrespectful when they didn’t use sir or ma’am. I guess he was shocked but thought he would check before he started dealing with it. He was assured that the kids would have no idea what he was talking about.

No, but if my family was in your situation, I’d probably teach them to address my parents as sir and ma’am, if that’s how they would prefer to be addressed. No problem teaching them that *sometimes *sir or ma’am is appropriate - talking to a police officer, a call to attract the attention of a stranger or addressing a grandparent who wants to be so addressed are all perfectly acceptable indications to use the words. I’m not opposed to them, we simply don’t use them for everyone.

I say “sir” and “ma’am” and I’m not from the south. I teach my kids to do the same, but I don’t think it’s disrespectful to not use those terms, just it’s more polite to use them.

I didn’t teach it to my kid, and I never hear kids say it. I would think it was weird, but kind of cute and nice, if I did hear it.

Now if I’d married my ex who was both super southern AND military, I’d probably have some little sir-and-ma’am-saying kids.

This kinda. I was partially raised by my uncle. He was a MARINE in WWII. His kids and I learned to say Sir and Ma’am. It has stood me in good staid. IE, it has helped me allot.

When one of my instructors in college called role I replied with a “Here Sir”. Later he assumed that I had served my country in its military. When I told him that I had not, he asked about me using Sir as I did. I explained that my uncle was a retired Marine. He understood, he is a retired Navy Captain.

When they were seven to nine, I did teach my kids how to use Sir and Ma’am, in case they ever need to know. I did not insist on consistent use. My youngest son has thanked me for teaching him this skill. He has had occasion to use it. His boss has told him that his being able to be respectful is part of what got him his job.

No, I never learned it and didn’t teach it to my kids. My MIL grew up in Louisville, but doesn’t appear to have taught that to her, but maybe KY isn’t far enough south.

Chicago here. We didn’t use sir/ma’am much growing up (I don’t think at all), but we certainly did use “Mr./Ms./Mrs.” I still feel weird calling anybody’s parents by their first name, and most of my childhood friends’ parents are still referred to as Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lastname. I’m not even sure I know the first names of many of those, either. Also, at grammar school and high school, none of the faculty were referred to by their first names, so far as I can remember.

My kids are taught to call people what they’re introduced as until/unless another option is offered. Many of my friends are introduced by first name, and that’s that. Since I’m not entirely sure what other people want children to call them, I’d introduce you as Miss/Ms/Mrs. Bean, and if you said, “Oh, please call me Green,” that’s what we’ll call you.

I was born and raised in Minnesota and was taught Sir and Ma’am by my Midwestern parents. Forty-four years later, I still say Sir/Ma’am. I didn’t purposefully teach TheKid to use those terms, but she does.
I did teach her to say Please/Thank You and Yes/No (vs yeah/nah) very young.

She and I also have the habit of referring to older people as Ms/Mr (First name) as a respect thing. That began when her friends started calling me Ms (her last name) instead of Ms (my last name). We discussed that while I don’t mind being called my her last name, I would prefer them using my first name. TheKid didn’t like her friends referring to me by just my first name, stating it seemed too familiar, so I became Ms (First name).

Actually, it’s kind of that last coming-of-age hurdle in the South; when you realize that the youngsters are calling you “Sir” or “Ma’am” and that you’re no longer one of them.

I imagine that my wife and I will teach our son to use “Sir” and “Ma’am”, but at the moment, we’re just working on the speaking correctly thing, since he’s barely 2 years old.

I was born and raised in the South, but I only had one adult authority figure enforce the “sir”/“ma’am” rule. My fourth grade teacher. Who was really old-school and didn’t play.