To Yes Ma’am or Not to Yes Ma’am


There are the “Yes, ma’am” moms, and then there are the rest of us. (Do you ever get the feeling I’m here to make you feel good about your parenting? I’m happy to provide this service for you.) My ears perk up when I hear a kid answer, “Yes, ma’am.” Their mom has it going on. Their dad is in this parenting marathon. This kid probably does chores, without grumbling. Probably adores his grandparents. Probably looks out for siblings. Probably works for his spending money. Probably plays violin. Wait, what? Okay, I don’t know where that last one came from.


Granted, maybe it’s not so simple a marker.

I have trained my kids to say a full “yes” – no “yeah” or “uh-huh.” Is that Emily Post I hear writhing in the grave? I have rationalized the most important thing is eye contact and attitude…not necessarily the words they use.  Eye contact is a pet peeve of mine. I’m constantly coaching, alright nagging, my kids with look-them-in-the-eye reminders as they are speaking with someone.

I’m considering making a late-game change here at my house. Perhaps I should have been a “Yes, ma’am” mom from the start. (Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda: They are gonna be the death of me.) My mother is from Alabama, you know. Ma’am-ing and Sir-ing: It’s what southerners do, right? Sir-ing. Now, that’s funny. This mid-stream transition will be tougher now, of course. Is it worth it? Does it show respect? Is it a robotic antiquated answer? Is this a geographical mannerism? Do northerners think it sounds whacko?

A parallel thought: Have you noticed ma’am-and-sir parents commonly insist on formal surnames for all adults? I have friends whose children call me “Mrs. Ferrell.”  And I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  Others call me “Miss Andrea.” Sometimes I lament the slide of respectful manner book traditions. Other days, I’m referred to as stuffy old Mrs. Ferrell, and I’m not lamenting.

Did you have ma’am-and-sir parents? Are you a ma’am-and-sir parent? Should I join the “Yes, ma’am” moms? Will my northern friends roll their cultural eyes? I hope not. I really like my northern friends, ya’ll.

And if my three little crazies become yes ma’am-ers…that means they will do chores without grumbling, right?

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