Manners Matter

Yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir—These phrases have always been a part of my daily vocabulary as have the usual pleasantries of please and thank you. I was also taught that you put Ms. or Mr. In front of an adult’s name.

As a child, I cannot remember calling any adult by their first name only.

No one asked me if I wanted to be polite and respectful. It was demanded of me.

My me-maw taught me that adults, especially older adults, were to be treated with the highest level of respect. Not answering properly was an offence equal to interrupting a conversation. (And my family didn’t view corporal punishment as wrong either, so being rude meant some discomfort was coming my way.)

 Over the years, my use of yes ma’am and the like have made quite a few people uncomfortable.

“I’m not that old,” some would say, or “You don’t have to call me Mr. Bob. Just call me Bob.”

That’s where it got a little awkward. Who do I obey? That person? My parents? No wonder kids have been so confused over the years.

Adults demand to be treated as adults, for their commands to be instantly obeyed without question. Then they reprimand children for assigning honor to their role.

 Consequently, you have children who show no respect for authority and who believe they can call all the shots.

Who needs to listen and yield to those who are older when many parents are busy trying to wear skinny jeans and borrowing blouses from their teenaged daughter’s closet? (No one wants to admit they’re getting older.)

Once again, I’ve gone to the extreme in my use of examples. But I cannot understand how anyone who claims to be “all grown up” would take offence to being shown respect.  

2 thoughts on “Manners Matter

  1. I completely understand what you mean. I was always taught to respect everyone, not just elders. I work in food service right now, and I always answer “yes ma’am no ma’am yes sir no sir” even if the people are younger than me. In my opinion, it’s how people of all ages should be treated, so I continue even after they tell me to stop. I have explained to many that I’m not trying to make them feel older by any means, I simply want to give them the respect I feel they deserve. After the explanation, more people are inclined to be happy with it.

    • I agree with you. We should treat everyone with respect. And what I’m learning is that respect is taught the most at home. If you run across a child–or anyone for that matter–who is rude and disrespectful, the root problem can most likely be traced back to the parents. And I want to encourage you to not stop answering the way you’re doing. Keep it up!

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