Skip to content
 
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Slate)   "Should I still teach my children to use the terms 'sir' and 'ma'am?'"   (slate.com) divider line
    More: Obvious, Family, week's episode, Dan debate, future episodes, new questions, Men, today's show, different city  
•       •       •

290 clicks; posted to Discussion » on 15 Jan 2021 at 8:16 AM (6 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



55 Comments     (+0 »)
 
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest


Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | » | Newest | Show all

 
2021-01-15 1:11:44 AM  
i.huffpost.comView Full Size
 
2021-01-15 3:56:09 AM  
Just call everyone "dude"
 
2021-01-15 4:15:04 AM  
Default to sir/ma'am as respectful titles. If someone prefers a different one, use that one.  This isn't difficult. It boils down to, "stop being an asshole."
 
2021-01-15 4:25:19 AM  

cman: Just call everyone "dude"


I've used that when talking to a trans person and it was awkward.  She knew I  meant it as a gender-neutral term and was ok with it, but still awkward. Maybe I was over-thinking it.
 
2021-01-15 4:59:21 AM  
Baccara Yes Sir, I Can Boogie 1977
Youtube VbWaZHLjzms
 
2021-01-15 8:40:32 AM  
If you ain't LeVar Burton you ain't no sir.
 
2021-01-15 8:45:40 AM  
Only if you are preparing them for a military career.
 
2021-01-15 8:47:49 AM  
Yes.  Teach your children manners.  Dealing with a stranger in a formal situation, you'll want to use respectful forms of address.
 
2021-01-15 8:49:48 AM  
I personally haven't met anyone that gets genuinely offended if someone makes an innocent mistake regarding gender. A quick apology and correction seems to be perfectly sufficent (don't dwell on it, just make sure you use the preferred term from then on).

Now, if I only I could somehow get someone to call me "Sir" without adding "You're making a scene..."
 
2021-01-15 8:53:57 AM  
Yoz, maz
 
2021-01-15 8:59:24 AM  
I taught my children to say sir.  Just yesterday my sons came up to me.  Big, huge sons.  Real manly sons.  And they had tears in their eyes!  They said to me "Sir, thank you for making Paw Patrol great again.  Can you please bring back our favorite show, Clutch Cargo?"  We'll see.  We'll see.
 
2021-01-15 9:02:29 AM  
Good friend when I was growing up had southern parents, and he always called them "sir" and "ma'am".

But it was fake politeness.

And now he and his brothers are mostly farked up.  One of them has a halfway decent life.  One is an alcoholic who's been in and out of rehab a half-dozen times, has a string of DUIs, and hasn't held a job in over 10 years.  The other went through a terrible divorce, can barely keep his head above water, and has to do child custody handoffs in front of a police officer.

All three of them have contentious relationships with their parents as adults, too.

tl;dr: don't do it.
 
2021-01-15 9:03:34 AM  
You can certainly use "Sir" to troll younger adults.  Throws them off.
 
2021-01-15 9:04:46 AM  
I did. One poster upstream calls it fake politeness. I call it social grease.
 
2021-01-15 9:06:51 AM  
I always thought that sounded stupid coming out of kids.
 
2021-01-15 9:12:43 AM  
Using sir or ma'am has been the biggest challenge for me, honestly.

I've been doing it all my life.

Now I have to stop myself because I don't want to assume the wrong thing and offend someone.

So the thing I thought was polite for decades is now questionable.

Especially at drive throughs, even though I'm usually 2-3 times older than the employee.

And now there is someone where I work who wants to be referred to as 'they' or 'them'.

Look, live your life how you want, but I'm not referring to you by using a farking plural. It's just confusing and makes the speaker sound like a farking idiot.

Ya know what, how about we dispose of all gender-specific pronouns entirely and just refer to everyone as 'that mother farker'.

That way it's all about tone and inflection.
 
2021-01-15 9:16:43 AM  
"yall" is gender neutral and covers all your bases.  Singular, plural, polite, everything you need wrapped up in southern hospitality.
 
2021-01-15 9:28:28 AM  
The words sir and ma'am actually stick in my throat, and if someone insists on it I am either in the wrong job or talking to someone I don't want to.
 
2021-01-15 9:38:31 AM  
My youngest when he was two called everyone "Person".

"Hello Person!  How you!?"

"Look! Person!  Person hat yellow!"

"That Person, that Person tall!"
 
2021-01-15 9:42:22 AM  
Yes, you absolutely should it's respectful. Unless of course whoever you are addressing is wearing a name tag, or pronoun flair, in which case use that name/term.
 
2021-01-15 9:43:01 AM  

tdyak: "yall" is gender neutral and covers all your bases.  Singular, plural, polite, everything you need wrapped up in southern hospitality.


"Thank you for banking with us, Y'all Smith. We hope to serve you once more."
 
2021-01-15 9:43:12 AM  
Not listening to a podcast, ever.

As an adult, I use Sir and Ma'am (never Miss) to address particularly helpful people who have chosen to assist me.  Age is irrelevant, it's something I add onto "Thank you", as a sign of respect.  I choose who and when to convey this respect to.

I don't automatically use the term for older people, cops, elected officials, employment supervisors or any kind of traditional authority figures.

If I ever do (I haven't thus far) run into someone who objects to either term based on my gender assumption, I'll rephrase it as "Thank you, Kind person."  Ta Da!

This is how I taught my kids.  Sir/Ma'am as automatic is one of those social manners things that's designed to keep children subservient to their betters based on some fake societal deference to the rich and powerful.  Respect has to be earned.

Someone gives me directions, they get my respect.  Some geezer drops their cane, I'll pick it up for them and hand it back, but they don't get the automatic Sir.  I'm not going to assume someone is worth of respect based on anything other than observed actions.  If someone demands to be called Sir/Ma'am, such as a professor, then hell no, if they're a good professor, then I'll add it on myself, when I'm ready to.
 
2021-01-15 9:43:18 AM  

tdyak: "yall" is gender neutral and covers all your bases.  Singular, plural, polite, everything you need wrapped up in southern hospitality.


Generally speaking if someone presents fairly clearly in the binary buckets I use Sir/Ma'am.

If they present even slightly in a grey area for gender I use y'all, for exactly this reason (minus the southern bit, as I am definitely not southern, just because it's linguistically neutral).
 
2021-01-15 9:45:45 AM  

FrancoFile: Good friend when I was growing up had southern parents, and he always called them "sir" and "ma'am".

But it was fake politeness.

And now he and his brothers are mostly farked up.  One of them has a halfway decent life.  One is an alcoholic who's been in and out of rehab a half-dozen times, has a string of DUIs, and hasn't held a job in over 10 years.  The other went through a terrible divorce, can barely keep his head above water, and has to do child custody handoffs in front of a police officer.

All three of them have contentious relationships with their parents as adults, too.

tl;dr: don't do it.


I refuse to believe that the parents teaching them manners is what caused the situation between them and their parents.
 
2021-01-15 9:50:11 AM  
You don't know them? They're working a job? Half dozen other things? Use Sir or Ma'am when speaking with them in conversation.

This is because they're people. People deserve respect either from the start (you don't know them) or because they're doing a job. I don't care if that job is "lowly" janitor or wait staff, they're working a job and deserve to be treated with respect. Applies unless they prove they are unworthy of respect by being horrible humans.

This isn't rocket science, treat people with respect unless they demonstrate you shouldn't treat them respect.
 
2021-01-15 9:51:06 AM  

Ker_Thwap: Not listening to a podcast, ever.

As an adult, I use Sir and Ma'am (never Miss) to address particularly helpful people who have chosen to assist me.  Age is irrelevant, it's something I add onto "Thank you", as a sign of respect.  I choose who and when to convey this respect to.

I don't automatically use the term for older people, cops, elected officials, employment supervisors or any kind of traditional authority figures.

If I ever do (I haven't thus far) run into someone who objects to either term based on my gender assumption, I'll rephrase it as "Thank you, Kind person."  Ta Da!

This is how I taught my kids.  Sir/Ma'am as automatic is one of those social manners things that's designed to keep children subservient to their betters based on some fake societal deference to the rich and powerful.  Respect has to be earned.

Someone gives me directions, they get my respect.  Some geezer drops their cane, I'll pick it up for them and hand it back, but they don't get the automatic Sir.  I'm not going to assume someone is worth of respect based on anything other than observed actions.  If someone demands to be called Sir/Ma'am, such as a professor, then hell no, if they're a good professor, then I'll add it on myself, when I'm ready to.


This right here!
 
2021-01-15 9:51:54 AM  
The gender thing was never an issue (it's not difficult), but my only time in the States I was thrown by people calling me "sir". In Ireland, the only people called by that were teachers in primary / secondary.

Basically everyone else introduces themselves with their first name, with some notable exceptions:
1. Weirdly formal older business people (almost always men).
2. Members of religious orders, not that I deal with them ever.
3. The guards (police).
4. Top members of government, not that I've dealt with them.
5. Doctors.

None of these are referred to as "sir / ma'am" but by their professional title, or as Mr. / Ms. (insert last name of weird older business person). It's also not seen as disrespectful, so if an Irish person asks your name and addresses you as such it's not intended to be overly familiar or a slight. We call our grandmother by her first name on both sides of the family and that's fairly standard.
And the idea of talking to my parents like that, lol.

Although obviously if in the US you should do as the locals do!
 
2021-01-15 9:57:02 AM  
I grew up all over the US and the world.  I fully understand regional dialects, and I'm not calling anyone a bad person for using the term, but...

Y'all still makes me twitch.  My brain processes it as a plural, and I am not a plural, nor do I ever expect to be a plural.  Yes, yes, I know about All Y'all, which is just a plural plural.  I'm not here to change your mind about using it.

/This is very much my own personal cross to bear.
//I'll get over it.
 
2021-01-15 10:25:21 AM  

WTFDYW: FrancoFile: Good friend when I was growing up had southern parents, and he always called them "sir" and "ma'am".

But it was fake politeness.

And now he and his brothers are mostly farked up.  One of them has a halfway decent life.  One is an alcoholic who's been in and out of rehab a half-dozen times, has a string of DUIs, and hasn't held a job in over 10 years.  The other went through a terrible divorce, can barely keep his head above water, and has to do child custody handoffs in front of a police officer.

All three of them have contentious relationships with their parents as adults, too.

tl;dr: don't do it.

I refuse to believe that the parents teaching them manners is what caused the situation between them and their parents.



That's the point.

They didn't teach them manners.  They taught them the outward form of manners, without engendering any underlying respect for human dignity, and thought that would be enough.
 
2021-01-15 10:35:35 AM  
I just say "Thank you my friend". works in every situation, no matter who it is
 
Ant
2021-01-15 10:45:08 AM  
Once I know someone's name, I'm never calling them sir or ma'am again. I think it's weird.
 
2021-01-15 10:48:34 AM  
What is it about these words that everyone assumes the person saying them is therefore respectful and decent? You can be polite and respectful without calling people weird titles. And, not using antiquated social terms doesn't make someone disrespectful.

Otherwise it would be really easy to be terrible but be considered good.

My kids will be polite and respectful without being forced to say ma'am or sir.

People who have time to worry about what strangers are calling them are fortunate but weird.
 
2021-01-15 10:54:46 AM  

foo monkey: Default to sir/ma'am as respectful titles. If someone prefers a different one, use that one.  This isn't difficult. It boils down to, "stop being an asshole."


Pretty much

Also when I hear "don't call me sir I work for a livin" I know they are at least MAGA adjacent
 
Ant
2021-01-15 10:54:57 AM  

holdmybones: Otherwise it would be really easy to be terrible but be considered good.


Um, have you visited our reality recently?
 
2021-01-15 10:55:42 AM  
I perceive that as respectful and sort of cute, but nevertheless an anachronism that is more forced upon the people who use it than it is sincere.
 
2021-01-15 10:58:53 AM  
Most of the time, I find myself using "sir" or "ma'am" in a jovial context, like an old-timey game show host.

"You are correct, sir!"

/Think Ed McMahon.
//Then go back another twenty years.
///Although I once used the phrase "You, ma'am, are about six yards past the line where 'wrong' begins.'"
 
Ant
2021-01-15 10:59:54 AM  

Fano: Also when I hear "don't call me sir I work for a livin" I know they are at least MAGA adjacent


Or they're quoting R. Lee Ermey... Or was it Louis Gossett Jr?
 
2021-01-15 11:00:17 AM  
This varies geographically.. I've lived half my life in TX where all the kids say Sir and Ma'am and the other half in Michigan where almost no one uses those terms.

So if you live in a place where the teachers and other adults will expect them to say it, teach it. If you live in  a place where it is rarely used, don't teach it.
 
2021-01-15 11:01:21 AM  

Ant: holdmybones: Otherwise it would be really easy to be terrible but be considered good.

Um, have you visited our reality recently?


Exactly. All of these idiots say sir and ma'am. Are they good?
 
2021-01-15 11:03:22 AM  
I use "Foolish Mortal."
 
2021-01-15 11:39:20 AM  
Only in depositions and to address a deponent.
 
2021-01-15 11:56:08 AM  
I use "farking fark".  It's gender neutral, so I don't have to worry about looking stupid.
 
2021-01-15 12:02:00 PM  
i.imgur.comView Full Size
 
2021-01-15 12:19:35 PM  
25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9

#1: When asking for something, say "Please."

#2: When receiving something, say "Thank you."

#3: Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
#4: If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.
#5: When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.
#6: The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

#7: Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.

#8: When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
#9: When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.
#10: Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering.

#11: When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

#12: Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

#13: Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.
#14: Don't call people mean names.
#15: Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

#16: Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.

#17: If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."

#18: Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public.
#19: As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
#20: If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new.

#21: When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

#22: When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

#23: Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.
#24: Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.
#25: Don't reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.
 
2021-01-15 12:29:41 PM  
Yes you should.

And anyone who doesn't like being called sir or ma'am: get over yourselves.
 
2021-01-15 12:59:27 PM  

eKonk: Now, if I only I could somehow get someone to call me "Sir" without adding "You're making a scene..."


Would you prefer "This is an Arby's."?
 
2021-01-15 1:05:24 PM  

g.fro: Yes you should.

And anyone who doesn't like being called sir or ma'am: get over yourselves.


Yes Ma'am!
 
2021-01-15 1:10:42 PM  
Are they wearing a studded leather harness and engineer boots?
 
2021-01-15 2:17:38 PM  

WTFDYW: I refuse to believe that the parents teaching them manners is what caused the situation between them and their parents.


Calling your father "sir" and your mother "ma'am" seems really weird to me.  If you're not in some sort of FUBAR situation like a royal family[0], you should be able to address your parents in a familiar way.  Then again, my elementary school was run by hippies who encouraged us 6-year-olds to call the teachers by their first names.  I guess the real answer is, "Are the adults your kids are likely to interact with a bunch of uptight weirdos?  If so, use sir/ma'am.  If not, go by context or start out with Mr./Ms. Lastname, they'll probably say 'Call me Firstname' and then you're good."  Arizona and Michigan don't really do formality the way they seem to in the South or possibly the East Coast, so YMMV.

MoriartyLives: I perceive that as respectful and sort of cute, but nevertheless an anachronism that is more forced upon the people who use it than it is sincere.


Pretty much.  In high school, people used "Sir" as a mark of disrespect towards people of lower social classes.  Some sociologist would probably find that fascinating.

[0] Thank every monarch for their service, then stop supporting them with tax money.  Make the farkers get jobs.
 
2021-01-15 2:32:17 PM  
I'm at the north end of The South so it's still pretty common around here. Kids grew up here where it's expected. I grew up out in CA where it isn't used as much. When out in CA visiting grandparents we'd invariably be told a few times while out and about that "Your children are so polite..." because they automatically appended S/M to whoever they were talking to at the time. Kinda funny really, seeing the reaction by someone who doesn't get called 'sir' very often be called that by a ten year old.
 
Displayed 50 of 55 comments


Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | » | Newest | Show all


View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

This thread is closed to new comments.

Continue Farking





On Twitter



  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.