This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Ma'am! Yes Sir.

Here in the South, kids are expected to address their elders as Sir and Ma'am. This isn't the way I grew up though, and to be honest it makes my hiney cringe (as Pioneer Woman would say) when people call me Ma'am.

One thing that was so hard for me about reading a lot of the attachment books like Nancy Thomas is that they recommend having the child treat you like a queen. That just doesn't feel right to me. I want my kids to love me and while I know that to do that they also need to respect me, I just don't feel right demanding it.

Still, Bear especially does have a better relationship with me when I am assertive and hold him accountable. When he first got here I wanted him to like me. I catered to his needs and tried to make him comfortable. I was lenient and accommodating. He saw me as weak and manipulatable. Once I realized he actually preferred one of his teachers who called him a turd when he was being a turd, it was easier for me to be authoritative. And when I realized my other children needed protection from him, I became more like a Mama Bear (no pun intended).

I still hate confrontation though. If Hubby is around then I prefer to have Hubby be present when I have to talk to Bear about something he's done wrong. Otherwise I'm tempted to be kind of passive aggressive about it. I'm working on it.


So back to the beginning of this post.

When I was a kid, my mom remarried. Her husband was 9 years older than she and at the beginning of their marriage, she always said, "Yes Sir" or "No Sir." Very respectful, but it mad me upset. I'm not sure if it was because I thought this was a sign of a bad relationship, if it was because I saw my strong Mom being submissive, or if it was because I was used to having a father figure that I could boss around (my dad was a weekend daddy) and not someone in authority. (FYI, after over 25 years of marriage she doesn't call him Sir anymore).

When the kids first got here, Bear would occasionally say "Yes sir" or "Yes Ma'am" to Hubby or I, and I would gently correct him. He stopped.

Now, 3 years later he's started this again. Some of this I'm sure is because of the ROTC. He's supposed to call everyone by a very respectful Sir and Ma'am. But I strongly believe that some of it is to distance himself from us. I think he doesn't want to use a more familiar or affectionate form of address.

What do you think? Should kids say "Yes sir" or "Yes Ma'am" to their parents?

I've already made up my mind. I'm MOM, not Ma'am.


Miz Kizzle said...

In this case, I don't think Bear is trying to distance himself from you. He's proud of being in ROTC and he probably likes using the skills he learns there, even simple ones like saying sir and ma'am. They are, after all, terms of respect. I'd let him go ahead and cal me me'am.
My eldest son decided to call his dad and me by our first names when he was about 16. I didn't like it but we let him go ahead. He's 21 now and still doing it, although he sometimes refers to us as mom and dad. He's a good kid and I know he loves us; it was just something he felt like doing. I had cousins who called their parents by their first names and I always thought it was cool, so I know where he's coming from.
The point is, we could have tried to force him to call us mom and dad and imposed consequences and battled over it or we could let it go. We chose to let it go. Obviously, if he called us something obscene or unflattering it would be different.

Anonymous said...

My husband is big on the yes sir no sir and yes ma'am no ma'am responses from our children. This is an absolute requirement in our home. I really don't care either way, but since my husband is so firm on the kids using sir and ma'am I do go along with it. The older boys are teens now and they have complained about the yes sir/ yes ma'am requirement, but it has not done anything other than make my husband even more committed to this practice. If the boys have to get reminded more than once in a day about using yes sir and yes ma'am, they get punished with a grounding or they get their mouth slapped.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting because my husband recently decided to require that our children (2 teenage boys and a 12 year old boy)must attach either a "sir" or a "ma'am" to every response to all adults. This came about when my husband's boss invited our family over for dinner a few weeks ago and his boss's children answered every question, command, or comment with yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, or no ma'am. When we left there my husband was so embarrassed by the way our kids answer. Mostly "yes" or "no" but sometimes "yeah" or "uhuh". On the way home in the car my husband informed the boys that effective immediately, they are to use yes sir and yes ma'am when answering an adult. He is no longer going to tolerate any other type responses and their will be severe punishment if this household rule is broken. My husband has instituted a zero tolerance policy regarding the boys' manners and the respect they must show. I think the boys are in shock a little as we only occasionally enforced the use of "sir" and "ma'am" in the past. They only had to use those forms of address when they were in trouble or were getting scolded. This new rule is a big change and I will say it is one that is being met unhappily by the boys. I am supporting my husband's decision and I wonder if this will last or if it is just a phase he is going through. I do have to admit that I am really enjoying the good manners that I am seeing and hearing now. It is quite a pleasant change even if we have to remind the boys several times each day. It would have been easier if this requirement was put in place when the boys were much younger.

Anonymous said...

My husband is an airforce pilot so he does expect the yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am responses from the kids. We are pretty consistent with the requirement so it is somewhat automatic but on occasion one of the kids will forget or skip it and it always leads to a certain evil look my handsome husband will give along with "what did you say young man" or "yes what". I think most military families have this requirement or at least the ones we know. Most kids that grow up in a military household know their manners and are held to a high standard of discipline.

Anonymous said...

Good to see that their are still some parents out there that teach, require, and demand good manners from their children. I’m definitely tough on my 4 when it comes to discipline and manners. Please, thank you, yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, and no ma'am are all required.

Tyler Garcia

Anonymous said...

Just started making my boys answer us with yes sir, no sir and yes ma’am., no ma’am. Should have been more strict about it when they were younger but it’s never too late to start. I was raised this way and at 36, I still answer my parents and in-laws with yes sir and no ma’am. They deserve that type of respect. My boys were frequently answering uhha and yeah. No reason for them not to use respectful good manners when speaking to adults. Sure, the boys are not too happy about the new family rules, but I’m not changing my mind.

Colton Williams