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He called me "Sir!"

I was cutting my grass yesterday. Tall blades were high from all of the recent rain that we had been getting. I decided to be a good neighbor and cut our neighbor’s yard as well. She was very appreciative. Well, she sent out a young man to come and sweep up the excess grass that had gathered on her walkway. I saw the young man as I usually do. He is probably no more than about 21 years old. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call him Bob. I said hello; he said, as he always does, “Hello sir!” I was taken aback as I always am when he calls me ‘sir’. He never has tried to get to know my name. He simply calls me ‘sir’. This day, I took notice of this. I began talking to him. We talked about careers and cars while we were sweeping up the grass. We talked about our professions; he thought I was a college professor. A college professor?!?!? Let that one slide. As I readied myself to go inside, I told him my full name. His response was, “My name is Bob, sir!” There goes that “sir” again.

Does he think I am older in age or does he have a level of respect that is somewhat lost? I have not heard our younger generation call anyone ‘sir’ or mam’ in a very long time. As I was growing up, not only were my elders called by those terms, but also my own parents. It was an expectation that was set early. It showed that you respected them. Now, I am not calling any of us to charge our children to do the same. I understand that times have changed. There are many different cultures that do very different things, so I get that as well. Yet, I do encourage us to foster in our kids a level of respect for those who are ‘over us’- whether in age or authority. I will leave that to you. But fostering that respect in our children helps them in life. It also gives them an idea of how they want to be respected.

Lend me your thoughts and tell me how you foster this type of respect in your children. And if you don’t, what can you do to help them along? There is no off season in our learning…


  1. I love it! My child HAS to call me "ma'am". That is the way I was raised. That is they way I am raising her. When I speak to anyone I refer to them as "ma'am" and "sir". It makes people uncomfortable at first, but when they realize its a habit they get used to it. While most kids do not use these "antiquated" terms, the new respect in my area is "mister" or "miss". Even my teenage clients and former students call me "miss". Took some getting used to but its cool. I think its hard to realize sometimes that we are older. LOL! I still get freaked out sometimes at parent teacher conferences or when talking to doctors offices and such, but it's life. I can see him thinking you are a professor!

  2. I DO use sir and ma'am and am teaching our kids to use them too... not to much avail--alas. The respect is the real issue!

  3. I can see him thinking of you as a college professor as well. Maybe he sees something that you don't. Think about it!


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