Taking a Pass on the “Yes Ma’am” Thing

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through Facebook, and I came across this video labeled “All Southern Moms.”

So, I decided to open it and take a peek (who doesn’t like a good laugh, right?). It’s a mom in the kitchen, her two children sitting at the counter eating, and she asks her son a question. The son responds with “yes” which causes the sky (inside the house) to shift, the winds begin to gust around the mom, her face darkens, and I’m pretty sure there’s literal fire coming out of her eyes. The daughter looks to her brother in a panic and the mom slowly turns around. The son begins to hyperventilate and sputter out “ma’am, yes MA’AM” and, just like that, all is back to normal. Happy smiling faces all around.

Maybe I missed the memo, but I haven’t been pushing the “ma’am” thing.

Yes, I want my son to be respectful, and yes, I want him to get the basics of adult interaction such as eye contact, answering in complete sentences, and saying “yes” instead of “yeah.” But, you won’t find “saying yes/no ma’am/sir” at the top of my parenting list. Sure, my husband and I both say “yes ma’am” etc. but it’s not something I feel the need to enforce if my son answers me with a simple “yes.” Honestly, if he answers me after asking the first time (or second or third time), I’m happy.

I’m going to pick my battles, and forcing the “ma’am” or “sir” at the end of a yes or no is just a battle I don’t want to fight.

I feel I can teach my son to be respectful without saying those two words. I also like to think that the fact that my husband and I use them regularly, it will eventually stick. Is it something I want to make a big issue in my house? Absolutely not.

I’m taking a pass. I’d rather work on other things. I realize I may lose my Southern Mama Card over this, but I don’t want my son to feel a sense of panic or my reaction to be such an extreme that the kitchen fills with black swirling clouds while my eyes light with fire. They’re just two simple words. If that’s what you want, good for you, not for me. I’m taking a pass on the “Yes ma’am” thing.

Jaime Mackey
Originally from Florida, Jaime has lived in Southern Louisiana for most of her life (so, that makes her a local, right?). She currently resides on the Northshore with her husband and son and teaches high school English. An enneagram 5, you'll most likely find her doing hot yoga solo, on her phone researching a random topic or sitting in the comfort of her home with coffee and a book within an arm's reach.


  1. I’m sorry but I disagree. Saying yes ma’am/sir is a huge deal where I come from and it shows a lot about respect. I will be teaching my son how to be respectful in this manner.

  2. I totally agree with you, as long as my little one are respectful, and answer with a yes or no I’m happy. Doesn’t mean they are bad kids or a reflection of bad parenting. It’s a matter of picking and choosing your battles. The mama and sir thing will come in time.

  3. My family is insanely strict on maam/sir, and my parents would literally not respond if we didn’t say it. However… my kids (not in school yet) spend the bulk of their time at my husband’s parents house while we work, and Grammy and Pops are from Illinois… it’s just not a thing there. So, I give a gentle reminder occasionally, but more so just positively notice when they use it, but they don’t get in trouble if they don’t… unless they’re at Nana’s! They’re learning the difference, but we’ll see what happens when they start school.


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