I recently received an e-mail from a young gal, stating that she’s moving to the South and wanted someone’s advice on when to say “mam” or “sir,” because she’s heard that is “big” in the South. Apparently, I was
Well, I am by no means an etiquette expert, but I felt the need to respond to the young lady. At the same time, I’m hoping I’m not actually corresponding with a large, burley house-bound man posing as a 13-year old girl.
Is it important to say “Yes, mam,” “No, sir,” and the like? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! This young lady has been told that it’s expected more in the South. I told her that while you’re likely to hear it more from young people in the South and Midwest – although not nearly enough these days – all adults, no matter where they live, are appreciative of respectful dialogue with children.
I try so hard to instill this in my children. When I call out to my kids, “Miss E.,” or “Little Guy,” there are times they respond with “What??” I, in turn, always respond with “What mommy?” or “Yes, mommy?” and then they repeat the correct response. We push the message home and they're getting it. Sometimes they slip, but they're getting better. Thankfully, they have "please" and "thank you" fairly down pat.
Miss Nancy Rascoe teaching youg campers how to write a proper thank-you note.
This correspondence reminded me of a documentary I recently came across called Miss Nancy Minds Their Manners, about North Carolina’s grand dame of etiquette, Nancy Rascoe. Miss Nancy and her husband Peter open their 200-year old historic home in Hertford, North Carolina every summer to youngsters from the region to teach them manners, along with a variety of sporting activities (swimming, fishing, archery, canoeing, etc.). Hubby joked that to get boys to attend such a camp they better be able to go shoot a bow and arrow at the end each day!
Has anyone else heard of Miss Nancy or perhaps even attended her camp or had a child attend her camp? I would love for my kids to visit such a place, although not sure how much longer Miss Nancy and Mr. Peter will be doing this, given their ages. Hopefully, someone else will carry on the tradition. If my kids can’t attend Miss Nancy's camp, there will definitely be cotillion close by when they’re a little older. Hubby did this and not only received etiquette training that serves him well to this day, he can do a mean waltz and fox trot, too. :)
So, dear blogger friends, what are your thoughts on teaching children etiquette and manners? Is it a dying art? Are you trying to keep it alive in your families? Have you ever been to etiquette training or something akin to it?
Images from Miss Nancy Nancy Minds Their Manners documentary and The Etiquette Company.
P.S. - Thanks to everyone for their kind words and prayers for my mother-in-law, as well as my mom. It means the world to us!