Edited By William M. Reynolds
Chapter Twenty-Three: Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am, and the Ritual of Spanking: The Curriculum of Respect in the South
Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am, and the Ritual of Spanking: The Curriculum of Respect in the South
DONALD R. LIVINGSTON AND SHARON M. LIVINGSTON
It’s easy to live in the South. People are, for the most part, friendly and trustworthy. Stopping to talk with your neighbors is expected, and you often get a nod of recognition from a passerby on the street and a wave from a stranger in an oncoming car when traveling down a country road. The South is a conservative, Protestant-principled region where evidence of God is everywhere across the landscape and Jesus is unabashedly infused in everyday conversation. Directions are typically given by citing churches as landmarks rather than highway route numbers. Friday nights in the fall are for high school football, whereas Saturdays are reserved for the college men. Preachers and coaches are among the most respected people in the community.
What’s unique about raising children in the South? There is a deep appreciation of fealty to family and tradition in the South. There are many roads named for the families who have lived on them for generations. Children are taught from the outset to be respectful when addressing adults by using appellations such as “ma’am” and “sir,” never by the person’s first name. Saying “yeah,” rather than “yes ma’am” or “yes sir” to a teacher can result in a disciplinary referral in school. Adults insist that children say “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you...
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