Skip to comments.Do good manners and discipline still survive in Dixie?
Posted on 11/21/2010 8:23:21 AM PST by Huck
I'd like to hear from any Freepers down in Dixie on a societal question. I'd like to know if the old southern virtues survive, or if mass-media culture has erased or eroded them. I'm talking about the basic manners, and in particular, the relationship of young people to adults. Allow me a moment to explain.
I was born and raised in New Jersey. I was in many respects NOT raised right. EXCEPT, I was fortunate enough to spend extended periods down in Alabama with my grandmother. I attended public school for a short time in Alabama as well. This was in the 1970s.
Culturally, Alabama demonstrated superiority to New Jersey in two specific areas. They demonstrated better manners generally, and they had a more structured and appropriate relationship between adults and children. In Alabama schools, all adults were addressed with Yes Sir and No Sir or Yes M'am and No M'am. No exceptions. This was unquestioned by any student. And in the community generally, the adults were all on one team, and the kids were all on another. No adult ever sided with a kid against another adult. The first response was always to support the authority of the elder, and to reproof the child, pending investigation.
Here in NJ, it was NOT like that, inside of school or out. I find that this Yankee culture is inferior. The best one can do here is to send a child to Catholic School, but even then, the general culture does not support manners, decorum, and institutionalized respect for elders. It's chaotic here. It's a mess.
So, back to my question. I'm very curious to know if this culture still survives in the south. I hope it does. I wish there were some way to transplant it to the rest of the country. I'd love to hear some thoughts and reports from Dixie freepers.
And if anyone treated me otherwise, I'd slap the crap out of em.;-)
It’s fading fast, we are up to our butts in carpetbaggers.
Yes, for the most part if the children were raised in rural areas.
Please pass that absolutely delicious BBQ. More iced tea? Another biscuit? More gravy?
You're very welcome.
I think so, but of course not everywhere or with everyone.
I must be old.
The South and the Midwest are by far more friendly, less pretentious and generally more laid back.
We’ve been stationed all over the US in the past 27 years and it is really a difference between night and day to compare the mannerism of people from the South to people in CT or Washington state.
In Texas they do. My wife got a flat a year or so ago and before she could finish dialing roadside assistance, she had a couple of country boys out with jacks ready to change the tire for her, they finished and drove off before she could thank them.
We still hold the door for ladies and wouldn’t ever let a woman pay. (yes, we are talking about younger people too, not just old folks raised when this was common). It may be a shock, but one of the most polite towns I’ve ever been to was pre-Katrina New Orleans.
I travel a lot and I actually believe the ‘lack of courtesy’ stereotyped across the country isn’t as bad as people think. The only place where people were overtly rude was Los Angeles. The people in New York City, for example, are generally very nice. I usually try to avoid all the touristy areas and when you get out where the locals are, they have the same level of courtesy you would find down here.
“Enlightened” Europe is one of the worst places I’ve been regarding courtesy. Prague wasn’t bad in Paris the people are down right rude to everyone, even each other.
That being said, it really isn't as it used to be in some demographics. There are rude, crude children, and adults swearing in public, which you never used to hear, and profane music being blasted in parking lots at stores. So, no, it's not like it used to be.
There are fewer gentlemen who will protest if other men swear around ladies (my husband, fortunately, is one of those who will politely remove his wife from such situations )but he's a vanishing breed.
I grew up in Auburn, AL and I raised my children in this tradition. The answer to your question is “yes” and “no.” We taught our children to say “Sir” and “Ma’am.” My son holds the door for his wife as his father before him does. My girls don’t quite understand how to wait for the men to get in position to do this. Hmmmm. There is still a deferment to older people but not quite as much as it was. It is not automatically assumed that an adult is correct, but issues of disagreement are attempted by many to be kept “within the family” and out of the public eye. It isn’t anybody else’s business.
Courtesy is very important.
LOL! True dat.
Same here in Texas.
You should see all the developements and new apartment blocks etc. Where the heck are all of those people coming from?
Bumper sticker seen here: “I’m not from Texas, but I got here just as fast as I could”.
I found it fading fast in northeast Mississippi.
The metropolitan areas are a mess, but the small towns generally still have all the charm, hospitality and friendliness you’d expect of the South; including the propriety between the younguns and their elders. As the cities have expanded all of it has or is starting to fade, as Swampsniper pointed out.
We in NC have “Damn Yankees.” and “G%D Damn Yankees”
Damn Yankees visit
G%D Yankees move here and try to change us into the hell hole they came from.
Short answer, yes, however,
Raised my son (for the most part) in Omaha NE, then moved to Branson, MO (pretty far south), My wife and I get compliments daily on his manners, (they are very good).
Having said that there are still some “punks” around here.
My point is geography doesn’t matter as much as who your neighbors are.
They are still very prominent and important for us Southerners. Unfortunately they are still very misunderstood by all the rest :0)
Exactly. Too many Yankees moving down South....But I haven’t me a Southerner who wouldn’t say Yes Ma’am ...No Ma’am. Good Manners survive but fewer people recognize them today. Some women get offended and are caught off guard if you call them Ma’am.... (It’s not your age..it’s just the way I was raised!)
My daughter will be raised to respect her elders, and to appreciate the southern charm.
During my life I've traveled quite a lot and have met people from various parts of America. During those travels, I've learned that good manners are not necessarily a Southern attribute. Accents and the manner in which we frame our conversation are often misleading and misunderstood and we should be careful to not allow these things to color our opinions of others.
This is Texas.
Not in central NC. The Yankees have taken over.
I love traveling to the South, just for this reason — the people of Georgia and North Carolina in particular are wonderful. Everyone has always been extremely friendly and polite to me. But then, for the most part, I’ve found that if you treat people politely, they’ll be polite in return, no matter where they are.
The memories of Reconstruction were still very close to the surface in my childhood.
You dont know how many times I have said, “Blame my mother”, after upsetting some lady by calling her “ma’am”.
And those Yankees who don’t get it? ... Well bless their little hearts, they will, but it will be too late by then.
I live in small town Ga. and the answer is Yes. But there are Yankees here, and they refer to our well mannered children as “Rednecks”.
My husband likes to go to the Whole Foods in Cary as opposed to Durham, Chapel Hill or Raleigh. He says that the Cary store has “normal” people. I burst his bubble when I reminded him Cary is very liberal, so while they may look normal,they aren’t.
Cary known as the “containment area for relocated yankees”
We do try to keep it going.I cannot pass up the opportunity to chastise a young man failing to open the door for his date and I let him have it loud and clear so everyone can hear.I am constantly on my children about manners as well.Sometimes it seems that I am not getting through and then other times it does.Time will tell I suppose.We were just raised right here in the south.
I remember the first time I heard that word as a young man and how shocked I was at hearing it in public.
“Tuscaloosa Goldfinch”? What a great name!
Lately, though, I have noticed that many younger people are now holding doors for me. I always thank them, but have to admit it's kinda embarrassing.
Those of us raised in the South were taught “southern manners” The rest not so much.
Tell them we can fix redneck but there is no fixin yankee.Shuts them up everytime.
I was born and raised down in the delta of Mississippi and was surrounded by this behavior. It’s how I am and they are the same values that I am *trying* to instill in my daughters. Making sure everyone has food and drink before you even consider getting a plate...
For men, it’s just like you say, opening doors, yes ma’aam and no ma’am. There is something to be said also for women. There’s a difference in being a woman and being a lady. (ref:Laura Bush vs. Moochelle Obama).
I live in Middle TN now and I still see it, but it’s not as prevalent. However, I have not had anyone react negatively to me for holding a door open.
Good manners have always been for “polite people”, no matter where they lived. However, invariably there were always those around them who were “lower class”, not in terms of economics, though that often was the case, but that they were not “polite people”.
Yet there is another qualification. By the 1920s, the idea of etiquette about peaked, then abruptly collapsed. This happened because the noveau riche wanted the pretense that they were upper class, so tried to codify and duplicate the manners and mannerisms of the upper classes.
This was doomed to fail, because things like table manners do not make ladies and gentlemen, they come from being ladies and gentlemen. A courteous and polite person has good manners because they are courteous and polite. The manners themselves do not make them that way.
Importantly, going all the way back to the founding of America, one of the responsibilities of “polite people” was that they were expected to be leaders at all levels. This meant the equivalent of police, militia, military, government, academics, business and religious. Typically this also meant owning property. Firearms were a must unless there were religious objections.
Much of this was translated from the English Common Law, which was itself descended from the Germanic Tribes opposed to Rome, from where we get legal concepts like assuming innocence before proving guilt, trial by a jury of peers, and the freedom and liberty of citizens.
So do these things still exist today? Most certainly. And while the trappings evolve, such as knowing which fork to use at table, the underlying good manners remain.
I have friends that live in California and they took vacation to Alabama. He mentioned how the kids say “yes/no sir” and no mouthing off. The adults are expected to correct not only their own kids but other people kids as well. One thing, if you are someplace else and act up, when you get home, you have some ‘splaining to do and a can of “womp @$$” as well !
Funny thing, I am from Indiana and even though it is a Northern state, it has a lot of the characteristics of the South. I remember when I was in middle school, I pulled some crap and when I got home, got my @$$ kicked !
One thing, about 10 years ago, I was at the video rental place and some 13 year kid was acting up in front of me and mouthing off to his grandmother. She didn’t do anything about it. I had to bite my tongue very hard to say nothing. Back in Indiana and I know in the South, the people around would have corrected the kid. In my opinion, we need this across the country !
It is a sign of respect sir and I for one am glad you are experiencing it..You have earned it.There are a number of us that know had we not opened the door for our elders and women a lighting bold from on high compliments of our southern grandmothers would strike us down where we stood.Take care my FRiend.
Being raised in Texas my Dad was always polite but never hassled me about it, and when I was a kid I thought being courteous was a bit silly. When I grew up something clicked in my subconscious or something, because I started acting exactly like my Dad did. The same thing happened to my Son. I never told him how to act when he was little, but now he’s 22 and is very polite to everyone. I try not to worry about how other people act. I figure as long as I treat everyone right, that’s all I’ll have to answer for later. So...wherever you live, treat people right! :-D
Yes ma’am.American by birth and Southern by the grace of God.
If she was upset, she wasn't a lady.
I know “Yes ma’am and yes sir” are still the norm down here for most of the children. And you can strike up a conversation with most anybody in the store or anywhere, and you’ll be treated like you’ve been friends for life.
I know when visiting my daughter, who had moved to a Northern state which will remain nameless, I was striking up a conversation with the cashier while she rang up my purchases and got not a word in response. And this was not an isolated incident. When my dughter got married and the groom’s family that was in the wedding party from that said state came to my house before the ceremony, they hardly spoke a word. And it wasn’t from my lack of effort. I treated them like I do anyone whom I don’t know, which was friendly and warm, and tried to strike up many conversations, and got barely a Yes or No in response. And definitely no Yes ma’ams or No sirs.
my sentiments exactly!
Good manners are still being taught and expected here in central Alabama, but I think that media influence and migration of folks from one region to another has changed a lot of the old ways of doing things down here. Big sigh!
I have lived from east to west coast, and as far north as Pennsylvania. While I enjoyed everywhere we were stationed, especially Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t give up living here in the South for anything! Family, friends, church, food, football, beaches...the only things I can’t stand still are the bugs and the humidity, but that comes with the whole package, doesn’t it?
You can’t expect to find it much in big cities or in fashionable suburbs (any suburbs, really). But there are a lot of kids that were raised right still in the South. You tend to find them at the local church on Sunday, in 4H meetings, at the TSC or Southern States stores helping their fathers load the truck. They’re in Boy Scouts and/or JrROTC, and they spend Saturdays fixing up a car or motorcycle with Dad, who by the way still lives with Mom. Yes, it happens. I know. My boy and his friends are among them.
—the OTTB mare, trying to pretend the suburbs aren’t beginning to surround us
I had forgotten about the lack of prefix in addressing aunts/uncles. On my side, as opposed to my husband’s side, adults are addressed as Aunt, Uncle. But on my husband’s side it is on a first name only basis. That was a bit of culture shock for me when we became acquainted.
An anecdote of southern manners.
This is from a man born in 1900. At the age of eight, he was invited to dinner, just him, at the home of a then elderly couple. His parents cautioned him at length about having good table manners, as the elderly couple had manners from an earlier age, where children were expected to not speak unless spoken to, and to reply with mostly formal and brief yes or no answers.
He managed to hold his tongue well, accepting each portion of food as was offered. But he could barely contain himself when offered some tapioca pudding, his favorite. His enthusiasm lasted only until the lady removed the lid, and he saw that the pudding was covered in red ants, invisible to the poor eyesight of the elderly couple.
All he could do was very politely decline. Then watch and hold his tongue as they each had a large dollop of the treat, smothered in ants.
After his return home, he did not mention the tapioca out of courtesy to the older couple, until some days later when his mother became somewhat upset, because she had talked to the elderly lady.
Concerned because he might have said or done something offensive, she said that it was nothing he had done. She was upset because the elderly lady had extended her sympathies about him.
The elderly lady said he was handsome enough, but sad that he was slow witted. They had tried to make conversation with him all through the dinner, but all he could say was yes or no. So they assumed that he was perhaps a tad feeble-minded.
It brightened his mother up considerably when he told her about the ants.
It has been eroding as the socialistic "values" of Progressivism spread like the cancer they are, but it is still a more polite society. Kids will either use the "sir/ma'am" address, or they will call me "Mr. Bob".
Many college professors are Christian and/or fairly conservative and even those that aren't tend to et you "get away with" espousing conservative views during class. Many grade school teachers are openly Christian and conservative withjout being run out of the business.
It may not be what it was, but it is still much better than the socialist bastions.
Are there any southern colleges anybody would recommend, where my kids could go to meet friends and go on dates with people who are courteous and have traditional good manners?
They are still in middle and elementary school, but it’s good to look ahead.
BTW, everybody is talking about rude “Yankees”, but I must say that I met really nice people when I was in New York and Rhode Island. Heck, I met really nice people in San Francisco last summer. However, I have run into some terribly rude kids and adults in Orange County, CA, in the hipper, status conscious areas. Must be a bummer to live with these people.
I don’t know about the rest of the south but in NC the civility ends with BBQ cultists pushing the wrong parts of the pig, cooking methods and sauce recipes as gospel.
I heard him swear once, in relation to the IRS LOL.
I wholeheartedly support your inclination to lay off the swearing. I think younger people have become accustomed to this due to the flood of profanity reaching our ears via movies/television, etc. I will tell you this, if my husband heard a young man swearing before he became interested in one of our daughters, the guy had zero chance of getting past him. Zero.
Glad you like my screen name. I think there was a Goldfinch already here when I signed up during the 2000 Bush/Gore fiasco, and I had to define myself a little narrower LOL.