The U.S. South is a different place. Brimming with personality, it's full of beaches, swamps, its own accent, and its own sense of time.
Visitors to this part of the U.S. are often surprised at how different the South can be from the rest of the United States. Though it also has large cities, its vast countryside and small towns have created a distinct identity.
In some parts of the U.S. South, people used to have to drive for hours just to eat at a chain. Things have changed since then, but some things are still the same.
Whether it comes to food, deference, and rites of passage, childhood is different for people who grow up in the U.S. South. Some of these differences have been displayed on TV shows we love and enjoy, immortalized in quotable films such as O Brother, Where Art Thou? and in the literature that has influenced so many people around the world.
Even US citizens outside the region have to consistently remember how unique the region is. It follows that parents teach their children a pronounced set of values. Here are some things people have grown up with if they were raised by a Southern mom, and some they didn't.
Let's start with the 20 values US Southern moms will teach their kids...
25 Family First!
Family is important to everyone, right? In the U.S. South, family is important, and people usually look forward to seeing them.
Alyssa Michelle Hoover wrote a personal essay for Odyssey in which she discusses what family means to her as a Southerner. She talks about constantly going the extra mile for them, family dinners, and visiting home from college for special occasions. Even in this modern age, Hoover discusses the importance of not using one's phone at the dinner table.
24 How To Enjoy A Real Barbecue!
Barbecue in the South is divided into four competing categories: Memphis, Texas, North Carolina, and Kansas. The history of this time-honored tradition is pretty interesting.
Suffice it to say that it began with African-Americans who were able to use inexpensive meat cuts and make them delicious anyway. This culinary style traveled along with African-American Southerners as they made their way to other states for economic opportunities in the 1950s, and the rest of the US got hooked.
23 Appreciating A Night On The Town
Some towns in the rural U.S. South are quite small. Things are changing, but some small towns still don't have theatres, malls, or even some chain restaurants seen across the rest of the United States.
People who grew up in small towns without these things have learned not to take larger towns or cities for granted. If you grew up without a mall, movie theatre, or other things people in cities take for granted, you definitely take advantage of a night on the town!
22 Enjoying A Good Tailgate
Tailgating in the South is a big deal. It's basically a huge pre-game function where community members gather to picnic at parking lots before college football games.
The word itself comes from people who let the back part (tailgate) of their cars down and eat delicious foods, such as sandwiches, ham, fried chicken, and potato salad, to name a few. There may even be coolers with other treats to hand around as people wait for doors to be open before watching the game.
21 Saying Yes Ma'am, No Sir
Respect is a core value in the U.S. South. Though some people think saying Yes Sir, and Yes Ma'am is a bit old-fashioned, it's how people in the South show their respect for you.
Children are still taught to say these things as a sign of respect, and replying this way is hard-wired into almost every adult in the region. People greet you this way during business transactions while giving you change, or answering the phone. It sounds kind of endearing.
20 Having (Or Attending) A Debutante Ball
Debutante balls are similar to Sweet 16 parties, and many cultures around the world have something like this. These fancy balls actually come from European traditions, but it makes sense that Southerners have taken to these parties.
Besides wearing fancy clothes and dancing, these balls celebrate traditions. They're a reason for parents to show off how their daughters are doing, and they allow young women to make new friends. Plus, many of these balls are a way for some young women to start philanthropic work.
19 The Importance Of Thank-You Notes
Considering how important manners and politeness are in the U.S. South, it makes sense that mothers teach their children the importance of thank-you notes. These are a must whenever you feel grateful, but children are especially taught to do this after receiving gifts.
After all, parties and holidays aren't just about receiving gifts. How a child expresses their thanks can help them for years to come. For best results, make sure the note is handwritten and sent via snail mail.
18 Fruit Salads Are A Little Different
Ambrosia salad is a kind of very sweet fruit salad, for those of you who haven't heard of this delicacy. According to Serious Eats, the first documentation of this salad was sometime in 1867.
Though there are debates about what ingredients it should contain, it usually includes pineapples, oranges, and maraschino cherries. The dish was considered to be fancy because oranges from Florida were hard to come by in Southern winters. It's not surprising that a good Southern mom will have their own recipe for this.
17 You Have To Look Great Whenever You Go Out
Southern moms expect their children to look presentable at all times. Where some people don't care if their children buy groceries in their pajamas, Southern moms might say something before committing any potential fashion crimes.
They may insist their daughters wear pantyhose to some events because these are thought to be what distinguished people wear. There are many other sayings mothers may say as a polite reminder that some fashions just aren't chic. Saving face is an important skill for Southern moms.
16 Wrinkled Clothes Are Not Cute
Looking good in the South isn't just about the clothes you wear, it's also about making sure they stay cute. As such, everyone irons or steams their clothes in the South in order to prevent any fashion travesties.
People even find it socially acceptable to dress up for the airport or for different sports events, so you know that clothes are taken seriously. After all, it's not just about what you wear, but how you wear it. Now, off to iron those blouses!
15 How To Give Directions
People today have a GPS somewhere on their person, but Southern moms teach their children how to give directions. You know, directions that include telling strangers that they need to make a left at a certain landmark, or to look out for a particular intersection.
Some people of a certain age may say that something is "over yonder," which could mean anything from one block away to a few miles away. For the most part, everyone gets where they need to go.
14 Baking Pies For Special Occasions
Pies are a very important part of Southern life. Most children from the area have seen their mother or grandmother bake a pie for someone else as a kind gesture. Pies can be given away for a happy occasion, to welcome a new neighbor, or to make someone else feel better after a funeral or sad event.
There's no way baking a pie from scratch would make someone feel bad. Plus, there are so many delicious Southern recipes to choose from.
13 You Know Your Entire Extended Family
Southern families are quite close, and it's normal to have many get-togethers. If you grew up in a small town, it's normal to have teachers call you by an older sibling or cousin's name. Unlike other parts of the U.S., most Southerners actually know the names of almost everyone in their extended family.
Keeping in touch isn't exactly optional either. Thankfully, Southerners are pretty good at creating a supportive environment, and large family gatherings give people something to look forward to.
12 Appreciating Your Community
Southern moms teach their children to appreciate their community in a variety of ways. This may mean saying hello to people you see walking down the street, getting involved in local plays, or simply being gracious with everyone as you go about town.
Families in the South also believe in the importance of being a good neighbor. They may offer to run errands for you or call your children out in public if they don't behave. This is what community is for, right?
11 Giving Back
Giving back is also something Southern moms teach their children. Whether it means volunteering, giving to charity, or showing how much you respect others, there's always a way to give back to the community.
Though everyone is different, some people may choose to join the PTA, get involved in a community center, or just help you move across town. In fact, many Southerners often don't expect any sort of repayment for their good deeds. Everyone is expected to pitch in.
10 Appreciating Summer
Southerners usually experience warm, humid summers. Though some people find them unpleasant, people who live in smaller towns and cities truly take the time to appreciate summer.
This may mean riding your bike anywhere with a road, hiking somewhere, or having a nice outdoor barbecue. Summer is a time of celebration, especially because everything is so green. Plus, some people forget that there are many beaches all over the South. Summer is the perfect time to lounge around in them.
9 Teaching You With Her Mom Sayings!
Everyone in the U.S. knows dad jokes. Southern children also have to hear sayings from their moms. Some of these gems include "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," and other catch-phrases the rest of the world still desperately needs.
These hilarious precepts are meant to teach valuable lessons to be carried everywhere. Thankfully we now have the internet to give these sayings more exposure. And let's face it, these quotable sentences do have a point.
8 Minding Your Manners
Moms in the South don't just expect people to say a basic "please" and "thank you." Children are taught how to set a table, to show up to a party-ready with a gift, and to be graceful and charming no matter what.
Southern moms make sure their children are well-versed in the art of small talk, something many big-city introverts despise. Some moms even instill the value of a good set of china, and even teach children what those fancy forks are for.
7 Writing And Passing Family Recipes Down
As you can see, family is a big deal in the South. Family recipes are passed down from one generation to the next. Many chefs in the South have even made careers around their familial traditions.
Part of this is that every recipe tells its own story. The food we eat surrounds us with memories. Southerners are not the only people interested in keeping certain recipes alive, it's more common to see people cherish items their elder family members left behind.
6 Being Prepared
Being prepared is never a bad thing. But Southern women really do carry a lot of stuff in their purses just in case. Some of these are beauty essentials because the summer humidity causes frizzy hair. Other times, a sewing kit or safety pins might help someone with a wardrobe malfunction.
Sure, carrying a big purse can be a bit of a hassle, until you need to ask the nearest Southern lady if you can randomly borrow something because you were caught unawares.
And here are 5 lessons they don't bother with...
5 Self-Control During State Fairs
Every state has its own awesome fairs. The thrill of going on rides, playing games, and winning prizes is exhilarating. However, Southern moms (and all parents) kind of overdo it with the fried offerings on the menu.
Some things can be innovative, such as deep-fried Oreos. But there's a limit to how much anyone can handle. Some Southern state fairs have items such as deep-fried butter, gum, and cubes of sugar. But you know what? We'll keep the deep-fried ice cream.
4 You Don't Have To Be Ladylike All The Time
Southern moms teach their children to be ladies and gentlemen. Though this is great in that it means children are taught to be polite, keeping up appearances seems like it would be exhausting.
Some children may prefer not to stick to traditional gender roles. A rigid environment might be too harsh for them. The pressure to be a Southern lady or gentleman is probably tough for introverts who don't like small talk. Traditions are great, as long as they're open to some fine-tuning.
3 You Don't Actually Need To Endure So Much For Beauty
Physical beauty is great, but a lot of Southern moms could do with teaching their children that they don't have to endure certain things just to get it. This may mean being okay with their child's nose piercing or purple hair. Such looks are not considered proper in many parts the South, but they also harm no one.
Some things don't sound like a big deal, like combing a child's hair a bit forcefully. Still, it's okay for children to make their own beauty standards.
2 It's Okay To Be Different
In many parts in the South, people are sometimes respected a bit more if they attend a certain school or church. Not everyone can attend the same places. Some may also be judged if they wear white after Labor Day or can't keep up appearances the way others can.
There may be other differences that are bigger than just where someone goes to school or what they wear, and these might be out of a person's control. These small deviations are usually nothing to be scared of.
1 You Don't Have To Do Everything Everyone Tells You
Saying "sir" and "ma'am" can help people be more polite, but in the South, it's still considered okay for people to chastise other people's children. Not everyone feels this could be helpful. Though respecting elders is great, some adults raise children to always do what an elder tells them to do.
This can create an environment where children don't always get a chance to state their opinion. Not everyone benefits from having people constantly pile expectations onto them. Questioning stuff is okay sometimes.