“It’s a Respect Thing:” Stars of 7 Little Johnstons on Why Their Kids Say, “Yes, Ma'am” and “No, Sir”
"It may not mean something to some people, but it means a lot to us."
The small town of Forsyth, Georgia, is home to the world's largest known family of achondroplasia dwarfs. But that's not the only thing that makes Amber and Trent Johnston and their five kids (Jonah, 19, Anna 18, Elizabeth, 17, Emma, 13, and Alex, 13) special. They're also the stars of TLC's hit reality series 7 Little Johnstons, now in its fifth season.
The Johnston family, which includes three adopted children from far-flung corners of the world, is hardly average. But at the same time, they are. They're a unique bunch—there's no denying that—but they're relatable and real, which is a big part of their charm. All seven Johnstons are warm, funny, devoted to each other, and fiercely proud of their personal brand of determination, not to mention their good ol' fashioned Southern values.
"We're an everyday family," Trent said. "We raise our kids with traditional morals and discipline."
Amber admitted that they're strict parents, but as Trent pointed out, "there's a difference between being strict and rude, and being strict and disciplined."
And for the Johnstons, that difference is all about respect.
"You're going to respect each other and you're going to respect your elders," Amber said of their parenting style. "And you're going to respect yourself."
That means all of their kids are required to say "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am" and "yes, sir" and "no, sir." No excuses. "It's a respect thing, and it's the way we live," Amber explained.
"Those things you don't hear these days anymore," Trent added. "And we do get a little flack on social media. People say: ‘they're 19 years old why, are they still saying yes ma'am and no sir?' Well, I'm 43 and I say ‘yes, sir' to my 85-year-old father."
"It may not mean something to some people, but it means a lot to us," Trent concluded. "It's a foundation."
WATCH: Are "Yes, Ma'am" and "No, Sir" Things of the Past?
And their kids agree. "It can get you a whole lot further in the long run," Jonah said. "People remember it."
7 Little Johnstons airs Tuesdays on TLC.