Today as I was coming out of Wal-Mart, I noticed a young couple right in front of me walking with several bags of groceries. Nothing I haven’t seen before of course, but then I saw something that took me by surprise. Since they were headed the same way as me, and their car happened to be parked right next to mine, I was able to see something that sadly seems to be going out of style. He actually escorted her to the passenger side door, and opened it for her. My first thoughts were how nice it was to see someone under the age of 40 actually being a gentleman. I was very impressed at his manners. How sad that this has become something of a rarity rather than the rule.
For those of you who seem to be clueless at what I am talking about, may I remind you that the day and age we are living in seems to be the age of good manners and simple courtesy is pointless and old fashioned. Violence is not only commonplace but applauded, and the mainstream media teaches a world where the only person who matters is you. Now I know that this does not apply to everyone. I know that there are actually men young and old who are true gentlemen. It just seems that this type of behavior is no longer the rule but rather the exception.
Unfortunately, for several years now, many women have considered it condescending if a man opens a door, pulls out a seat for her, or offers to pay on a date, believing that somehow that such gestures are not needed or that she is not capable of doing it herself.
This is simply not the case. Good manners and giving and receiving common courtesies are the backbone of a civilized society. Dr. Laura, well-known talk radio host and marriage and family therapist said, “A gentleman will open doors, pull out chairs, and carry things, not because she is helpless or unable, but because he wants to show her that she is valuable and worthy of respect.” How sad that these women don’t want to be shown respect by a man.
I know that my own son has complained that many of the girls he has taken on dates have protested and even became mad when he tried to open the door for them. What a shame! These poor girls obviously not only missed a lesson on good behavior and manners but have misunderstood the reason behind these types of gestures.
It’s pointless to point fingers and say that this is a specific group’s fault when, really, society as a whole is to blame. We have all let this happen. It’s not too late to change things, though.
This is where parents can make a real difference, not only in their own children’s lives but also in society as a whole. Its not too late to remember that courtesy doesn’t cost anything but is invaluable in showing respect for others and making others feel valued in our self-centered society.
Teaching our boys to be and act like gentlemen doesn’t come naturally or by accident. We as parents need to intentionally teach them this foundation, which will become part of their character. Judi Vankevich, best known as “Judi The Manners Lady,” has a website devoted to helping parents and kids develop manners and why they are important. She also lectures and has written several books on manner where she gives ideas that can help parents teach these important character traits. She offers these six tips for teaching boys to be gentlemen.
She says that the first step is to realize that our sons are watching us and how we act. Fathers, take note, and make sure you are setting the example we want our sons to emulate. If your son sees you always opening doors, he will too.
Teach boys that gentlemen have respectful attitudes that lead to respectful actions and words. Their attitude is one of putting others first, based on The Golden Rule, to treat others the way they would like to be treated. Let them know that gentlemen use respectful words, like “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “excuse me.” Instead of “what?” and “huh?” they say “pardon me?” They say “yes ma’am” and “no sir” respectfully. They never use cursing or cuss words. Gentlemen are also courageous enough to apologize when they have hurt someone, so teach them to say “I’m sorry,” “I made a mistake,” and “will you forgive me?”
Teach them that gentlemen open doors for ladies and allow them to pass through first, saying, “After you!” All children should open the door for their elders and walk a lady to the car and open the car door for her. Along with that, we can also teach our girls to be respectful when a gentleman does these things for her, and she should always say “thank you.”
Teach boys little courtesies such as offering his seat to a lady. Gentlemen offer their seat to their elders or pregnant women in crowded buses or waiting rooms. They are never seated until their mother is seated.
A gentleman offers to help carry heavy packages for a lady. Children should offer to carry the bags for their mothers. If a lady drops something, they should pick it up for her.
A gentleman will never hit or hurt a lady. A boy must never hit or hurt a girl but rather use his strength to protect a girl. Teach them to look out for the weaker child in the class, to speak out when someone is being bullied, and to have the courage to say no when they are being pressured into doing something they know is wrong.
Teaching our sons to be a gentleman takes time, patience, and much practice, but it is so worth it. When we teach our boys these little gestures from an early age, we are arming them with an attitude of respect towards women which will last a lifetime. In turn, they will become men and leaders who we can be proud of.