Teaching Little Boys to Act Like Gentlemen Is Every Mom's Responsibility

boy and girl

Sigh. After reading an article this morning about a mom who is upset that her preschooler is being taught to act like a gentleman, I can't help but worry about whether chivalry as we know it will inevitably disappear from our society altogether -- all because some parents see respectful behavior as a bad thing.

New York Times writer Lynn Messina is all bent out of shape because her 4-year-old son has been introduced to the "ladies first" concept by his preschool teacher, who lets the girls go to the restroom before the boys before nap time. And somehow, she views the idea of letting the girls go before the boys as a sexism/gender equality thing.

Lynn explains her reasoning for viewing the practice of letting girls go first as sexist in depth. While I sort of understand where she's coming from -- I just can't get behind her way of thinking.


Because to me, there's nothing I find more endearing and respectful than a man who opens doors for me, lets me walk through said door ahead of him, and treats me like a lady. And that's why I strive to instill chivalry in my own son whenever I get the chance, because I want him to treat women with respect instead of treating them like they're just "one of the guys."

That's right -- I WANT my son to grow up to be a gentleman, and I don't care how old-fashioned or dated some people think I am. And if my son's teacher ever were to teach him to let the girls in his class do things before him, I'd praise her for it. Because it would mean she cares about core values and principles just as much as I do, even though the whole concept of chivalry seems to be dying right before our eyes. (Which is just plain sad.)

There is absolutely no reason why boys can't be taught to be respectful to women, while also knowing women are fully capable of doing everything for themselves. Yes, equality is good, but a boy acting like a gentleman doesn't mean he thinks a girl is any less equal than him. It's a sign of adoration and respect, plain and simple. (Not every act of kindness has to have some hidden agenda, for crying out loud. Gah.)

Instead of trying to pick apart chivalry and turn it into something negative, moms who question it should think about it in terms of their son's future wife -- and how lucky she is going to be to marry someone who treats her with the level of dignity and love she deserves. Don't we owe at least that much to our future generations?

On that note, I think I'll take a break and go over the "always open doors for women" concept with my son one more time.

Would you be offended if a teacher taught your son to be a gentleman?


Image via hoyasmeg/Flickr

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