Teaching Boys Chivalry: Old School or a Must-Do?

Sheri Reed

kids jumping leaves
Flickr photo by jcwillia1
At a recent school event, I told my son to let a little girl from another first grade class go first in the snack line since she was visiting his classroom. "She's a guest in your class today," I said.

The mom of the girl then turned and told my son, "Boys should always let girls go first."

I stopped dead in my tracks.

My first thought was, "Oh crud! I haven't been teaching my sons to be chivalrous. I am awful."

My second thought was, "Wait a minute. Do I even believe in chivalry?"

And by golly, no, I do not. I believe both boys and girls should be taught good manners and to lend a helping hand and show respect for others wherever they can. I do my best to point out situations where my boys can practice these manners for men, women, and children alike.

Hold a door for someone who's right behind you, especially if their arms are full with bags or managing a stroller or a wheelchair. Yes! Give up your seat, or at least offer, for someone who looks like they could use it more than you. You bet. If one or both of my sons takes a date to the prom, will I show him some of the important courtesy "big date" moves? Probably.

In my experience, if a man is big on chivalry, it also means he's probably big on other traditional gender roles that I don't subscribe to. In other words, if he insists on opening the door at every turn, he's probably going to insist I do all the dishes later on in life. Not a good trade off in my opinion.

But do I get a appalled if a man opens a door for me and mutter "Sexist..." under my breath? Of course not. I love it. Do I love it when a woman opens it for me just as much? Yep. It's a kindness. Who doesn't love a kindness? The other night I even ordered my female friend's dinner for her at the restaurant. We were splitting and it was easier, and it felt like a nice thing to do.

I say let's go ahead and let chivalry die in its current state and evolve into courtesy toward everyone. I'm hoping to bring up kind boys who spread niceties to whomever they can, wherever they can.

What are your thoughts on teaching boys chivalry? If you're a big believer in chivalry, tell us why.

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