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

Rant 33

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

nursery school, boys, girls


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bleed... bleedingheart8D

No...my kid's school teaches them respect and I would be THRILLED if they taught boys to be gentlemen.

szinna szinna

I am a mom to a little boy (soon to be 2 little boys!), and I am also a successful, highly educated, feminist professional.  My boys will be raised to have good manners, regardless of gender, but I will also teach them that chivalry is a good thing, as long as they understand women are equal.  There is nothing wrong or damaging about a little chivalry in this world.  There is too little respect and consideration out there as it is.

Mary Grace Close

So well put!!!! Why on earth more parents don't teach manners and respect I will never understand. I expect my child to be polite and respect me, everyone around him, and himself! (Yes, even at 13 months old.)

KCmom... KCmomto1boy

Since the age of three we've had our son in a preschool/daycare that instills these very values and we are so pleased!  We strive to raise a polite and respectful only child, and no matter WHO he is dealing with he knows that he is expected to behave with respect.  It's not a hard concept - but one that is going by the wayside it seems.  He's five now, and while we don't expect him to be a little robot/butler I'm always pleased and a little proud at the comments we get as he's opening the door for me, or holding his hand out to help his 3yr old (girl) cousin down a step.  He's chivalrous, learning from his dad and others - and I think that's just fine. 

2cent... 2centsCDN

I read an article the other day that basically said because acts of chivalry such as holding a door are so rare, women have started to view them with suspicion.

Personally I believe that lack of manners, online and IRL, is a great contributor to a lot of the things wrong in our society.

Irela... Ireland69

I have two boys and I always teach them to be gentlemen, I tell them you have a mom, grandma and sisters don't you want someone to treat them right? Respect and manners no longer exist with boys or girls.


Wouldn't that be nice if there were more "gentlemen" around?! Although that would creep out your co-blogger Kiri the hell out.

redK8... redK8blueSt8

Feminism killed chivalry. Men used to do polite respectful stuff for women and get told "thank you", with feminism they're given some snarky remark about how she's not helpless and can do it herself. It would be great if there were more boys being raised to be gentlemen, but in order for that there'd have to also be more girls raised to be ladies.

aeneva aeneva

I don't feel it is the schools place to teach it, but I do think that boys need to be taught to be gentlemen and girls also need to be taught to be ladies.  It goes both ways and if the girls at school are not being taught to thank the boys then I think it is wrong.

eupeptic eupeptic

If all the of the kids were being taught to treat all others with respect then that would not be sexist. Telling the boys that they should place girls and only girls before them is sexist.

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