Manners. Etiquette. For some men, these words don’t belong in the same breath as manliness. For them, etiquette and manners conjure up arbitrary lists of dos and don’ts, a nagging mother, or scenes of artificial formality, complete with images of bowing and scraping, the polishing of monocles, and a bunch of treacly, “How do you do?” and “No, after you!”
But, it wasn’t always so. Our forbearers saw no contradiction in being ruggedly manly and a refined gentleman. For centuries, well-bred men were trained in all the manly arts, from the skills needed to be a soldier to the proper etiquette for dinner parties. They were quintessential gentlemen – dapper in their dressing, polite in conduct, and yet every bit a true man.
As parents, we need to both model and teach our boys how to be a gentleman. It won’t happen accidentally; we need to be intentional in teaching these foundational principles of character. Character training starts at home. It is often said that “the way a boy treats his mother is the way that he’ll treat his wife.” So, let’s prepare our boys to be men – real men.
- A gentleman has respectful attitudes, which lead to respectful actions and words. He greets people with a smile, nod, or even a simple “hello”. His attitude is one of putting others first. Always remember the Golden Rule – to treat others the way they would like to be treated.
- A gentleman uses respectful words, such as “Please”, “Thank you”, “You’re welcome” and “Excuse me.” Instead of “What?” and “Huh?”, they say “Pardon me?” They never use cursing or cussing words.
- A gentleman opens doors for ladies and allows them to pass through first, saying, “After you!” Children should open the door for their elders.
- A gentleman walks a lady to the car and opens the car door for her.
- A gentleman offers his seat to a lady. Never be seated until your mother is seated.
- A gentleman helps a lady put on her coat or sweater. He also offers to help carry heavy packages for a lady. Children should offer to carry the bags for their mothers.
- A gentleman stands when a lady enters the room or when he is introduced to someone.
- A gentleman seats a lady at the dinner table before he takes a seat. He rises when a lady excuses herself and upon her return. A gentleman takes care of the lady to his right.
- A gentleman protects a lady from danger. He walks on the curb side of the road as a sign of protection and to keep the lady from getting splashed by puddles.
- A gentleman will never EVER hit or hurt a lady. A boy must never hit or hurt a girl, but rather, he uses his strength to protect a girl.
George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Robert E. Lee are some examples of men who combined gritty manliness with gentlemanly bearing. They paid attention to how they dressed, groomed, and conducted themselves and were as comfortable at a stately ball as they were on the battlefield. For these great men, having good manners did not make them less of a man, but more of one. What are your thoughts on raising boys with these manners? Leave us a comment down below.