12 Parenting Tips | Raising Boys to Be Gentlemen
What Not to Forget To Teach Your Boys
"Gentlemen respect the rights of others. They are honorable men.”
― Ellen J. Barrier
Catch and Release
Raising Boys with Principles of Good Behavior
Collecting parenting tips on etiquette is likely not the first thing on people’s minds as they rise to the challenge of raising boys. Yet every mother wants her son to grow into a gentleman, and every father has the chore of being role model to their little man. Making parents proud, our kids soak up the lessons we teach them like sponges.
However, sometimes in all the frenzy of raising kids, we forget to teach the lessons that make that difference in herding young men into adulthood not only as wonderful people, but true gentlemen as well. There are many reasons why being a gentlemen can help a man in life as evidenced by sources like The Child Development Institute in the article The Importance of Teaching Manners to Kids. From work pursuits to social pursuits to family pursuits, having well manners and a thoughtful and gentile demeanor is a thing of beauty. What must we not forget to teach our sons as we usher them into the next stage of life? The answers lie in the mere basics of empathy, respect, and self-respect ingrained within at least a healthy peppering of social grace.
Important in Every Age
Raising Boys Into Gentlemen: An Old-Fashioned Ideal?
Is teaching manners to our sons an old fashioned ideal? Perhaps, but I do feel as well, that it is a desirable tradition that should not be thrown by the wayside. Who will teach our kids the etiquette of how to be a proper young man if not their parents? Yes, it is our duty in raising boys; but, where to begin? I feel, it is in the wee years of our young son's lives. There are simple things we can teach, and model for them in our own actions and interactions, during their toddler years, elementary and then at adolescence that will have them growing into model citizens and gentlemen of the future.
"A gentleman can live through anything."
- William Faulkner
Arming Our Sons with Good Principles for the Future
Raising Boys to Be Gentlemen: Why It Still Matters
Our sons are the fathers and protectors of the future. Men play an important role in our society, of course, and they will as well, play an important role in teaching their own sons values one day that will forge and define a modern order. Raising our boys well helps society as a whole and ensures our children a better chance at happiness, as people that can function well in their relationships and dealings with others. Don’t let manners become obsolete in this new, already too rude and indulgent world. Our kids need to hear the “no’s” of how to act and how to play the game of polite society. I feel that this is part of a winning formula for success for our boys. Authorities like CLise Etiquette for Professionals agrees in the article Five Essential Manners Your Child Needs to Succeed, underlining that knowing how to be polite can have ramifications that reach far into the future toward getting and even keeping a job.
In today’s world, there is too much competition for the things that we want and need such as spots in college enrollments and positions available in the workforce. Having that edge toward making a good impression, as well as possessing a defined charisma can certainly make that difference for a young man in the job market. As well, understanding empathy and practicing respect can fortify the personal interactions our boys as adults will need - to be successful in marriage and then parenting, themselves. Here are some parenting tips for raising boys that may help them, someday, achieve that advantage.
Spending Time in the Trenches of Raising Our Boys and Girls
Parenting Tip #1: Raising Boys to Care About Feelings
As toddlers, we learn to care about feelings. From the very beginnings of life, parents must try to teach their kids that they shouldn’t hurt others’ feelings; that they should become other-centered - even if it is a difficult lesson to grasp in the first five years of life! Repetition will help! And pretend role playing! For example, a parent could model the drama: “You bit me and it HURTS!!! I am going to cry…..” (pretend crying ensues with best acting forth!). “How does that make YOU feel?” As you put forth valiant efforts such as these to impart on your children the value of such things, remember that in general, the ability to be other-centered is one of the greatest lessons you will ever teach. The video 6 Tips for Teaching Kids Respect at the bottom of the page offers some helpful parenting tips for raising boys and girls toward this end.
Parenting Tip #2: Raising Boys to Never, Never Hit a Girl
From early on as well, boys must learn it is never, never, never o.k. to hit a girl… even if this girl is an adversarial little sister. This may not seem fair to little boys, but it is a lesson that will ensure they understand hitting a girl can land them in jail later in life (see the very emotional video below, The Importance of Teaching Boys to Be Gentlemen: Stepping Up) and of course, is simply just a violent behavior tolerated on no level by society. Related to this – if you do make a girl cry, you should at least feel a little badly. Whether or not this is just some good old Catholic guilt, I think it goes far later in life toward becoming a gentleman…… Of mention also, kids will learn soon enough that if they tell a girl in kindergarten she is overweight, their mamma is going to come down hard and quick on them, and their momma. NEVER make fun of others for how they look. It certainly is not gentlemanly. As well, it solicits phone calls from other parents that you do not want to get as a parent; trust me.
The Importance of Teaching Boys to Be Gentlemen: Stepping Up
Forging the Future
Parenting Tip #3: Raising Boys to Shake a Man's Hand (Firmly)
It is easy to forget to teach your kids little behaviors like shaking a man’s hand when you meet them or greet them. When my neighbor sees my sons, he always extends his hand for a manly shake showing camaraderie. I feel it fosters gentlemanly contact with other men for the future, which is an important lesson to learn for boys. Greet other men, and friends with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. It exudes not only politeness, but confidence and a winning personality. When it is time for your son to get a job, he will be happy he learned this bit of etiquette. First impressions are everything and a boy who knows this lesson, seems quite together indeed.
Parenting Tip #4: Raising Boys Not to Mumble When Speaking
My sons are shy. They mumble and they look down when they meet people. I am trying to teach them to look someone in the eye when you speak to them and to speak loud enough so they can hear you. It is showing that you are interested in what they are saying and that you are happy to be engaging with them. It is a likable quality of gentlemen and it is very simply, polite. It also showcases, confidence, which is a magnetic quality in any man when showcased to the right degree.
Lessons to Teach When Raising Boys:
- Shake hands with men
- Make eye contact
- Hold doors for people
- Say please and thank you
- Offer to help when you see someone in need
- Give up your chair to the elderly
- Respect authority
- Treat women with respect
- Don’t use vulgarity in public
- Be clean
Parenting Tip #5: Raising Boys to Hold Doors
This tip for raising boys is a big one. I caught my oldest son walking through the door of the grocery store without holding it for the rest of us that followed, including an elderly woman. I had to think to myself: “You need to teach him that is impolite.” Now I have him approaching doors first and holding them for women, as well as passing them back to men coming in behind him. I am glad he knows this is the proper thing to do and what boys need to be conscious of as they become gentlemen. If I had not taught him, he would not know! As a little boy, it is of course, ok. But as a growing young man, it will begin to show as uncouth if not instilled as best practice.
Table Manners are Important
"Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage."
– Theodore Roosevelt
Boys Teaching Table Manners
Parenting Tip #6: Raising Boys to Use Their Manners
You need to teach little boys (and girls) to always say please and thank you. This requires much repetition, as reinforced in the cute video to the right on teaching children table manners, but is worth the effort when you see it coming naturally to them when out at interactions. As well, I remember my parents saying to my brothers, “What are you going to do when you are on a date at your girlfriend’s house and her mother serves you something you don’t like?” The answer is, you say it is good and thank you for making it for me, even if you don’t love it. That is the polite thing to do and recognizing and appreciating a host’s efforts toward preparing and providing a meal is a warranted lesson in gratitude as well. Believe it or not, kids don’t just learn these things from osmosis and raising boys and girls to do them proactively is a much better fortune than having them trial and error it out! Also, my mother-in-law taught her boys how to hold a fork and knife and cut their food. This was something I never learned, but wish I had! I’m happy my husband passed it along to our kids, while I shovel food in my mouth like a barbarian!
Up His Chances
Parenting Tip #7: Raising Boys Not to Use Vulgar Language
Boys in middle school may think it is cool to use vulgarities including things like “frickin” and “crap” (two of my youngest’s choice favorites). While I understand that among friends, this may fly, but boys need to understand in polite society and most situations around girls and adults, it IS inappropriate to speak that way and that people do make judgments on who you are and who your family is by how you represent yourself verbally. As well, if you have a son that uses the Xbox, like I do, this rule should be applied here as well. Admittedly, I have a lot of work to do in this department (and others!)…..
Parenting Tip #8: Raising Boys to Be Good Sportsmen
In raising boys, it is important to instill good sportsmanship. They have to learn how to be a good loser and a humble winner. It is a likable quality and shows good character; even if you are fist pumping a win in your head!
Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails - Our Little Boys!
Parenting Tip #9: Raising Boys to Take Care of Their Body
As our kids reach adolescence, it is important to teach them how nice it is to smell good and not bad; that brushing teeth and taking showers are desirable pursuits and need not be argued. People like you better when you are clean and this will surely come in handy as boys try to succeed in life as gentlemen. One should also dress appropriately when it is a situation that calls for a bit of fancy attire. For example, there are times where a button down shirt or polo shirt and nice jeans may be appropriate over those pajama pants you’ve been wearing everywhere for three days now. Maybe owning some loafers in addition to sneakers might be of use on holidays. Another honorable mention in the raising-your-boy department: stand up straight when talking to someone. Just stand up straight – it exudes a healthy bit of confidence and allows that person to trust you just that little more.
Other Resources for Parenting Boys:
- Miss Manners.com – A site that provides the abc's of good parenting and etiquette - you can even ask questions!
- The Gentlemen’s Guide – This site offers fashion advice for young men and information on related topics.
- Understanding and Raising Boys at PBS.org – This site contains information regarding issues boys and parents may be facing today.
Parenting Tip #10: Raising Boys to Respect Elders and Authority
Kids in this day and age are somewhat losing this lesson. For some reason, they seem to think they are smarter than the adults that are in authority over them. This includes family members, like mothers, fathers and elderly relatives, but it also needs to be extended to teachers and bosses when it comes time for them. Kids must learn to respect authority. They have a lot to learn from people above them and they need to just shut-up, put-up and learn with politeness. People have a lot to offer, even for the most hot-shot, self-inflated of growing youths. Boys especially benefit from knowing that humility is a winning quality of gentlemen.
Of side note here, I would like to mention that parents must try to think twice about calling every teacher/coach or principle that your child encounters to bail them out of trouble they might have encountered. If a teacher says something to teach your child, or if a coach does something to offend you or your child, just think about it before you jump down their throats. Depending on the scenario, maybe the lesson that one must respect authority might be the better one to go with. Someday, kids will have bosses and they will not be able to fight “The Man” by telling their mom.
Additionally, kids should learn early on to respect their parents. They are your parents. Listen to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree and don’t be disrespectful. It is a commandment, for God’s sake! As well, you should teach your kids to respect their friend’s parents and their property. Having parties and trashing houses is not something gentlemen, or nice young girls, would do. As well, for the younger kids: you don’t go in people’s refrigerators on play dates! You’d be surprised how often this happens in today’s day and age. This may be something to mention to your child before it happens and they learn the hard way that this is a sign of disrespect.
I am a bit sad that kids no longer use Mr. and Mrs. to address friends’ parents and neighbors. I think this is a tradition that should not be retired and should still be considered important when raising boys and girls alike.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition...
Lend a Hand!
Parenting Tip #11: Raising Boys to Offer Help
This principle is kind of extending the caring for others to a later stage. Help the elderly. Teach your boy that if you see a pregnant woman or the elderly struggling or looking for a seat in a crowded room, get up off your butt and offer them your seat! If someone is carrying a heavy bag and you have some muscles to offer, do so please. If a man is changing a tire in front of you, don’t just stand there… lend a hand! “What a great boy you have there!” is what you will be hearing from people, after such incidences play out. It is important to teach young boys that helping others is not only the right thing to do, but will win them the respect and admiration of others and someday, they just might need a recommendation or a favor themselves. It is part of being a man.
Treat Her Like a Lady
Parenting Tip #12: Raising Boys to Be Chivalric
Treat girls with respect: they are people! Perhaps this doesn’t seem like it needs to be mentioned, but I really think it does. How will young men know when it is time to date that they have to treat girls like a lady if they have never been introduced to this concept, as in the video below where etiquette class prepares boys to be gentlemanly to girls. I may be a bit outdated here, but I still feel it is worthwhile to teach boys to open the door for girls, offer their coats, respect their decisions and values, and yes, I think they should probably pay when a date occurs (at least the first few!). Girls have to have the babies someday, so the least boys can do is learn to treat those ladies right early on! It will save them pain in the future of having to learn this on their own and in the end, it will only help them as they navigate love relationships.
School Sends Boys for Etiquette Classes
All Boys Are Sweet To Begin With...
In Conclusion of Raising Boys
All we really want as parents is the best for our children. They are sweet from the earliest of times and will remain our babies throughout life. In raising boys with good manners and teaching them the proper etiquette of gentlemen, we are making the road ahead for them much easier. They will be liked by others, respected and will have winning qualities that help them to succeed professionally. They will know how to love and be loved and they will understand how important two ways of respect is in dealing with others that are both friends and future lovers. A true gentleman is a boy to be proud of and is a boy that will have to struggle just a little less toward achieving happiness and their goals; it is one advantage we can give them to travel through life with. Good luck in your teachings and enjoy raising your wonderful boys!
Ushering Sons Into the World
6 Tips for Teaching Kids Respect
What Do You Think?
Do you think teaching boys good manners will help them be successful in the future?
Have you or will you raise your sons to be gentlemen?
Products To Consider: Books on Being a Gentleman
Related Reading on Hub Pages:
- The Family Dinner - Table Manners for Children
Family dinner time is an important part of raising successful children. Here's how to make your family dinners peaceful and pleasant with good table manners.
- How to Teach Good Manners to a Child
Learn how to teach good manners to child to make this parenting task fun and simple. Includes tips and scripts for role playing and a book list of recommended childrens' books about good manners.
Products You'll Love: All About Manners For Kids and Teenagers
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