From Little Boys to Gentlemen

I was a junior in college working at a grocery store. I remember leaving work on a hot summer day, and I found red roses on my car. I had never had a boyfriend treat me with such chivalry.

He would open the car door for me EVERY time. And, y’all … I hate to admit this — I asked him not to because I wanted to be treated equally. I just can’t even.

Holds head in shame.

Oh, how I wish I could turn back the clock! I twisted his chivalry in my mind and convinced myself it meant I was unequal or too delicate. Even though I had mental issues, I knew he was a keeper. So, I married him.

Sixteen years later, here we are teaching our seven-year-old son to have chivalrous old-fashioned qualities. We want to raise a gentleman who will:

  • See a girl’s heart, not just her figure;
  • Follow through on the integrity of his words, not make empty promises;
  • Truly care for others, not have selfish ambitions;
  • Work hard and model financial responsibility, not just getting by; and
  • Treat everyone equally, not ever showing disrespect.

Here are six things we’re doing now to raise a gentleman:

Look at the Heart
We discuss girls who are showing lots of skin (in real life and on screens). One day, our son was playing a car-racing arcade game at a kid-friendly restaurant. He came to me and whispered, “There is a girl on the screen only wearing a bikini.” Sure enough, she was holding the sign (barely dressed) for the finish line. I’m so glad a red flag went off when he saw too much skin because it is slowly preparing him for the day he is exposed to porn (the average age of first exposure is 11). I want to teach him there’s so much more to a girl than her figure. Of course there will be physical attraction to girls and that is normal, but I want him to know there’s so much more to respect and adore. As he gets older, I’ll talk with him more specifically about what it means to look at her heart.

*By the way, I have much more open communication with my second child at a younger age. I’m learning as I go. If you missed my post on the parenting mistake I wish I could redo, click here.

Keep Commitments
When he signs up, he has to finish. Every sport. Every activity. You can model this in your own life. My son has definitely heard me say, “I really don’t want to do this, but I made a commitment.”

Put Ladies First
This is so simple to incorporate into everyday life. When we’re having pizza, my husband will say, “Girls first. Let them get their slices first.” Model this in everything, and it will be engrained in his behavior.

Teach Chivalry
When he was little, my son held the door open for an elderly couple at a restaurant. As soon I saw him, I said, “Wow, sweetie, you’re such a gentleman.” He beamed. You can’t go wrong with positive reinforcement. It encourages repeat behavior. Now, there are times when I’m waiting on him because he won’t stop holding the door!

Model Empathy
Volunteer. Teach him to respect and be sensitive to others. Recently, my son had a friend whose dog died. We talked about how awful it must’ve felt. Then, my son came up with the idea to make him a card.

Teach Money Management
For us, our kids earn a small allowance (if they don’t complete chores, then no money). They divide their earnings into 10% giving, 10% saving and 80% spending. Most banks have free savings accounts for kids. Let him buy a mutual fund or stock with $20 and see how it can grow slowly over time. Show your son when you’re giving to a charity. Talk to him about why you’re donating money. A great resource for financial management is

What would you add? If you have good references/resources for raising little boys, please provide them in the comment section below. My favorite book so far is by Dannah Gresh, “Six Ways to Keep the ‘Good’ in your Boy”.