Every good parent desires to see their little boy to grow up to be a good man. More than this, parents want to see their little boy grow up to be a gentleman. Such men aren’t born they are made. Unfortunately, too many men in our day are simply a little boy in a man’s body. We can all agree there are enough of these “Peter Pan” types in the world. (I am certain all of the single mama’s reading this just said a hearty AMEN!) So how can we raise up a generation of true gentlemen who respect women?
First, we must agree on the need to raise men instead of the boys. Transformation from boyhood to manhood isn’t something that just happens. There is a need for parents to be intentional if they are to raise a boy into genuine manhood. One of the first and greatest priorities in this process is to teach boys to respect and honor womanhood. Not honor a particular woman because she is pretty or strikes their current fancy but womanhood; all women regardless of who she is, how she looks, where she comes from or even if he knows her. How do we do this? Perhaps I can best answer through an illustration from my own life.
AN OPEN DOOR
One of the first things I taught my little boy to do, when he was strong enough to do so, was to open and hold the door for his mommy, little sister and every other woman ready to enter when he finds himself at the threshold of a door. Some might call me a sexist pig for this but I would challenge such notions as rude nonsense. My son and I don’t hold the door open because the women in our life are incapable of doing so for themselves. We hold the door open because doing so indicates our respect and honor for women and their role in our lives.
My father once told me we would have less wars in the world if women were the ones running the world’s governments. When questioned about this comment he replied, “Women know what it is to carry life in their body and give birth to a child. They understand the precious nature of life in a way men cannot and they would be less likely to send thousands off to their death as carelessly as men.” I don’t know if the world would actually have less war if women ran the world but I do believe his argument is a solid one. Women nurture life and love in ways men do not because they are capable of perspective men cannot have.
Women are different from men and these differences should be celebrated, honored and respected. Holding a door has helped teach my son to do so. It is a first step in a process of becoming a man who respects womanhood.
The stress, strain and pain of pregnancy and childbirth alone are reason enough for any man to hold the door open for any woman but there are more reasons than childbirth to honor womanhood. Womanhood is a precious gift from God with enormous responsibility and opportunity. Women are to be honored and cherished for fulfilling such roles. Women birth the next generation, nurture the young, support our dreams, care for the aged and often love unconditionally. While not every woman can have children most will fulfill the role of motherhood as they pour themselves into the lives of children around them. Beyond motherhood nearly every woman I know has or will fulfill all of the other roles mentioned herein and will do so many times over in their lifetime.
WE NEED WOMEN
We cannot live without women nor should we want to do so. They bring softness, gentleness, strength and wisdom to our lives in ways men cannot. It is only right that we respect and honor them for the roles they play (certainly not all these roles are mentioned in this short essay) in our lives. Women have a capacity to love that is different from men and it is this difference which both awes and impresses those willing to see it. The man who does so naturally desires to hold a door, pull out a chair and give his coat on a cold night. The man willing to see the special strength and tenderness of women is never slow to show the respect due them.
Why does my son hold doors open for women? Why does he love to do so? Because I have taught him that’s how we take care of the ladies. We do so because they take such good care of us. How do we begin to actually address the lack of respect given women? It is by teaching our boys the value of women and womanhood. That is how you turn boys to men. With that in mind I offer a few more suggestions as you teach your young boy how to become a man. You may not want your son to do all of these but if you pick one or two he will be well on his way to learning respect for the ladies and life as a gentleman.
Some Ideas to Help Teach Your Boys Respect for Women and to be a Gentleman:
- Stand up — Teach your son to stand when a woman leaves the table. This is somewhat passe and antiquated in our culture but to do so teaches boys that women are important and their presence is to be valued.
- Offer Your Jacket — Teach your son when it is cold and a woman is present who has no proper attire for the weather he should offer his coat or jacket to her. A true man is one who sacrifices his own comfort for that of those around him especially when that person is a woman.
- Pay the Bill — If you ask a young lady to dinner then you pay for it. A man considers it an honor when a woman would spend time with him and would never consider sullying such an honor by asking her to pay for her own dinner.
- Gratitude — Somewhere along the way we have lost the art of saying thank you and this is especially true in our interaction with the opposite sex. Gratitude should be expressed genuinely and often in life and certainly mores o when considering the many ways the women of our life bless and care for us. Somebody better tell mama thank you for dinner!
- Ask Permission — One of the things our boys need to be taught as they begin to date is the art of “asking.” I do not mean this in a manipulative way but in a respectful one. One of the most romantic things I ever did on a date was ask permission to kiss my wife while sitting on a swing on the campus of our Alma mater. It was our first kiss and although she only gave me permission to “peck the cheek” it was a sweet moment in both of our lives. Our boys should see a kiss as something special and something to be asked for rather than taken.
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