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Manners for Boys: "Gentlemen" - An Endangered Species?

10 Simple Steps to Raising a New Generation of Gentlemen!

One of the nicest compliments a parent can receive is, "Your son is such a gentleman!"

It seems, however, that in our modern culture of media, athletics, politics, schools, and at the local grocery store, there seems to be fewer and fewer "Gentlemen" to be found.

But there is hope for this latest addition to the "endangered species" list. Despite the tiny vocal minority of angry women who yelled at men who tried to act like gentlemen during the 70's and these past few decades, there has been a renewed realization that in order for civility to survive and thrive in our nation, we must be intentional about being courteous and kind.

Simple courtesies may seem trivial and old-fashioned, but they are foundational in a civil society. Courtesies don't cost a penny, but they are priceless ways of showing respect and making others feel special and valued in what has become a selfish and self-centered culture. It has been said that "manners are the oil that lubricate society" - everything just works smoother!

All males are men, but not all men are gentlemen. Even though men and women are created equal, we are obviously different - with different roles and responsibilities, and by acting like a gentleman, boys, teens and men can show honour and respect to women.

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. Our homes need to be our nation's "boot camp for character," as we prepare our children for life. Manners are both "caught" and "taught" as children observe mom and dad showing courtesy and expressing thankfulness to each other.

As mothers, we need to slow down and allow our husband to pull out your chair for us at dinner and wait a few extra seconds for him to walk around the car and get the door. Our sons are watching. It is often said that "the way a boy treats his mother is the way that he'll treat his wife." Let's prepare our boys to be men. Real men.
Here are 10 practical reminders to help us raise "gentlemen" in our families through their respectful attitudes, words and actions!

  1. Gentlemen have respectful attitudes which lead to respectful actions and words. They greet people with a smile, nod or "hello" as they pass people. Their attitude is one of putting others first - based on The Golden Rule... to treat others the way they would like to be treated.
  2. Gentlemen use respectful words: "Please" "Thank You" "You're Welcome" and "Excuse Me." Instead of "What?" and "Huh?" they say "Pardon me?" They say "Yes Ma'am" and "No Sir" respectfully. They never use cursing or cussing words. Gentlemen also have the courage to use difficult words like, "I'm Sorry" "I made a mistake" and "Will You Forgive Me?"
  3. Gentlemen open doors for Ladies and allow them to pass through first, saying, "After you!" All children open the door for their elders.
  4. Gentlemen walk a Lady to the car and open the car door for her.
  5. A Gentleman offers his seat to a Lady. Gentlemen should offer their seat to their elders or pregnant women in crowded buses or waiting rooms. Never be seated until your mother is seated. (I was humbled and thrilled to find out that the distinguished, elderly gentleman who had offered me his seat one day in Seattle for basketball's "Final Four" tournament was the legendary UCLA Basketball Coach, John Wooden!)
  6. A Gentleman helps a Lady put on her coat or sweater. He also offers to help carry heavy packages for a lady. Children offer to carry the bags for their mothers. If the lady drops something, the gentleman will pick it up for her.
  7. Gentlemen stand when a Lady enters the room or when he is introduced to someone.
  8. Gentlemen seat a Lady at the dinner table before they seat themselves. They rise when ladies excuse themselves and when they return. The gentleman takes care of the lady to his right.
  9. The Gentleman protects a Lady from danger. He walks on the curb side of the road as a courtesy of protection and to keep the lady from getting splashed by puddles. He also stands behind a lady on an escalator going up; and in front of her going down to protect her from falling. He walks down a dark theatre aisle first and the lady will follow.
  10. A Gentleman will never EVER hit or hurt a Lady. A boy must never hit or hurt a girl, but rather use his strength to protect a girl.

So next time someone says, "Your son is such a gentleman!" be encouraged knowing that you have given your child a precious gift for life - the attitude, words and actions of respect.

Judi Vankevich, best known as "Judi The Manners Lady," has a passion to inspire excellence in character and manners in this generation and to strengthen families through her exciting, interactive concerts at schools and churches across the country and at teacher and parent training seminars. Judi has been featured on CBS This Morning, Canada AM, Focus on the Family, and The Boston Globe. She is the author of Manners Are Cool and is a recording artist of the award-winning CD, "It's Fun to Have Good Manners!" Her "Manners Club Kit" is a character-based curriculum used in public and Christian schools, churches and home schools across the US and Canada and in Europe, Africa and Asia. Parents, schools and churches can host their own "Manners Club" using the Manners Club Kit! (Includes book, materials and music!)

To join the FREE Manners Club and for free downloadable resources and colouring sheets of "The Bad Manners Monsters!" and Princess Spoon Place Mat and other fun activity sheets, or to hear The Manners Lady CD for free, visit www.TheMannersClub.com or call 1-866-ASK-JUDI. For your FREE Family Pledge or Sports Pledge for September National Manners Month, visit www.NationalMannersMonth.com. To help your community become a "Character Community", visit www.CharacterFirst.com.

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