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The Accidental Gentleman

There is much said about the obstacle course of raising a daughter, given the way society often views women.  I don’t hear much about raising sons, but it’s quickly becoming apparent that it is just as fraught with pitfalls.

See, I don’t know anything about boys.  I grew up with a sister, hundred of miles from any boy cousins.  My neighborhood playmates were mostly girls with sisters.  I don’t know anything at all about normal boy behavior and it was downright shocking when my son started behaving like a boy.  I lost count of the times I would urgently whisper to Hubs, “What is wrong with him?  Should we be worried about that?” and got the response, “Nah, he’s just being a boy.”

So, while I embarked on parenting a daughter with a specific plan, I’ve just been winging it with the boy.  I am mindful of the example that Hubs and I set in regards to gender roles, and that’s about all I’ve got, from a social aspect.  In all aspects, he seems to be faring okay, but it has recently occurred to me that he’s old enough now to learn how to be a gentleman.  The extent to which we’ve previously addressed this is, “Don’t hit girls.  Unless it’s your sister and she hit you first, in which case you may defend yourself unless you’ve grown bigger than her, then just don’t hit girls.”

via classicsir.com

via classicsir.com

So anyway, this baby boy of mine will be eleven this week and he’s old enough to know how to balance gentlemanly behavior and treating women as capable people, so I’ve been giving the whole thing some thought.  It’s not the kind of thing that I really know how to put into words.  You can offer to help a lady with something, but you should never imply that she can’t do it herself.  Manners, respect, ability, social expectations…  It’s mind-boggling.

Then one afternoon my son and I walked to the house and he opened the door for me.  Another night we were both headed to the kitchen and he stepped back and let me go first.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks.  He doesn’t need to be taught anything.  This little man of mine already behaves like a gentleman.

He knows full well, from a lifetime experiences, that I am completely capable of opening doors and the like.  But he has developed the kindness and the manners to do it for me.  How did he learn it?  I was stumped about this for about thirty seconds.  He does it because he has spent his life seeing his father do it.  He sees his dad hold doors for me, and for strangers at the store.  He sees his father reach high things on shelves for people at the grocery store who can’t reach.  He sees his dad unfailingly treat women with respect and manners.  And when he sees all this, he knows that it is how a man should behave.

I’m not going to argue that a boy must have a father to emulate, because I don’t believe it.  I believe that boys raised exclusively by women can learn these same things and behave just lovely.  I’m just saying that Hubs has made it easy for me.  This is one thing I don’t have to try to figure out how to teach, because he’s been learning it every day of his almost-eleven years.  It’s not something that he even thinks about; he just does it.

Sometimes we don’t even need words.  And it’s a good thing, because sometimes I don’t have them.  I just thanked my husband for being the kind of man I want my son to be.

  1. March 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I grew up with 4 brothers and no sisters. I now am a single mother to 3 sons. I love being the one to teach my sons how to be gentlemen. I don’t need to do much at all because they see everyday why a woman should be respected. They see the work and time I put in to making their lives happy and loving. Thank you for a lovely post showing a kind and well mannered boy.

    • March 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you for your comment and kudos to you for raising three young gentlemen. 🙂

  2. March 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    That was just plain and simple beautiful.

    • March 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you. Sometimes these guys of mine take my breath away.

  3. March 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Hello!!! I just nominated you for the Liebster Award Keep up your amazing posts. Check it out here http://postcardsfrommyguilttrip.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/liebster-award/

    • March 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you so much for the honor!

  4. March 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Congratulations! I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. Please go to my blog to find out the details.

    • March 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you! I am honored!

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