We moms all want our sons, when grown, to marry a good girl, and be a good husband and father. That goal seems to be universal wish amongst mothers. Boys are a bit unfinished, though. A rough piece of wood that needs to be smoothed, sanded and polished. That takes time and years to accomplish, but we moms can do a lot to help that process.
I listen to my older girls talk when they come home from dates. Lack of courtesy is a big deal-breaker. Did he open her door? Did he take cell phone calls while on a date? Did he play his music loud in the car? Did he walk her to the door? Did he ask her questions or did he just want to talk about himself? Was he an aggressive driver? Did he make crude jokes? Did he show respect and concern for people who were older? . . . to little ones? Was he kind to animals? Those things really matter to a girl!
Teach your boys that girls are to be treated with utmost chivalry. I start young on this, when boys are just 5 or 6 years old by showing them the old, black-and-white Prince Valiant movies or other such movies. Or by reading a English period book, where the gentlemen throws his coat down over a puddle so the lady can walk across. What is all this pampering about? The customs of old English society represent chivalry, where a man would do all to protect his lady. Its roots are from the times of knights. And it reflects an attitude about woman’s virtue and potential motherhood.
A young bride needs protection and pampering. Carrying a child is a very vulnerable position for most women. They need extra care, physically and emotionally. Producing an heir to the family was a very highly esteemed career, too. Children were valued greatly. More so than in our culture. Childhood death was more common, and mothers did not have careers. Their role was to be a companion to their husband, to soothe his way, and to produce and nurture children—and they were honored for it. No more was expected of a woman than that. They were not supposed to teach Sunday school or pay bills or mow the lawn.
I don’t necessarily think that would be a good way to live, but I do believe that woman’s vulnerability in light of her potential to create life, should be recognized and protected. And opening a door for a girl is a small way of acknowledging her femaleness. And any boy who is taught to do it, shines!
So, I taught and expected my sons to open doors for their sisters. And to carry the heavy things. And do the heavy work. And to treat girls as special, because “someday a girl will bear your children and fix your supper and make your house into a home”. And I taught the girls to pleasantly accept and praise such behavior in boys. With the understanding that they needed to practice and prepare for the day they would bear their beloved’s children, and care for them, and that it would be a big, rewarding job.
I remember one day the UPS man came and delivered a heavy box to our house. My little Emily was just 4, and she tried to receive it from the UPS man, who had come to be our friend because of frequent deliveries. When she felt how heavy it was, she told him she shouldn’t lift it—it might “hurt her baby-maker”. I was a little embarrassed, but that is how young I taught my girls to protect their bodies for the crucially important work of mothering and family-making.
I once met a young man from Thailand and was talking to him about his life. He said his job as a boy was to stay up all night guarding the melon patch. In that country, melons were a staple part of his family’s diet, and the lizards would come at night and eat them. For the family to survive, they had to safeguard their crops. And the only means to do that was to post their young son as a sentry against the lizards at night. I reflected on that, and realized how crucial he was to the family’s survival, and what importance he must have felt as a Protector.
So, we have a job to do, Moms. To teach our boys and girl their true natures, and that honoring those will bring them the greatest joy in life. Chivalry in a boy starts when they are little guys, struggling to carry a heavier grocery bag than their sister, to protect her. It is an attitude and a recognition of our genders and their glorious possibilities. Boys don’t have to fight a dragon, but knowing that would be their job, if there was one, helps a boy know who he is. Read him the picture book, St. George and the Dragon. Protecting life is his career! And nurturing life is hers. It’s a very happy world that way.
Give your girls the family jobs that have to do with nurturing: cooking, setting the table, putting the baby’s shoes on, hanging clothes on the line, rocking the baby, etc. Give your sons the big muscle jobs that have to do with providing and protecting: shoveling in the garden, hammering, chopping wood, hauling wood for the fireplace, caring for the animals. Of course, if he is 5, he doesn’t have those big muscles yet, but he will grow into his jobs, little by little.
A boy who opens doors. Who is sensitive yet brave and protecting. A young man who is courteous enough not to take calls on his cell phone during a date. And who gives up his seat for a lady. Who is eager to help the elderly. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to call such a man “Sweetheart” or “Father” ?