(This is the third installment in a series I introduced here: Guiding Teens Through Five Major Dating Dynamics)
Today’s post is directly intended for parents of boys. However, there may certainly be value in parents of girls using these ideas to help your daughter frame healthy expectations of how she should be treated by a suitor throughout the dating process.
I recognize different folks have very different views on what constitutes chivalry or being a gentleman, and even whether or not this is a relevant ideal worth aiming for. As I am not trying to write the book on what it means to be a gentleman here, I will simply offer a few points that I consider important enough to impress upon my own son (who, I am delighted to say, has always had a natural manner of being considerate and helpful toward others).
- Walk to the door to pick her up and drop her off. Don’t be the knucklehead who sits in the car waiting for her to notice you’re here, texts her from the car to tell her you’re here, or (most obnoxious) honks the horn to announce you’re here. Being a gentleman in this simple way naturally leads to the next point…
- Initiate conversation with her parents. Man up and talk to her parents before and after the date. Don’t just be willing – take initiative for striking up conversation with them. They will be far more likely to appreciate and respect you when you show this kind of spirit. And an adolescent gentleman is keenly aware and respectful of the reality that his date is living under the authority and leadership of her parents.
- Open doors for her. Classic. Simple. Easy to do. But shows a solid thoughtfulness that a male is willing and eager to serve a female. Teach your boys to be a door opener.
- Seize opportunities to offer her sincere compliments. No need to to be fake or overbearing here. That’s no good. But a gentleman shows the thoughtfulness and kindness to share an uplifting word of praise whenever he can. Teach your son to use his words to lift up, and not to tear down – in dating relationships and throughout his social landscape.
- Know what kind of food, movies, music, etc. she likes and consider this with priority when planning and implementing dates or other time together. This doesn’t mean a young man cannot have his own tastes and preferences in these matters. It simply means he graciously makes her feel special and cherished.
- Don’t let the cell phone distract from the time and attention that should be devoted to her. This one is particularly important for us to teach our sons these days, and digital rudeness is such a huge and growing issue in our device saturated culture. Remind him his focus should be on the time and relationship he is sharing with his date, and that he will have time to interact with other friends via phone later. Be sure he has a special ringtone/buzz pattern for parents, so he can prioritize responding to you when necessary.
What other points do you feel are important in raising up a gentleman today?