Gentlemanly Manners vs. Equality

Several months’ ago, I met three mothers for lunch. They each have a son and daughter. I only have a son in elementary school.

We are all different, yet the same. One mother asked me how my son was doing. I said he was doing well. I related a story whereby my son came home after school to tell me that he had “Library Day”. He was interested in a certain book; however, a female classmate kept picking up the same book and checking it out. My son told me that she had already read that book ten times, but wanted to get it again. I told the other three mothers what I told my son: “I don’t care if she has read that book 100 times. If she wants that book, let her have it. If that book means so much to you, we will get the book at another store tomorrow.”

Oddly, the mothers pounced on me. “Oh, no. If your son wants that book, he should get it. Equality reigns.” I defended my position: “No, being a gentleman trumps equality.” I rather felt that these women were teaching their sons and daughters to look out only for themselves.

After all, we hear on the news how atrociously young men treat young women today by plying them with alcohol and then taking them back to dorm rooms or parties so drunk the young women don’t remember anything. We hear on the news how bad mannered and crude we have become as a society.

Is it wrong to raise a young boy to become a man of good, courteous conduct? Is it wrong to raise my son to know “girls goes first”? Is this considered “war on women” for treating girls better? Won’t my son make a good husband one day if he knows how to respectfully and properly treat a woman?

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6 thoughts on “Gentlemanly Manners vs. Equality

  1. This is a tough one. On the one hand, you want your son to be respectful and polite to women. Holding doors, respecting her feelings, not taking advantage of women, etc. But on the other hand, you don’t want your son to be someone who just lets women walk all over him because he never stands up for himself. I think in this case you should have instructed your son to ask the librarian to intervene. This little girl should read other books, and it really isn’t fair that this little girl is monopolizing this book. Perhaps their are other kids who want to read this book as well. I am all for ladies first, and that is what I teach my sons. I am not, however, in favor of one little lady getting her way to the exclusion of all others. This is more than just a being nice to girls issue. This is a sharing of resources within society issue.

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  2. I have the same response as Shane! This is a tough one. Where’s the line and how do we teach our kids to know that line? Because of the age of the children, I agree with asking an adult to intervene. I do think the fact that your son will discuss this with you, and that you offer up the idea of respect is to be encouraged.

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  3. Good manners of any type are in short supply today. I like the fact that you pointed out how much the girl must love the book if she kept checking it out and reading it. Of course, the same would be true if a boy did it, too. Your solution of buying the book (or getting it at the public library) was a good one. And when your son is finished, if he doesn’t want to read it again in the future, he might want to gift it to the girl (anonymously if he doesn’t want her thinking he ‘likes’ her).

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