Some time ago I wrote an article on How Moms Can Raise Gentlemen. Yet for some strange reason I never got around to making one about how men can raise gentlemen. I know I have mentioned about the importance of being a role model for men around you, how your actions should be your words, and so forth, but I never quite addressed your obligation as a father to set the example for your son.
This is especially critical in a society where men are viewed as bumbling dads, reduced to “Mom’s Assistant”, the distant dad, or at worse, the absentee (deadbeat) dad. Fortunately there has been a shift of perception on how dads are portrayed in the media, but we have a long road to travel still. Because the reality of it all is simple, you are the most important example of what a man is to your son. And this is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly!
As I did with the Mom’s article, let’s do a thought experiment. Think of the kind of man you are, how you treat your family, how you treated women in your life, and how you balance work and pleasure. Think of who you are as a man and who you have been, the good and the bad. Now think you have a daughter. How would you react to her dating a guy just like that?
Not smiling now, right? We got some work to do. The funny thing is how teaching your son to be a Gentleman is the easiest way for you to become a Gentleman, as he will become your anchor and mirror. I am not saying that good daddying will guarantee a good man. It’s up to them to actually become one. But it sure will improve his chances. Also remember that after you are done raising your boy, the rest of the world has to deal with them.
Most of the comments below will be generalizations to one degree or another. Some are about learned behavior and some are about social chains that can actually be broken. Good kids can come from bad parents and bad kids can come from good parents. With all that cleared up, let’s look at five things you can do increase your chances of raising a proper gentlemen.
1. Teach them to respect themselves by respecting yourself. You are the first example your son will have of what a Gentleman is. In simple terms, if you’re carrying yourself as a Gentleman, they’ll recognize what it means to be one.
Do you take care of yourself in a manner that makes you respect yourself or are you ashamed of what you see in the mirror? If you want your boys to respect themselves and carry themselves with pride, you have to show them what a proud man is. This includes them learning to respect themselves enough to take care of themselves.
Maybe it’s time to start giving yourself some love. Between work, life, and kids, men forget about themselves. I know that you have enough on your plate, but you going to help anyone if you burn yourself out. You have to treat yourself right, take care of yourself, and try to create some order and stability in your life. Self-respect and self-love are contagious, but so is self-loathing.
Remember that these ideas apply to all other personal behavior. Are you modeling healthy relationship dynamics for them, or are they seeing choices you’re not proud of? Do you lie and cheat to get ahead? Do you expect respect simply by being authoritarian? Did you have your third beer before noon? They will take all your actions, the good and the bad, as what is acceptable behavior for a man. Are you the kind of son you would be proud of having?
2. Teach them how to treat other men by how you let them treat you. Do your boys raise their voice to you or swear in front of you? Have you laughed any of this off with “boys will be boys”? If you said yes to any of these questions, you’re not contributing to making a world with more gentlemen in it. Everything you let them get away with is what they will expect other men to put up with. Teach them about respect to others and about limits to themselves. Teach them how their actions to others carry consequences.
Remember, it is your home, and they have to abide by your rules. As much as you love your kids, you know that one day they’ll move out to create their own space, sooner or later. And that home will be modeled, for good or ill, on what they’ve learned from you.
Make them realize that being part of a household means contributing to it. Teach them about the chores of having a home, and their obligations of being part of a family. Teach them how to care for those around them, to be part of a team. Teach them that they can’t expect respect from their brothers if they don’t respect them first.
3. Teach them how woman should be treated by how you treat the women in your life. Take a minute and look at how you treat your current partner and your past partners. The same way I mentioned you might forget about paying attention to yourself because of life, you might end up doing the same to your partner. You might not have noticed just how you treat them, or might have noticed and don’t really care.
Try to dismiss your immediate reasons as to why you act the way you do and think about it this way: if some guy treated your daughter the same way, would you think badly of him? Whatever way you treat your partner, be it well or badly, your sons will view this as how a man will treat women during a relationship. Take care of setting a good example.
4. Teach them how a man should be treated by how you let your partner treat you. Your current partner or the kind of women you date will influence your boy’s behavior. If you are with a woman that abuses you or simply makes your life hell, your son will see this as normal, and may end up in a similar relationship.
If you stay in that relationship, your sons will learn that abuse is acceptable behavior and might even think that this is how women show men love or that this is kind of abuse is simply part of being a man. Establish limits and respect from your partner. If you take the time to treat them like a Lady, insist they treating you like a Gentleman. Whatever way your partner treats you, be it well or badly, your sons will view this as what to expect from women. Is your current partner the kind of person you want for your son?
5. Teach them to be Self-Reliant. Never stay with a woman because you can’t be on your own. Teach your sons to be self-reliant; teach them that no man needs to be in a relationship to be a Gentleman. Teach them that a partner is just that, a partner. Boys have to learn that if they treat a woman badly, that woman should just leave, and if a woman treats them badly, they should do the same. People who see their partners as dependent on them tend to stop appreciating their relationship because they are convinced they can’t lose them. Understanding that a Gentleman is self-reliant, will teach your sons to give themselves self-worth. And that is the greatest gift any man can give his son.