When my oldest son was seven years old, I decided to take him out to dinner one night. I wanted it to be a special evening. It was just my little man and myself spending some quality mommy/son time together. When we got to the restaurant, the hostess showed us to our table. My son surprised me by taking it upon himself to pull out my chair for me. I was so proud of him and he grinned from ear to ear. I’ll never forget the look on that hostess’s face as she watched a little boy’s sweet act of chivalry for his mom. I’ll always treasure that moment.
I’ve taught my sons from the time they were toddlers that it’s kind and considerate to hold doors open for ladies or compliment them on how pretty they look. Teaching boys how to be chivalrous can never start too young.
As they grow older, I’m teaching my sons that the importance of being gentlemen goes well beyond holding doors open or pulling out chairs for ladies. As a mom, here are 7 ways I’m raising my sons to be good guys:
If I had a penny for every time I’ve almost impaled my foot on a Matchbox car or resisted the temptation to pick up clothes that lie only inches from a clothes hamper, well, you know the rest. My boys know that my husband and I have certain expectations of them and that they have to pull their weight in this family. We don’t tolerate half-hearted efforts. They have to clean up after themselves and have chores to do around the house. If they want to have their friends over for a visit, they must help straighten up the house first. It’s a work in progress, but they are learning how their efforts pay off and they take pride in it. I want responsibility to become second nature to them. Good guys are responsible.
2. Role Models
Boys are constantly bombarded with examples of bad behavior on TV and in social media, etc. Unfortunately, heroes and their good deeds don’t seem to get nearly the amount of press as celebrities who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Use these examples as teachable moments. It’s important to talk to boys about what makes a positive role model and what makes a negative role model.
I am thankful that I have a husband who is a wonderful father to our sons and they idolize him. He is a great example to them of what it means to be hard working, honorable and good-hearted. Boys can also find good male role models in grandfathers, uncles and trusted family friends. Good guys need good role models.
3. Giving Back to Others
The late Princess Diana nurtured her young princes by showing kindness and compassion for others; qualities that so endeared her to the world. She took them to homeless shelters and hospitals when they were young, instilling in them empathy for the sick and needy. Today, it’s very evident that the “People’s Princess” succeeded in shaping her sons into the “People’s Princes”. William and Harry are their mother’s living legacy and tributes to her loving, giving spirit through their involvement in various causes and charities dear to them.
We as parents can encourage our boys to give back with gestures as simple as making a get well card for a sick friend or helping bake cookies to cheer up an elderly neighbor. As they grow older, showing empathy and compassion for others can expand into getting involved in service projects through school, church and community or even volunteering at an animal shelter. A good guy always gives back.
4. Goals to strive for
My sons are involved in karate and are currently working towards earning their black belts. Some nights, they will use every excuse in the book to get out of going to karate practice. When this happens, I have to channel a little bit of “Tiger Mom” tactics to finally push them out the door. Sure enough, when I pick them up after class, they are happy and talk non-stop all the way back home about their accomplishments and what they learned. It’s vitally important to teach our sons to stick with goals, work hard and see those goals through to the end. This goes for everything from school to hobbies. If boys are allowed to give up, they will never know the pride and satisfaction of accomplishment. Good guys thrive on goals and giving their very best to attain them.
5. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
When my sons carry in groceries for me or take it upon themselves to just do something to help out, I make sure they know how much I appreciate it. Big hugs and an “I love you” drive the point home. Appreciation is positive reinforcement. Good guys learn that it feels great to make others happy by being thoughtful and considerate.
6. Manners Really Matter
From the time my sons learned how to talk, I made sure that “please” and “thank you” were very important words in their budding vocabularies. I try to use good manners in front of them whether I’m thanking a clerk at the grocery store, saying “please” to a server at a restaurant or anyone I come in contact with for that matter. Most importantly, I use the words “please” and “thank you” when talking to my sons. Manners should become second nature. A good guy is always grateful and courteous.
7. Lead By Example
Children emulate so much of what we as parents do and say. I’m constantly amazed how much of my husband and myself I see in our sons’ words and actions. Most of it is good, but some of it can serve as an eye-opening reality check. There is always room for improvement. Parents are only human and we need to learn from the mistakes we’ve made along the way. Let’s face it, being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world if you want to do it right. To lead by example, we need to try to remember to take a deep breath and count to ten instead of being tempted to freak out. Practice patience, kindness and respect. Be loyal and keep promises. Demonstrate integrity and honesty. These are some of the key qualities that future good guys need to learn from their parents. We need to always try to do our best in teaching boys these values.
Raising our sons to be good guys and gentlemen is well worth the effort. It is one of the greatest gifts parents can give to their sons because good guys make the world a much better place for others and for themselves.
Finally, my sons are typical little boys for sure. They love to hold burping contests and giggle uncontrollably at gross out humor. They like to dig holes in the backyard, collect bugs, climb trees and eat anything that’s not nailed down. Sometimes they fight like cats and dogs over stuff like the Xbox, but after the dust settles, they’re still best buds. Boys will be boys, but every day I notice little signs from them that give me a hopeful feeling. I can see that my little guys are well on their way to becoming good guys when they grow up.