How to raise a gentleman

If you follow the news and current events, one observation comes to mind. We are a bit starved for gentlemen and some leadership. My statement is not a political crack on anyone. Repeat my comment is NOT meant to criticize anyone. It is also not meant to sound sexist. This article is about our boys, and I'm looking for "a few good men."

So how do we find them, and better yet, how do we raise them? What needs to be done to improve the number of young men raised with dignity, character, integrity, morals, values, kindness, respect, discipline, and a little empathy?

Before we talk about the steps needed to get started, let's first address why it's important. If we don't teach our young men how to care for others, to think outside of themselves, to practice discipline, and the importance of looking out for others, we are in a world of trouble. These boys are going to grow up and go into a world of much uncertainty. It is our job to prepare them. They will go out on dates, to colleges with countless temptations, into the business world, marriage, fatherhood, and possibly into war. Each of these paths requires a firm backbone, the ability to think of others, and a good sense of self.

Here are a few tips on how to get started. Everything starts with baby steps, and the earlier you start, the better. Developing a gentleman and a leader doesn't happen overnight. It is a consistent work in progress. These steps will introduce our young men to how to put others first.

1. Ladies go first, and gentlemen hold doors. Whether it's getting on the bus, going through a lunchroom door, or into a church, gentlemen go last. (Older adults always go first, men and women.)
2. Teach your young man how to listen. A gentleman understands that there are times when one should respectfully listen. Also, gentlemen do not interrupt anyone when they are speaking.
3. Gentlemen stop and look at you in the eyes when they speak to you.
4. Gentlemen say please and thank you, which seems relatively simple, but it's not. Most people are in such a hurry today, they rarely use common courtesies.
5. We need to teach our young men to have empathy and a moral compass – how to think independently and not always follow the pack. The pack gets people into trouble at times. A good leader knows the difference between right and wrong, and pivots away from the group when they proceed in the wrong direction. This is critical. Young men need to learn to think on their own if they are going to be good leaders.

This is a good start.

As a mom, I look at this generation with some concern and fear at times. One day our girls may get into a car with one of these young men. We will trust them to make sure they get home safely. We will hope that they will look out for them. We will trust that they will be kind and respectful. I hope that if the world presents a situation that is not favorable, these young men will be strong enough to make the right decisions for our daughters and yours.

Colleen Harding

President of The Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol.   I am a member St Raphael Women's Guild, Friends of the Westside Catholic Center and The Avon Oaks Women's Golf Association.

I live in Bay Village with my husband and 3 children.   

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Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 9:27 AM, 11.17.2020