“Mom, do you believe in chivalry?”
I felt my jaw tighten up, and I did my best not to roll my eyes. As a boy mom in the South, one of my biggest conflicts has always been how to raise my boys to treat girls and women with respect in all directions. I grew up with a mom who taught me women are independent and can handle life on our own, while she also respected my father. My dad opened doors and carried in the groceries while appreciating her for her achievements.
Strong Women Still Desire Chivalry
So, why was this such a nerve-touching question? Most likely because of the family, friends, and relatives I grew up with that defined chivalry for me with their actions. No, I don’t need a knight to come save the day. As a woman, I’ve handled plenty in life. However, I do need to be appreciated for my efforts and accomplishments. Does this mean I don’t depend on my husband as the main member of my team? No! However, he depends on me too. That’s the whole point of the word team.
I calmly looked at him, and asked, “What does chivalry mean to you?”
He responded, “Using my manners, opening doors, helping carry things.” So, my response was, “I do believe all of those are important. I also believe girls need to show respect and use their manners too.” Finishing the conversation, I also explained, “Sometimes girls don’t want assistance, and that’s okay.” Gasp!
Mutual Respect (And Chivalry!) Doesn’t Diminish Either Gender
The conversation spun around in my head for a while. It’s not that I don’t want my boys to treat ladies with respect. However, I never want them to feel a woman is not enough. I never want them to feel a woman can’t achieve a goal because of her gender. I never want them to feel ashamed because they lost to a girl.
Later on during the week, he and I were riding down the road; our most detailed conversations take place here. As we were singing to music as always, a song came on he clearly knew the lyrics to. In his serious tone, he stated, “Mom, all guys should listen to this song, and I think all girls should stand up together and sing the words to them.”
So maybe that’s a little much, but as I listened as he sang the words, I hid my big smile as we drove in the dark. “…it’s no big deal if I run a little faster than you on the playground… well, if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you, and if you don’t like girls that are faster than you, and if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you. Well, then you might not like me.”
As simple as the words may seem, they actually show how deep he thinks when it comes to this area of life. He’s 12 years old, and he’s more confident than many grown men I know. He’d high five a girl that won a race; not pout out of embarrassment. I have no doubt he will respect a woman.
Yes, Jacob, you can open a door, tell her she’s beautiful, and still be proud when she’s the CEO of the company. You can cook dinner while she’s studying for a class—that’s still chivalry. Allow her to show her strengths, and you celebrate yours. You’ve got this.
Want more insight into raising great kids? Check out:
Anatomy of a Strong Woman
Raising Great Girls: How to Do the Job with Darlene Brock
Men and Women Are Equal, but Not Identical
Here’s to Strong Men, and Here’s How to Raise One
Why Girls Aren’t Just “Drama” and How to Raise a Strong One
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