There he was, my little man, standing tall in a starched shirt and silk tie, meeting new people. I heard the guy-to-guy talk with a family friend.
"Shoulders back. In the eyes... look me in the eyes. Now shake my hand like you mean it. There you go."
I smiled. The art of a gentleman's agreement. Has he heard it before? Yes. Do children need reminders as they grow and experience new situations? Yes. He looked at me, proud. And he smiled, too.
While it is true that manners are "caught" as our children learn from example, they must also be taught. There is an art about engaging others well. Phone etiquette, letter composition, proper introductions, table settings, chivalry... these are skills which must be intentionally taught if we want our children to be well-received. These aren't behaviors reserved for evenings of coat and tie, but a daily reflection of our appreciation for others.
I looked at this image and I thought, "Love Reflected". The love my boys openly shared with one another not only reflected in the glass, but spilled out to my heart.
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." Matthew 7:12
How do we shape the reflection of our children? Prayer. Establish and continue to reinforce clear expectations for your home backed with Scripture. One of our current favorite resources for reinforcement is Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson. Intentionally teach proper etiquette before it is necessary. We spend countless hours encouraging our children to practice skills of sports and music that they might be prepared for their moment to shine. What of their moments to shine in their relationships? Do we leave them unprepared? One of our classroom resources for intentional instruction has been Manners Made Easy by June Hines Moore. (This year I am considering 100 Important Things Your Boys Need To Know by the Erskine Family.) And, yes, we must remember to practice what we preach.
Modeling is my favorite part of teaching my sons to be gentlemen. It includes date night. Mothers and sons, fathers and daughters have a beautiful opportunity to create lasting memories with their children by having regular date nights. I desire for my sons to not only know to stand until a woman is seated, to open her door, to offer his coat, I want it to be his habit. The only way they can learn how to properly display chivalrous deference to a woman is to practice. And in so doing, we build memories of the heart. But I remind my sons that this reflection of their love isn't reserved for fine dining and dance floors... but essential in the everyday. If they want to be kings of their castle, their wives must first be queens. They long to be honored as a woman as much at the warmth of their own kitchen table as a five star restaurant. (I understand this isn't politically correct, but raising politically correct young men isn't my goal.) I am delighted when my little man is found lingering at the table... waiting to sit, until I am seated. Does it happen every evening? No. Not yet. But I am honored when it does. His wife will be, too.
And I hug him. Manners. Love reflected.
From our hearth to your home,
SusanJoin us in the Homeschool Village today as families share their thoughts on etiquette and manners.