Categorized | Features, Laurie's Scribbles

How Do You Raise a Gentleman in This Aggressive World?

Laurie stone with sons

As a mom of sons, Paul (l) and Patrick (r), Laurie wanted to raise each to be a gentleman. 

By Laurie Stone

You know a gentleman when you see him. And I’m not talking Pierce Brosnan in a dinner jacket. I’ve seen scruffy dudes in jeans and beards who are gentlemen. I’ve seen rich guys in expensive suits that could use a refresher course. As a mom of sons, I’m very conscious of raising good men. Lately, I’ve wondered what goes into making a gentleman. For me, it’s these four traits

Kindness — I can’t help but feel pride when I see my boys capture an insect indoors and set it free outside. I know, maybe it’s hokey and I understand bug-phobia and revulsion and I’ll also admit houseflies and ants don’t get this same level of amnesty. But run-of-the-mill spiders and moths? Why not?

My sons have seen their mother do it all their lives. I like how they do the same. As small an act as this is, for me it speaks to them becoming gentlemen. They see how all life has value, from the tiniest to the mightiest.

Respect for women — Years ago, I’d cringe when I’d hear a mother say of her young son (usually with a hint of pride), “Johnny won’t play with girls.”

I wanted to tell this woman she’s not doing her boy any favors encouraging this belief that he’s superior. He’ll always need women for love and support. He’ll encounter female doctors, lawyers and someday may have a female president. A misogynist attitude will only hinder his journey in life. It might even affect his most precious relationships with a wife and daughters.

For me, she’s teaching him the opposite of being a gentleman. She’s teaching him that females are “the other.”

I love the fact both my sons have always had female friends. These young women are confidantes, concert buddies and many times, fellow artists and musicians. They’re treated with respect, as equals. In some ways, I think this generation has an easier time, since gender roles aren’t so rigid. How wonderful for them. I believe this can only help.

Affection Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing a father only shake hands with his son, as if real touch is for sissies. On the other hand, I love seeing a grown man kiss his father on the cheek, like my brother used to do with my late father. I love how my husband Randy has always encouraged hugs with his sons.

What a wonderful lesson to give young men. Affection is a sign of openness, warmth and sometimes need. It’s healthy and human.

I see certain politicians and wonder about their upbringing. Were they given any affection as children? Were they allowed to express vulnerability?

I’m no psychologist, but I wonder what that does to males. I wonder if boys who grow up starved for touch grow into men who have trouble expressing any tenderness. Touch becomes only sexual. Women are there for conquest, conduits for unmet (and no doubt, subconscious) needs.

And if you go through life like that, always on the prowl, you’ll never be a gentleman. Instead, you’re a hunter. A true gentleman cherishes all a woman has to offer — mind, body and spirit.

Openness — My husband Randy can never get in a taxi without learning the driver’s life history. He jokes around and is curious with all, including waiters, mailmen and cashiers. He sees and honors the humanity in everyone. He’s quick to smile and laugh. For me, that’s being a gentleman.

What a great lesson to give our sons. Besides teaching them basic manners, they’ve learned to be open and friendly to the world, not fenced off by race, creed or religion. I’ve always believed if there are no built-in enemies in life, it’s an easier, even happier, existence.

Let’s face it. The world’s scary and I admit, I get spooked. Now more than ever, we need gentle men, not bullies and aggressors.

And who’s better qualified to teach these softer virtues than mothers? Then again, who better to show how to navigate this world as gentlemen than fathers? What better place is there to raise good men than starting at home?

Today, I feel urgency more than ever. I see adorable baby boys in strollers, in pictures on Facebook and next to me in supermarkets. It’s exciting. We have a new generation of males to make this right, to not only raise good brothers, sons and fathers, but something even better.

We have a chance to raise more gentlemen … even if they’re scruffy dudes in jeans.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog, Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

10 Responses to “How Do You Raise a Gentleman in This Aggressive World?”

  1. Jeffrey Reilly says:

    I still love the way you write and how you see the beautiful things in this life. You are a wonderful mother, Randy is an amazing father and your boys are proof that love is the absolute key.

  2. Laurie Stone says:

    Jeff, You’re so sweet and we miss you! Have to get together. If you’re ever up here, please visit!

  3. A.J. Sefton says:

    Brilliant post! The raising of sons doesn’t focus half as much as the raising of daughters in magazines etc, but it is vital that we start right with our boys so they become the gentlemen of tomorrow. I agree with you on all points.

  4. Carla says:

    As a mom to a daughter is something I thought only a very little bit about until recently. Most of my female friends happen to have sons and this is something they are wrestling with right now as well.(((sharing)))

  5. I love this. My two adult sons are far from perfect, but they are kind and respectful. They are the men I hoped they would be.

  6. Darlene says:

    The 21st century world is a scary place to raise kids, whether sons or daughters, but it can be extra challenging for moms raising sons! You can be proud and happy that your husband Randy provides your sons with a great role model. That is the MOST effective tool in your kit for raising gentlemen in an aggressive world.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Sounds like you did it right. Sometimes I wonder how I did, but then I’ll see him interact with my Mother or some other thing when he’s not aware that I’m watching and realize that he turned out pretty ok himself.

  8. Beth Havey says:

    So true and important. My last child was my son. He is awesome in every way. I guess I’ll take come credit for that, but he also has his father to emulate. Good men make good marriages and help create good families. That keeps our society rising instead of falling.

  9. Haralee says:

    This is terrific Laurie. Showing and living as parents is the best example. I used to work with a guy from the deep south and he was so specific on how his son and daughter conducted themselves regarding language, manners and attitude that I almost had to take notes! Fast forward 18 years and his wife passed away and both his kids live here in Portland with his new grandchildren. He moved here last year, retired to be ‘Poppa’ to his grands. I’ve met both his kids, doctor and lawyer with spouses the same and he and his late wife did a great job!

  10. shelley says:

    Laurie, you always hit the the nail on the head! I agree with every point. I’ve got two sons and a daughter and one of the things I love is their friendships with the opposite sex. I think those are so important in teaching them to value each other as people and setting the stage for respect, communication, support, etc. I’m looking forward to a world filled with more gentlemen and gentle men!


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