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Chivalry is Alive and Well, Because I Said So

Chivalry is a dying art. But in our house, teaching our boys to show respect for their mother and sisters is not optional — or easy. Here is a snapshot of raising gentlemen in 2019.

Over the holiday break, Laurie takes the kids to the movies while I am at work. And she sends me a text message before the movie starts, saying she asked the boys to go to the concession stand and refill sodas for their sisters and for her. They stand up to obey, but are groaning and griping about missing the previews. At this point, Laurie sits them back down and explains to them they need to be gentlemen.

Laurie and I take great pride in raising our two boys, and we don’t make too many apologies for having a high standard. We try to find grace when it comes to grades and athletics, especially when their various diagnoses have an impact. But there are some things that we will rarely let go. And serving their mother and sisters with a good attitude is at the top of that list.

“You have to rein in boys quickly,” I heard a pastor say in a sermon about raising sons. “Because most of them are gonna be bigger than their mother real quick.” Isaac is 14 years old, about five pounds heavier than me, and at least two inches taller. Jayden is almost 11, and is tracking in the same direction. So I’m glad we started on them early, because our window closed quickly.

Ever since they were young, Laurie and I have had high expectations. Our boys are to hold every door for their mom and sisters. Every second helping at the dinner table will be offered to the ladies first. The boys will patiently wait every morning for the ladies to be ready for school or church. They will make no jokes about how long the hair, nails, and make-up are taking. And when the ladies announce they’re ready to go, the boys are to make a big deal about how good they look. The only alternative is they’re gonna hear about it from me.

So after the boys head off to the concession stand, Laurie texts me and tells me when the boys started complaining she took out her phone and said, “Let’s just give Dad a call and see what he has to say about your attitude.”

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“Woah!” they say as they jump out of their chairs. “Let’s just put that away!” Then they push each other and race to exit the theater, the same way the Three Stooges stumble over each other when they’re in a hurry.

“That’s some sound mothering,” I say. Then I send a group text to Isaac, Vivi, and Laurie, “Isaac, be a gentleman. Or you and I will have words. Actually you will have no words. I will have all the words.”

This might sound harsh, but as I said I don’t make many apologies for riding the boys, and I want the ladies to see I’m addressing it. Plus, the boys clearly aren’t intimidated because Isaac messages back, “Yes, sir” and adds some smiling emojis. Later, Laurie tells me they all got a good laugh out of my text. “You boys are in for it now,” one of the girls said. “You guys better straighten up,” the other one said.

“I love it!” I said. “What happened then?”

“We kept at them throughout the movie. We asked if we could have a piece of their candy or if they’d walk us to the restroom.”

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I laughed out loud. “That’s so mean.”

“We didn’t actually make them do it. We were just having a little fun teasing them. But they were gonna do it.”

“That’s hilarious,” I said. Then I texted Isaac, “Good job taking care of your mom and sisters.”

“Hardy har,” he said. Then he added some laughing emojis. “And thanks, Dad.”

[The ADHD Library for Parents]