The challenge of raising Gentlemen today
I have two boys, they are 10 and 7. I hope that I am setting the right example for them, and I hope they aspire to that example.
Sometimes I find it hard to explain why the behaviours I encourage with them are good, when from their perspective they seem over the top. These are not necessarily the behaviours they are seeing in their lives from peers or role-models.
Perhaps I am a little guilty of romanticising the past, but having said that…
I feel that it was much easier to raise a Gentleman in the past because of the all pervasive nature of the expectations of Gentlemanly conduct. When I reflect on why, I come up with these differences:
Respect – for one’s elders, parents, teachers, police and women were ingrained and unquestioned. Now this seems to be not only questioned, but in many cases simply absent.
Behaviour – When I was young, I remember being told by Aunties, neighbours, shop keepers, postmen, groundsmen, bus drivers, in fact a whole raft of people if my behaviour wasn’t up to par. Now, no one seems to be game to comment should there be repurcussions .
Conduct - expectations were high and they were everywhere you went, now, so long as the conduct isn’t criminal it seems to be viewed as acceptable.
Discipline – in the home or at school was harsh, immediate and mostly fair, now we have to book mediation meetings or interventions to work through the issues.
So, for now, I try to instill a Gentlemanly code with my boys, and explain that they can be better than the basic societal expectations of them, and the examples they see around them.