According to Google, “chivalry” is the medieval knightly system with its religious, moral, and social code; a knight; or the combination of qualities that are expected of a knight, (which include courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a will to help the weak at any given moment. Maybe in the 1100s this mentality applied, but does it really apply to today’s world? Back in medieval times, women appeared to be “weaker” and needed “saving” all the time, (at least that’s what movies and British literature tell us all the time). People think chivalry is only something we’ve read about in books and in fables. In today’s day and age, some women, (such as myself), love when gentlemen open the door for them or just show kindness and respect. With all of the images that news and entertainment media throw into our laps, such as images of domestic violence, rape, pornographic images , and even sexual advertising to sell a product, what is this really teaching young men, as well as women, about how to treat each other?
The truth is I have no idea the answer to that question. I’m not a psychologist, sociologist, or any kind of –ologist that would be qualified to determine longitudinal studies on how that sort of imaging affects young people. All I know is that this imaging was not existent in medieval times when chivalry was valued. Times have changed and I believe it’s time that the definition of “chivalry” changed along with it. In today’s society, I believe chivalry is something everyone should have, women included. I believe in today’s world, the term chivalry should become instilled in our social system and it should reflect the following:
- Always be kind to others, no matter who they are, (this applies to animals as well!), where you’re at, or what the situation is.
- Always be honest, and when that honestly could come off as harsh and hurt someone, find the right words to convey it in a manner where it’s as kind as it can possibly be.
- Always be polite to others, no matter who they are, where you’re at, or what the situation is. Hold open the door for the next person, (they don’t have to be female!).
- Always have ambition, follow your dreams, and respect others along the way.
- Always be open-minded to others’ differences. It doesn’t matter the difference. Always treat people as you would like to be treated.
My son, Beau, is currently 9 months old. People probably are asking themselves; how in the world can I possibly be teaching my son to live by this “chivalrous moral code at such a young age?” I fully understand that no one is perfect, (trust me, I make mistakes all the time and am by no means perfect), and that the above list of morals probably seems impossible to most. When you really think about it, it really isn’t all that impossible though. So, my answer to how I am teaching my son to be today’s form of chivalrous is the following:
- Lead by Example: If he or she sees you doing it, the more he will follow, (especially when young). It’s kind of like how your mother will tell you to stop swearing around your baby when he or she is learning to talk because you don’t want that being his or her first word. When he or she gets to that toddler age and starts rebelling and doing the opposite, that’s when things get tricky. When we get there, I plan to be kind, tell him how important it is to be “The Five C’s”, (my little nickname for it because it’s something that I try to do in my everyday life), and how what he’s doing isn’t nice. I also plan to acknowledge his feelings about what just happened too, (which ties into the next step).
- Always Have Open Communication: This is really important because I know that one day my son will ask, “Why be kind,” and I always want to have a good answer, (not, “because I said so!”). I want to be able to have an open dialogue, even if that means only acknowledge his feelings. For example, he hits someone else and steals back his toy from that person because he wanted to play with it. I know that he will be mad and cry, (assuming he is a toddler), and not want to listen to me at all when I remove him from the situation. I would tell him I understand that he is mad and upset, but it’s not kind to hit others, (even if that means telling him that he wouldn’t like it if someone hit him, so he shouldn’t hit someone else). This scenario is only an example, but I always like to say, “I’m not going to lead with force and not acknowledge his feelings because I don’t think doing either of those things is kind.
- Use Kind and Polite Words to Others: I will always be kind and polite to my son. Even with negative imaging in the media, movies, video games, etc., I want to show him that just because some people talk that way, doesn’t mean that it is right. Words can hurt, (sometimes even more than the physically hitting someone).
- Always be Honest, (Even with My Son): This is pretty self-explanatory. Even when it hurts, choose a kind, subtle way to say it.
- I Will Always Follow My Dreams: It is important that I follow my dreams and never stop trying to achieve them. I want my son to see and know that anything is possible, and to strive with all things that he wants to do in life. I like to use the phrase, “always reach for the stars, even though they might seem far away”.
**This article was also featured and published on MomQuery.com.