By Lisa Witherspoon, author of the blog The Golden Spoons
I had a conversation once with some amazing women about how growing up – and, therefore, parenting – is different today from how it was when we were young. Kids are introduced to so many things earlier these days – things like alcohol and sex. Part of our conversation also included discussing some of the ways that raising boys is different from raising girls.
With one mom/friend in particular, I was discussing the double standard that still exists regarding “intimate relations.” Among boys, it is still an accomplishment; something to be proud of with few consequences. For girls though, it is the opposite. Promiscuous girls are insulted, disgraced and, often, the consequences can be life-altering – like teen pregnancy. She said she wanted to teach her sons differently – she wants them to understand that there is not honor in that kind of behavior – for boys or girls. I admire her tremendously for that. More importantly, as a mom with three daughters, I thank her for that so very, very much.
The whole thing got me to thinking about what I hope the boys my daughters will eventually date are being taught at home today. Of course, I made a list.
Chivalry is not dead. At least it shouldn’t be. Your son should know that, when he holds a door or pulls out a chair for a girl, she doesn’t think he is doing it because he views her as weak or incapable. She thinks he is doing it because he has manners; because he is kind and puts others before himself. That is ALWAYS a good thing!
2. To take pride in his appearance
He shouldn’t show up for a date in sweats and a ball cap. I can guarantee that my daughter(s) will agonize over what to wear. She will put on make up and spend longer than usual fixing her hair. Why shouldn’t he do the same? Dress appropriately. Shave if needed. At least at my house, he better not show up with tattoos and earrings.
3. He shouldn’t change who he is to impress her
They are both their own people – my daughter and your son. Sometimes people are compatible and sometimes they are not. If he pretends to be something he is not in an attempt to find that compatibility, they will both up miserable and lonely. (For this same reason, I am trying desperately to teach my girls that they do not have to change themselves to impress your boys, so, when she breaks his heart, you can blame it on me.)
4. He should tell her she is beautiful
He shouldn’t just compliment her appearance, though. She is so much more than eye candy for him. She is smart, funny, creative, ambitious. He needs to acknowledge that. Tell her. Those words will mean more to her than he will ever know.
5. He should bring her flowers just because
Don’t save it for special occasions. He should do it just because he was thinking of her.
6. When he comes to pick her up for a date, he better do it properly
Tell him he should NEVER EVER EVER honk the horn from my driveway or send her a text to let her know he is here. He should come to the door, stand up straight, look us in the eyes, and shake our hands. Say “Yes, Ma’am” and “Yes, Sir.” Despite all the jokes to the contrary, we don’t really want him to be afraid of us – we will not meet him at the door with a shotgun. HOWEVER, he should NEVER forget that we are entrusting him with one of our most prized possessions and he is responsible for returning her to us safely. If he is unable to show us proper respect, we will have no faith in his ability to show our daughter proper respect.
7. Honesty and Communication
No relationship can work without these. If she upsets him, he should tell her. If he is not interested, he should tell her. Do it kindly, but be honest. We expect her to do the same. Sometimes it is hard, but he and she and their relationship will be much better off in the long run.
8. She is her own person
Similar to #3. Her relationship with your son does not define her. She has talents, interests, and aspirations that have nothing to do with him. In fact, she had them before she ever even knew him. She was somebody special before she ever met him and she would be o.k. without him again.
9. He should ALWAYS respect her wishes
If he wants to do something that makes her uncomfortable – sexual, social, whatever – and she tells him “No,” it’s not because she doesn’t love him. It’s because she has values and morals. She knows her boundaries. She has the COURAGE to stand up for herself and for what she thinks is right. Your son should admire her for that. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t deserve her and you haven’t done your job. (Harsh? Yes. But, remember #7? I’m being brutally honest here.)
10. There are no longer “traditional” male and female roles
If she cooks for him or cleans for him, or irons his shirt, she is doing it because she WANTS to – not because she is supposed to. Therefore, he better say “Thank You.” He can even do those things for her sometimes, too. (When he does nice things for her, she better say “Thank You,” as well, because that’s what we are trying our best to teach her.)
So, what do you think?? If you have daughters, do you agree with my list? Have anything to add?? Boy moms, are these reasonable expectations? What do you want me to teach my daughters before your son asks her for a date? Leave me some comments and let me know!