Boys and manners- featuring Tom Ford on how to be a modern gentleman

Fashion designer and film director Tom Ford is spot on when talking about the makings of today's gentleman in an article for AnNother magazine(Tom Ford's five easy lessons in how to be a modern gentleman) The idea itself has become lost in an era of MTV/BET, and hip-hop/pop culture romanticizing and glamorizing the "thug", rough-neck, or bad-boy image.  "Keepin it real" or being "down" is the mantra du jour.

Tom Ford-Photo-J. Burton
Fathers or parents in general I think need to return to the ways of our grand-parents in instilling in our young men what makes a gentleman.... grace, eloquence, and common-courtesy.  These are all things that will help you succeed in life and should make attractive to colleagues, employers, and a potential mate.  Never should it be taught that being well mannered is being soft or less then a man.  I once recall having dinner with a young-lady and when she "excused" herself to go to the ladies room, I stood up as she prepared to leave the table. She paused and had the most puzzled look and asked...."Do you have to go too?"  I tried to explain that it's proper for a gentleman to stand when a lady leaves the table (as Mr. Ford point out in the article).  The only thing worse than the fading of the concept of the modern gentleman is the women who don't expect or demand to be treated like a lady; many feeling it would be at the expense their independence.  This is not true. I would warn my boys and any man...if a woman expects to be treated anything less than a lady... Run!!!  Chances are if she doesn't expect to be treated like a lady , she won't treat you like a gentleman.  *Note- There is NO such thing as an "educated thug" folks.  I don't care how many degrees you have, if you walk around with your pants down to your knees... then it will appear you have none.  An educated man will carry himself as such and be confident in doing so.

So how do you instill in your son the concept of being a gentleman?  There are many books and resources out there these days on the subject of kids and manners....   here is a list from Amazon.com for your young gentleman-in-training.  Also there are a plethora of organizations out there that offer classes even on-line.  But of course the best way to instill in your son the virtues and ways of a gentleman is to of course ... be one yourself.  Children are led by example, and boys often want to emulate their fathers.  If they see you open doors and pull-out chairs.... chances are they will too. 

I've already started with my two gentlemen-in-training.  For the most part I let them enjoy being two year olds...because well... they ARE two year olds.  But there are times that call for them to be seen and not heard and be on their very best behavior; we call this "gentlemen mode".  They know when dad gives the signal and says this..... it's time to settle down and take take it down a notch.  It's please and thank you 100% of the time and no one leaves the table without asking to be excused.  I've already  seen this paying off when recently we were at the bank and my son Michael insisted on holding the door for an older woman.  Of course w/ Michael you never know if he's being a gentleman or simply flirting.
Do gentlemen drink out of "sippy cups"?
As Mr. Ford points out....  being a gentleman is more than just a "way of being"  its a state of being....  Being a gentleman isn't just tipping hats and walking on the curb-side when escorting a lady down the street.  It's also about having a work ethic, being a good, kind-hearted person who doesn't look down on others or judge someone by race, religion, or sexual preference. It's respecting others as well as yourself.

So dads, please don't ever confuse manners w/ being pretentious.  Class or manners have nothing to do with socio-economic status. Being a gentleman doesn't mean you come from money.... I means you come from a good up-bringing. I tell you this.... sit down sometimes and watch MSNBC's "Lock-down" and tell me how many gentlemen you see?  How many of these men could have been saved from the "system" if only if the idea of being a gentleman were instilled in them early and often.  Think of it this way.... It's far easier to raise a boy into a gentleman than it is a delinquent into a man....  of course if the fundamentals of being a gentleman are instilled early and often than he's already on his way to being a man.

Thanks for reading,

Well mannerEd



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