raising a gentleman

Can I start with a disclaimer?  Frank and I haven't finished raising our only boy, so there is no guarantee of parenting success or failure.  Although I have lived long enough to realize that quality parenting doesn't always yield the intended outcome.

With that said our goal is to raise a gentleman.  When Clay was a young child, we read many books and sought counsel from those who had gone before us in parenting boys.  We had three daughters, so this was new territory for us.  I certainly don't mean or plan to sterotype, but in our home, with three reasonably energetic females, we set our expectation way too low for this fine young man.  He was full of life and brought along a "fast speed" that we had only seen in movies... or maybe in the grocery store as we would watch a mother of a young boy chase him down one aisle after the other.

My biggest fear when Clay was a young child involved any parking lot.  Clay knew no obstacles... there was only a straight line, and the only speed he knew was wide open... the proverbial "bull in a China Shop".  I reminded him to stay with me; I reminded him to hold my hand; I threatened to punish him for running ahead; I did punish him for runnng ahead; Frank talked to him, threatened him and punished him.  We simply had to come up with a solution.  Sometimes an idea just wells up inside, and you just know you didn't think of it on your own...

We were in a parking lot getting ready to get out of the car.  I turned toward Clay and my words were something like this:

" I really need your help.  I am afraid when we walk in parking lots.  There are so many cars and so many people and so many things to look out for.  Could you please find a way to make me feel safe?"
His answer was simple:
"Mommy, what if I hold your hand real tight?!"
From that day on, every time we started out from the car or out of a store, he held my hand.  Let me be clear, there were many reminders... "Hey, Clay, remember, I need you to keep me safe."  But even the reminders were most often met with a, "oh, yeah, sorry Mom!"   He had a responsibility.  He still feels that responsibility now for me and others.  I just recently saw an article listing 21 "Lost Gentlemen Traditions that still apply today."  click to see the article  As I read each of the 21, I was so pleased to check off many of them that Clay does right now.

Teaching fourth grade, I often have the opportunity to talk with young men about character and what that means - they listen intently when I remind them about honesty, about thoughtfulness, about being protective of others, and about being leaders worthy of a following.

That day in the parking lot we really began our intentional parenting to raise a Godly young man.  Our encouragement to him has always to protect others, to put others first, and to look for opportunities to encourage others.  We have tried to relate these ideas to Biblical principles. As a young man, we have also reminded him that the world doesn't agree with many of these principles... technology available to anyone doesn't agree with these principles.

The verse that we have quoted over and over and asked that he memorize is 2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

As I just reread that verse, my reminder was clear... Daughter of mine, are you taking captive every thought that you think to be sure it is obedient to Christ?  Our goal is to raise a gentleman... a Godly young man, and yes, there are some wonderful books and helpful materials out there, but the most effective tool available is how we, as parents, model this true measure of our belief and and faith.

Father, thank you that YOU reach out and hold my hand to keep me safe in this parking lot called life. Amen

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