Let My Love Open the Door: The Importance of Raising Chivalrous Boys and Feminist Girls

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Children practicing chivalry. Or faking it at least.

Do you have a son? Well good, this post is for you. A Girl? Excellent, this post is also for you.

So I have a dream…

This dream involves our daughter's being feminists - the definition of "feminist" being women who want equal opportunity, equal pay and equal treatment as our sons. I mean would anyone object to this? I know the word feminist has been dragged through the mud for years, but being one doesn't mean you have to make friendship bracelets out of armpit hair and tattoo a freedom fist on your forearm. Unless, you know, you want to.

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The second part of my dream is that as my daughters are enjoying their equal pay, equal opportunity, equal treatment lives they are also having gentleman open doors for them, pay for dinner on their first date and even, wait for it, have a chair pulled out for them in a dining room.

Am I crazy?

Because it's true, I want this. I'm going to go as far as saying that I think it's important. I notice when a man takes a moment to open the door for me, and I really notice when a man sashays through as I'm struggling to keep the Starbucks door open with my foot while pushing a stroller with one hand and holding my coffee with another (I know, cry me a river). I hate to be judgey but I immediately assume they must be an AWFUL lover. You know what? I should tell them as much. Just before they let the door slam in my face I'll just yell out guerilla style "YOU MUST BE HORRENDOUS IN BED!" That will surely work.

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So, I have to wonder… are the next generation of men up for the challenge? Are our sons going to turn into gentlemen? I think there is hope. And here's why…

I was recently at my friend Jenn's house for an impromptu dinner with friends to celebrate the purchase of her new home. When dessert appeared the 6 children dive bombed the table hoping to be the first to get a bowl of ice-cream. The boys were quicker to the plate but Jenn threw up her hand and announced "Ladies First!" We all looked at each other and, truthfully, my first thought was "Is this a good thing?" We treat our children equally but suddenly, and for the first time, the boys were being asked to allow the girls to go first. I watched her 5- and almost 3-year-old sons step aside and, without complaint, let our daughters have the first bowls.

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Jenn explained that her sons were going to learn to be gentleman whether they liked it or not. As a woman going through a divorce (with incredible grace, I might add) I believe she's had months of reflecting on exactly how she wants to be treated in her future relationships and the type of men she envisions her boys to grow up to be.

So grace, yes. I will teach my daughters grace if you teach your sons to be gentlemen. And everyone just might live happily ever after. Maybe. What do you say?

- By Allana Harkin

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Allana Harkin was born in Canada, but bleeds like an Irish, in Forty Shades of Green. Things I learned from her that changed my life for the better: family first, family second, family third. Loyalty above all else. Dig deep when things get tough. When maybe all you want to do is run away, dig even deeper. You can read more of her writing on Babble Voices.


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