Teaching Teenage Son to be a Gentleman

Experts agree that instilling good manners in teenagers is an important responsibility for parents. Good manners provide teens with the following benefits:

  1. the skills to build and strengthen relationships;
  2. self-confidence because they will know what is expected of them in a variety of situations; and
  3. a better chance at being successful in adulthood, both socially and professionally.


While all teens should develop good manners, it is especially important for boys to learn gentlemanly behavior as news reports show more and more women admitting they have been a victim to harassing behavior. Our boys should learn how to respect a lady, and we can help by talking to them about appropriate dating behavior.

Raising a gentleman may sound like a tall order, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips:

Role model. As a parent, everything you say and do will be taken on by your children as the norm, which is why it is important to be careful how you behave around them. You should practice polite behavior around the house and your boys will notice. Use table manners, kind wording, appreciation, and chivalry at home, so your son knows what to do when he is out on his own. Fathers should also treat their wives with respect, so their sons learn how to treat a girlfriend.

Words matter. Gentlemen have great manners, and good manners begin with a few basic phrases: “Thank you,” “Please?” “May I …” and “Excuse me.” These phrases should be used in your daily interactions, especially with your kids. Expect your children to ask nicely for things they want, instead of demanding it, and do not allow them to speak disrespectfully to any member of the house. Again, role modeling is essential, so make sure you avoid using slang or bad language in front of your teenage boys.

Table manners. Prepare your boys for dates and business dinners by insisting on a few basic rules at the dinner table. Table manners include keeping electronics silenced during the meal, chewing with their mouth closed, keeping bodily noises away from the dinner table, not reaching across the table for things but asking politely for food to be passed, using a napkin instead of a sleeve, keeping elbows off the table, and eating with silverware, not hands.

Offer assistance. A gentleman opens the door for others, gives up his seat on a bus, offers to help someone they see struggling, holds the car door for a lady, and pulls out a chair for a date. Train your son that it always nice to offer someone help, even if it appears that they don’t need it.

Eye contact. A gentleman appears confident. He walks with good posture, gives a firm handshake, and always makes eye contact. Eye contact demonstrates sincerity and honesty. If your teenage son feels too nervous to make eye contact, tell him to look at the person’s nose – it will appear that he is making eye contact, but it will feel less scary to him.

Thoughtful dating. If you take time to teach your son to be considerate of others, then it will not be hard to encourage him to be thoughtful to a young lady he would like to date. When asking a girl out on a date, he should make sure that the location for their first date should be fun for both of them and somewhere that she will feel comfortable and safe.

Rules of intimacy. Teaching boys to behave on their dates is vital. There has been an increase in sexual assault and dating violence, which is creating an air of insecurity among parents of girls. On a first date, let your son know he should keep his hands to himself and focus on getting to know the girl and having fun together. If your son begins to date someone seriously, let him know the signs of a good and bad relationship. Two people in a healthy relationship treat each other with respect, are honest, are willing to compromise, support and encourage each other, and respect each other’s boundaries. Unhealthy relationships are when one or both people get angry easily, put one another down, are jealous and possessive, pressure their partner, or threaten their partner. Make sure he knows that a gentleman treats a lady with respect and doesn’t pressure her to do something she is uncomfortable with.

Final Thoughts…

Children are more likely to repeat a behavior if they receive positive reinforcement. You should always be looking for moments that your son shows good manners or courtesy and take the opportunity to praise his effort.

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