We hear it often, that “chivalry is dead.” We see the lack of it used amongst millennials and subsequently young women don’t standardize gentlemanliness in dealings with men or when looking for a partner. However we are not born into courteousness or stocked with manners or created knowing a man should open a woman’s door or that love is truly a verb and takes effort. These things are taught, they are learned, observed and instilled in children and passed down through elders. As a mature female, I can say I subconsciously standardized gentlemanliness because I saw how my father treated my mother, how they treated one another, myself, and my siblings.
My father and mother were always a team, as one, because that is what marriage is and was to them. To talk of my father is my tacit inclusion of my mother. One without the other could not have developed me into the woman I am today, thusly my character has shaped the way boys and men have treated me throughout my life.
I recall my little sister recanting a story to my father about a guy picking her up for a date that pulled up in his car and didn’t get out or open the car door for her. My father said to her very matter-of –factly, “You should have turned around and walked right back in the house. That should have been the end of it.” This is the man we grew up with.
The man who habitually opened the car door for my mother or drove her places whenever they were traveling together. The man who taught my brothers to take the trash out at an early age and who were shown “ladies first” was a common courtesy. These were just commonalities to my father. He went above and beyond in all that he did. He adored my mother, treated me like a princess and made all his children feel unique. He wanted the best life for us all.
God and faith were at the core of our upbringing and something I always knew had to be priority of the man I was to date and eventually marry. My father and mother not only instilled in us great virtue and value but lead by example.
They defined the, often blurry, line of self-righteousness and maintaining standards and morals. We were given promise rings in junior high school from our parents with the explanation that we belonged to our father and our Father until our hand was taken in marriage.
When I began dating the man that is now my husband and told my dad he could be “the one,” my father’s question to me was “ What does he love about you, because I know what he should love about you?” It is that type of reinforcement from my father that has taught me what to expect in a great partner, husband, of the father of my future children and men in general. The man I married is a direct reflection of who my father is and henceforth a reflection of me.
With maturity came greater understanding of character and the foundations that were set before me. My father is the greatest man I have ever known. I didn’t always know I would end up marrying a man who shared many traits and characteristics with my father. He was exceptional, and all that he was did not translate into something I believed could be attained. It was revelatory when I realized the man I fell in love with, too embodied some of those same exceptional qualities. I am adored, loved by my husband and am able to communicate how I need to be loved. He is a man of few words but when he speaks, people listen. He is kind and doesn’t play about his God. Although my husband had his own men in his life who have reared him up in value, he too admires and respects the man my father is and has been to me.
I see it passed down through my sister and brothers with their spouses to their children. My sister began assisting her son at the age of two in holding doors for ladies, telling and showing him “ladies first,” and now at age four it is fun for him and has become part of his character to hold doors, automatic and manual, for men, women and children. The next time a man comes at my youngest sister incorrect I bet she will check him and he will learn. It takes one to learn one. Chivalry should never be dead or go out of style because when it does, a little bit of humanity is lost. Long live the gentlemen.