Raising strong men is crucial to the well-being of any society. Luckily, parents have the perfect opportunity to help mold the young men in their lives into respectful gentlemen by teaching them the importance of etiquette.
To help guide your lessons, I’ve put together 10 etiquette tips to share with your son.
1. Prioritize body language
As Jordan Peterson would say, “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.” This advice is number one in his book, “12 Rules for Life” for a reason. Standing up tall exudes confidence and shows others you’re someone to be respected. Good posture, eye contact and a firm handshake are skills every young man should prioritize.
2. Please and thank you
Asking for something politely and thanking the giver is one of the most basic, yet powerful etiquette skills a young man can possess. Encourage boys to ask nicely and express gratitude for even the simplest of gestures, such as requesting to play with a toy or asking for a treat!
3. Honor adults
Young men should demonstrate respect to their elders by referring to adults as “ma’am,” “miss” or “sir.” Miss LAST NAME, Mrs. LAST NAME or Mr. LAST NAME are also a polite way to refer to adults.
4. Look dapper
As our culture becomes increasingly casual, I think there is something to be said of dressing up for daily life. It doesn’t have to be much—a nice pair of jeans rather than sweats, or a collared shirt instead of a hoodie. These touches may seem small but will help a young man stand out amongst others who may not care about their appearance. Dressing neatly is an outward show of respect to others, and the importance of that can never be overlooked.
5. Ladies first
Pulling out seats, helping in and out of coats, standing when a woman enters a room or gets up from the table, opening car doors, carrying heavy items—these are a few things young men can do to impress the ladies in their lives. Practice these manners with your son when he is young to ensure he is ready to implement these skills for a lucky wife someday.
6. Open doors
Nothing makes me smile more than seeing a young man eagerly holding the door for others in public. While it is kind to hold the door for anyone passing through, extra consideration should be taken for women and the elderly.
7. Hats off
Knowing the correct time to remove his hat is an important skill for young men. The simple rule is to remove hats indoors, while praying, during introductions, while the national anthem is playing or when the flag of the United States is passing by during a parade. For a more detailed list of hat etiquette rules, see my blog Hold on To Your Hats.
8. Walk properly
When walking on the sidewalk, it is proper for the gentleman of the group to walk closest to the road to protect the ladies. Now, depending on how young your son is, this may not yet be a safe skill to teach. However, be sure to point out the polite gesture to your son if their father demonstrates the practice while on a family walk so he can take note.
9. Date the right way
When a young man would like to take a lady out the first time, it is honorable to first ask the permission of her father. Once the blessing is given, propose a date, time and activity to the lady (she will appreciate the thought put into the outing). Be sure to propose the date with plenty of time in advance to show she is not a last-minute ask.
When picking her up for the date, the son should go to the door and walk her to the car. The same rule applies when dropping her off—you’d never throw $500 out of your car window and hope it made it to the door, after all. And your date is worth much more than that!
On the date, a young man should take the lead and pay for the outing.
10. Screens off
While screens continue to permeate every part of our lives, the value of turning them off periodically cannot be overstated. Young men should power off phones when at the table, during meetings, while in class, or when having a conversation with others as a show of respect.
What are some manners you strive to teach the young man in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!