I recently saw one of those memes on Pinterest (addicted 100%) that said something that really stuck with me as the mother of three little girls who will someday grow up and meet men that interest them, as well as one little boy I hope to raise to be a gentlemen. The meme said, “Perhaps if more women were interested in being ladies, more men would be inspired to be gentlemen,” (loosely quoted). The one thing we have going for us in our house is that my husband is the ultimate gentleman. He stands when a woman enters a room or excuses herself from the table. He holds chairs, opens doors and always treats a lady correctly. He’s a shining example of what a real gentleman looks like to our daughters and a wonderful example of how we’d like our son to behave as he grows up.
But not all households are fortunate enough to be equipped with a gentleman or a lady that is willing to teach these habits. In fact, some households find these things quite outdated. I’ve heard women state that they don’t ‘need’ their doors open because they have arms and they can do it themselves. Of course we can open our own doors, but a gentleman will ensure we don’t have to. We’re not giving up our independence by allowing a man to treat us like a lady, we’re encouraging chivalry, which is never outdated.
When I read an article on Forbes (and no, I’m not ashamed to admit that I mostly read Forbes for the thought of the day – thought the content is good) that discussed the “Gentleman Project,” I was intrigued. I fell immediately in love with the concept. It spoke to me. It was almost like looking into my own mind, my own struggles and my own household. Kirk Chugg, founder of the Gentleman Project, is someone I actually feel I could be friends with in real life (not stalking, seriously) and his thoughts are on par.
“The Gentleman Projects encourages a more involved parent/child relationship by providing educational support for parents and children seeking deeper connections through authentic and meaningful habits,” announced Chugg. Like me, Kirk Chugg is a parent of four kids. Like me, he is a business owner. Like me, he finds it quite difficult at times to manage the need to run his business and his family. While so many people assume that being your own boss, running your own business or working from home mean that you are able to ‘do what you want’ and make your own schedule, it is not that simple. You still work for your clients, which means you still have to get your work done so that you can actually get paid. You still have to be accountable, present and very involved so that your business succeeds. Sure, I’m my own boss, but I don’t pay myself, so I have to work so that I do earn an income. That means I’m accountable to others, and I have to be present. It’s not as simple as just playing with my kids all day long and calling it a day. I don’t write – I don’t have a job.
It’s a challenge even to the best of parents to be great parents and great business owners. And when Chugg, an entrepreneur with a clothing line, heard his then 5-year-old son ask him what a gentleman was after hearing his father talk about his gentleman clients, he realized that something was missing. He realized that his desire was to teach his kids to be ladies and gentleman, but that he was failing in an effort to focus the same sort of energy on his business and his brand. That’s what inspired the Gentleman Project.
At first, the concept was simple. Chugg produced a notebook of lessons he and his kids wanted to learn together, and they did it as a family – spending more time together and learning from one another. It was then that Chugg’s kids decided that everyone should be able to do this project as a family, and the concept was born. Friends and family added to it, creating books and journals, videos and a concept for the plan. What happened next really astounded Chugg. Doing some research on how much time fathers spend with their children helping them become gentlemen and ladies provided some statistics about children with absent fathers – including those that work long hours and are not home often and those who are not present at all. Nearly 71% of high school dropouts and teen pregnancies occur in households without present fathers, and nearly 63% of teen suicides; the stats are awful.
Chugg discovered a disturbing trend. When a household is that of a single mother, the increase in these things is astounding, and the kids in those households become more prone to adultery, commitment, honesty and other important traits; essentially, fathers not being there for their kids means they’re not learning gentlemanly habits that can positively change their futures.
The purpose of this project is to encourage parents and their children to spend more time together in a non-strained situation. Kids that are over-scheduled, parents that are too busy and over-stimulated households are dangerous. What the Gentleman Project hopes to do is teach families five very important points.
Helping parents connect with their kids
Improving and encouraging meaningful interaction between parents and kids
Teaching respect and lifelong habits that encourage respect
Helping parents teach their kids to be well-mannered
Building family connections to be passed from generation to generation
Chugg and his wife are working with a development program to help teach others how to teach their own kids to be gracious and appropriate gentleman and ladies. The key is respect and a good familial connection. With those two things – and parents that are present – the future is brighter for all kids. Setting a good example now means your kids are more likely to succeed in the future.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images