"There's no chivalry in culture any more. Sometimes you meet someone who everyone says is polite and you're like, 'Wow,' but then it's like, 'Hang on, isn't everyone supposed to be polite?'"
That's a quote from will.i.am, frontman of the Black Eyed Peas. This is exactly how I feel about this whole chivalry discussion. It goes beyond the whole "Should guys hold the doors open for women?" ponderings, it's a basic human-to-human interaction idea, right?
This idea -- being kind and polite to others -- is one that we, as parents, attempt to teach our kiddos everyday. We've discussed it over and over again here at Mad Life: how to find ways to teach our kids to be polite, to be respectful, to be good humans without being all sorts of preachy and strict. Figuring out that mythical way to have them want and feel like they are supposed to be respectful in their hearts, not just because "It's what Mom said to do."
Yeah, I know, how do we do that? Well, aside from pointing out that will.i.am thinks being polite and chivalrous is cool, we have to be respectful and empathetic ourselves. It's all about modeling it. Study after study shows that when you expose your kids to ideas, people, or situations where empathy is needed, and you show it and then talk about it ("What do you think that boy was feeling?" or "What should the other people around should have done?"), that sticks with them waaayyyy longer than just telling them to "Be nice" or "Be polite."
How are you teaching and showing empathy, and as a result, kindness?