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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: 3-year-old need not be chivalrous

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a 3-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. My best friend has two daughters, roughly the same ages, and is of the opinion that I must begin teaching my son “to behave like a gentleman.”

For now that includes pulling out chairs for girls, opening and holding doors for them, standing every time they sit down at or leave the table, that sort of thing. Down the line this would expand to include actions like always paying when with a woman, whether or not they are on a date, and having her wait while he runs around to open the car door for her.

I disagree with her. As gallant and romantic as such actions would be, I fear in the coming years he would be more likely to offend the women and embarrass the other men involved. (Not that I think this is the way it should be, but I believe it is where our society is heading.)

I am teaching both of my children to simply be courteous to others. Whoever gets to the door first opens and holds it for the person behind him (or her). They both should stand while greeting a new person approaching the table … you get the idea.

GENTLE READER: Indeed. Those are the standard courtesies of our time. Little girls who are being brought up to expect to have their bills paid by male acquaintances and their male bosses to rise when they enter the room are in for some big shocks.

Miss Manners admits to hoping that reasonable gallantry survives – in the social sphere only – but not by expecting it of 3-year-olds. Like toddlers in mini versions of dinner jackets and other adult clothing, that would be just a bit icky.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have received a few Christmas cards with photos of tween and teen girls in string bikinis. I am a mother and this makes me cringe. What is your opinion?

GENTLE READER: That these cards were misaddressed.