Where Is Chivalry Going?
by Oriana Biela, Registered Dental Hygienist
When I had my first son, I never thought it would be so much fun. My husband and I were busy with his dental practice at our new location on Commerce Boulevard in Rohnert Park, and I was lost in worries of diaper blowouts and tears. I was wondering if I would ever experience a full night’s sleep again. Now that my two sons are 2 and 4 years old, I see other things to be concerned about. That’s the thing with kids. Once you think you have it all figured out, they change and give you new challenges.
One thing I am lucky to have experienced in my life is lots of love and gentlemanly manners. My father is from Europe and from a different generation and time. He has always been chivalrous – opening building doors, helping old ladies cross the street, opening and closing car doors, etc. My husband also does these things and l love him for it. It makes me feel taken care of and respected. Naturally, I want to teach my boys to do the same.
The other day I was walking with my son to school. We got to the gate and, just as we reached it, a mother and her daughter bounded down the stairs approaching the gate at the same speed. I had been talking to him about opening doors for ladies (and girls), and I was surprised and happy to see him reach for the gate latch, push the door open and wait for the little girl and her mom to pass through.
However, their reactions surprised me. They both looked at us with confused looks. I said, “Go ahead. We are doing chivalry training.” Then the mother smiled, looked taken aback, and said, “Thank you!” and ushered her daughter through. Other times when we have done that, I notice that the little girls are so quick to knock him out of the way to prove that they can do it just as well, or as fast or better. We practice it every day, though, just so he can get the idea in his head.
It makes me think that it’s one thing to teach my son to do these things, but if the ladies or girls he is around are not expecting it or looking for it, is his effort wasted? The women’s liberation movement led to more independence in women, but I worry that we may have also lost the notion of what we’re really looking for in a good man in trying to prove we don’t need their help. Women often observe that there are no good men out there, but I think we need to set the expectation and tone for what a good man needs to be. I find myself asking if women, too, have a role in helping to create a chivalrous man? And how do fathers and men fit into that?
These are big questions and I am not sure the answer is clear. However, I want my sons to continue the tradition of being a gentleman. I will demand it, and hopefully one day a wonderful young girl will also demand it in exchange for my son’s affection. Maybe the same girl who knocked him out of the way that day.
Oriana Biela is a registered dental hygienist and the wife of Dr. Anthony Lieu. Being part of the amazing team at her husband’s dental practice in Rohnert Park, California, is an important part of her life. Teaching chivalry and a balanced life to her two sons, Isaac and Logan, is also a priority.