A Recipe for Raising Fine Young Gentlemen

By Evangelia Biddy

The rules of civility are making a comeback, even among the MTV set. With a generation of young people who have grown up eating in minivans instead of dining rooms, social graces have taken, well, a back seat.  The line between casual and crude have blurred and is constantly shifting. To address this deficit of decorum there is a growing number of experts offering training, classes and workshops to increase young people’s awareness and self-confidence by instructing them in life, social skills and yes, etiquette.

Debra Lassiter, protocol expert and director of The Etiquette & Leadership Institute,  trains the trainers and shares her thoughts on the role of manners in the modern world. “There is a huge divide in this arena. There are boys on both ends of the socioeconomic scale that lack this kind of finishing. While girls may learn some skills serving tea in their “make-believe gardens”, for boys this kind of social grooming can be viewed as less than manly. Media images rarely show young men writing thank you notes or navigating a dining table. In more than a few homes there is just no opportunity for boys to learn appropriate dining skills; and often times no one to teach them.”

Today’s young men grow up more quickly than ever before and frequently reach adulthood without many of the important life skills that will allow them to succeed personally and professionally. In today’s fast-paced, global world, young men who are able to handle social situations with poise have a built-in advantage. Parents who have grown accustomed to forking over large sums to pay for everything from SAT prep classes to advanced coaching to gain admissions to the nation’s top schools are providing a growing client base for today’s forward thinking protocol coaches. The messages from these experts fall on receptive ears. The training for a young man’s successful future should begin early and the soft skills taught by today’s new breed of etiquette experts can serve as an adjunct to academic education.

As young men move through adolescence into their teenage years, they are faced with increasing social demands and often receive mixed-messages as to what is expected of them. There is more at stake than which fork to start with and who gets introduced to whom. It is about confidence, self-esteem and a sense of place in the world. Just like adults, young men want to feel comfortable and self-assured in social settings. When boys don’t have the skill set to move gracefully through certain social situations, they act out in an attempt to cover their inexperience. This acting-out draws negative attention, making a bad situation worse.

Banking executive, Monique Harer, says she has seen her share of qualified candidates loose their top ranking over the lunch meal, which is increasing becoming the final interview. “When you are stabbing your steak and waving your fork around like a sword, no one remembers how well you scored on your last standardized test.  In a global environment these soft skills are a business and personal imperative.” Manners still matter and young men need tools to handle social situations with ease. Casual will always have its place, but completely casual is no longer cool.

Evangelia Biddy, Editor-in-Chief of Junior, The Magazine about Bringing up Successful Boys, is also a contributor to Raising Boys World, an expert for Bizymoms.com,  and an educational consultant. She can be reached at ebiddy@juniorthemagazine.com


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Posted in boys on June 26th, 2011 | Permalink | Comments »
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