Knights of the Kitchen Table | Raising Chivalrous Boys

Chivalry has gradually disappeared from our culture. It's time to bring it back.

What does it mean to be a man? Unfortunately, our definition of manhood has been largely shaped by the current culture in which we are immersed. Men are consistently defined by how tough they are, how much money they make, and how successful they are with women.

You don't need to look any further than to current superhero movies to see these stereotypes played out.

Iron Man: Genius Inventor. Billionaire. Playboy. And oh yeah, savior of the world with a snap of his fingers.

Batman: Rich. Brilliant. Good Looking. Ladies Man. No real superpowers besides being super rich and tough as nails.

As much as I love all things superhero, I want my boys--all boys--to know that men are called to so much more. The mission set before us as parents is to raise Knights of the Kitchen Table. Let me explain.

There once was a time where chivalry was the code that knights (and men in general) were expected to live by. Chivalry was marked by two key characteristics: ferocity and meekness.

Ferocity: Intensity, Force, Strength, Untamed Power

Meekness: Humility, Patience, Gentleness, Self-Control

Combine different words from the above definitions and you get the idea. Gentle strength. Humble Intensity. Two characteristics that contradict each other in every way possible. The merger of these traits is the birth of something beautifully different that our world desperately needs.

C.S. Lewis discussed the necessity of chivalry in an article that is just as relevant today as when he wrote it 80 years ago.

Lewis writes,

The medieval ideal brought together two things which have no natural tendency to gravitate towards one another. It brought them together for that very reason. It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson. It demanded valor of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was as likely as not to be a milksop {a person who is indecisive and lacks courage}.

Men, can we all agree we need more of this chivalrous combination in our daily lives? What would it look like if we lead our households in this way? If we entered our jobs with this mentality? If we approached every obstacle with boldness and humility?

If every man led in this way, I think the change we would see in our world would be drastic.

So how can we raise knights of the kitchen table?

Lead by Example.

Kids are always watching. They see how dad responds to every situation. If you want your kids to live chivalrous lives, look in the mirror. Who you see looking back at you will be a similar picture of who your boys will look like as men.

Choose Influences Wisely.

You will not be the only influence in your child's life! Surround yourself and your family with others who exhibit chivalrous characteristics. Coaches, teachers, church leaders, the list goes on and on. You need other people in your child's life that help move the dial towards gentle strength. I realize that you don't always get to pick these influences, but whenever you can, be selective!

Parent with the End in Mind.

If raising "knights of the kitchen table" is the end goal, then every parenting decision moves you closer to or farther away from that finish line. Let's take a look at discipline for instance. There are times that we discipline our kids in the heat of the moment in order to squash an undesired behavior. When you keep a bigger perspective at the forefront, your discipline strategy changes! Every time you discipline is an opportunity to nurture the attributes that you are hoping to see in your child at the end of the road.

Highlight Acts of Chivalry.

Acts of chivalry may be few and far between, but they still happen! There are plenty of examples of ferocity combined with meekness happening around us on a daily basis. Bring attention to brave acts that are marked by humility in the stories of individuals on a local, national, and global level. Praise moments in your boys' lives that exemplify gentle strength. This could be anything from the way they treat their brothers after losing a basketball game in the driveway to how they stand up to a bully at school. Chivalrous moments will come. When they do...highlight, highlight, highlight!

Read Stories of Chivalry.

Of course we are going to suggest reading books to your boys! Books have the power to take our kids places they wouldn't normally go and meet people they wouldn't normally meet. Transport them to medieval times and introduce them to lots and lots of knights. Our favorite book centered around knighthood is the coming of age story about young Myles Falworth. The book is called Men of Iron and it is written by Howard Pyle. Find a good audiobook of Men of Iron to avoid having to read aloud all of the Old English within its pages.

I'll leave you with one more quote from C.S. Lewis. He reminds us all that chivalry is not something that happens naturally within us. It is something we must fight for in ourselves and in the boys we are raising to be knights. Knighthood starts around the kitchen table, on the school playground, and in the backyard.

The man who combines both characters, the knight, is a work not of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble for its medium.

Find C.S. Lewis' article about Chivalry at your local library or at the link below!

Click here to buy it on Amazon.

Find Howard Pyle's audiobook at your local library or at the link below

Click here to buy it on Amazon.

Looking for more family book recommendations? Check out the rest of our Story Lists!


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