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Bringing chivalry back into our modern-day world, this book shows us how to inspire today's generation of young boys to pursue honor, courage, and compassion.
In an age when respect and honor seem like distant and antiquated relics, how can we equip boys to pursue valor and courageously put the needs of others before their own? This book helps parents to inspire their boys by captivating their imagination and honoring their love for adventure. Heather Haupt explores how knights historically lived out various aspects of the knights' Code of Chivalry, as depicted in the French epic Song of Roland, and how boys can embody these same ideals now. When we issue the challenge and give boys the reasons why it is worth pursuing, we step forward on an incredible journey towards raising the kind of boys who, just like the knights of old, make an impact in their world now and for the rest of their lives.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.45(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.74(d)|
About the Author
Heather Haupt is the mother of three knights-in-training and a spunky little princess. She wants to raise children who will make a difference in this world. As an educator, writer, and popular conference speaker, she inspires parents to pursue a loving and holistic approach to education and parenting. She has taught in a variety of settings ranging from preschool nature classes all the way up to college biology labs and now homeschools her four children. She lives in the Dallas area with her family and writes at www.heatherhaupt.com.
Read an Excerpt
+ Chapter 1
Charting a New Path
ONE DAY, long ago at the almost grown-up age of twelve, I made my way to the neighborhood candy shop. A group of boys was loafing around and throwing barbs at one another. They were calling each other every variation of body parts and functions that you could dream up and laughing at their own supposed cleverness. I knew what came next. Cringing inside, I picked up my pace. As I passed them, their banter paused momentarily before altering direction. I was now the target, and the teasing took on an overt sexual nature. Some of them teased, while others looked the other way, perhaps embarrassed. Two of them started to follow as I ducked into the safety of the candy shop. The kind old man who ran the shop would not tolerate that kind of talk in his store and told the boys to leave. With an apathetic shrug they wandered off in search of new diversions.
We see these kinds of boys everywhere—the ones who are rude and crude, the ones who find entertainment in picking on others, the ones who, for all of their bravado, become speechless and weak when someone needs to stand up against the bully. The entitlement mentality is firmly entrenched, resulting in teens doing what they please and behaving like tantrum-throwing toddlers when someone stands in their way. They expect life to be handed to them on a silver platter while they sit back and enjoy themselves.
Boys are increasingly disengaged, turned off to all that matters. Many struggle in school, preferring the allure of video games, and fewer are going to and graduating from college. Instead of boys eager for independence, more young men choose to stay home now than ever before, relying on parental support far longer than their female counterparts. Within this modern state of boyhood, mediocrity and apathy are the growing marks of manhood.
+ Idealism to Fatalism
Most of us enter into parenthood with a sense of idealism. We hold a cute little baby and stare in wonder at his fresh skin, rosebud mouth, and perfect round ears. As his tiny fingers curl around ours, an unspoken resolve fills our heart—to raise this little one well, to raise a child who will make a difference in this world.
And then reality hits. If the sleepless nights or the unexplained crying that cannot be soothed does not cause doubt to set in, the first time your child throws a tantrum out in public just might. Maybe it happened when he pulled out all the toys after you had just tidied up or you caught him in a little white lie after working on truthfulness over and over again. You might have felt like throwing up the white flag of surrender as he races laps around you insisting that he is not tired at bedtime or magically disappears right after you ask him to help you with something. When they get wild and crazy, it can be tempting to calm and contain them with video games or a tablet.
We all agree: Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It takes dedication and a whole lot of consistency as we learn in a radical way to put our children’s needs (not wants) above our own. It is easy to get tired and weary, because some days it is just inevitable. It can be tempting to ease up and allow our children to do things we said we would never let them do or to let bad behavior slide because we just do not want to deal with it at that moment.
Between the idealism of new parenthood and the drudgery of day-to-day parenting, fatalism can set in, and we begin to accept the cultural stereotypes about boys. We must not let this happen.
There are a lot of people talking about the problem. But where are the solutions? We all need practical ideas for inspiring this next generation of boys and changing the microculture in which our boys will grow up. We need a road map, if you will, pointing the way to go. Something that provides direction but also the flexibility to allow each family and each boy the ability to make the path his own. The aim of this book is to do just that—to give you a strategy and plan to inspire the imagination of young boys and lay the groundwork for creating a family and community culture that prepares our boys to thrive and make the world around them a better place.
Is it possible to raise these boys of ours to be confident and yet kind? Is it possible to capitalize on all the energy and drive of young boyhood to captivate their imagination as they are propelled toward adulthood?
Enter the world of knights. They’ve mesmerized boys ever since medieval times, when real ones roamed the land. My boys were no different. If it is possible to be both starry-eyed and stoically focused, this is how I would describe my boys when we first delved into the history of the Middle Ages. This is when I read about chivalry for the first time. What I learned surprised me. I had always thought of chivalry as merely how a man treats a woman. But it is far more than that. It is an entire code of conduct. As my boys waged imaginary battles all around me, I read and was filled with the vision of raising modern-day knights.
I desired to raise my boys to treat others with respect, to fight for what is right and good, to stand against injustice and evil, to defend and protect those who are weak. Although the culture at large increasingly demeans women, I wanted to raise strong sons who would show thoughtfulness and care, not only for the women they encounter each day but for everyone. I saw an opportunity to inspire my boys to seek to build one another up instead of tearing others down. In a me-focused culture, I wanted to emphasize loving God first and from there loving others. So as we learned about the history of the Middle Ages, we delved into character development too.
The deeper we delved, the more inspired my boys became. They wanted to emulate knights in every way. Why wouldn’t they? A knight’s life is full of adventure. Knights are respected and admired for their heroic bravery; they are called on in the time of need, and they rise up to rescue and help others.
This was my lightbulb moment! Why not “train” these boys to become knights? Whoops of delight and resolve met this announcement as they were eager to start. The training was rigorous (for little boys) and included daily running, archery practice, sword fights, stick horse rides to the park (in full armor—you should have seen the curious looks of our neighbors!), mock battles, and jousting practice. They even shined my silver because their armor and weapons consisted of cardboard, foam, and papier–mâché.
But we didn’t stop there . . . Nope! In the name of raising modern-day knights, I introduced them to the idea of chivalry. As expected, my boys were drawn to this too, and so we took extra time in their knighthood training to include instructing, practicing, and rewarding chivalrous behavior. There are an amazing number of opportunities, even for young boys, to implement the code in their own lives.
They were to aspire to live out the following:
1. Love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
2. Obey those in authority over you.
3. Stand against injustice and evil.
4. Defend and protect the weak.
5. Respect and honor women.
6. Refrain from wanton offense.
7. Speak the truth at all times.
8. Be generous and willing to share.
9. Persevere and finish the task at hand.
10. Pursue excellence in all you do.
My boys love charts that show their progress, so we printed out “knight training charts” for the two older boys. Stars were bequeathed when I spotted heroic feats of chivalry. Soon I started to catch them stepping up and defending their baby brother against “injustice” (warring other brother) or racing out to open the car door for Aunt B. The boys were eager to carry groceries from the cart to the car and then into the house. I even saw the son who was struggling with lying, confess and speak the truth, even though it meant facing consequences—a true sign of bravery and strength.
Afterward, we had a dubbing ceremony in which the boys were each knighted by the king of the house. They were quite serious about it all, preparing the throne room and kneeling so reverently. Even the three-year-old slowed down from his frenzied running to watch and participate.
Long after we moved on from our initial foray into the Middle Ages, the boys were still eager to continue their knight training and grow in strength and valor.
I have come to realize that this training in chivalry was only the beginning. We have revisited this challenge with more advanced training many times. We introduced more intense physical training by graduating from a suction-cup bow and arrow to a genuine kid’s archery set and hay bale in the backyard. They comprehend the importance of the strength of character at a deeper level now than they did when we first introduced the challenge at the ages of three, four, and six years old. Now, six years later, they are excited to grow in strength and stature as they eagerly look forward to manhood. Our resolve to use this fabulous tool has only grown as they continue their journey of knights-in-the-making!
+ Throwing Down the Gauntlet
As you progress through this book, the phrase throwing down the gauntlet will become very familiar. It refers to the medieval tradition of throwing down one’s glove and challenging another to stand and defend himself or what he knows is true.
Right now I am issuing that challenge to you. I am throwing down the gauntlet, challenging you to step into your role to raise an honorable man. I am challenging you to raise a modern-day knight.
This chivalry challenge might make you uncomfortable at times. It will stretch you to live up to the integrity that you are challenging your son or sons to pursue. But it is entirely worth it because they are worth it.
Yes, there are problems in our culture. But we do not need to be consumed with fear or fatalism. It is possible to raise boys entirely different from the cultural norm. So be a warrior, not a worrier! Be fiercely loyal and dedicated to raising your boys up.
Now, let’s tackle this challenge together!
+ Chapter 2
Why We Don’t Want to Raise Typical Boys
EMBRACING THE CHIVALRY CHALLENGE allows us to tackle the problems of modern-day masculinity head on. We do not have to raise a typical modern-day boy. But to do this, we need to have a clear idea of what we do not want as well as a vision for what we do want our boys to become in order to chart a course that prepares our sons to become the men that they really want to become—men who are respected and strong, tender and considerate.
Let us take an honest look at the state of modern-day boyhood and explore what it looks like to reverse this trend. It will take thoughtfulness on our part as we assess how we are parenting our children (or not parenting them) and whether this lines up with our long-term goals.
+ We Promote Civility and Politeness
No matter what anyone else appears to be doing, or not doing, we promote civility and politeness in our homes. These lessons present themselves in the everyday moments of ordinary days.
A few years ago, a friend came into town with his wife and eight-year-old son. We arranged to meet up with them, bringing our same-aged boy. As we drove across town, our son talked excitedly about the opportunity to meet a new friend.
Unfortunately, he was in for a big disappointment. After sitting down at our table, the other boy promptly pulled out his iPad. In an attempt to help this boy feel at ease, my son asked him what he had done since arriving in Arizona. The boy mumbled something about swimming at the resort without even bothering to look up. As he put on his headphones, his father chided him.
He unplugged the headphones, casting a sullen look toward his father. In response to further questions, he gave a few one-word responses and simply switched over to playing some kind of game.
My son learned that even when we are polite and friendly, it is not always reciprocated. I left resolved to be mindful to watch my own children and help them develop social awareness and courtesy toward others. The other boy’s parents were not bad people; in fact, they were quite friendly. But they were not helping their son develop the skills he needed to make friends or be sympathetic.
When we think of the typical modern-day boy, we often think of boys who are sullen and bored, rude and crude. At least that is what we see in the shows and movies we watch, and it is often the behavior of the young people around us.
Of course, lack of civility certainly is not only a boy problem; it is growing increasingly systemic.1 As we walk into this brave new world transformed by online interactions and instant everything, we must set the example of what it means to pursue civil discourse and work to shift the pendulum back toward the realm of civility.
What ever happened to being polite? Many parents these days have lost their way when it comes to training their children to be polite. We hear more gimmies rather than please and thank yous. It is cool to rag on others and tear them down with constant teasing instead of challenging or encouraging them. Our kids have lost the perception and ability of how to treat people whether by showing respect and deference toward their elders, looking people in the eye when talking, taking turns, or empathizing with those around them.
+ We Teach Our Boys to Define Themselves by Virtue Rather Than Potty Humor or Sexual Innuendo
When they were little, one of my boys could say something as simple as poop, and his brothers would burst into fits of unadulterated giggles and outright guffaws. It seems to be something hardwired into all little boys and manifests itself around the age of three.
1. Rebecca A. Clay, “That’s Just Rude,” Monitor on Psychology 44, no. 10 (2013): 34. Available at apa.org/monitor/2013/11/rude.aspx.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Boy-Raising Adventure
1 Charting a New Path 3
2 Why We Don't Want to Raise Typical Boys 11
3 Boys Are Different 25
Part 2 The Chivalry Challenge
4 Knights in Training: Stoking the Fires of a Lifelong Quest 41
5 Physical Training for the Quest 54
6 The Code: Love God 71
7 The Code: Obey 89
8 The Code: Stand Against Injustice 108
9 The Code: Protect the Weak 122
10 The Code: Respect Women 139
11 The Code: Don't Give Offense 159
12 The Code: Speak Truth 180
13 The Code: Be Generous 198
14 The Code: Persevere 217
15 The Code: Pursue Excellence 237
Part 3 Continuing the Quest
16 Raising Modern-Day Knights Is a Long-Term Quest 253
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Heather Haupt really nailed it with her book Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys. This book has ten principles taken from the time honored code of the knights, reminding us that not much is different when it comes to raising the next generation of young men. It was refreshing for me to read a book that reminds us that boys are different and there is a very good reason why we do not want to raise typical boys. In this book parents are reminded that “old fashioned” virtues do not have to be old fashioned and chivalry is not dead…these things just need to be modeled and taught as we raise modern day knights to love God, defend and protect, persevere, pursue excellence, obey those in authority, respect and honor women, etc. One of the things that impressed me with the book is the author’s passion for the subject. This was very much displayed in the summer of 2017, when Mrs. Haupt was “live” on her facebook page every week for several weeks in a row discussing the concepts of the book with her fans and followers. I enjoyed the videos and the discussions that came of those. This book also lists several resources that your boys will love as well as a link for a Knight’s Code of Chivalry Poster that my son really was excited about as I was reading the book. This book is one I definitely recommend for parents of boys.