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Will the Real Men Please Stand?

While I was wandering about the country over the weekend, I was thinking about my son and the kind of man we are training him to become.

You see, I ran into a few men during my travels who reminded me that boys do not automatically spring up into the chivalrous sort.

While I was at the airport, nervously waiting to board the first plane I have been on since 1997, I looked around the crowded boarding area and spotted an empty seat. I lugged my two heavy carry ons and my pregnant belly over there and sat down, relieved to have a few moments of rest after hauling all my luggage about a mile from the parking garage to the baggage check.

I had just gotten out my Bible to catch up on my reading when I noticed a shadow move over me.  I looked up to see a man who looked to be about my own age, in his 40′s. He looked down at me and said sternly, “You’re in my seat!”

I was very embarrassed to have sat down without knowing that he apparently owned the space. Who knew there were assigned seats in the airport boarding area? I guess things have changed more than I knew.

I immediately apologized and began gathering up my bags. Did I mention they were heavy? The man stood his ground (I guess he owned that, too.) and I heaved my burgeoning belly upward and out of his seat. I again apologized for the mistake as he sat down while I scanned the room for an empty space. By that time the boarding area had filled to capacity and there was no room in the inn.

It was almost time to board, so I comforted myself (and my shoulder – the heavy bags, you know) with the fact that I would soon be seated on the plane.

While I stood I gave Mr. Chivalry the stink eye glanced over to the boarding area property holder and noticed him feeding peanuts and talking soothingly to some sort of critter in his carry on bag! I couldn’t help being appalled that he was more concerned about an animal than an elderly pregnant lady who was behind on her Bible reading!

When I finally boarded the crowded plane, I saw that most of the seats were taken. I nervously decided on one of the last empty seats, which happened to be between two men.

Having learned from my embarrassing mistake, I made sure to ask, “Is anyone sitting here?”. The man closest to the aisle indicated that it was indeed available and I sighed with relief. I smiled as I looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to rise and let me in.

He was unmoved.

Literally.

Once I could see that he had no intention of allowing me to pass without contorting my self and hugging the seat back in front of me, I wriggled and heaved and squooshed my self past him, practically ending up in his lap on my way.

Incidentally, a 5 month pregnant belly isn’t easy to maneuver into a center seat past a large seated man in a crowded plane.

Both of the above incidents made me realize that I want to be sure my children, especially my son, understand how important it is to be respectful to those who are elderly or weak or even pregnant and burdened with a heavy load like I was.

On my way back home, as I was walking through two parking garages with my four heavy bags. I had to stop frequently to catch my breath. Several men passed me, not walking the opposite direction, just walking more briskly in the same direction, but none offered to help.

It made me sad and frustrated that no one was willing to give a moment’s help to a pregnant lady with a heavy load.

When I relayed all of the above to my husband after arriving home, he was just as frustrated. He was also angry that no one had helped me when I obviously needed it.

We talked about how children must be taught to be polite, respectful, and helpful. It doesn’t just grow in them naturally.

I think it is especially important to teach boys that one day they will be big strong men, stronger than most women, and one day they may meet up with an old pregnant lady who is struggling with her luggage.

It sure would be gentlemanly to give that lady a hand.

What do you do to instill gentlemanly attitudes in your boys?

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Comments

  1. How outrageous! I find the lack of chivalry these days appalling, and am so thankful for a very loving, godly husband. :)

  2. DUDE. I’m so mouthy when I’m pregnant. LOL. I’da probably been rude. =(
    Anyhoo. We have 2 sons (3 and 2). We encourage them to open the doors for the girls, and give them high praise for ”helping me with all this heavy stuff”. My man tells them frequently that they are ”good men” and models Godly/gentlemanly behavior for them.

  3. I’m curious are you from the south? I am from the north (originally) and moved south and was shocked that people are gentlemanly! People do help others with a door or with a heavy burden. In the NE this was unheard of! I would love to teach my kids to be considerate and have manners!

  4. That is SOOOOOO rude. Although I have to say you don’t even look preggo, much less 5 months along. But even if you weren’t preggo that isn’t acceptable! I’m blessed with a very chivalrous husband, so he’s leading by example. He also instructs our eldest to help whenever there is an opportunity, like if an elderly lady drops something at the mall etc. In our house it’s the guys job to do the outside work, carry in groceries, warm up the vehicles etc. I think a strong male role model is key.

    As for me, when I’m out with my eldest I do really passive aggressive things to remind and teach him. For example, I’ll stand in front of an entry door until he remembers he needs to open it for me, or walk away from the full grocery cart so he realizes that as “the man” it’s his job to push it :D

  5. Alice McD says:

    Unbelievable.

    Okay, first guy, not an excuse but at least an explanation: Weirdo. Probably lives in his mother’s basement and doesn’t get out much. Which also probably explains his childish “MY seat!” claim.

    Mr. Aisle Seat: Seriously!
    I have never seen anyone, man or woman, who WANTS someone to squeeze past them while they are seated, which unavoidably puts the climber’s posterior into the seated person’s face. We can just be satisfied that he got what he deserved.

    On teaching chivalry, I think it is best done by example. We ALL go around too often with our blinders on, intent on our own affairs and not noticing others. Kids get such a kick out of being helpful, especially when it pleasantly surprises and pleases the recipient. If we look for the strangers around us who need help, and offer it, children begin to turn on their radar to do the same thing. I have only been disappointed by a few adults who act unappreciative instead of joining in “the village” and praising my kids, or at least thanking them suitably. Well, come to think of it, I’ve also been a little miffed when I hold open doors for stroller pushing mommies who breeze past as if I owed them……. but I can take it. Really. I’m not bitter. Not me.

  6. Oh for pete’s sake, that was rude of them! Maybe you weren’t obviously pregnant to them (I mean, 5 months isn’t that big), but even so!

    I would have played the “tired, pregnant woman” card and turned it around on that first guy, but that’s just because I’m more aggressive than I ought to be.

    Sorry you had to deal with that!

  7. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that!!

    It is so true that those qualities have to be taught. I’m trying to instill those values into my little son as well. I think it starts at home with how they treat their mom and sisters (if they have any).

  8. The only boy in my house is my husband, so he’s not a boy anymore. I certainly don’t want to talk bad about him, so I won’t give specifics. But the topic has come up between us about how he isn’t as curteous as he once was. He will still hekp out others in need, but there are many times at home when he’s just comfortable and not thinking about taking those extra steps. He agrees that he should be more aware and do more.

    So the conversation has extended and my point to him and my girls is this:
    We are born sinful. It comes naturally and is EASY. However, making good choices and doing good requires a choice and EFFORT. Be on the lookout for opportunity to do good and make good choices (which includes being helpful!)

    mychildsview.blogspot.com

  9. I can see (I didn’t say it was right) not stopping to help someone carry something, mostly because so many people are either shy (giving the benefit of the doubt, I know I’m shy that way) or just inconsiderate, even if not intentionally, but not moving a bit to let a woman (or ANYONE for that matter!!) by one’s legs in a crowded airplane is just plain rude!

    Shameful- which just goes to show that the Bible is so true, a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (I bet if his mother knew how he treated you, and how it was essentially her fault, yes, I know that’s laying a lot of responsibility and even blame at the feet of mothers everywhere… she would be ashamed)

    I’m working on my boys, especially after realizing that although my oldest will do just about anything I ask, like helping me carry things, holding the door, etc… he rarely offers or does it on his own… so something has been missing, and we’re going back and working on some fundamentals!

  10. Regardless of whether you’re from the south or not, they should have some manners! I am appalled that that man in the airport declared rudely that you were in his seat. Seriously, he must be chemically imbalanced. That’s just not at all normal for a grown man to act like that– let alone to a pregnant woman!

    And that man on the plane?! Anybody over two should know in that situation to stand up to let someone by.

    I had a baby carrier in each hand and three kids following me into the clinic about a week ago. I had a couple nice men offer to help me out. I was relieved to know that chivalry is not completely dead. Even though I declined the help, my children were amused at why people were offering. It’s not something we see or hear regularly from strangers.

    As a mother of five boys, I take very seriously the duty I have in raising gentlemen. I feel like waking them up from their naps right now and having an impromptu lesson. But I’ll wait and save it for tonights Family Home Evening lesson.

    Sorry this happened to you Connie. How exasperating!

  11. Oh Connie – I am so sorry that you were not properly assisted in your journey! What a shame! Unfortunately, not at all uncommon. Do you know, my sweet and gentlemanly husband has often been rebuffed for offering to open a door or carry a burden for a woman – that’s what feminism has achieved for us! He has not been deterred – he just keeps on being the gentleman he knows he ought to try to be.

    As for our son, we call him our ‘gentleman in training’, and he has learned to hold doors, give up his seat, move out of the pew when a woman needs a center seat, and say excuse me when he crosses in front of a lady. He is still in training and needs some reminders, but you would not believe how often he does what he ought to do and HE gets rebuffed!!!! Rarely does he get a smile or thank you – often he gets a grouchy ‘that’s ok’ or ‘go ahead’ – and we need to explain to the lady that he is a gentleman in training and needs to hold the door and have her go through first! He is not terribly ugly, obnoxious or overly smelly, and he only has one head, so I can’t figure out why so many women are adverse to receiving his assistance! One day he just shook his head (on the verge of tears) and said, ‘ Mommy, I don’t think good manners are going to be needed when I’m all grown up, because no one is using them now!’.

    My husband thinks it is equally important to treat our 12 year old girl like a lady so that she will look for spouse who shows her the same kind of respect, so he opens doors for her and she waits patiently! We can just see her on a date ( in twenty years or so) waiting at the car door for her fella to open it, and him having no clue why she is waiting! My husband is going to have to give a few ‘crash courses’ in Manners 101 before she begins courtship!
    Don’t you sometimes wish we could turn back the clock to a time when gender roles and respect were more clearly defined, and courtesy was a little more common? I do!

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      @Heather, My husband was saying the same thing about women who act offended if they are offered assistance. He said most men are probably afraid to offend a woman because of the “We Women Don’t Need Men” attitude so prevalent today.

    • @Heather, I think it’s probably just as important to teach our girls to be courteous and lady like as to teach the boys to be gentlemen. I know that I tend to have an “I can do it myself” attitude. While I try to be very nice when men offer to help me, I usually reject the help quickly because I don’t feel comfortable with the attention given me. I usually say “no thanks” or “I got it”, when a man hold a door for me or cart boy wants to take my groceries out and load them in my car, or someone stops to pick up something I dropped, or when someone opens a car door for me. I would really rather do those things myself. I’m afraid I’m not the best example to my boys on how to be chivalrous because I don’t act like I want or need boys/men to do those things for me. I’m think my girls are the same way. I absolutely see the need for better manners across the board, but from my experience girls really need to be taught to have the appropriate behavior towards chivalry and respect for men as the stronger gender for boys/men to see the need for a gentler more considerate view toward girls/women.
      As for how Connie was treated, that was truly appalling and I would have said something even if I wasn’t pregnant. I’m sure if I was pregnant, I would have had no problem let him know exactly what I thought about his rude behavior and would have had him cowering with embarassment when I was done. (which would also apply if I was a bystander) And the one who wouldn’t stand up to let you by, I would have just said “would you mind standing up so I can get by?” and made some remark about my belly or not wanting to put my rear in his face if he didn’t appreciate having to move. lol

  12. That is certainly appalling, but sadly not too surprising. I had a few similar experiences during my last pregnancy. I will say that in the parking garage situation, my husband would have been hesitant in today’s society to offer assistance. We women can be leery, paranoid and sometimes freak out in those cases. I’m surprised some other woman didn’t offer to help you, though – I absolutely would have!

    We have two sons, and we are teaching them to always be mindful of helping other people. If we are waiting in a crowded area, we always insist that our children offer their seats to pregnant or older women (my husband & I do the same – we’re young, we can stand!) I hate it when we see whole families with children lounging on the seats in restaurant waiting areas while elderly people, pregnant women or people with disabilities stand. It’s disgusting.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      @Kelly, I should have put this in my post, my sweet girlfriends from Blissdom helped me more than once with juggling my bags during the weekend, and I was SO thankful for their offers!

  13. Oooh…I’m frustrated with you.
    One thing we do is that when we all go out, one of the boys holds the doors for everyone, where ever we are. They actually love it and take turns holding doors. When there are two doors to hold, two of the boys do the job together.
    We are also working on them not sitting down at the table at meal time, until all the girls and mama are seated.
    Now you’ve given me something new to work on. Carrying things for others. :)

  14. Our boys (2 & 3 right now) already open doors, give up seats and help carry things. They sometimes remember on their own & sometimes need on -the-spot reminders. However, teaching them (and striving to live) the love of Jesus helps all of us have a heart for all people…
    especially those who are in obvious need.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  15. I am blessed to live in the great state of Texas where daily men are more chivalrous to me than my own husband. He’s not from around here and was one of 4 boys. It makes me sad that these simple things do not occur to him, though he loves me and loves the Lord. You’re right, it doesn’t just happen. After 11 years of marriage, I’m making progress with my husband, and he’s been making progress with me, too :), but you can bet I’m working doubly hard on my boys. They are pros at getting the doors for us and I love it! Of course, I’ve also got my work cut out for me making my girls act ladylike!

    Glad you made it safely back, no thanks to those guys.

  16. That is horrible. I wish I was there to give up my seat and tell those rude guys a thing or two on your behalf.

    Unfortunately I do think I need to add that I did meet you this past weekend and had no idea you are pregnant. I must be going blind. I say this in the hopes that the men were going blind too and didn’t realize you were pregnant.

  17. I’m a “kill ‘em with kindness” girl, myself. I’ve been accosted in a waiting area as you were. When the (younger than I) man announced to the room that I was in HIS seat, I looked him sincerely in the eye and said, “How gentlemanly of you to give it up for me,” and then purposefully went back to my crochet without looking up again.

    On an airplane, if I’m the lucky middle seat dweller, I will stand and look expectantly at the aisle-seat person until he stands to let me pass, then thank him profusely for his courtesy.

    Once I was going through airport security with a 5-week-old baby and two good-sized carry ons. I had to take the baby out of the wrap carrier, remove the wrap carrier and put it in a bin to be xrayed, walk through and then reassemble us on the other side. A man behind me humphed and harumphed his disgust at being inconvenienced by my very existence. An older lady (or, more likely a very YOUNG angel!) behind him said loudly, “If you’d give her a hand, you’d be through much sooner!” Then she came around him and helped me and went back to heaven (so I suppose).

    Our oldest son is 10, and we expect him to show care and courtesy to all females and to look for ways to serve them. We prompt when necessary and praise all efforts and, unfortunately, console him when his efforts are rebuffed (what’s with THAT?). He seems to get a real kick out of carrying bags (the bigger, the better!), opening doors, and walking on the street side of the sidewalk.

    My chivalrous husband won my heart by being the most unfailingly kind man I’d ever known. I hope our boys grow up to be just like him!

  18. Connie I just love reading your memoirs you crack me up. It is so true about the rudeness factor. We are teaching our children 3 and 5 to have manners and be courteous. My 5 year old son will hold any door for as many people as he can that includes men and women. The thing that surprises me is how many women have given me and him a dirty look while he was holding the door for them. I’m also having trouble explaining to him why most people seem to let the door just slam in a person’s face. Rudeness has struck hard in both genders here in the great North East. Uggg…

  19. I am regularly disappointed in less than gentlemanly men, but it is also regular reminders of all that our job as parents entails when it comes to our boys. Like you, we have one boy and a handful of girls. We encourage him to treat his sisters as ladies, even when they are being pills. Thankfully, he takes great pleasure in being polite and gentleman-like. To the extent that we often have to drag him away from holding the door at the mall or something like that! He is only five, so there is so much to do, but we are in an encouraging place with him for now. =) Plus, his Daddy is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. ;)

  20. Oh Connie,
    I think that sounds just awful! I don’t have boys, only girls, but I know exactly what you mean about chivalry being non-existent in some men. I used to say that my MIL gave me my spouse “half-done” because I had to teach him how to be gentlemanly early in our relationship. I think it is so important for Mothers to guide their sons in this area. As my girls hit dating age, it was most difficult to find young men who exhibited the qualities we felt were important. After all, if they can’t open a door or help with heavy bags then how were they going to deal with more challenging tasks like child-rearing and such? I am pleased you made it home safe and sound even if you were a bit frazzled.
    Blessings,
    Selena

  21. That’s one thing I’ll miss when we move back to the States. Here in Korea, I am always offered seats, help dragging my stroller through un-stroller friendly areas, or just taking care of my kiddos (like the day I was carrying the baby and my 2yo fell and skinned his knee). I’ll grant you, I don’t get quite the same consideration when I’m alone – but give it a couple months and my prego belly will prompt people to offer their seats and help even when I’m on my own.)

    To answer your question: I always encourage my son (3yo now) to carry things. Then I make a big deal about what a good job he’s doing using his big, strong muscles. We also talk about how God gave him those big, strong muscles so he could help people who aren’t as strong as him.

  22. Well, I think you were very gracious! I’m kind of twitching just reading this. I don’t have boys, but I get mad at my sister for not teaching my nephew basic courtesy. Does that count?

  23. kellyfamily says:

    You said elderly pregnant woman…YOU ARE NOT ELDERLY. If I admit to that, than I have to say that I am elderly…

    carry on. The first guy is psycho-not ungentlemanly-psycho.

  24. Yuck! I cannot believe those men were so un-gentleman-ly! How terrible!

    My husband and I are really trying to rear our children to be helpers.

    I was beaming when a mom whose daughter is in my second grade son’s class told me that her daughter shared that he often opens and holds the doors at school, saying ladies first. :) It was nice to know that what we say at home is sticking. (Okay, at least some of it!!)

    I’ll send him over to hop out of his seat and carry your luggage next time. Ummm…. Ya have any daughters around his age????

  25. I have 2 boys (15 yrs and 12 yrs). They have been taught from the time they started walking- you don’t let a door shut in someone’s face even if that means you have to hold it for 10 people behind them; a pregnant woman is carrying a person already if she has things in her hand offer help; and the last thing was taught alittle later, what would they do if that lady were their sister or mother?
    I find it the rudest thing in the world to walk out a door behind a man that just lets the door fling shut behind him.
    We are from the south and chivalry is not dead nor will it die out in my children.
    Kristi

  26. Wow! That is unbelievable. My kids — even my girls — frequently hold doors for people or even open/close my car door for me. I know that I have instructed them to do so in the past and that they learn from my husband’s example. I didn’t realize we were doing something so unusual.

  27. That is horrifying! I am glad that my husband would not act that way and I hope my son will not either!

  28. Oh my word, Connie! I had no idea you went through that. How frustrating!!! Grrr….I think of these things as I’m teaching my sons to be little gentlemen. It thrills my heart every time I get out of the car and find my son standing there with his elbow shoved out there for me to grab. He’s really too low to do me any good, but he’s learning a lesson that I hope becomes engraved in his heart.

    *Thank you so much for letting me sit next to you at the Faithful Bloggers dinner. It was so neat getting to know you!*

  29. I’ve been an old pregnant lady and I feel for you, Connie!

    We have been teaching our 3 year old to allow ladies to go first, including and especially his sister and his Mama. This can be a challenge when it comes to dessert or rushing through a door.

  30. This kind of thing always gets me so worked up. I wonder how people can be so rude. I guess I just feel like it should be a no-brainer but apparantly not.:)

    We intentionally talk to our son about ways to serve others and propmt him when opportunities arise. He might hold the door open for us and as I go through I ask him to continue holding the door for the next people. My husband is a great example and often talks to him about his role. We mainly focus on God’s role for him as a man. I feel like when we are able to teach him from God’s Word, it is the most powerful teaching tool.

  31. That is awful! When not pregnant, I always shamed men on the train to get up for a pregnant woman. Usually, “Oh, look at you! Surely one of these gentleman will get up and let you sit” :o)

  32. We raise our son to respect women. My five year old son will hold doors for women, and will allow myself and his sister through the door before himself. He has even called his daddy out a few times ;) We want him to know that God wants him to be polite and respectful to women. We teach him to never, ever raise his hand to a woman, never say inapproriate words in front of a woman, and so on.
    How sad the experience you had on your trip?!?!

  33. Oh dear, your story makes me weep for the current men. I didn’t read all of your comments above, so forgive me if this is repetitive. Sadly, I think the women of yesteryear trained them to be that way with the Women can do everything men can do and often better’ attitude. Men can be nervous about being…well…men. Unfortunately this past generation didn’t get that training and it’s so sad. Today at the DMV, I had my baby in her carriage, we’d been standing in line for a long time and an older man behind me asked if I’d like to sit down and he would hold my place in line. I was a bit surprised at the gesture and realized again in that moment how far away from being nice to each other we have come.

  34. I am so sorry that it was your misfortune to be traveling with those particularly rude men those days!!– especially in the South! It has been my wonderful experience to be treated so nicely most of the time when traveling or needing help. We are from the upper Midwest now, but lived 7 years in Nashville and have since returned for visits and I just love being called “honey” and “sweety” by the clerks at southern gas stations!!
    Anyway, we have raised 5 sons ( and one daughter) -youngest 19 yrs. old- and have received compliments all along about how polite and kind they are. I have to say that they learned a lot from watching my husband open car doors, help others, etc. – and by me guiding and reminding them how to help- and to open their eyes and notice what was going on around them –does anybody need your assistance?:)

  35. First of all, you are SO not an “elderly” pregnant lady. (You are, in fact, one of the cutest pregnant ladies I have ever seen. :-)

    Secondly, now I am trying to wrack my brain to see if I offered to help you at any point at the airport in Nashville. (And if I didn’t, then, well, I am so sorry! :-( )

    We are definitely trying to raise our son to be a gentleman. However, like other commentors have said, women are so repulsed by men who act like gentleman. My husband is always opening doors and giving up seats for women. Usually he gets rude looks or grunts. Very rarely does he get a “thank you.”

    I live in the South and unfortunately, the South just ain’t what it used to be.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      @Kelly @ Wisdom Begun, Thank you, Kelly!

      I should have said in the post that SO many sweet ladies at Blissdom helped me when I was carrying a load. I think being strangers makes people feel like they really aren’t obligated to help.

      And my husband pointed out the same thing about how many women respond to gentlemanly acts.

  36. I am really frustrated at the treatment you experienced at the airport. But, I agree with the other ladies, he was just a weirdo. I think the suggestion of telling him thank him for giving you his seat is very appropriate. As far as the man on the plane, I think he may have been just trying to get his jollies from your rear end crossing in front of him so closely.

    You diffently do not look pregnant and you do not look old. You are one of the most beautiful women I know. Of course, I may be just a little biased since I am your MOM. But, I am not the only one who thinks this.

    Love you Lots
    MOM

  37. I am so glad you wrote this post, I missed it a few days ago when it was posted and just went back to read it (I love your blog!!) and you know I haven’t put too much thought into this- I mean I make my nepfew and son use proper names (ms. or mr.) and tell them to be nice to girls but ya know i never really focused more so on what “being nice” is for them. Thanks so much for this wonderful post, this will be on my mind to remember to teach them what nice is and to offer help to those clearly in need.

  38. Just ridiculous! Thank you for the reminder that I need to raise a gentleman. Right now he’s only 1, but it’s never too early to start training, right? May you meet better men along the road next time.

  39. How frustrating for you! However, I don’t think it’s too surprising! I live in Tennessee and opening doors & giving up seats is non-existant for the most part! (Not to say there aren’t some men who are completely gentleman-y out there!)

    My husband is the type of man who opens doors and tries to be helpful towards women but he is sometimes a little cautious because he has had women refuse, open the other door, or hold onto the door he is opening (I guess they think he’s gonna let it go to hurt them!) This is frustrating to him because he’s just trying to be a gentleman! So I think the attitudes of some women has caused men to be a little afraid!

    I am expecting my first son in April and we are going to raise him to be a true southern gentleman!

    (And I had to laugh that you wrote you are an “elderly pregnant lady”! You are not old & definitely don’t look elderly!!)

  40. I have a 19 year old son (and now I feel elderly). He was recently at the DMV where he watched a mom with a stroller trying to get in the door while two men on cell phones ignored her and let her struggle with it by herself. My son was already inside, the men were right there in the entry area. He said he was getting ready to go over himself when the mom finally managed to get the stroller through. He had, shall we say, less than kind words for these two men. In fact, he had words I can’t repeat here. He found it inexcusable that a woman would have to struggle with a stroller while two able-bodied men pretended not to notice. So take heart. Chivalry is alive and well, just apparently not all that common.

  41. Just wanted you to know I made me 11 and 10 year old sons read this, so they can see how NOT to behave as they get older. They were so surprised that these men acted in such an ungentlemanly way.

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