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They Are Always Watching

The title of the opinion piece caught my eye. “Dear militant feminists, stop messing it up for the rest of us.” The author, Carol Roth, is a “recovering” investment banker, bestselling author of “The Entrepreneur Equation,” and television news contributor.  The article (1) expresses her fears that good manners are being killed because some women do not understand the real meaning of equality and sexism.  

We can continue to fight for them (oppressed women), while still appreciating the manners of a man—or anyone, for that matter—who is holding the door open for you.

To dote on a woman and to raise her up on a pedestal is a signal of respect, not a reflection of inferiority. While it may be a distinction, it’s not a discrimination, as it certainly doesn’t hold a woman back. And, while you may not want a man to offer up his seat on the bus while you show your grit and determination to stand, I would welcome the gesture, after a long day in four-inch heels, even if I ultimately turned it down.

I appreciate the fact that when the Titanic sunk, the women and children were allowed off first, and would appreciate the same courtesy today.”

She closed her opinion piece by stating, 

“So, to the women who are offended by civility and manners, I again politely ask you to stop screwing it up for the rest of us and ruining common courtesy in society.

And to the chivalrous men, your courtesies are appreciated by many. I say thank you as I virtually curtsy in respect, not in deference.”

Ms. Roth’s response to the controversy of whether a man should display good manners, like opening a door for a woman, reminded me of a 2017 email I shared before I created TheBuddyBlog.com.  The personal reflection, written after a date with the woman who would soon become my wife, offered a different perspective on this issue for men to consider, namely, that their children are always watching what they do. Reading Carol Roth’s recent article prompted me to share, for the first time on TheBuddyBlog.com, my comments of 2017 titled, They Are Always Watching.


They Are Always Watching 

August 2017

To the Men I Know,

One of the significant responsibilities we have as fathers is to be a role model for our children.  Recently I came across a quote reminding me that being a role model is not something you turn on and turn off.  There is no off switch.  You are a role model whether you want to be or not.  All the time!

The American author, Robert Fulghum, is quoted as saying: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.

Recently, I took a lady friend to dinner.  As we walked across the parking area, I heard a voice behind me say, “Thanks for the lesson.” A quick turn of my head, and I realized the young man walking around his car was actually speaking to me.  Unsure of his tone, my mind raced through the possible reasons for his comment.  Did I cut him off, steal his parking spot?  I quickly responded by simply saying, “I beg your pardon?” What I had not realized until that moment was that the young man had noticed how I had come around to the passenger side of my car and opened the door for my date.  The young man quickly explained, “Thanks for the lesson on how to treat your wife,” as he then proceeded to open the car door for his spouse.   I just smiled and remembered…They are always watching.

This episode took me back to 2000 when a former high school friend of my daughter approached me about supporting his work in campus ministry.  Stunned, I could only remember this guy as — shall I say — quite a hell-raiser in high school.  As he shared his testimony of coming to faith, he mentioned how my (late) wife and I influenced him.  He recounted that he had had a very dim view of marriage and faith, in part, due to the less than admirable relationship between his parents.  But one day at high school, he watched as my wife and I left some school event, and I proceeded to open the car door for her.  He said it was only a small act of courtesy, but knowing us, and the faith of our daughter, he concluded that there was more to marriage and faith than what he had experienced at home.

Yes, they are always watching.

Then recently, as I helped my son-in-law, move some furniture, he  chuckled and asked, “Dad, did I ever tell you about my first date with that daughter of yours?” Now married for 15 years, he recalled taking her to the local O’Charley’s restaurant, parking the car, and proceeding to walk to the entrance only to discover his date was still sitting in the car.  Thinking the passenger car door had again malfunctioned, he hustled to her side of the car and opened the door.  Asking if everything was ok, he was surprised to hear her explain how her dad, as a matter of respect, always opened the car door for her mother and she expected any man who courted her to do the same. 

With Robert Fulghum’s quote fresh in my mind, I will confess to having a huge smile on my face and thinking, “Yes, Robert Fulghum, they are ALWAYS watching.”

So, gentlemen, I share these anecdotal episodes in my life as a way to challenge you to ponder some of your own.  

What life lessons are your children learning from watching how you treat their mother?  

Because remember, they are always watching.


Photo by Katherine Chase on Unsplash

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  1. Peter Schmidt

    Buddy, This was very inspirational as so many of your blogs are. I appreciate being on your list.

    Pete S ________________________________


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