Posted by on Mar 24, 2012 in Articles, Blog | 0 comments

Dad….The King of his castle…..and his young knights.

My youngest son, Joseph, is smitten with all things Medieval. He has a collection of knights on horses, a sword and helmet (toys of course, the sword is foam rubber) and a shield, he sometimes uses the knight name “Sir Carter” (don’t know how he came up with that one) and he and I made a small castle for his toy knights (check back here for a video on how to make a castle out of cardboard boxes…soon!).

So I’ve been thinking about those days of old and us dads. I like to think of our house as our castle. It’s been said that a man’s home is his castle, but, I think sometimes the imagery in these modern times, is that if the father of the family is the king of the castle he must be a tyrant or goof. Dad either throws his authority around and uses anger and intimidation to get his way or is so totally oblivious to the workings of the family and how to wash a dish, change the oil, or have a heart to heart with his kids and wife, that he is a lump in his favorite man-chair! That is off base by a mile and we can’t let media portrayals and our own lack of tradition rule how we think of our castle, leadership and fatherhood..

There are conflicting views of fatherhood in the days of the knights, depending on which website and or historian you read or hear. Some say that the noble father would ship the young boys off to be trained in knighthood by some other nobleman and had very little to do with his upbringing or that the noble father treated his family as property. They say that the peasant was living in squaller with no guidance or education and no chance of elevating himself from the tyranny of the local noble. Still others say that while the noble father indeed wanted his sons trained in warfare, weaponry, horsemanship and chivalry, he would train them himself in his own kingdom so that they could, someday inherit his kingdom and wealth, and that the peasant while subservient to the local noble, had rights and often a trade in which he trained his sons (blacksmithing, shoemaking, baking) to take over the trade, while the mother and father both taught (what they could) in reading, writing, math etc..

My view is that, as individuals, we have always had, what we would consider, good and bad fathers. As with today, some are angry, brooding men who do order their family around and show an insecurity in how he manages his own impulses. We also have loving, caring, involved fathers who lead by example and communicate. So, let’s focus on the positive and if not already, work hard at becoming the latter.

If my home is my castle, then, as King, I must have a Queen…i.e. my wife. My young son is my knight in training and my daughters are (NOT in the modern theme park, pop culture sense) princesses. That would mean that it is up to me to show him how to protect the castle not just physically, but morally. I also need to direct my daughters in what to expect from a chivalrous, respectful, leading, gentleman. It is up to me to show him how to work hard in whatever trade or business he chooses (hopefully following in my footsteps) and by my example how to run a castle. I remember my own dad explaining to me things like, letting a lady go first, opening a door for her, how to wash dishes, mow the grass, use a shovel in the garden. My father taught me how to polish my shoes (spit polish like he did in the army), poach an egg, tie a necktie, he also told me that when picking up a girl on a date, to make sure to tell her to wait while I open her car door (he said to go around the front of the car so she can see where I am at all times).

 Chivalry was the code by which the knights were taught and lived their lives. The word “chivalry” comes from the French word “cheval” and the Latin word “caballus” meaning “domesticated horse”. Of course the knights rode beefy, muscular horses. Chivalry, the knight’s code, came to consist of 3 areas of development in which the knight tried to excel, military, social, and religious. Today, we dads can take a lead role in instilling confidence and knowledge in these areas as well. The military aspect in today’s home/castle can be the safe use of guns and archery in hunting to provide food for the family to protecting the home physically from intruders or even the competitiveness of playing sports. The social aspect of chivalry would, as in days of old, refer to how we, as men, conduct ourselves in public, honesty, courtesy, respect for women (in our castle and in public). The religious aspect of today’s chivalry would obviously be the teaching of beliefs of a spiritual nature. I think it’s important of a dad to talk to his children directly and confidently about what he believes and why. As his children grow older, there should be good conversation and even debate about spiritual things and why one believes in this or that.

As a modern “King” in my castle (home), it’s up to me to take every opportunity to practice chivalry…and playing with my young son and his collection of toy knights is the perfect opportunity to talk about being a chivalrous knight and king.

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