Teaching Kids How To Behave With The Opposite Sex

Proper conduct between the sexes can be puzzling and troublesome even for those of us who have had years of practice. Imagine how difficult it must be for children and teenagers. No area of etiquette is changing faster. What was once considered polite might now be considered insulting. What was once common sense might now be irrelevant.

The old rules of chivalry dictated how men and women treated each other for centuries. They called for deference by virtue of gender, age, and social caste. These rules have been supplanted to a great degree by what may be called “corporate etiquette.” In the past 30 or 40 years, women and minorities have exerted enormous influence on corporate culture, which is based on deference according to corporate rank, much like any military system.

As parents of both sexes and from all social groups entered the corporate culture, they absorbed this military-like system of etiquette. Naturally, their children learned far more of these corporate attitudes and manners than of those based on chivalry. Thus the rules of chivalry have faded, and corporate etiquette has emerged as the dominant force governing modern interpersonal relationships in most parts of America.

The impact of all of this on relations between the sexes has been dramatic and confusing, particularly for young people. Remnants of the old rules of chivalry remain to haunt and sometimes confuse budding relationships. Young people often look to parents for some road maps through this unpredictable landscape.

When young people ask about rules in the area of relations between the sexes, they are really asking for clues to an eternal mystery. It seems to them that two distinct species are inhabiting the earth. The opposite sex acts, speaks, and dresses differently, is interested in different things, and relates to his or her same-sex friends differently.

However, some very clear rules can help young people deal with the usual and, for them, terribly, terribly important questions and situations that arise between the sexes.


Whether the guy or girl is asking someone for a date, the basics are the same. The invitation should not be entirely unexpected. There should be some positive, friendly feelings for each other. Get to know the person on a casual level before proposing a date. If the person declines, listen for verbal clues that will tell you whether you should ask for another date at another time. If you are the one saying no and you really would go if you could, say you are sorry about the conflict and hope the person will ask you again.

Comments (0)

Rich text editor