4. Give Him a Code of Honor to Live By.
Our family has a tradition in knighthood.
When each of our boys turned seven, we armed him with a handcrafted (read homemade) wooden sword and shield, and told him this story:
In the days of old, my son, when young boys grew up to be great, brave knights, they began their journey at age seven. A child of noble birth would go to the nearest castle to be a page. A page was a servant to the brave knight. He did whatever the knight bid him to do. By and by, as the boy grew, if he showed himself to be faithful, strong, and true, he would become a knight.
With innocent, wide eyes that would flash with excitement, our Tom decided that was the life for him. I agreed, but then I had to break the news to him that he would have to stay home because our house was the only castle in his daddy’s kingdom.
Then I explained,
A knight must know the old code of chivalry and learn to live by it.
Among the rules of the code he memorized were:
Never harm an innocent, never betray a friend, and never attack an unarmed foe.
It’s downright amazing how often in a little boy’s life these rules come in handy.
One afternoon my young page came in the kitchen for a glass of water. His brow furrowed, with contemplation written all over his face. Finally breaking his fixed stare, he spoke,
“Mom, Tim is never going to be a knight.”
“Oh, why is that?” I asked.
“Because, he has already killed an innocent.…”
“Yep, a frog.”
With a disapproving shake of his head, he was out the door.
Throughout that summer I used his knight training to teach him to get along with his little brother and his friends. Ditching pesky siblings translated into “never betray a friend” and fighting with brothers quickly became “never attack an unarmed foe.”
We eventually made several heavily padded swords for the many visiting knights that came to play in our kingdom that summer.
Many seasons have passed since then, and swords all too quickly gave way to footballs and fishing poles, then car keys and Friday night dates.
In a blink of an eye, he took a new set of vows with a different code of conduct and honor — and he became someone else’s valiant knight.