Thursday, 6 July 2017

Author Interview: Heather Haupt

Yesterday I shared with you about a fabulous new book for families with boys called .  Today I would like to share a recent interview with Heather Haupt, author of KNIGHTS IN TRAINING

 1. What inspired you to write Knights in Training?

Coming up with the idea for knight training was birthed out of a desire to be intentional in raising my boys; and emerged when I saw that their love for everything related to battle meshed well with the idea that chivalry was far more than how a man treats a woman. Chivalry is an entire code of conduct - a way of living. Embarking on that initial season of knight training altered the way we viewed our role as parents and shaped the way our boys viewed these years of childhood. I wrote the book to really flesh out what it can look like to celebrate boys for who they are and cast a vision for a life of adventure embodying the spirit of a modern-day knight.

2. Why shouldn’t we want to raise typical boys?
Boys can be perceived as rude and crude, oftentimes lazy and disengaged from all that matters – or at least that is the stereotype of a modern day boy. Research backs up some of this showing that rampant narcissism is on the rise (among both boys and girls), and that statistically boys are having a harder time entering successfully into adulthood, being far more dependent on parents and living at home, with fewer going to and finishing college.

3. What inspired you to write Knights in Training?
Coming up with the idea for knight training was birthed out of a desire to be intentional in raising my boys. When I saw that their love for everything battle meshed well with my discover that chivalry was far more than how a man treats a woman. I knew I wanted to embark on a season of knight training and pursuing living by this code that for the knight’s of old was an entire way of living. Little did I realize that embarking on this initial season of knight training would alter the way we viewed our role as parents and forever shape the way my boys viewed these years of childhood. I wrote the book to really flesh out what it can look like to celebrate boys for who they are and cast a vision for a life of adventure embodying the spirit of a modern-day knight. Boys are getting a bad rap these days. Part of that stems from how we approach educating boys as well as a lack of understanding and appreciation for what makes them unique. Our world needs good men and my aim with this book is to strengthen the resolve and equip parents to reach their boys by appreciating who they are and how they are wired as well as inspire them to become the men they are meant to become.

4.What was your main goal in writing Knights in Training?
 I wrote Knights in Training to help parents tap into the heart of their boys and utilize a boy’s inner dreams and drives to propel them into a future of meaning and purpose. We all love our kids and want to be purposeful during this season of childhood – enjoying the little moments as well as preparing them to succeed in life, but sometimes in the busyness of life we lose sight of HOW to make that happen. My goal here is to provide a common language and a roadmap for this exciting journey of boyhood so that one boy and one family at a time, we can restore civility and courageous compassion to our communities.

5. Which part of researching Knights in Training was the most personally interesting to you?
I’m a history buff, so delving into some of the primary documents and really discovering how this idea of chivalry took shape and force during the middle ages was fascinating to me. Delving into the past also reminded me that there is nothing new under the sun. We see the same challenges with human nature, our bent to wander from the Lord, from the right path as well as the importance of inspiration and ideals in captivating our imagination and calling us back to the way we ought to go. When we step into the past, we discover that young men in the middle ages struggled with choosing the easy path, that younger sons in the nobility lost sight of their purpose and meaning and were tempted to take the easy path of living a life of listlessness and apathy and yet how deep down they all wanted to find purpose and meaning.

We want something different for our sons. We want them to succeed in life. Our boys are amazing. They have hopes and dreams. They do have spunk and drive - and we need to chart a new path that does not squash this - but that also cultivates their gifts and inspires them live with purpose.

3. Why should parents be leery of allowing their boys to watch movies like FROZEN?
We become what we consume. We all like to think we won’t, but we do… and children, especially, are affected by the messages they hear each day. It’s important that we become mindful media consumers and learn to discern the messages coming through in the media we consume and teach our kids to do the same.

“Males of all ages are often depicted as gross, uncouth, lazy, and stu¬pid creatures. Being an underachiever is a badge of honor. Dads are portrayed as boring, bumbling fools. It is no won¬der, then, that boys do not want to grow up. We need to recognize these messages in shows, movies, books, or even commercials and then talk to our kids about them. Limit¬ing exposure to these kinds of harmful messages is key too.”

While we’ve all watched the movie Frozen (the music is amazing), like so many movies these days this one does not portray men well. Because of this we limit our children’s exposure to these messages so that they do not start to believe it and become like these men. In Frozen, for instance, we see men portrayed as either bumbling and lazy or power-hungry and evil. While I love movies with strong female characters, it saddens me when they have to put a man down to make a woman look strong and capable. It is possible to have a strong female lead without having to denigrate men.

4. Some feel that play weapons promote violence. Why do you think it’s beneficial for boys to engage in play warfare?
I get it. I was there too. I realized that I viewed weapon play as purely violent. Weapons don’t promote violence - it is what is going on inside our hearts and minds of individuals. Far more effective than withholding weapons from our boys is talking to our kids, providing a loving, stable home, and making sure they know that we believe in them. For boys, weapons are inextricably linked with their desire to defend and protect. They take weapons into their pretend play as they grapple with the issues they are working through, the fact that there is evil in the world and their desire to do something about it. While we want to teach our boys the art of diplomacy and how to work through their problems in non-violent ways, there have been times in history where force is necessary and I’m thankful for people who are trained to protect and defend those of us who are not called to use these means.

When boys stage mock battles they are working through what it means to be the hero, they are processing and solidifying their desire to be courageous and ready to be that man that stands in the gap when the need arises. We need more people who do this and when we blend battle play with a call to defend and stand for all that is right and good, we ignite a boy’s imagination and help him prepare to become the man who will step in to save the day in his own community and in his own unique way.

5. Why is faith crucial to the code of chivalry?
The knights of old were repeatedly called to recognize that life is a gift, and they were to live for something more than themselves. This was not a one-time commitment, but rather a day-in, day-out re-centering of their lives. Our knights in training flourish when this foundation is in place because it motivates them to live consistent, compassionate lives of service to both God and the people they encounter each day. Belief in God gives one a reason to live outside of oneself, a reason to live with virtue and a reason, to live with purpose because they recognize that there is an authority outside of themselves or whomever happens to be in charge at that moment. It motivates us to overthrow tyrannical rulers because we recognize the injustice of the situation and that we are responsible to something greater than ourselves too. Love for God motivates us to extend love, care, and respect for others.

6. What are some ways parents can cultivate compassion?
Tap into their imagination to inspire them to live with purpose. Boys are just as capable of developing empathy as girls. Sometimes we simply need to change how we are talking to them about these topics. When we inspire the imagination, and encourage them to embody the heart and mind of a knight, we charge him to be on the lookout for those in need. We tap into their desire to defend and protect and to be a person worthy of respect.

Connect purpose and strength with compassion. Empathy is compassion in action and boys are ACTION oriented. When we give them the charge to be on the lookout for those in need and encourage them to DO something about it, boys rise to the occasion. When we value this kind of action as a symbol of strength and respect, we increase their resolve. When we provide insight into how to do this and ample opportunity to practice, they get to experience a taste of being the hero to those around them here and now in a way that paves the way for this to mark who they are at their core.

 7. Why do you feel that it’s important to discourage potty humor, even when it promotes reading?
There is a bona fide reading gap between boys and girls. In our desperate attempts to get boys reading, we’ve embraced an anything goes mentality. They may be decoding words on a page, but do we want them embracing the messages we are sending them?

When we fail to place boundaries or restraints and instead fill boys’ minds with even more unrestrained crass humor through the books we give them or the shows they watch, they may not learn the necessary self-regulation skills to know when to turn it off. Boys lose the ability to read situa-tions and take the feelings of others into account. Good boys find themselves in the confusing situation of hurting other children when they are actually trying to connect and laugh together.

It’s important to place boundaries on when potty humor is allowed and help our boys discern when it is not appropriate to joke like that. This means making an active decision to not normalize it in your home. Instead let’s draw them stories that inspire them with a sense of purpose. When we change what they are exposed to, you can reawaken them to the wonder and magic of a good adventure story.

8. How do we raise independent boys in an age where boys don’t seem to be growing up?
There is a lot of talk about the problems out there with the younger generation perpetuating adolescence long into adulthood. Where are the solutions? I discuss many of them in our book including.

  • Inspire the imagination – by giving them heroes and encouraging them to pretend to be those historical heroes that they read about. 
  • Build a home and community culture that values men (instead of portraying them as bumbling fools) and communicates how important it is to have strong men and the adventure involved with living a “knight-minded” life. 
  • Communicate respect – boys want to know that their lives matter. When we communicate respect by admiring their hard work and when they step up to meet the needs of those around them, they will continue to grow and excel in these areas. 
  • Give them real work – most boys (men too) are project oriented. They want to fix things and make a difference. Starting at a young age, we honor this by giving them real work to do and a tangible way to contribute to the functioning of the home. 
  • Train them – We need to intentionally train them towards independence by teaching them new skills and then stepping back and gradually giving them ownership. 
  • Connect privilege with responsibility – Entitlement runs deep with this generation of children. Parents are partly to blame as we step in and do far more for our children that they can and ought to be doing themselves. As we give them real work, and train them to do it well, we need to hold them accountable by connecting privilege with responsibility.

  9. If you could only choose one point, what do you hope readers will take away from your book?
That life is challenging. Parenting is challenging. When we embrace the idea of knight training, it has the power to change the way we view these parenting years and alter the way our boys view their childhood as together we embrace a life of purpose and adventure like no other!

Connect with Heather
Find out more about the book:  Knights in Training
#knightsintraining #chivalrymovement

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