I am raising four boys, so I knew that I could benefit from Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys. Especially since I long for old-fashioned and Biblically sound techniques for training our children.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I opened the pages of Heather Haupt’s book. I was definitely excited about utilizing the “code of chivalry”, but curious to see how she thought we could apply the antique training of knights to our modern families.
Knights In Training Review
As I read through the first part of the book which outlines the sad direction our society is heading and how reverting back to days of old can help our boys, I was nodding my head in agreement and feeling anxious to get on to the “solutions” part of the book. I was convicted of the why training our boys to be (real) men is so important — challenge accepted!
By chapter four, we were getting into the meaty stuff – how to lay the foundation and desire for chivalry. Followed by the fun stuff – physical training (aka sword fights and jousting).
I really appreciated the “rules of engagement section” because I struggle with letting my boys be rough and often resort to forbidding pretend fights out of frustration. However, the ideas and guidelines presented were spot on and I discussed them with my boys right away.
Another thing I was excited about was the ‘page and squire’ work that brings my boys’ household chores into perspective and gave me a better way to explain to them the importance of them. I can’t say my boys were thrilled, but they understood the logic.
Chapter six starts discussing ‘the code’. We have the poster with all 10 codes tacked up where we can easily review it every day. Each code gets its own chapter with a full explanation of what it means, why it matters, and ways to implement the code.
The first code (Love the Lord Your God with Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength) is really the basis of every following code. The depth is deep and the value is high in this book! Expect to read this book with a notebook and pencil near so you can jot down your favorite quotes or your own ideas that are born from it.
This is not a quick read. Well, you could read through it within a few dedicated days, but the message is too important & meaningful to not savor and absorb slowly. I recommend reading straight through once to get the flavor for the quest and then refer back to it in parts as you apply it to your life.
I think the 10 codes in this book are best implemented with your boys as soon as possible. I can see how some things will seem awkward for me to teach or silly for my oldest (12) to participate in. However, lots of things will still resonate with him and *all of the things* are still important for him to learn. It will be harder for him to be trained in new habits than his younger brothers (though, we have tried to raise honorable, courageous, and compassionate boys from the start).
We have really been stressing the importance of self-control to him as we enter into the teen years and I like the tips found in this book on this topic. I most appreciated the code and chapter on respecting women which also addresses the epidemic of pornography addiction. The tips & action plan were so helpful.
This book is full of thought-provoking and much-needed words for parents. I hope and pray that our generation of parents will accept the challenge of raising true men and women of the Lord.
Get your copy of the book HERE.
Author Interview With Heather Haupt
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. When I saw that their love for everything battle meshed well with my discovery 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. What are you reading right now? What authors (living or dead) have influenced you most?
As a family, we recently listened to the entire unabridged Chronicles of Narnia. I was blown away anew about the power of narrative to communicate important messages, to inspire our moral imagination and bring out the desire to live full out for everything God has for us. So yes, I’m a C.S. Lewis fan. I also love reading science related books. Dr. Leonard Sax has written so much on gender and boys specifically. His writing has really helped me embrace everything that makes my boys uniquely boy!
5. What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?
Just one?!?!? Oh that’s a hard one. I don’t know if there is just one book that I could pinpoint because different books have been so powerful in different seasons of my life. From a parenting standpoint, A Family of Value, is one of those top influencers. In our culture where we can be afraid to step up and be the leader in our home, John Rosemond gave me permission – no a charge – to be the adult in my home. He assured me that stepping up into this role of leadership, being tough on my kids, was not only good but vital for the raising of children. Our culture emphasizes friendship with our kids often to the detriment of leading and training our children. While I cherish the relationships I have with my kids, I was reminded to have a long-term goal of raising confident and responsible children and that happens in the context of loving, but well-defined and enforced boundaries. His book really helped me solidify the importance of loving leadership in our home.
6. What writer(s) have had the greatest influence on you?
I love to read many different genres and types of books. So here is an eclectic list of three authors who have influenced my writing and appreciation for life.
CS Lewis – I love how C.S. Lewis uses the magic of story to communicate profound truths in a way that inspires others to embrace these truths without even realizing it. Story is powerful and through literature we can change the world.
Ann Voskamp – While we have very different writing styles, I love how she weaves word and inspires others to make a difference in their homes, in their community and in the world. Her writing has given a voice to my longing to live a transparent and consistent life in front of my children and my community that reflects my core beliefs and values.
Leonard Sax – While I love to be inspired, I also want to know the facts. What does the research say and how can I think rationally about how to live my life. Dr. Leonard Sax’s writings have met that need to think about things rationally and changed the way I view and appreciate my boys.
7. What was your favorite book as a child?
The Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher. I love books about fighting impossible odds against impossible foes because they convey that ordinary people have profound purpose and need to rise to the call when the situation arises. The Tripod Trilogy had that in spades. It is a book set in a futuristic setting where “tripods” have come to rule and humanity is decimated. To keep people docile, they are capped at 13 to prevent them from thinking for themselves. This trilogy follows several kids as they flee the impending capping ceremony and find themselves caught up in a fight to free humanity from world-wide slavery. As a kid, I was inspired to think for myself and be ready to right for all that was good, right, and true.
8. Is there anything you found particularly challenging about writing this book?
The entire process… It was a daily mental challenge to stay the course, to pray through my doubts, and hold strong. There is so much that burned inside of me to share and figuring out the most effective way to communicate that was a challenge. I walked a lot during the writing phase to wrestle through how to effectively convey everything that I wanted to include in the book.
9. Did you always have a talent for writing, or is it something you wanted and needed to work hard to achieve?
“Writer” was not on my short list of things I wanted to do with my life. I write not because I love writing, but because I have important things that burn deep in my heart and mind that simply must be written. Childhood is fleeting and I write to remind parents to make the most of this short yet full season. As parents, we have a profound opportunity to shape the culture of our home and inspire our children to embrace important values that will serve them for the rest of their lives!
Writing does not come easy to me. I never dreamed of being a writer as a child. In fact, I hated writing growing up, but my mom refused to give up on me. She kept pushing me and finding new and creative ways to try to get me to write. While the actual process of writing was painful, I have always had a heart to communicate and weave an engaging story. I was just a late bloomer and having that love for storytelling and communicating meld with the act of writing did not take place until my college years. And then my mom and I marveled when I wrote for a living before having children. I’ve found that I can never write just to write. I must be really passionate about what I am communicating. Once I’ve tapped into passion and purpose, I’m set. Maybe that is why it is so important to me that I connect my kids to their own passions and purpose in life!
10. With all of the duties that you juggle, when do you fit in the time to write?
I had a health collapse a few years ago, so I had to be very strategic with how I juggled everything. The year I wrote Knights in Training, I did little else. I was a mom, and a wife, but did not take on anything else during the heavy writing period that I timed to take place over the summer when I wasn’t as busy homeschooling. Even then, with four kids in the house, it meant getting up early for 5am writing sessions in places as glamorous as the café section of my local grocery store or a tiny corner table at McDonalds because I found coffee shops too noisy and home too beautifully distracting. Outside of attending church with my family I spent every Saturday and Sunday writing. My husband was amazing and really stepped up to take charge on the home front each weekend freeing me up to really wrap my head around this project.
11. How did you get your start in writing/getting published?
It started with blogging. I cringe when I look back at my first blog posts. You really do improve the more you write and I’m grateful for the years of tapping out blog posts and delving into writing about things I was passionate about and looking for ways to winsomely communicate my perspectives on parenting and child development.
My first book was birthed out of a blog post on how movement wires the brain to learn and the importance of taking brain breaks. I went the self-publishing route with that, starting with an ebook and then taking it to print myself. During this season, I started writing more for magazines as opportunities cropped up.
Then my health collapsed and I did little else aside from being a wife, mom and home educator (which in itself is a very full life), until God revealed that He had other plans for our family in this new book, Knights in Training.
This book was birthed from a blog post that I wrote in the Spring of 2011. We were delving into the middle ages and I figured we’d delve into chivalry too. When I discovered that chivalry was more than merely how a man treats a woman, but was rather an entire code of conduct, a way of living – I was inspired to delve into the character development aspects that “knight training” could afford. I printed off these 10 aspects from the code of chivalry in a cool font and decided to blog about our adventure and provide a free printable for any other parents that wanted to delve into knight training too.
A reporter from the New York Times contacted me. She was writing an article on teaching manners and wanted to interview me about that post I had written years earlier on our chivalry challenge. I’ve done my share of media interviews, so I didn’t really think much about it. The day before we left for Arizona for the holidays, the reporter emailed me to inform me the article was live online that day and would come out in print the following day in the Times. When I hopped online to read the article, I noticed the hyperlink to my blog and frantically set about to freshen up that old blog post so people coming over could find it. I flung it out there the following morning before grabbing my keys and setting off on our 15-hour drive to AZ.
Like any blogger, I enjoyed my 15 minutes of “fame” as traffic exploded for a few days and then forgot about it as we enjoyed time with family and friends until a few days later when I received a strange email in my inbox. Long story, short – an editor from Penguin Random House reached out to me about writing a book. After prayer, my family and I decided to make the leap, as my mind swirled with the possibilities and the vision for the book really took root! So all in a year’s time, I found a wonderful book agent, wrote my first book proposal, finished up our homeschool “year” and speaking commitments before settling down that summer to write in the margins of life.
Knights in Training was birthed out of that effort!
12. What do you recommend for others who are getting started?
Write, write, write! Tap into what you can’t stop talking about and then start putting those words on paper or tap them onto the screen! The more you write the better you’ll get. And when you write about what you love, you won’t mind the work involved. I start writing out of a compulsion to communicate a message. I keep writing out of sheer discipline to finish something and persevere – the very things that I call my own children to embody. And long before you take to the keyboard, jot down ideas and an outline on paper. I oftentimes set a timer to speedily get an outline down on paper and then I would hold that scrap and take a walk as I worked my body and allowed my mind the freedom and ability to focus on what I was trying to communicate. That has helped me through many a mental block.
13. What would you say to a young person who aspires to be a writer? What advice would you give? Also, what would you tell his/her parents in order to help them be supportive of their child’s efforts to pursue writing as a career? Look for mentors and embrace the hard part of critical help. This was so hard for me when I was young and surprise, surprise, few things have changed now. I solicited editing help from my mom and my sister who is a gifted editor. They made me cry – even now as a grown-up. But they were good tears and the finished product more effectively and powerfully communicates what I had wanted to convey in the first place. Receiving constructive criticism is a painful process, but so worth it in the long run. You can’t improve, you can’t give your best without taking the insight and critiques of others into account. You need to know that when someone gives constructive criticism, they do so not to tear you down, but to help your message shine.
Look for mentors and embrace the hard part of critical help. This was so hard for me when I was young and surprise, surprise, few things have changed now. I solicited editing help from my mom and my sister who is a gifted editor. They made me cry – even now as a grown-up. But they were good tears and the finished product more effectively and powerfully communicates what I had wanted to convey in the first place. Receiving constructive criticism is a painful process, but so worth it in the long run. You can’t improve, you can’t give your best without taking the insight and critiques of others into account. You need to know that when someone gives constructive criticism, they do so not to tear you down, but to help your message shine.
The ability to write and effectively communicate is so important in this day and age. Whether your child desires to be a writer or not is irrelevant. It’s important to help them develop the skills to effectively communicate because this will help them no matter what they do in life. I would have never imagined that I would spend my adult life writing and I am so thankful that my mother did not give up on me because being a professional writer was not one of my goals in life. She was so passionate about this that even when we hit that wall and I would NOT receive her input, she sought outside input and I quickly realized that I needed to receive instruction from others if I was going to pass a class, get a job, and succeed in life.
Don’t give up on your kids, parents – even with those reluctant writers.
14. Would your advice be any different for an adult who would like to break into the business? How?
I think it is easy to think that we don’t need that same editing help that we had as children. But finding people who love us and believe in our message and yet are brave enough to be honest with the parts that don’t make sense is a huge blessing. I’ve written a lot, but when I really zero in on writing about things I’m passionate about, that’s where I’ve had breakthroughs. I wrote my first book as a result of a very popular blog post. I realized that what I was passionate about communicating was also something others wanted to hear about from me. When I hit that intersection, I ran with it. When we write about what we love and write in a way that we would love to read, we can hit our stride and write in a way that makes a difference in the lives of others.
Finally, you need to determine what kind of book you want and what is the best way to get that message out now. There are so many opportunities in self-publishing, especially if you have an audience already built up. This gives you control and the possibility to actually publish. If traditional publishing is the route you want to pursue, I highly recommend that you put your initial book proposal together and then see if you can find an agent. Publishing houses will not work with you unless you have an agent. Even though my situation was unique in that the publisher approached me, they did tell me that I would need to find an agent or a lawyer who could take care of the contract phase. A good agent is worth their weight in gold. I’m very thankful for mine. She helped me navigate the whole process from book proposal, to the contract phase, to navigating the rest of the process. An agent cultivates relationships with various publishers and works to get your book idea in front of the right people.
15. What else do you want readers to know? Consider your likes and dislikes, interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to relax — whatever comes to mind.
I love watching kids at play. It fascinates and delights me at a very deep level. I’m always in awe at how they work out the process of growing up, of being brave, and of becoming through their pretend play. I love to unwind by taking hikes with my family and sitting back and watching them. My favorite time of year is when we all escape to a cabin for a week to play games, explore, unplug and reconnect as a family! In a constantly plugged in world, I love these opportunities to step away from the craziness and just ‘be’ with the people I love most.