Hospitality (noun) hos·pi·tal·i·ty: generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests; hospitable treatment. Thank you, Merriam Webster.
In our culture of me, me, me, it is sometimes hard to cultivate a spirit of hospitality in our children. Daily they are inundated with the “me” mentality, so being hospitable to others may seem like a foreign concept. Well, I am putting my foot down, and have decided that hospitality is going to be a core value in my home.
Here are some helpful tips on how to raise up hospitable children:
Be kind. It’s that simple; just be kind. I know a lot of people who are kind to people they know well, but when it comes to all of the others, smiles rarely cross their lips. The rule in my home is that you are kind to everyone, EVERYONE. Blue hair, green hair, big, small, straight teeth, or no teeth, we are kind . . . always.
Invite people over. Growing up my home was a revolving door of friends and family coming over for dinner, game nights, and holidays. I always looked forward to the next event my parents hosted. I watched my mom and dad work as a team to get the house (inside and out) ready for guests by preparing meals, setting great tables long before tablescapes were a thing, and putting mulling spices on the stove so the house smelled just right. My parents made my house a home for us and anyone who stepped foot inside. They were, and still are, some of the most hospitable people I know. And now that I have kids of my own, I pray they see and learn from my example (learned from my parents) of being hospitable to our guests.
Practice conversation. Hospitality is about making people feel comfortable, inside or out of your home. Can you imagine inviting people over and having everything perfect, but no one is talking? There is almost nothing more uncomfortable than painful conversations. So, I practice conversation with my littles. Teaching them to ask questions, answer questions, and, most important, to listen when someone else is talking. Some fun questions to use are:
- How are you today? (a big DUH! for this question.)
- What is your favorite thing to do outside?
- Do you like to read?
- What is your favorite book?
- Do you have a favorite joke? This one is my kid’s favorite question. Currently, my kid’s favorite joke right now is this one: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? *insert giggles and squeals of laughter here*
Using manners. Please, thank you, yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am, are not the only manners I am working on with my kids. Although extremely important, there are additional manners that need to be taught. Table manners — keep your elbows off the table, napkin in lap, “can you please pass” and “may I be excused” are some big ones. Body language — looking people in the eyes when you are talking. This is a big one for my five year old who is always on the move. Also, teaching a good handshake seems kind of silly for young children, but it is very important. Finally, asking others if they need help. This is probably my favorite for teaching manners to my kids. Guiding them in using “helping language” like: “Can I help set the table” or “Do you need me to help you?” It is never to soon to teach manners, which are a cornerstone in hospitality.
Model it, momma! None of this means a thing unless you are practicing what you preach. I am constantly checking myself: Is my resting face a grouchy one? Have I invited anyone over lately? Have I gone out of my way to make someone feel special (outside of my immediate family and inner-circle of friends)? Am I being hospitable?
Let’s raise up a generation of hospitable kids!
How do you practice hospitality in your home? What are some of your tips?