I don’t know your life. I don’t know your kids. But, it is safe to assume they are human. All humans like to be treated with dignity. If you aren’t treating your kids with dignity, then you aren’t being hospitable. Yes, it is hard to be hospitable some days. Yes, you will have to lower yourself some (many) days to give them dignity. That’s called being the adult. You aren’t 2. They are. Act like the adult. Act like the one who has been through a few decades of life. They are experiencing the world for the first time. Treat them with the grace and dignity that a newcomer to the world deserves. I bet if you treat them with dignity, they will treat you with respect. As a parent, respect is gold. Mine it and treat it like the precious metal it is.
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Here is how I am hospitable to my son. Apply as needed to your own life.
1. I get things for him when he drops them.
I can’t tell you how many times he has dropped Rubble from Paw Patrol in our car. For him, it’s the end of the world almost every-time. He is a little clumsy with his toys and yes he tries to hold too much. But I still pick up that toy every time I am able. Because it is important to him and that’s all the matters. It is important to him. That’s dignity. Yeah, it sucks. But, he knows dad cares about him. Sometimes I get pretty frustrated with him, but you know what it isn’t that hard. Now we are going to have another kid soon, so the time is coming for him to grow up a little but for now, I get to ingrain into him that I care about his feelings. That’s dignity. We don’t have to agree, but I can care about how he feels.
2. I tell him stories.
I tell him made of stories with characters that he can picture and interact with. Sometimes I tell him true stories of Grampa and Nana and uncle Ike. Sometimes I make them up, and sometimes I read to him. The best is when we imagine them together, and he builds the story with me. It is one of his favorite things to do with me. Imagine a whole world with problems and circumstances to work through and solve. Isn’t that what we are all doing? Telling ourselves stories to make it through the day. My son is going to have some great stories one day. When times get tough, and trust me they will, he is going to have the dignity to tell himself the right stories.
3. He comes with me.
It is the worst to make a quick trip in the store, especially when they were small. Now, he looks forward to it because he carries the basket. He pushes the cart. He finds and picks out what we need. My son comes with me everywhere. We cook, clean, do laundry, and play so hard together. We sleep to but he likes his space in that arena. I appreciate that character trait a lot. We even mow together. He just watches me and checks out what I do. Then, he comes alongside and we do it together. There are very few things that I do in my week which he isn’t invited. He is allowed to be here while I read, write, pray, sing, dance and think through the world. Do you invite your kid in? Maybe you don’t because you aren’t prepared to dignify them or maybe you haven’t told the right stories yet. Everything is an adventure to be had. Everything deserves exploration from the rabbit hole in our yard to the squirrel’s nest to the broom and vacuum. Nothing is too scary if we tell the right story. My son can do anything if I bring him along. He is so brave. Bring your kid with you next time, especially when its inconvenient. You might just be surprised how much fun it can be.
4. I respect others.
This has been a new and hard one to re-emphasize lately. Respecting others isn’t always easy. But your kids know exactly who you respect and who you don’t. Why do you think racism gets passed down? It is all about a lack of respect by the person you respect the most. It gets so deeply ingrained into us, and pulling it out is like the worst splinter you can imagine. You know the one that escapes deeper and deeper into your skin when you try to pull it out. That is what lack of respect for others is like. You put a splinter into your child’s heart. It terrifies me to imagine putting a splinter into my child’s heart. So, I have become more generous to people. Respecting them when they don’t deserve it and honoring all the more when they do. I think when you dignify and respect people you begin to find that elusive, whispering word, humility. I wouldn’t say I am humble but maybe I am growing in it thanks to having a kid.
How hospitable are you?
There you go. It isn’t long, complicated, or difficult. It is the hard work of the heart. The question you have to answer is not whether your kid is worth the work because they are. But, whether you are? Do you have the self-worth to dignify other, tell stories, bring others with you, and respect them along the way? If you do then you are a hospitable person, and I would love to be reading or listening to your work. Drop me an email or a comment.
What touched your heart reading this quick list? Be a part of the community. Share it on social media or send me an email. I would love to be more hospitable to you.