Pinterest Perfect vs. Family Friendly: Instilling a Love for Hospitality in my Children


      I recently planned a Frozen party for my daughter’s 7th birthday.  We had a hundred snowflakes dangling from the ceiling, fake snow on the door, melted Olaf yogurt cups, Popcorn “snow”balls, and a homemade cake that was supposed to look like Elsa’s Ice Castle.  As I finished my supposed masterpiece, I quickly noticed that my cake did not look like the ones I saw on Pinterest.  It looked-- well, homemade.  I was disappointed.
     I stopped to reflect for a moment, and I realized this night wasn’t about creating a Pinterest-worthy party.  This night was about celebrating and speaking value to my daughter.  Over the past several weeks, our mommy-daughter time had been so much fun as we planned and thought through all the food, decorations, invitations, and games.  One night she was so excited, she couldn’t fall asleep!  At what point had my goal become a “picture perfect” party?
      As we host ministry events, neighbors, and our staff teams, how often do we feel pressure to aim for “picture perfect” hosting?  This usually means mom (insert Linnette) is stressed out and peeved at the family as she tries to get the house all cleaned up, forcing her kids to try to disappear and “not make a mess,” while preparing food and finishing dishes, getting hair and make-up done just in time to put on a smile and open the front door and say “welcome!” to the guests arriving, despite the fact that her own family has felt anything but welcome in their own house for the past several hours. 
I fear that requiring my family to endure “picture perfect” hosting will instill a dread in my kids for having people over.
       I want to instill in my kids a LOVE for hospitality.  When they hear that someone is coming over, I want them to be excited, thoughtful in how to welcome that person, helpful in preparing for their visit, and confident in their own value and sense of belonging in our home.  What will that take?
I think it takes recognizing that my first priority is loving my family as we host.  I think it takes modeling joy, peace and excitement to my kids as we together prepare and welcome guests in.  Yes, I like to have the house picked up when we are having people over.  No, I don’t particularly want guests to see rings in the toilet.  But as the mom of my home, I want to set a tone of peace and joy for my family—which means sometimes I will have to choose to be okay with dishes still in the sink and a meal that didn’t quite turn out and unbrushed hair. 
      And just like the slew of girls singing at the top of their lungs during my daughter’s birthday party, I need to choose to “Let it go!”
      A few ways we’ve included our kids in hosting:
  • -        Practicing the names of the guests coming over
  • -        Writing a note or coloring a picture for someone coming over
  • -        Setting the table and getting drinks, clearing the table after the meal
  • -        Greeting at the door and taking coats, giving a tour of the house
  • -        Thinking ahead of a question to ask guests
    When setting the table, for example, I lay one place setting how I would like for it to be and let them do the rest.  I try to not come behind and fix their work.  (This can be challenging for my a-type personality!)  Sometimes I think, Wow, this is taking so much longer than if I did it myself.  But it is so rewarding to hear my kids ask, “Mom, who can we have over today?”

Linnette Bachman
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career ten years ago (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and they currently lead the collegiate Nav ministries in Nashville.  They have four children: Kate (7), Kylie (5), McKenzie (3), and Daniel (2).  Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.
If you have personal questions/comments you can email: julia.collins@navigators.org, and she will pass them on to Linnette for you. Thanks!

As mommy missionaries we can potentially do a lot of hosting. Linnette does a great job helping us think about how to make our family feel as welcome as our guests. This is a tricky area for every mom. How do you feel like you are doing? What suggestions did Linnette make that encouraged you? Please share your experiences below in the comments section.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for your words, Linnette! I have become more aware of how my preparations for guests come across to my kids. I don't want them to think having people over means the vacuum comes out, toys are picked up, and mom is running around like a crazy person getting things ready. But somehow in that I want to teach them that we do create a restful environment to be hospitable so relationships can grow and to excite them about the preparations and serving our guests to yield a fruitful time together. I don't know if that makes sense and I'm still learning how to instill a hospitable spirit in my kids, but I was encouraged by your post that it's all in the heart and what are their hearts are "seeing" and taking in. And some of it is letting go of my expectations to bring them into the serving so they build confidence and their hearts have some stake in it.

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  2. I agree whole-heartedly, Katie! I love hearing your heart to build their confidence and help them begin to invest into people in a small way. Just to encourage you, I think you being aware (as you mentioned) will help so much and what you model will be instilled!

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  3. Linnette, you know what I love about your post? You start with the story of your daughter's birthday party. That opportunity for hospitality seemed as important to you as if you were planning the Christmas party for your staff team. Because your kids experience their friends are as important to you as your friends, they to will be excited when adult sized friends come over. Your idea of thinking ahead of questions is GREAT. They will feel so affirmed by being able to enter into the conversation well. I think I'd love to be a guest on your home.

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  4. Thanks for your encouragement, Sue. I hadn't considered before that her party was just as important to us as a staff event, but you are right-- it was! I'd like to keep that thought in mind in the future.

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  5. Linette,

    I enjoyed your post and even thought about it as I cleaned house for students to come over this weekend! was a helpful reminder that it's ok if it doesn't look perfect! :)

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  6. So glad, Alexis. I have to be reminded often, too!

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