Modeling Neighborly Hospitality for Your Children
Contributing writer Victoria from Creative Home Keeper encourages us how to show hospitality to our neighbors this summer, as well as inspire our children to follow suit.
Six years ago when we purchased our home we realized we were moving into an “older” neighborhood. We were the youngest couple by a landslide!
Throughout the years, homes have been put up for sale and more families have been moving in. It has long been my prayer that children would fill up the neighborhood, and not just any children but children who were close to my own kids’ ages.
I grew up in a neighborhood with lots of friends and I have such vivid memories of summer days playing outside all day long or pool parties in one of our neighbor’s backyards. Or we would play hide and seek in everyone’s front yards and the grown ups would sit in lawn chairs in a central driveway. We had so much fun those many summers ago and it made my heart sad my own children might not have similar experiences.
Last summer the house next door to us and the house across the street both went on the market. I prayed young families might move in. And God heard my prayers– two young families, both with young children around the same age as my own kids, did in fact move in!
It’s been a long, cold winter keeping everyone indoors, but now the weather is warming up and summer is here. It’s time to get outside and encourage my children to make friends with our neighbors. Although it has occurred to me that while I would love for my kids to get to know the neighborhood children and possibly develop friendships, it has to start with the parents first.
Our kids need to see us model neighborly hospitality first.
Just as with learning to love reading, our kids need us to show them we love reading. Same thing with our faith. If we want our children to love the Lord and to have a dynamic relationship with Him, they need to see us excited about and eagerly in love with Him first.
Our children learn from watching us. We are their first teachers and as parents we have the greatest responsibility to lead and nurture them.
So if we want our children to love our neighbors and serve them through neighborly hospitality, they need to see us do it too.
They need to see us make the effort and take the initiative to walk up to our neighbors when they are outside, or go knock on their doors, and introduce ourselves.
They need to see us smiling and waving as we drive or walk by each others houses.
They need to see us offering help or bringing meals when needed.
If we want our kids to show our neighbors love and develop relationships, then they need to see us model it to them.
I’m glad that summer is here because it makes it more natural to model these things. I’m horrible at going up to someone’s door and knocking to introduce myself. I’m much more comfortable waving hello and offering friendly greetings that turn into conversations. Warmer weather means that everyone is now outside more often and it’s only natural to start building relationships with your neighbors when you see them outside each and every day.
Simple ways that I’m planning on building new relationships with my new neighbors and modeling some neighborly hospitality are:
- Visiting with them every time I see them outside, as well as smiling and waving
- Inviting the children and their moms over to our yard when we are all playing outside together- this is a win win because the kids get to play together and the parents get to know each other
- Hosting a BBQ cookout once or twice throughout the summer- it doesn’t have to be much, but inviting the families over to our backyard and cooking up some simple hot dogs and hamburgers can give us all a chance to start building relationships with another
Spending some intentional time this summer getting to know our neighbors will begin to lay the foundation for more opportunities to develop and foster relationships throughout the entire year. Modeling these easy acts of kindness sends a valuable lesson to our kids.
When they see us step out of our comfort zone, offer a kind gesture and see us taking the initiate to build relationships, they are learning to do the same.
When we model for them ways to show hospitality, they grow up with the skills and confidence to show hospitality to others. Children learn to develop their own relationships from watching us grow our own friendships.
It’s my own personal goal this summer to not only get to know my neighbors but to model to my children simple lessons on hospitality.
I really like these tips! Right now we don’t have many neighbors my kids’ ages, but we have a family moving out, so maybe someone with kids will move in! My problem is I’m very shy around new people. Sigh!
I can relate to being shy around new people. 🙂 Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Just let God do the work of grace as you step out in faith.