When I write on my computer, I am either sitting on the couch in our living room or at the dining room table, which is right next to the living room. It is one big great room on the sunny side of our house. It is bright and open and a place where I can see the rest of the house.
From my dining room table, I can see the front door, who is coming and going.
One thing I try to do when my kids walk through that door after coming home from school or their various activities is to not be on my computer, and to greet them at the door. To close the lid of the computer.
Greeting our kids with a smile and a hug and an “I’m so glad you are home,” feeling when they walk through that door after school is huge. It sends a message to them that we care. It sends a message to them that they are valuable. It sends a message to them that they are important. It sends a message that we treasure one another and that they belong in our family and that we are glad they are home.
It’s not just the computer or phone that distract us from welcoming one another through the door. It’s cooking or cleaning or folding the laundry. The point is that we look up from whatever it is we are doing and say hello to our loved ones walking through our doors.
Even more, I try to physically walk to the door to greet my kids when I can, to say hello, to ask them how their day was before they get on with their homework and other tasks for the evening, before we gather again at our dinner table. It’s that welcome. It is a brief moment, but a moment that matters a lot.
And, I add, that brief moment should be a positive exchange of a welcome. No matter what.
Not, “Take off your shoes, you’ll get the floor dirty.”
Not, “Why are you late?”
Not, “What happened to your jacket?”
Instead, it should be affirming and welcoming and “You are the world to me.”
Same goes for saying good-bye when our kids leave for the day, for school, for work, to hang out with friends.
Same goes for saying goodnight and good-morning to one another. We are a family, we notice one another, we pay attention to one another, and we are known. Greetings are part of that.
I am not trying to go overboard here. I am just trying to point out that we are building our children’s self-worth, their feelings of adequacy and belonging, and these little things are actually big.
Not only do I as a parent deliberately make greetings an important practice in my parenting, I teach my kids to do the same. As my teenage twins have begun driving, they are not as dependent upon me to give them rides anymore, which of course is nice in many ways.
Yet, we are a family. We are not just roommates living under the same roof, in the same house. The other day, the twins just left without saying good-bye and when I realized it, I ran to the door and caught them just before they drove off.
“Bye, sunshine boys,” I said to them from the doorway just as they were about to climb into the van that they drive. Their cool “mom-van-chick-magnet,” that they have dubbed it.
“Bye, Mom,” they said as they looked back at me with a grin.
Recently, my son Mickael Josef and I attended a ski team meeting but we had driven separately as he had youth group right after the meeting. When the meeting ended, I was talking to another parent for a minute and then looked to see where my son was. He had left.
Without saying good-bye.
Later when he got home, I asked him about youth group and we also talked about the ski team meeting.
I didn’t want to make it a huge deal, but I did ask him to please say good-bye to me before leaving me at a meeting. I was there at that meeting for him.
It is important to teach our kids the very things we feel are important. That social etiquette of manners. Greetings, both hellos and good-byes, good-mornings and goodnights, are a huge part of that.
We are a family. We greet one another, and recognize when we part from one another.
Hey, it’s in the Bible. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”- Romans 16:16.
What are some ways you have made your children feel welcomed when they come home from school or other activities? Do you have any greeting traditions? Or, when your kids leave the house, how do you acknowledge them? Do you remember your parents doing this?