An Attitude of Hospitality… Towards Our Families

posted by Andrea | 04/22/2019

Last week, I attended a special luncheon for a women’s Bible study group I’m involved in. The speaker focused on Hospitality, and I gleaned so many thoughts and ideas from what she said.

However, one thing she mentioned right near the end has really stuck with me. 

She shared her thoughts about hospitality towards OUR OWN IMMEDIATE FAMILY — which is not something we often include in the concept of hospitality. 

Normally (at least in my mind) we envision hospitality to be outward acts of kindness to others — inviting friends over for a meal, bringing cookies to new neighbors, asking a coworker to join the gym with you, seeking out strangers to invite to a church function, hosting the holiday festivities at your house, etc. etc. 

Even the dictionary defines Hospitality in that way. 

I know I rarely consider the concept of “hospitality” when it comes to Dave or our children… after all, I do the things I do to care for them simply because I’m their mom/wife and that’s what moms and wives do. 

I prepare and serve their food.

I wash all their clothing and linens.

I keep their spaces clean and orderly.

I entertain them with games, books, and fun activities.

I try to assure they are happy, comfortable, and content.

But isn’t THAT exactly what hospitality is too!?!

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I think the main difference in our hospitality towards “outsiders” and our hospitality towards our own immediate family members is simply OUR attitudes! 

When we serve others, we are usually much more conscious about anything and everything we can do to make their time with us more enjoyable, more relaxing, more comfortable, more satisfying, etc. 

We go out of our way to help them. 

We bend over backwards to find them the things they need. 

We give them our full attention when they are in our home. 

We take an interest in their interests. 

But what about with our own families? 

What if we didn’t grumble about the balled up socks in the laundry basket and the rocks in every single pair of pants pockets, but instead shrugged it off and appreciated the fact that the kids actually put their clothes in the hamper to begin with? 

What if we didn’t lament the fact that we had to make dinner, yet again, for little people (or big people) who don’t appreciate the time and effort that went into preparing the meal, but instead joyfully prepared food to feed the people we love?

What if we didn’t groan and complain about the fingerprints ALL over the windows, the pee splatters ALL over the toilet, and the toys strewn ALL over the floor, but instead willingly cleaned up the messes with a thankful heart for all the messy people in our lives? 

What if we didn’t sigh when our family members asked us for a favor, but instead happily granted their requests without a second thought?

What if we didn’t scroll through our text messages or emails while our children or spouse tell us a story about something that happened during the day, but instead gave them our FULL attention and even ask probing questions to learn more? 

What if we didn’t argue and fight with a stubborn child, but instead said “yes” to their request for one more drink of water, one more book, one more song, and one more kiss before bed?

What if we didn’t criticize or make snide remarks when a family member “pushes our buttons”, but instead resisted the temptation to lash out and calmly changed the subject or walked away?

What if we didn’t roll our eyes when asked to do something for the millionth time, but instead went out of our way to fulfill (and even anticipate) needs before we were asked?

What if we didn’t give into the sarcasm that so easily rolls off our tongues, but instead spoke kind and encouraging words?

What if we didn’t ignore those living within the same 4 walls as us, but instead acknowledged their presence and actually looked for ways to initiate interaction?

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Yes I know – this is a bit (or maybe a lot) idealistic! 

You are probably rolling your eyes — I get it, and I understand! 

I certainly do NOT expect us to treat our immediate family members as esteemed guests every moment of every day. That’s too much pressure and work for us, and it’s doing our children a disservice by waiting on them day and night. 

However, what if we simply had a better ATTITUDE about the various ways we already serve our family each day? 

Can you even comprehend how many divorces would be avoided, how many cases of depression and anxiety would be reversed, how many children would be happy and thriving, and how many family counselors would be out of business if we simply treated our immediate family members like we treated the guests we bring into our homes? 

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It’s such a simple concept, but definitely not easy to do! 

This paradigm shift will not happen over night — but I for one have made it my goal to consider this concept every single day. 

My goal is not to wait on my family members every hour of the day, but simply to change my attitude toward the work I do in and around my home and how “hospitable” I am to the people I love most. 

An attitude of hospitality towards immediate family members is not always realistic or doable – but it’s certainly worth a try! 

After all, what’s the worst that can happen?!

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Filed under: FamilyParentingMarriageChildrenHealth

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20 comments

  1. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    04/24/2019

    Thanks, Andrea! I needed to read this today. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with all their is to do, when really, being a wife and mom is the most important calling of ours. Serving our families by doing the laundry (or whatever else needs done) is truly the most important thing we can do. I’m right there with you, and working on changing my perspective!

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  2. JJ

    04/23/2019

    Andrea, this is such an encouragement!!! Thank you for this!!! I think the Lord is trying to tell me something. Haha!!! My pastor just talked about this on Sunday, and it really convicted me. I want to go down as a woman who loved others well, especially my family. My dad was and has been such an incredible example of this. My mom left when I was almost 3 and my brother was 18 months. I cannot imagine being a single parent and dealing with all of the adjustments of a spouse leaving(out of state) and all of the drama my mom brought to the situation with her issues(so praying my children and some day in-loves will have kind words and a loving legacy to say about me at my funeral!). On his end my dad had to work all day, get his kids from daycare(when we had been with a stay at home mom–big adjustment!!!), and deal with a super clingy toddler and a nonstop talking preschooler while making dinner and getting us ready for bed. Haha! He did it with such grace. He really spent time with us and showed he enjoyed being with us. He wasn’t just trying to get us out of his hair. He would include us and teach us as he went along with what he had to do if we were interested. As odd as this sounds, my favorite times were in the car. I had the best time talking with him while we rode together. Someone had mentioned a book recently about just being all in wherever you are. I am like a squirrel and get so easily distracted. So it is a challenge but one worth taking!!! This post is so so good and such a great reminder to be hospitable to my own family!!! It’s not always what others say or do that is remembered as much as how they made you feel after you were with them. Hoping people see me as a filler and not a dumper!!! Haha!!!

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  3. Linda Tenhage

    04/23/2019

    Thanks for the reminder – I needed it too!

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  4. Jb

    04/22/2019

    I love this post but must have to say it shouldn’t only happen with our immediate families but with other family members too! Unfortunately, I have tried to be kind and showed my daughter in law I care, but it’s been over 18 yrs that I have been rejected, ignored, sassed off, etc from her. By His grace I will TRY to continue to love her, even tho it’s very difficult to do sometimes. There is rarely an act of hospitality on her end!

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  5. Trixie

    04/22/2019

    Wow. Did I ever need to hear this today. Thank you.

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  6. Meghan

    04/22/2019

    Wonderful post! This is essentially the mindset I strive to have but needed a reminder. It’s all about selflessly serving (to be of use, help or benefit not “wait on”) our families. Lasting contentment comes from laying aside my own agenda and putting others first.

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  7. Kim

    04/22/2019

    This is a very important post and we all need to read it about once per week. I heard the following story one time and it stuck with me.
    A busy mom went to answer the doorbell one day, opening the door with a welcoming smile. It was quickly replaced by frustration and anger………b/c her little boy stood there. When she asked him why he done such a thing, he answered, “I just wanted to see your ‘company’ smile.”

    Another thing I heard one time that I try to implement is: set a goal of saying “thank you” to each person in your family about 10 times per day………………especially our husbands. We spouses are doing little things for one another many times a day and the “thank you” can be omitted far too easily. It is a fun experiment to run to see how this might impact the mood of the home.

    Thank you for writing such a convincting post. I really appreciate it!

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  8. Melissa Melton

    04/22/2019

    Okay…love this!

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  9. Christine Meurer

    04/22/2019

    Gratitude! It’s a life changer. Sad to think these sentiments go against the flow in our society today. We truly find our greatest joy when we put others first and serve them in love.
    A Christian parenting blogger I follow once said that she taught her kids to treat each other as well as they would treat strangers. At first, that seems laughably easy, but then when you’ve got 2 screaming kids fighting over legos, it can be really eye opening! We are often willing to treat our families in ways we would never treat strangers.
    Thanks Andrea 🙂

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  10. Beth

    04/22/2019

    Beautiful post. The only thing I would add is a note about the power of a thank you to the person performing the act of service. My husband and I both work outside the home, and we both do the everyday things for each other, making lunches, laundry, dishes….some times not so hospitably as we should. I try my best to always remember to thank him, and he does this as well. If for no other reason than to acknowledge that act of service that was done for me. It’s amazing what a “hey, thanks for watching the kids so I could pack the lunches in quiet” or “thanks for cleaning up after dinner “can go.

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    Cindy Reply:

    I agree, Beth! I have noticed this from watching my brother and sister-in-law interact in their home. Saying “thank you” makes for a more pleasant environment.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! definitely!

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  11. April

    04/22/2019

    Great post Andrea. Thank you.

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  12. Melissa

    04/22/2019

    Thank you for a wonderful, thought-provoking post!

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  13. Annette Silveira

    04/22/2019

    I’ve recently adopted a mantra for myself, “Presence over Perfection.” I feel like this helps me when I have a lot to do but an opportunity to spend time with someone in my family arises. Sure, I could say no and get that chore done instead but at what cost? These people won’t always be here. My sticky floors will.

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  14. ruth

    04/22/2019

    excellent post. i’ve always so disliked people who treated others better than their own family members. it makes me ill.
    so i decided a long time ago, that my family gets the first of me. so if i only have 2 hours of patience, i will give it to my family first then others will get the leftovers! lol

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  15. Maria

    04/22/2019

    Loved this post! It reminds me of a saying I once read, “treat your family like guests and your guests like family.”

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    Andrea Reply:

    love this Maria! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Ann

    04/22/2019

    This is a great post! I marvel at this in the example of Jesus when He was here on earth…GOD came down! HE was GOD in the flesh-Yet HE SERVED others! AND He DID so with great love in His heart! {No eyeball rolling)

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  17. Grandma Ann

    04/22/2019

    What a great article Andrea. This was spot on. Wives and mothers are the heart of the home. The years of the children being home are really very short. It is important to teach the family to help too like you have. How much more pleasant is it to have this attitude. What a great legacy to give to your family!

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