Blogger Ellen asked the Offering Hospitality Staff the following question and I, Carrie, will confess to you that I've been sitting on this one for awhile. It's a delicate subject matter and one that requires an excessive amount of grace. Even the staff members here differed on particulars and so I think what we'll go ahead and do is post Ellen's question and open the comment section up for you to offer your advice.
Hi! Just stumbled across your site today, and I realized I'd love to ask a question. We've been practicing hospitality in different ways for the 9 years of our marriage, and we've really enjoyed it for the most part.
But... I've run into a big snag for me in practicing hospitality. We have two little boys now, ages 3 and 1. Most of our friends have children. We don't have a ton of space. We find that dinners with some friends aren't enjoyable because they're chasing or managing their children most of the time, so we've tried just doing dessert and keeping it more simple.
In addition, we have some friends who let their children run and scream and and jump all over, pushing toys into walls, leaving toys everywhere, etc. This is how they are in their own home, so it doesn't surprise me that they act the same way elsewhere. I feel horrible about it, but I really don't like having them here. I cringe and start getting stressed even thinking about having them over.
Do you have any recommendations for verses to look at or things to pray about this situation? I want to have a welcoming heart about this, and it's very tough for me. I want to be the type of laid back person who really doesn't care... but I do. And I want to stop letting some children's behavior bother me.
First off, let me be quick to point out that Ellen went straight towards the best source looking for answers - the Bible. What DOES the Bible have to say about children?
- They are a gift (Gen. 3:5; Ps. 113:9)
- They are a heritage (Ps. 127:3-5)
- Jesus welcomed them to Him (Mark 10:13-16)
- We are to welcome them into our lives and fellowship with them. (Matt. 18:2-6, 10)
I think it is pretty clear that we are to welcome children into our lives and show hospitality to them. However, some children are more difficult to invite into the home than others. This is a great quandary and where each family chooses to draw their boundary line, I believe, needs to be between them and God.
Now, Ellen is also asking for some practical suggestions and here are a few that our staff would make and we would also ask for the advice and opinions of others.
- You might consider having families with more rambunctious children over for outdoor events, where the noise levels will not be as much as an issue and there will be plenty of room to run and play.
- Hosting an event at a neutral location, such as a park might be a good idea.
- Planning for an evening out with just the parents of the children might be the best choice for this particular season of life. (You do have to consider your own family boundaries and safety concerns when having others over.)
- You might consider putting away items and toys that you would rather your friend's children not play with and setting out specific toys that you do not mind them playing with. This might help to alleviate some of the tension of maintaining proper boundaries within your own home.
This is tough stuff - on both sides of the line! So I'll stop talking now and open the floor.
What would you say to Ellen?