Becoming the Neighborhood Hangout
Is your home a place that kids like to hang out at? You may already be asking, "But why would I want all the neighbors' kids at my house every day? Can't they all just play somewhere else?" But hosting the afternoon hangout spot for your children's friends is one of the best ways to really learn about what's going on in their lives.
Think about the benefits. First, you know where your child is and who he is with. Sometimes when children are at other houses, your rules and guidelines aren't always followed. Plus, you will be able to provide your child with a safe environment that you are able to supervise. Studies show that "hands-on" parents who are actively involved in their children's lives are better able to help their children stay away from high-risk behaviors, such as using drugs and alcohol.
Secondly, you will get a unique look at how your child interacts with his peers. Sometimes the child you see at home and the child who is at school are two different people. Getting to see your child with his peers will allow you another glimpse into his life. You also might learn a few new things about his likes, dislikes and what's going on at school.
Thirdly, you are building a relationship with your child that says you care about them and their friends. Your child will remember that you made the effort to meet their need for friendships and that you were available for them. Plus, your child will grow up with those memories associated with home.
So as you begin to open up your home, remember that this is not about having certain material things available or gaining status for yourself in the neighborhood. This isn't about who can get the best video game system to bribe children over to your house. This is not about being the "cool" mom or dad. This is about creating a safe, fun environment for your child and his friends.
Sure, you can have some movies and video games on hand, but also have plenty of outdoor games and board games available. For younger children, have plenty of craft and art supplies around. You can even have some planned activities once in awhile. If you like to cook, make a few special snacks for them. You don't have to go all out every time your child has friends over, but do what you can to make your home a place your child is proud to spend time at.
Copyright by Family First 2007. All rights reserved.