Entertaining With Guys and Kids

Recently I’ve heard from several readers saying that their heart’s desire is to entertain, but their husbands just do not enjoy it. Some don’t like kids, and some just don’t enjoy people in general.

Dear Sandy,
I love having people over but my husband really does not. Or rather he is okay with having ‘adults only’ over but finds other people’s children very challenging to be around. We have three children of our own but we seem to raise our children differently than a lot of people. Anyway I wish my husband would be more accepting of the differences but he isn’t. He just does not enjoy having ‘families’ over.

Not on the same page
A pang goes through my heart when I read comments like these. I feel for the woman with the desire to practice hospitality, and I also know that the husband is really missing out! Even C.S. Lewis did not have a love or desire to be around children. And he knew it. But he forced himself to be around them more, and thus came to understand and enjoy them.

Take your eyes off yourself
We have friends who have never had children, yet we have witnessed them being so giving and loving to many children, including our own. They make a point to ask questions, interact with them, and even play with them. Our friends have taken their eyes off of themselves, even if it isn’t easy for them, and have chosen to invest in others. And our kids love the dialogue that takes place with those friends.

Go to a restaurant
You can try doing something a little different. Head out to a restaurant for a meal or just dessert and get to know a couple without the kids around. Once a husband gets to know the adults, maybe he’ll be more open to having the kids over to visit too.

Kids out of control
It’s also true that people don’t always manage their kids well, so that makes it hard to have them over. But if you can forge a friendship with another couple with similar child-raising priorities, there might be a better chance that your husband will engage with the whole family.

Play with the kids
Encourage your husband to play for brief periods with the kids that you have in to play with your own.  Playing is such an icebreaker, as you can have fun without a deep discussion. For example, my husband Paul will play badminton with the kids, or soccer in the street, or even swim with them. He’s been known to turn every light off in the house and play nerf guns, or even hide-and-go-seek. If your husband is quieter, perhaps he’d enjoy playing cards or a board game with your children and one or two of their friends.

3 question rule
There is always the “3 question” rule that helps with entertaining children. Have 3 questions ready to ask your guests. In this case, use 3 questions that revolve around the child’s life, which could be questions like what positions they play in sports, or what kind of music they like to play, or what attracts them to a certain hobby.

  • What was your favorite vacation ever?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What makes you sad?

Are you ruining it for him?
My last thought: if the problem for the guy has nothing to do with kids, and he just plain ol’ doesn’t want to entertain, you might want to revisit your ways of doing things.

I used to be more of a perfectionist, thus causing undo stress at the last minute, wanting things to look a certain way.

I’d bring the “perfectionism” problem onto my family and really squelch any fun or excitement that might be there for hospitality, because I’d be yelling out orders regarding what to do, or what wasn’t done.

That alone was enough to ruin it for my guy!

What does the guy want? My view is that he wants things simple: good food, great conversation, and relaxation.

©2009, Sandy Coughlin

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