Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cousins and brothers and friends, Oh My!

My daughter got married last week (lots more on that later, after I have fully processed it) but one thing I really enjoyed was meeting the groom's family and the couple's friends. Over 150 people attended the wedding and I knew less than half of
them when it all started - but a lot more by the time it ended. This was my kind of event! Lots of new people to meet, seeing lots of friends and relatives who I don't see all that often. It was fun! Still, I know that not everyone was feeling my joy. . .

School is starting soon. How do we go about teaching our kids to meet new people? What is the one thing they should know to do when meeting a new person? Just say hi and stick out their hand? Introduce themselves and offer to help with something? Wait for someone else to approach them?

I have no simple formula for doing this. You know yourself, and you know your child. If you relate to the world in the same way then model how to do this. If you don't, help your child observe someone more like himself. If meeting people is challenging for your child, then set a goal with her. On the other hand, if meeting people is like breathing for your kid, then help him or her learn to be a better friend and move beyond superficial relationships. It's a new year, and a time for re-invention.

As a natural extrovert I am always drawn toward people but I recognize that not everyone shares this inclination. I am moved by the knowledge that every person I meet is created in the image of God, and I learn to see God more clearly through other people's reflections. Some of us will have to meet a lot of people to get a fuller picture of God. Some of us will plumb the depths of a few close friends, and also get a fuller picture of God. Whichever method suits a person is fine. Just make sure that making friends is not overlooked in the busy, competitive, demanding days of school. It is one of the great blessings of going to school - just ask any family who home-schools how much intention it takes to make sure kids get enough socialization. Love your child enough to help them make friends - by the time you reach the age of parenthood you should know a trick or two.

Here's to new friends and new reflections of God all around us. Hope the new school year goes swimmingly!

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