As Seen on Today Parenting: 2016 The Year of Southern Hospitality (Starting with our Children)

At the Style household we have committed that 2016 will be our year of demonstrating Southern Hospitality in our home, work, and community. To kick of this resolution, we are teaching our children what this idea of Southern Hospitality means.

At its purest intention we believe Southern Hospitality embraces four key concepts.

  • Welcoming – Making people feel noticed and greeted in a friendly way. For this Winter, our kindergartener is challenged with seeking out someone at school who is alone in the cafeteria or on the playground and making them feel “welcome”. Our 2 year old is challenged with making a new friend at her tumble class. Mr. Style and I are each inviting a new family in our neighborhood or at work over for dinner each month.
  • Demonstrating Kindness – We are going to spend this Spring focusing on kind words. Each day we are going to begin with a compliment to each other and each day we are tasked with giving a compliment to someone we come across at school or work or in the community.
  • Giving – We are going to spend this Summer giving back to our community. Each month we will pick a different service project that includes something each of the children can help with, and work together to give of our time and talents.
  • Being Respectful – We believe that respect flows out of being truly thankful. We are going to spend the Fall picking something each day to be thankful for and at the end of each day, journaling the reasons why we are thankful for that person, place, or thing. During the holidays, we will revisit what we wrote about and reflect on our blessings.
    December will be the culmination of our focus on Southern hospitality. We plan to use the month to assess how well we as a family progressed on the 4 key areas. We also plan to host several events at the house where we can truly practice our improved sense of Southern Hospitality.

This is not a tradition or something we have tried before. Our experiment in Southern Hospitality, as a family endeavor, will mean all the things I love most about our foursome – quality time, sharing and learning together. Look for updates throughout the year on how the Style family is really doing on our new year’s resolution here.

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The First Day of School Fears: What I learned from years of “First days”

I am the product of many big first days of school.  I had the privilege of moving with my family quite a few times as a child, so I can remember almost every first day. I am hoping all this “personal growth” as a child has paid off as I prepare to send my first child off to kindergarten. Here is my advice to him that could be helpful to you and your child as you buy that new backpack and prepare to pack the first lunch:

  1. Being scared is normal.
    1. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”–Eleanor Roosevelt
    2. They are scared, too. It is everyone’s first day when you start Kindergarten, so you know everyone is in the same boat. Look for people who want to paddle with you in that boat, and you will likely find at least one person to call a “friend” for the year.
  2. Some of these strangers will be your friends in a few days/weeks
    1. The best way to make new friends is to be a good friend. This is just like your little sister trying new things – if he/she looks scared, say something kind and you will get off to a great start.
    2. As you learn your new friends names learn what they like and dislike and tell them what you like and dislike to find common interests. Chances are they like the same book, food or game you do.
  3. Ask if you can join kids playing
    1. Most of the time they will say, “yes.”
    2. If they say, “no” – there is a whole class of other friends to play with, look for the person who may also be standing without a group. Remember the “ask what they like” idea, and see what you both like to do when the class gets to go outside.
  4. Smile and Make Eye Contact. It makes people feel good when they feel like they can talk to you.
  5. We all have a bad day, so if someone isn’t nice they might just be having a bad day. Changes are always hard on the first day, but soon it will become routine for you and that person who likely is just trying to tackle first day jitters.
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Because We Love You: Teaching Your Children a Work Ethic

Mr. Style and I had a discussion about how our parents instilled our work ethic.  His dad used to say, “I am doing this because I love you.”  And as much as my children are going to hate this, here are the things that we are going to do … because we love them:

  1. You will have chores. You will be expected to not only pick up after you eat, keep your room and play areas clean, but you will help clean your bathroom, and help with cleaning the house. (secretly, I am hoping cleaning the toilet will teach my son to have much better aim)  This will teach you that there is no magic fairy and if you make a mess, you own it.
  2. When you are old enough, you will baby sit or volunteer working with young children. You need to appreciate what it is like to take care of another human being.
  3. We will volunteer as a family. We are blessed in so many ways, and I want you to appreciate what we have. I also want you to work in a setting outside our home to see how mom and dad give 100% to each thing they do.
  4. You will have an allowance, and a savings account. We want you to learn what money is and how it works.
  5. You will have a job for school breaks. I don’t care that your friends are spending their summer sleeping in, and going to the pool.  Your daddy and I both worked, and I promise you will thank us one day.
  6. You will not be allowed to quit a team or activity mid-year. I am sorry you don’t like the coach or teacher or some of your peers, but guess what … one day you will probably have a boss or work peers you don’t like.  I do promise to listen to your frustrations, and to give you some tools for dealing with it.
  7. I also promise that every moment you are miserable in any of these activities that it will break my heart. However, I promise that one day, you will realize we did this because “we love you to the moon and back”
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