Heinous or Harmless – Guests

My kids have friends over for dinner quite often. One of these kids is like a son to me. He and my son have been buddies since preschool many moons ago. They are comfortable in each other’s houses and are the best of friends. My kids set and clear the table in rotation. Well, it’s not really scientific, because I keep score in my head, which isn’t exactly accurate because apparently I keep asking the same kids to clear the same table in the same house more than once a lifetime. Oh the horror!

Tonight I had 5 boys sitting at the supper table. (I should have bugged the kitchen) Anyhow, it was my eldest’s turn to help, and I asked his friend to help him clear. Part of my reasoning is that he is really one of the family, and secondly if my son’s friend is helping he (my kid) can’t / won’t whine and moan that it isn’t fair, that it’s always his turn.

My kids, wherever we go as a family, or wherever they go as individuals for meals they always offer to clear or to serve, they get up from the table and make themselves useful. Without me prompting them, I might add.

But someone I know is horrified that I ask my kids’ friends to help. Apparently I should wait on them hand and foot. I don’t do that to my own kids. My own kids have to sing for their supper as it were.

Am I wrong?

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11 Comments

  1. Lady Lock and Load says:

    No, I think it is the right thing to do. This way when your son eats over at the guest’s house, your son will help him out (and his mom/dad will be most appreciative and duly impressed).

  2. Erin says:

    Honestly, I think that my children’s friends should expect to pitch in and be part of the team. Am I going to assign them chores or pay their allowance? No. But, while in my home, they should be a part of the unit, as I would also expect that my child do when he is at a friend’s house.

  3. shorty says:

    My husband and i are considered “part of the family” at the Rabbi’s house, and she asks for my help with clearing the table all the time. and i don’t mind.

    I think its a good lesson for the little ones to help at a friend’s house…it teaches them a bit of gratitude.

  4. Mark says:

    Harmless (and teach-ful) if the kids is often there.

    Heinous if the kid is a first-time guest :-)

  5. Cam says:

    I have the same discussion with my kids. If they visit a friends house, they are expected to offer to help. If they have friends visiting, then said friend is going to be asked to clear/wipe the table/load dishwasher, etc…

    It’s polite.

  6. tesyaa says:

    I’m commenting about adults helping, not kids, but the idea is the same. Years ago, before we had a bunch of kids including special needs kids, we used to actually have Shabbos company, sometimes quite frequently. At times a guest made a move as if to help, or asked if they could help. Our stock answer was always that a first-time guest wasn’t expected to help, but we would be happy to have them help when they returned a second time. I’d say this is reasonable whether the guests are kids or adults.

    • Rainy says:

      Someone said this to me at Sukkot, when I offered to help her with clearing. I had never been in their home before, she was the mother in law of my actual friend who had invited me. She said thank you and she’d take me up on it when I came over again. This made me feel doubly welcome. I think it’s a nice way to handle a first time guest!

  7. G6 says:

    I think with younger children, the ages of your own, it’s harmless. In fact, I think it helps them feel more “at home”.
    Now with a 16 year old, it’d be another story, but at that age, they should be offering anyway…

  8. Rainy says:

    Nah, I think it’s reasonable. There’s a difference between a guest-guest and family-guest. A guest-guest, if they are well mannered, will offer to help. You may, or may not, depending on your need, take them up on it. A family-guest should just get up and help. And by family-guest I mean someone who is not necessarily family by blood but might as well be they’re over so often.

    I prevail upon my kid’s friends to help out with dishes/clearing/whatever, when they are here. And then I praise them mightily for it. This usually pokes the, “HEY! I want some of that!” button and my kids step up their game a little. ;-D

  9. HaSafran says:

    If you’re sitting at the table and eating my food (and you’re under the age of legal consent – otherwise, you really ARE a guest), then you’re fair game to be asked to help clean off the table.

  10. Mike S says:

    I don’t feel terribly strongly about this one way or the other. With kid’s friends who are over frequently, I sometimes ask them to help. Other times I will let the child who has a friend over trade his or her turn with a sibling. And sometimes my wife or I will clear. As long as you teach your children to be responsible and carry their share of the load, I don’t think the details are a major issue. You are not responsible to teach your kid’s friends, however, there is nothing wrong with doing so either, when they are in your house.

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