Recently, my son and I were waiting to be seated at a local restaurant when an old friend came walking out. I hadn’t seen him in years, and we talked for several minutes, catching up on each other’s lives. It was a quick conversation, but we touched on several topics including jobs, mutual friends, and our families.
After he walked away, my son looked at me and asked, “Dad, who was that?” Immediately, my heart sank as I realized that I hadn’t introduced him. What could be worse for a kid than listening to his dad fill someone in on the important things in his life without even introducing him? Always make it a point to introduce your kids. In fact, not only should you introduce your kids, but you should also do these 3 things.
1. Prepare them for a handshake.
Learning how to properly shake someone’s hand is a life skill that needs to be taught. It may seem simple to us as adults, but like many other skills, there are small details that can improve the impression. Make time to talk to your kids about shaking hands (or, in a post-COVID world, maybe about an elbow or fist bump), and teach them to do the following:
- If seated, stand up.
- Make eye contact
- Have a firm but not aggressive handshake.
- Make a note of the other person’s name.
- Say something like, “It’s nice to meet you.”
2. Avoid embarrassing them.
I tend to use self-deprecating humor in these types of situations. Unfortunately, I have caught myself extending this to my son. Although I want my son to be humble, this is not the place for that type of humor. Make an introduction an opportunity to build your kids up.
It’s not OK to say, “This is my son. He’s running track, and he’s as slow as I was.” It is OK to say, “This is my son. Luckily, he’s faster than I was.” But it’s better to say, “This is my son. He’s running track and I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic.”
3. Mention a reason you’re proud of them.Every time we introduce our kids to somebody, it is an opportunity to make them feel valued.
As part of our All Pro Dad Chapter meeting each month at my daughters’ elementary school, we start off every morning the same way. Each dad takes a turn introducing his kids and himself. As part of the introduction, we give a reason why we are proud of our son or daughter. I always enjoy that part—even more than I enjoy the donuts. As each dad talks about his kids, it’s fun to watch the kids’ faces. Some try to hide a smile while others let a smile shine brightly.
Every time we introduce our kids to somebody, it is an opportunity to make them feel valued. Whether they have been helping with household chores, being kind to their siblings, getting good grades, learning to play the guitar, or simply giving their best effort to pass a spelling test, they need to know we see the good that they are doing and that we are proud of them.
Sound off: Have you done a good job introducing your kids?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you feel when I introduce you to people?”