In the spirit of President Hinckley’s six be’s, I’d like to submit some suggestions for visiting/home teaching etiquette. Here are my 12 be’s of assigned teaching. Please add your own!
- Be Punctual
If you say you’ll be there at 4:00, just do it. And if you can’t, at least call so I don’t have to force my children to keep the Playmobil guys off the floor for two whole hours.
- Be Available
Some of us are needy. What we need most is your time. If you have the misfortune of being assigned to someone who blogs, you can be assured they need to have actual, face-to-face interaction (whether they admit it or not). Give them at least the time to relearn basic personal skills and vocabulary.
- Be Barren
Leave your kids at home when you come. I really want your undivided attention—and I want to give my undivided attention, too. I’m selfish that way. If you have to bring your children—I get it, I have six kids and I homeschool so they are always around—bring something for them to do or watch them with an eagle eye. I really don’t want to spend the hour after you leave re-organizing the playroom. And I may actually have breakables below the three-foot level. I shouldn’t have to redecorate my home just because your sweet little Buddy has learned to crawl.
- Be Prepared
I don’t care if you give the lesson or not—the entire 2004 “Feeling the Love of the Lord through…”series had me utterly baffled. But if you do, at least pick out something that might be remotely relevant to me. For example, a lesson on humility would be a waste of time. I’ve already perfected that.
- Be Helpful
Really, I’m fine, but if you sincerely desire to do something useful, please don’t ask, “Is there anything we can do for you?” I have no idea how to answer that. (Do you?) Instead, say something like, “What do you need the most right now?” or “What are you most worried about?” That might result in a workable answer. (By the way, “brownies” sums it up nicely.)
- Be Home
If you agree to an appointment, at least stick around for it. We feel kind of stupid standing on the porch with our bosoms burning.
- Be Forgiving
Knowing how to serve someone whose house you would never otherwise be invited to can be tricky. So give us a break and try to pretend that we’re doing some good. Someday it might work out that way.
- Be Tubeless
It’s hard to give a spiritual message over The Young and the Restless. At least without a Freudian slipping out. If you can’t TIVO, just reschedule. We’ll understand. Or pretend to.
- Be Pet Free
I know you love your dogs and cats, but would it be too much to ask that you take them out of the livingroom while we’re there? I don’t know what to do when the dog sniffs my nether regions. And when the cat climbs up my sweater or pounces on my head, I am left wondering how politely to respond. Particularly when all you say is, “Oh! He likes you!”
- Be Practical
Fast and pray all you want, but at least consider the logistics of the assignments. When Sam was assigned to a companion who lived 20 minutes away (one-way) and had no transportation, he was also assigned to teach ten families who lived between West Palm Beach and Pompano Beach. Would have been fine if he didn’t also have, say, a full-time job.
- Be Fair
Everyone is a child of God. But some require more assistance than others. If you’ve got a number of ward “projects,” spread the joy of service around!
- Be Fun
I know you want to mix it up, but every few years, let me have either visiting teachers or teachees who are remotely in the same life phase that I am. It’s good to get me out of my comfort zone, but sometimes I just want to hear, “I know exactly what you’re going through!”
- Be Brief
- Be Gone
- Be Yourself
- Be Personal
- Be Active
- Be Creative
- Be Dressed
- Be Friendly
- Be Encouraging
- Be Brave
- Be Flexible
- Be Sensitive