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In parenting, open door is best policy

Hayhurst’s Hayloft: Family friends showed us how to welcome our children’s friends into our home.

Susan Hayhurst

May 10, 2024

2 Min Read
A group of adolescent girls pose for a photo
BONUS DAUGHTERS: Our daughter Hayley (third from right) and her posse of friends were always welcome in our home. Susan Hayhurst

Raising children can be a daunting and eye-opening experience. It helps to have friends who set the bar high and live out successful parenting.

Ed Shew and his late wife, Carol, were raising three boys — John, Jeff and Nathan — and shared their “open-door policy” with my husband, Terry, and me.

“We always wanted to know our kids’ friends,” says Ed, a Vermillion County, Ind., farmer. “We told our boys we had an open-door policy for them to invite their friends over to our house to play. They only had to give us a heads-up. We also liked their friends to be involved in what we were doing at home or at church activities.”

Ed remembers he and Carol were not enthused about buying a basic Nintendo or PlayStation system, but they’d rather have the boys playing it in their own home than elsewhere.

“I’ll always remember the group of boys excited with controllers while watching the four screens on the television,” Ed recalls. “We also told our boys, ‘You can limit your viewing, or we can limit it for you.’ They generally made good decisions with it.”

While Ed worked on the family hog and grain farm and Carol was a nurse at a local hospital, the boys had chores and participated in 4-H projects, including hogs and cattle.

“As our boys grew up, we gave them decisions to make and guided them into the right choices,” Ed says. “It helped that their friends and their parents were of the same mindset we had, with an emphasis on faith. The boys were active in youth group, and eventually, Carol and I led the youth group. The values we impressed on our sons still hold today.”

Terry and I created our own open-door policy with our daughters, Lillian and Hayley. We are thrilled to have many “bonus daughters” who still visit often.

About the Author(s)

Susan Hayhurst

Susan Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute, Ind.

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