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When You Arrive Early

Originally published in LLL of New Mexico’s Enchantment and reprinted in LLLI’s LEAVEN, May-June 1988

At a large educational conference in Los Angeles several years ago, I attended a session on infant stimulation in day care centers in Israel. I went into the session room early and sat in a folding chair, shuffling through my conference materials with several other early arrivals. The speaker came in to set up his slides and handouts, and then he did an astounding thing: he sat down in a chair next to each one of us for about five minutes of personal conversation.

He asked a few questions about me and my family, shared a few things about his life in Israel, and gave some impressions of America. He then moved on to another person. Boy, did it make me feel important! I think I listened more closely and felt more positive about his presentation than I might have otherwise.

This speaker-audience bonding technique is something I think La Leche League Leaders could use to great advantage. When you arrive early at a meeting, what do you spend time doing? Looking through the library? Chatting with Leader Applicants? Or do you spend it talking with the new mothers?

There are so many different reasons mothers come to their first meeting. A private breastfeeding concern might really be gnawing at them, and they could be worried they might have to say it in front of a group of strange women. This might be the moment they’d been hoping for. Five minutes of your pre-meeting time can show them your warmth, interest, and personal concern so that they will be even more receptive to what is said at the meeting.

New mothers need to feel accepted and appreciated, no matter what their experience as parents. Giving a new mother your undivided attention for a few minutes may be an important factor in her coming back to the next meeting. Or listening to your suggestions with an open mind. Or considering La Leche League as an important part of her life.

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