So, M.O.M., as your daughter or son (and most importantly the grandchildren!!) get ready to leave for the field, how should you handle this HUGE step in their lives? I interviewed some missionary friends of mine and most of these points came from their answers. I really enjoyed reading how some of their moms have encouraged them and are a true help to them on the field. What a difference a M.O.M. can make in the lives of their children!
1) First and foremost – PRAY for them! This can’t be stressed enough! I don’t stay overnight at my mom and dad’s house very often now that I am married and have my own family, but everytime I do, (if I wake up early enough), I can almost be assured to “catch” my mom and dad sitting at the counter together with Bibles open and praying for each one of their daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. I believe that the Lord hears and answers prayers, why not be a prayer warrior for your children?
2) Be supportive. You may not (or maybe I should say, WILL not) understand every decision your son/son-in-law will take, but you can be supportive without understanding the details. The life of a missionary can be a pretty wild ride! You can be supportive by being there when your daughter needs someone to listen to her.
3) Visit them on the field! I have heard too many missionaries say that their mom would NEVER visit them for fear of flying, for the cost, for whatever reason, but it would be a great encouragement for them AND you if you would make plans to visit. The anticipation and count down of Nana coming is awesome for the grandkids! To see how and where your son/daughter and family are living would give you peace of mind. Many of us always think the worst when we think of the mission field! I am very grateful for every visit that my parents and in-laws made to see us on the field. I know that the financial sacrifice was great on their part, but my kids didn’t grow up on the mission field wondering who their grandparents were.
4) Keep the communication open! Don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” be you! They are your family, even if they are 5,000 miles away! Skype or Facetime with the grandchildren, especially on birthdays and other special days. Open up a private facebook group for the family to keep up with each other. Use technology to your advantage! The “mission field” doesn’t have to be as far away as it once was.
5) Have fun with the grandkids when they come back on furloughs! Make memories! Take them to a petting zoo, the library, McDonalds, the park and other fun places! The kids will never forget it! On a side note, be fair to all your grandchildren – none should be more special than others. Treat them equally. I know it’s hard to send a birthday gift overseas, but be creative and you can find ways to cut the costs. My mom would send gifts to someone coming to visit us, even if the birthday was still months away and I would hide it till the time came.
6) Be thankful! As one mother put it, she is is thankful her kids are serving the Lord and not the world. Your kids know that it’s going to be hard on you, but it will just make them stress more when they finally leave because they just can’t see that you are going to be OK. Show them that you love them, but be careful not to turn every event into “This will be the last time we…” Philippians 4:8 says “whatsoever things are LOVELY, think on these things.” Some missionaries actually have a guilt trip from their parents for “taking the grandkids away from them”. Teri Snode wrote a great post about “Releasing your Kids” here.
I have a few more pointers, but you will have to wait for my next post. Smile!