When you are going to the field as a missionary it can be very hard on your parents and close family. In many cases it is your parents who are worried the most. And there are always some family members who just can’t understand why you have to go away across the world where they think you will get some tropical disease or killed by terrorists. So other than praying for your family members, here are some tips on dealing with them and making your calling to missions much easier to handle.
1. Show your parents that you are willing to listen to them and that you care about how they feel and your relationship with them.
2. Include your parents in your decision making. Try not to surprise them with the news. Give them time to adjust.
3. Provide your parents lots of information–about the country you are going to, your preparation activities, your sending church or organization. Also help them with answers to the things parents worry about, like how you will you get medical care, how you will get off the field in a medical or political emergency, and how you will be financially supported.
4. See that your parents are involved in your training and preparation. If you have a shepherding group, invite your parents to a meeting or dinner to talk about their concerns.
5. Give your parents’ concerns and reactions serious consideration. God sometimes works through your parents to shape or delay your plans. Get good counsel from other mature Christians as you evaluate how to proceed.
6. Your parents’ lives are not going to be what they have expected. They won’t see you often and their grandchildren will grow up away from them. Your parents have some grieving to do, no matter how supportive they are of what you are doing. You need to understand this.
7. Do not try to argue your parents into supporting your plans. Instead, let them know that you are sorry that they have fears and sadness because of your plans. Learn to talk to your parents adult to adult (see the books Boundaries and How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding by Cloud and Townsend).
8. You may feel disappointed by your parents’ lack of support or you may feel that their reactions or objections are unspiritual. You may need to grieve this disappointment and accept it in order to have a positive relationship with your parents and still be able to go on with your life and plans.
9. Some parents are very supportive of their child’s missions plans but do not know how to deal with their own grief. Encourage your parents to have good connections with others, especially other POMs.
10. Help your parents learn to use technology to be able to stay in touch with you when you are overseas.
Why not create a free missionary website here to better communicate with your family back at home?
11. Say good-bye well. Spend time with your parents while you are preparing to go overseas. Build memories and connections.
© Cheryl Savageau and Diane Stortz, www.POMnet.org
Some related topics from POMnet.org:
* Ten Best Benefits of Being a POM
* Good POM Relationships with Adult Children
* How to Pray for Parents of Missionaries
* POMs Can Grandparent Great Across the Miles!
* Top Ten Tips for Parents of Missionaries
* Ten Tips for Getting Through the Holidays as a POM