ml 10 parenting

Parenting on the Field


Interview with D’s, 4-28-03. One of the hardships for them in being parents on the mission field was having their children be ill, and not being close to a doctor. There was no family or good neighbors around to help care for the children.
You are full-time 24/7 parents when you are on the mission field. Decide between you and your spouse that you will set time aside for family time, and keep it sacred, setting limits. It was a disappointment to the wife and her kids when the family nights were not kept sacred. You don’t have to spend 24/7 with the villagers. Know your limits, so you get family time.

The hardest thing about living overseas for the D’s children was coming back. Despite the hard times, their children would not give up the time they spent in Africa.

From SK 2004: from TR videotape
Challenges in raising children (when to have them or not to have them) was always an issue for us. They need to be trained to our ways-needed to teach them how to use electricity, turn on or off water.

Interview with Dr. H, by M. 4/07/03. They would have more realistic expectations — When preparing to take children overseas, it may be necessary to state things that appear to be obvious, and reassure them of what will change and what will stay the same.
Reentry is difficult when children have adopted the foreign country as their home country. They may even lose some English-speaking ability while they are gone, and therefore struggle when they return to the United States.

Interview with the B’s, 5-6-03. All of the B’s children were born in Nigeria. They grew up with the native children and became well integrated.
Four months of the year they lived with their parents at home. Their time at home was very significant and they built deep friendships with the local people.

The children were natural missionaries. They had lots of opportunities to share Jesus, and did so naturally no matter what they were doing, fishing, playing, sewing.

Interview with BO, 3-24-03. Her kids have good days and bad days. They like the freedom of being home schooled and the place where they live. They miss the convenience of the United States; it is tougher to live where they are.
Prayers for her children:
Protection, home-schooling, to make friends, to bear fruit, to study hard, to grow in faith, to love, to make friends, to love Jesus, to be friendly, for good memories

Concerns: It’s dangerous- no traffic laws, it’s dirty, healthcare is not easily accessible
Blessings: Having their kids there has built a bridge to talking with people; it makes B and her husband more approachable, it is good for the kids to be exposed to other cultures

Interview with JF. Missionary work is a sacrifice!! However, that sacrifice is worth it. The things Jim could have done with his daughters are lost forever, but it was for a greater purpose. There was loss, but for the sake of people hearing the Gospel.

Summaries from Books

Ideas discovered by student BP, 2003, from book Stepping Out, 123-126
Uprooting, moving, and adjusting to a different culture and lifestyle take huge investments of time and energy for a family.
Service overseas costs a lot, but it pays
If you have children older than eight or nine, the whole family should make the decision to go. It’s unwise to burden a very young child with and adult decision, but it’s a recipe for disaster to forcefully uproot a child, especially a teenager, against his or her will.
If there’s one thing that spells the difference between a successful adjustment to overseas living and a family disaster, it’s preparation. Make it a family project to learn about the history and geography of the country, and about the customs of the people with whom you’ll share your life.
Finding out the specifics of your living arrangements is more critical for families with children than for adults without children. What kind of house might you live in? What variety of food can you buy? How do you shop for it? Can you drink the water? How will you wash and dry diapers? How about medical care? Is public transportation available? What kind? Are there telephones? Do they work? Is make service reliable? What should you bring and what should you purchase locally?
Another vital element in preparation is developing cross-cultural awareness and skills.
As you leave your family’s familiar surroundings, anticipate a process of grief. Involve children in decisions about which of their possessions go with you and which stay home. Goodbye parties and rituals give a sense of closure.
While in transition, preserve as much routine and predictability as possible. Conduct a daily orientation session, perhaps at breakfast. Go over the events of the day in the context of where you have come from and where you are going.
Children don’t need to be protected from contact with nationals. In fact, children can become one of the best bridges to relationships in your new setting. On the other hand, respect a child’s own personality and individual pace.
If one of you has a specific assignment such as teaching, and the other bears most of the responsibility for logistics and parenting, anticipate that the “unemployed” one may have the hardest job and the most difficult time adjusting.
When reentering, put into use the same kinds of skills and activities that prepared your family for the separation, loss and cultural change of going overseas.


Factors impacting MK’s (missionary kids), from Mission Work in Today’s World, pg. 172-174

MK Education. Difficulties with Meeting educational and social needs of children is a leading reason missionaries leave the field. (See separate page on children’s education.)

MK Adjustment: Most orientation programs do not often offer anything for children, even though they experience the same changes that their parents do. Returning culture shock is often the most severe for children because the parents remember the home country, and the children may not.

MK Potential: They hold different perspectives on values, traditions, and priorities. They are bi-lingual and bi-cultural already. They are equipped for cross-cultural ministry. They hold valuable experience if called as a missionary. They would have more realistic expectations.

Survey of article: -Even MKs Can Become Depressed, by Dr. Esther Shubert, M.D. Taiwan Mission Quarterly, Volume 10, Number 3, Winter 2001. BP

Until recent years there has been a tendency in missionary circles to assume that Christians, including missionary kids, should not be subject to depression.

In recent years, however, we have seen a more balance perspective suggested by the fact that due to the fall of man we live in an imperfect world, and hence, are vulnerable on all fronts- the spiritual, the physical, and also the mental or emotional.

I do not believe that just being a missionary kid predisposes anyone to depression. However, in a genetically vulnerable MK, the special stresses of separation, rootlessness, and frequent transitions could be a trigger for a depressive episode. MKs often deal with separation at crucial stages, and these separations include leaving parents, peers, and other important people in their lives. The adjustment of reentry to the home country can also be a particularly stressful time. Dave Pollock says, “Unresolved grief is probably the primary issue in many MK’s lives.” This grief in a genetically vulnerable child could trigger or worsen depression.

There is also no question that reentry for the lifelong MK may actually create more cultural stress than living overseas. Vandenberg has described missionary kids at the time of reentry as “invisible internationals.”
Indeed, many missionary kids feel like strangers caught between two worlds.
Their allegiances are many and none, and they may have difficulty knowing where home is.

Spiritual warfare must be considered as an additional stress in the MK’s life, and I believe it could be a factor in precipitating depression in the genetically vulnerable child.

Finally, regardless of the fact that MKs are the children of Christians, there are dysfunctions in many families, and if these are severe enough, dysfunctional family issues can create short-term or long-term stress which might precipitate depression in a child with a hereditary tendency towards depression.

Book report from Mission Work in Today’s World, pg. 172-174

When preparing to take children overseas, it may be necessary to state things that appear to be obvious, and reassure them of what will change and what will stay the same.
Reentry is difficult when children have adopted the foreign country as their home country. They may even lose some English-speaking ability while they are gone, and therefore struggle when they return to the United States.

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