Every mom wants the best for her children. And we do our best to provide all they need: unconditional love, training, and even correction.
But when we live and work overseas, we have additional concerns for our children. Normal maternal desires become multiplied and complicated by second home realities.
Some of you had to decide whether to give birth on your field or to return to your home country for delivery. Either choice causes concerns. If you remain on the field and you have a difficult delivery, will you get the medical care you need? If you return to your home country, there are additional travel costs and expenses both before and after the delivery there.
While your children reach pre-school age, other challenges pop up. If you are fully involved in work or ministry, you wonder whether child care is a safe option. Can you trust your little darling to someone else? If you are able to be at home with your child, you still may wonder about his playmates, what language he is learning, etc. When we lived in Africa, our youngest son complained to me that his playmate was stealing his toys. “Impossible,” I thought. But I talked to the boy’s mother anyway. In return, I got an angry scowl . . . and a big bag of my son’s missing toys.
As the time to start school nears we have to decide how to educate our children. Perhaps your organization already has a mandated plan, and you will follow that plan. But many of you must make the decision on your own. There are many more choices now than there used to be. Boarding school was standard operating procedure a generation ago. By the time our sons were ready for school, homeschooling had become a good option. In some countries the national schools or international schools are an option. Now there are on-line schools and other blended choices.
In our case, one of the major reasons we changed continents was so that our sons could have a better option than my homeschooling. Of course, there were other reasons too, but it played a huge role in our decision making.
We had other concerns, too. Though we believed we were exactly where God wanted us to be, we wondered whether our children would feel they had been cheated out of a normal American childhood. But both of our boys (now big men) told us how they appreciated the variety of experiences they had that their American peers could not even imagine. So maybe we didn’t need to worry after all.
We also worried about material things. We wondered if they would resent that they didn’t have as much or the same things as their peers in the States. My husband asked one of our sons, when he was about twenty-one, how he felt about that. He said, “Dad, I know we didn’t have everything, but we never lacked anything.” When they couldn’t get something right away, we would help them plan and save toward getting those things when we were home on furlough. And actually, that added to the adventure.
With the transient nature of most international communities, we thought that, perhaps, our sons wouldn’t have life-long friends from high school. Boy, were we wrong. They have kept up better with their high school friends than most young adults who never left their homeland.
Did they experience some bad things that they may not have experienced if we had stayed home? Sure. But they were not what we expected. For instance, they did not like to attend Sunday School when we were home on leave. They hated that when the teacher asked a question that no one wanted to answer, the teacher would expect the MKs to answer. It’s the well-known, “fishbowl syndrome.” They felt like oddities on display.
They also didn’t like the fact that their peers in America had such a narrow focus- were so America-centric. Because of their time in a multicultural community, our sons knew there are other ways to think about life, politics, and almost everything else. They didn’t think they would ever completely assimilate back home. But they have. And they have brought their wider focus, for better or worse, with them.
So Mom, when you think about your children, pray for them! God can provide all they need that you may not be able to provide for them.
Even if you did everything right, one or more of your children may be away from the Lord right now. There really are no guarantees in this life. Even with the perfect Father, Adam and Eve disobeyed and lost their beautiful garden life.
But we can pray. He cares more for our children than we ever could. He knew them from the foundation of the world. He has ways and means to draw them to Himself and back to the life He planned for them to live.
A young man went away to study when he was fifteen. He was in a city filled with lust, and he swam in it, filled himself with it, and still his godly mother prayed. When he was 19 he first opened his mind to the love of God, but did not embrace him with his heart. And still his mother prayed. Finally, at age 31, her son did embrace Christ, and his life was radically changed forever. Even more, he changed history! His name is Augustine, and he changed the world.
Happy Mother’s Day! And never stop praying.
For some additional articles or resources, click the links below.
Raising Resilient MKs: Resources for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers – downloadable in a variety of different formats
On-Line Schools – This is a very comprehensive resource for on-line education from Kindergarten through PhD programs. Use their tools to evaluate your education needs and how on-line learning may help.
Network of International Christian Schools – 19 schools around the world that cater to Christian students.
School Alternatives – A Peter’s Wife article written 16 years ago, but still with some good things to consider in making your plans.