Tuesday Topics: Kids and Saying Goodbye

From Ashley in Russia: Our kids are getting to the age when they are starting to understand things like distance and the length of time between visits with their family. We will be going back to the States this Winter to spend Christmas with our family, and I am wondering how it is going to be when we have to say goodbye this time.  Previously our goodbyes weren’t as hard for the kids since they didn’t exactly understand what was happening.  I know that it is important to “say goodbye well,” but I am not exactly sure what that looks like for younger kids. What has been helpful for you in terms of preparing your kids for difficult goodbyes and walking them through that time? Thanks!

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to formissionarymoms@gmail.com . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

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13 Responses to “Tuesday Topics: Kids and Saying Goodbye”


  1. 1 Ashley L. October 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I thought I’d sneak my own question in there. =) Thanks in advance for your advice!

  2. 2 Alicia October 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Oh how I wish I had some advice for you. I’m right there with you. When we said good bye the last time, my oldest refused to say good bye…as if refusing would make it not have to happen. Lately he’s been begging me to see family. “Please just say yes mommy!” is the plea I get. It’s so hard for both of us. The good byes get harder for me as my kids start understanding what’s going on. I’m looking forward to seeing what others say.

  3. 3 Nicole October 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Oh, yes this is hard. I have thought about often how will I handle my family having to witness some child in our neighborhood whom we have ministered to dying because of some gang violence or drugs and then I think about the oppurtunities we have had already in being able to comfort her from Gods word…

    My husband and I are missionaries and a couple of our close friends are as well. They moved away a year ago and then after that our 7 yr watched a friend of hers die from Cancer at such a young age. With such a broken heart my husband and I have thanked the Lord for the opportunities to teach and train our daughter that life in so many forms here on earth is temporary.(even the people who are in it)

    I really am not trying to give you a “holy” answer, we really have had the priviledge of sharing with her the words of Jesus, “Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you”-Heb.13:5. “Though many we love move or die, God promises to ALWAYS be there. Life is about desiring him above all things, we know you hurt and God does to and he wants to comfort you in your sadness..we can write letters, and call them once they get settled”

    It was hard for me as well to see my best friend leave to serve the Lord on a different field, but the life she and her husband lives is not for them(or me) it’s for the Lord. Though this was hard I have watched the Lord use His word and perspective to comfort the heart of my child and my own. Friends( and our family one day) will continue to leave, this is just a remindder that we must not have a tight grasp to NONE of the things God places in our lives. Wherever we are and whomever is apart of our lives at the time, we must ENJOY them and stewart them well, but always remember, God is in control and has is always good!

    I am def. having to remember this myself and prepare my heart for battle.

  4. 4 Shilo October 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I’m anxious to hear some advice from other moms on this subject as our kids are getting to that same stage.
    Before, we have tried to prepare them that we are leaving for a long time and ask if there is anything they would like to say or do with grandpa and grandma, best buddy cousins, etc before they leave. My kids always do best with a “heads up”.
    And I don’t hide my own pain from them. They have seen me cry at goodbyes and…the little darlings have been the one to comfort ME at different times.
    We also tried to emphasize that our family unit was something special and that we would be together as we left.
    Anxious to read what others have to say! Blessings to all!

  5. 5 Phyllis October 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Ours really don’t seem to take it to heart. I don’t know. Maybe they’re too young? Although, I think they’re older than yours, Ashley. (Ours are 3, 5 and 7.) Our own little family is really tight, and they seem to be fine as long as Mama and Papa and siblings are all there. I sometimes wonder if we have the opposite problem: do they care enough about their relatives?

  6. 6 richelle October 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    well… frankly, it only continues to get harder… the goodbyes on both sides of the water… because each time our roots go deeper and we are better able to count the cost… all of us. and i don’t necessarily think that we do this well, but here are some of the things we attempt to do:

    *we try to create special memories and take lots of pictures.
    *we cry and pray together… and don’t deny that it hurts, sometimes so badly that it is physical.
    *we hug, hard and fierce, when we have the opportunity; we don’t shy away from holding hands.
    *we make sure we try and protect special moments with the nearest and dearest… i.e. we don’t invite anyone other than family to the airport to see us off b/c that is important to our family – that they don’t have to share us in that moment.
    *we take time to consciously thank the Lord for those special people He has given us for the season He has given them – even from tender ages, so our kids begin to learn that while relationships centered on the Lord are eternal, the time we have together in this world is a gift, not a guarantee.
    *we teach our kids that each sad goodbye is the opportunity to look forward to a happy hello on the other end of the trip.
    *we celebrate family, friends and special times; we grieve goodbyes and separations.
    *we try and teach our children to forgive, ask forgiveness when needed, not hold grudges and make the most of each moment – so that when they say goodbye or see you later, there are no regrets.
    *as they get older, we talk about holding our friends and family close to our heart, but with an open hand so that if God takes our lives on differen courses (which ineveitably happens) we can celebrate through our tears because being right where God wants is the very best place.
    *we try and not put expectations on our family and friends – i.e. expecting an email each week… and instead accept each gift of time, communication as it is offered, whether from near or from afar.
    *we teach our older kids to go to the psalms when their hearts ache.
    *we actively engage in the work it takes to keep up with relationships when we are far away from the ones we love, modeling many different ways to continue investing in relationships from afar) – and it is different for different people (skype, fb, blogs, emails, snail mails, packages, prayers, phone calls, chatting, texting…) so we try and adapt to meet the needs of those we are seeking to communicate with.
    *we pray for the people we love and miss.
    *we talk about and remember special times and special people – and validate the depth of emotions that sometimes comes along with those memories.
    *we also anticipate reunions… crossing off days on the calendar when they become the near future.
    *when something happens that reminds us of someone, we share that, so that dear ones, even though unseen for a time, remain a constant presence in our lives.
    *we seek to minister to others first, actively engaging in the community where God has placed us for a season and as God brings opportunity, to those who are far away.

    those are some of the things we’ve chosen consciously to do to help our children, ourselves, our families and our friends with the hard transitions… and those are ideals. we’ve by no means arrived in this area. i’m already starting the process of anticipating, grieving and frequently tear up at a goodbye i know is coming in less than two years, one that will necessitate a somewhat permanent change in one of my dearest and closest friendships. the love and friendship we share will, no doubt, continue, but the way we spend time together and invest in each other will change. and then shortly after that, our oldest graduates from high school and transitions to post high-school life. that one, i can’t even begin to imagine.

    and we refer often back to the example of paul (from 2 tim 1):
    “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of thee in my supplications, night and day longing to see thee, remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also. For which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands. For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God; who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal…”

  7. 7 @ngie October 5, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Richelle’s answer was great. I don’t know that I could add to that.

    One specific thing we do in our family is try to keep the Skype calls and Magic Jack calls as frequent as the kids like. This makes the in between time more bearable and the reunions a little less awkward. The good-byes are just as hard, but there is the promise of continued communication even when we are far away.

  8. 8 Jen October 6, 2010 at 3:13 am

    Wow, there is a lot of wisdom in here. It has been good to read and though I always dread the goodbye’s, this has opened my eyes to the teaching moments for kids and on my own heart. Are there any tips out there on things the family can do to make the leaving “easier”?

  9. 9 Ashley L. October 8, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Thank you, everyone, for your encouragements and wonderful practical tips! I appreciate it so much! As I was reading them I was realizing that these things are helpful ideas not just for my kids, but for me too! Goodbyes are so hard! Jen, I wish I had ideas for making goodbyes easier for family, but I know for a fact that saying goodbye to you and your family can never possibly be an easy thing! I am ok with that since we love you so much. One idea that I had was that you could just come back with us! =)

  10. 10 richelle October 9, 2010 at 4:09 am

    just read this article… and thought it was pertinent to the discussion…

    http://www.missionarycare.com/brochures/br_sayinggoodbye.htm

  11. 11 laura@life overseas October 9, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Hi ladies, I have loved reading through these articles and learning some good pieces of wise advice. It is such a hard thing, this leaving. I think another thing to watch for is all of our tendency to not invest in relationships because of the assumption that they will be ending soon. Not a good road to walk down. Someone said once, “No matter how long the relationship lasts, relationship is always, always worth it.”

    Thanks for the advice!

    Love from Thailand,
    Laura

  12. 12 Hoagloara September 23, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Hi, what about …

    .


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