07 October 2010

Kids and Goodbyes... What do You Think?

One of my favorite blogs posts a "Tuesday Topic:" readers write in with a question, their question is posted and other readers respond, sharing their experience, answers and/or suggestions. This week's Tuesday Topic, "Kids and Goodbyes," was super relevant to me - we just lived significant goodbyes and the relationship switches that are a part of our life.

"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!"

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. I don’t necessarily think that we do this well, but here are some of the things we hope helps:
  • 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 because 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 - and 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 different courses (which inevitably happens) we can celebrate through our tears because being right where God wants is the very best place.
  • we try not to saddle our family and friends with expectations - i.e. expecting an email each week… learning instead to accept each treasured moment of time, each gift of communication thankfully, when it is offered... whether from near or from afar.
  • we teach our older kids to go to 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 – and it looks different for different people (skype, facebook, blogs, emails, snail mails, packages, prayers, phone calls, chatting, texting…). We try and adapt to meet the needs of those we are seeking to communicate with.
  • we pray regularly 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 surfaces with the memories.
  • we also anticipate reunions… crossing off days on the calendar once those reunions become the near future.
  • when something happens that reminds us of someone, we share and talk about it, so that even though unseen for a time, special people remain a constant presence in our lives.
  • we seek to minister to others first, actively engaging in the community where God has placed us 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 these oh-so-hard transitions… hey are our 'aspirations;' we’ve by no means arrived.

I’m already starting the process of anticipating, grieving and can 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; I hope it will continue to grow and deepen. However, the way we spend time together and invest in each other... what that looks like... will change. Then shortly after that, our oldest graduates from high school and transitions to post high-school life and he'll be there while we remain here. That one, I can’t even begin to imagine.

I love 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…”


  1. tears with you. We miss you when you are not here, but I really have no experiential concept of the type of multiple, painful goodbyes that are a regular part of your lives. Thank you for your transparency and insights on how it grows you and the whole family. love and virtual hugs. :-)

  2. thanks for making me cry this morning! ;) what good thoughts. praying for you all daily! we think of you often and miss you dearly!

  3. we miss y'all too... even tho' I just essentially said that, it bears repeating.


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