As the youngest in my family, I remember distinctly each time my older siblings left the nest. I didn’t have any leave to serve missions, but as they left for college it was a hard adjustment for all of us!
Missionaries leaving the home can be even more traumatic for younger siblings since there will be 18 months-two years until they get to physically be with their sibling again.
As a parent it can be tricky to support your kids when you feel sad too! But I’m here with 10 strategies to help siblings who miss their missionary.
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Strategies to help Siblings who miss their Missionary
- Choose a special “missing you” item: With the A-okay from your missionary, have each child pick out something special from their missionary’s clothing or room (like a sweatshirt, t-shirt, old stuffed animal or toy). It can be helpful to have something physical to wear or hug when they are missing their brother or sister on a mission!
- Create a Useful Missionary Spot: Designate a space in your home where you have picture(s) of your missionary, and a notepad or white board. When your child is missing their missionary brother or sister, they can write a note or write down questions or things they want to tell them on the next P-Day call.
- Encourage Weekly Writing: Missionary calls are amazing, but there is something very therapeutic about writing (or typing) your thoughts out. Having siblings take time each week (Sundays are great!) to write a quick note to your missionary.
- Talk about your missionary: Sometimes the absence of someone feels bigger because we stop talking about them. Share memories of your missionary, talk about what’s going on with them on their mission, make them as much a part of family conversations as possible.
- Celebrate your Missionary’s Birthday: Bake a cake, have their favorite meal and celebrate your missionary on their birthday! You could also make it more meaningful by inviting another family over, or doing a special family service project in honor of your missionary.
- Learn about the area they are serving in: It will be less intimidating the more younger siblings know about the area your missionary is serving in. You can check out books from the library, watch video documentaries, try recipes from that area or go to cultural celebrations for that country in your own city (if available).
- Represent your missionary: It is fun for you (and your kids!) to talk about your missionary. One easy way to facilitate these conversations is to rep your missionary. You can purchase these beautiful missionary flag bracelets (she can make one for any state or country!). There are also a lot of different country and state t-shirts you can purchase. When someone asks about your shirt (and believe me they will!) you or your child can talk about their missionary!
- Start a “missing” hobby or tradition: It is natural to miss a sibling who has left home. Those times of missing come and go often over the year and a half-two years. One fun way to pass the time when you are missing someone is to pull out a new hobby or have a comforting tradition to fall back on. You could do a family movie party when you are feeling down. Or have a needlepoint kit, puzzle, or diamond art kit to pull out when you are especially missing them!
- Pray with and for your missionary: Family prayer can be a great time to feel close to your missionary! At the end of your weekly call, ask your missionary who (by name) or what specifically your family can pray for. Write it down and include it in your family prayers. It will be wonderful for siblings to watch the miracles that prayer can bring and feel like they are a part of your missionary’s work (even in a small way).