Do you know any POMs—parents of missionaries?
(Not sure? Are you involved with missions efforts or agencies, or sending churches? Most of the missionaries you work with do have parents!)
Our family-oriented Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are coming, and they can be tough when beloved children and grandchildren are half a world or more away.
Even when you’re proud and happy to be a POM.
So I want to put in a little plug for a book I co-wrote in 2008 that is still selling and still helping POMs thrive and stay connected when their children and grandchildren serve cross-culturally.
You can see an outline of the contents and read reviews and endorsements and find links for purchasing the book here.
It would make a wonderful Christmas present for any POMs who don’t have a copy yet.
And I also want to offer some tips to POMs (or anyone else dealing with sadness or loss) for getting through the holidays intact.
Yes, you can.
If these would be helpful to anyone you know, feel free to copy and share! (Just be sure to include the copyright notice, please.)
Ten Tips for Getting Through the Holidays as a POM
1. Plan ahead to avoid exhaustion, which accentuates all other feelings of sadness or loss. How could you simplify Christmas this year?
2. Giving up the common expectation that throughout life we would be able to enjoy our adult children and our grandchildren is a loss, and losses must be grieved. Try to identify where you are in the grieving process.
3. Let go of the “oughts” of the season, including how you “ought” to feel. Just be yourself. It is normal to experience distress in the face of loss.
4. Brainstorm ways you can insure adequate personal and emotional support for yourself throughout the holidays. Some examples: Schedule personal “down time” throughout the season. Find a close friend who is willing to listen without judging. Have some extra “God time.” Plan a new kind of holiday activity and invite others to join you.
5. Identify interpersonal issues within your family that need to be addressed before the holidays in order to prevent unwanted tensions.
6. Clarify your personal expectations about the holidays and communicate those to family members in advance to avoid misunderstanding, surprises, and disappointments. Learn the expectations of others. Find mutually agreeable solutions.
7. List all the good new things God has provided even as you have had to endure the absence of loved ones on the mission field.
8. List all the good things you can think of about having an adult child in missions.
9. Locate other POMs in your area. Work out a plan to stay in contact, even once a week, during the holidays. If possible, plan to attend together one event that everyone would enjoy.
10. Find news ways to include your missionary children and grandchildren in your celebration or to be a part of theirs. Make your own “books on tape” for grandchildren, write and send an email “journal” about holiday preparations and activities, open gifts together while on the phone, learn to send digital photos, invite your children’s friends to join your celebration. Think creatively and plan ahead.
© 2003, 2006, 2014 Diane Stortz and Cheryl Savageau