I grew up listening to The Beatles, thanks to my music teacher mother, and I often think of the song “You say Goodbye, and I say Hello… hello hello…” for a few reasons. Not only is it a great song, by classic musicians, but as a Mission family, I feel like this is a part of our life.
“Goodbye’s” and “Hello’s” are very much a part of our regular lives. Where we live on a YWAM Base, living in community, there are always people leaving and people arriving. Some people stay for only a short time, maybe a week or two, some stay for a few months and others are a part of our lives for years.
When we first arrived here almost 7 years ago, it used to affect me so much when we would have to say goodbye to people. I have a memory of crying at the airport saying goodby to an outreach team who were only going to be gone for 2 months before coming back. However now it doesn’t seem to affect me as much.. sure there are certain people that i get upset when they leave, especially if they have been with us for a while, but i wonder if i’ve put a bit of a wall up, not letting myself feel it as much, or maybe I’m just getting used to it.
I pray, though, for my kids… I do not want them to start to build a wall, i don’t want them to not want to get to know people because they might leave. I encourage my girls to get to know and hang out with the people who come our way, and when they leave its hard on them but helping them process it means that they can say hello to the next person who comes along.
Here are some of the ways I help my girls to say goodbye well..
- Prepare them for it… Leading up to the goodbye talk to them about it, explain why the person is leaving, where they are going and ask them if they have any questions
- Create something... For the person leaving, either a letter to read on the plane, a card, or painting. Something special for that person from them.
- Make the Good bye quick… Don’t have it drawn out for them… these are big emotions for the kids to feel and if it gets drawn out it can get confusing and really quite distressing.
- Hugs on their terms…. I never force them to hug or kiss anyone, its all on their terms… for many reasons, but for the sake of this topic the emotions they are feeling can make the kids react in different ways and sometimes they just want to withdraw, its not fair for me to force them to have to actually say goodbye.
- My kids emotional health is the priority not the adults feelings… this may seem harsh but this links with the above point. If my child is not coping with the goodbye, me dealing with that and being there for them is more important than the adult who is leaving’s feelings being hurt by my child not saying goodbye.. They are my main priority who I am protecting and helping.
- Look it up on the globe or map…. After the person has left, discuss where the person is going to… talk about the countries, look at pictures, flags, food all that fun stuff, it then becomes a teaching point and talking point of the family…
- Write letters or draw pictures… to people once they have left and send them (to be honest I’m not so good at this one but it is a thought I’ve had 🙂
- Pray for the person who has left… I pray with my girls for the person or people who have left, if i know of prayer requests from them we pray for that, otherwise we generally pray for them and talk about how God will protect them and be with them just as He is with us.
These are just a few ways that I have helped my little to say goodbye well… do you have any more ideas that I haven’t thought of?
One last thought… Without them knowing I am discipling them and teaching them that this world is not their home… we are just travelling through ourselves… we look to a heavenly home and keep our eyes on eternity… now I don’t specifically say that to my kids but by teaching them to say hello and goodbyes well I am teaching them this deep truth… (Hebrews 13:14 – For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.)
Finally I like to make it super exciting when we get to say hello to someone new… and if you know my children, they are super outgoing and love new people so hopefully for now the exciting and fun “hellos” outweigh the sad and hard “goodbyes”….
So now I say Goodbye not hello, and will talk again soon 🙂