Ensign, March 2011
Preparing Emotionally for Missionary Service
Parents, your influence in the lives of your children doesn’t stop after they enter the Missionary Training Center. It does shift, however. Here are some ways you can support your son or daughter in your new role as a missionary parent:
1. Let your missionary be responsible for the success of his or her mission. Parents who insist on being informed about every detail of their son or daughter’s mission unintentionally place a great burden on the missionary. Missionaries must take personal ownership of their own missions. Every missionary fulfills his or her mission under the direction of the mission president, not under the direction of parents.
2. Allow your son or daughter to live on the missionary budget. Parents who send extra money so missionaries can eat fast food rather than cook their own food not only detract from one of the great learning experiences of the mission, but also encourage missionaries to break mission rules. This “assistance” reduces the spiritual growth of the missionary. It also prompts missionaries to criticize the missionary program.
3. Communicate properly with your missionary. This means sending a letter or e-mail no more than once a week. Your communication should emphasize spiritual and faith-promoting experiences. Details about family problems burden and discourage missionaries. Likewise, it is inappropriate for the missionary to ask parents for a solution to a missionary problem over which the parents have no control. Parents who call their missionary at times other than Christmas and Mother’s Day are encouraging him or her to break mission rules.
If a serious accident or a death should occur in a missionary’s family, the family should notify the mission president by calling either the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City. This enables the mission president to personally notify the missionary of the event. The mission president can then help the missionary with any serious emotional concerns. If appropriate, the mission president will authorize the missionary to call home. Such emotional care is essential for the well being of the missionary.
4. Trust in the Lord to watch over and bless your missionary son or daughter. As President Thomas S. Monson has explained, the Lord has promised His blessings on the missionaries. “Each missionary who goes forth in response to a sacred call becomes a servant of the Lord, whose work this truly is. Do not fear, young men, for He will be with you. He never fails. He has promised: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.’”4
Just as missionaries rely on the Spirit for guidance in the work, you can also rely on the Spirit to guide you in the best ways to support your missionary.
5. Pray in faith for your missionary daily. President Gordon B. Hinckley also described the role of daily prayer in a missionary’s life: “Every morning … missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching. If they will do this, a new light will come into their lives. There will be greater enthusiasm for the work. They will come to know that in a very real sense, they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf.”5 As missionary parents join their prayers each day with those of their sons and daughters, they will share in the blessings of missionary service.