Balancing parenting with becoming a missionary
October 2021

Parenting young children can be overwhelming without simultaneously preparing for a major life transition. In fact, many people dismiss the idea of becoming missionaries once they have children. But those who have raised support while also raising their kids know it can be done!  

Here, three SEND moms explain how their families went about developing supportive partner teams. Simcha Gilbert and her husband, Jack, have 3 children, ages 12, 8 and 2. Jackie Bonkoski and her husband, Chris, have 2 girls, ages 9 and 5. Susana Schaad and her husband, Andrew, have 2 boys, ages 2 and 9 months.  

1. How did you balance kids’ schedules and partner development meetings? 

Simcha: We tried to involve the kids in partner development as much as possible. We would usually have people over for dinner, the kids would enjoy having company around, and then we would have the official presentation after the kids went to bed. I found it was particularly important to keep non-partner-development evenings consistent and kid-focused. 

The Gilbert family meeting with potential supporters

The Gilbert family involved their kids in partner development as much as possible.  

Susana: We intentionally decided to nudge our children's bedtime later. We noticed most small groups run around 7-8:30 p.m., and dinner appointments often end around 9 p.m., so our kids go to bed between 9 and 10 p.m., and wake up between 9 and 10 a.m. As a bonus, people in Spain (where we're going) go to bed late, even the kids, so it's helpful for our transition. 


2. What did you have the kids do during partner development appointments?   

Jackie: Our girls have really become quite sociable along with us during this process. We would typically include them in the conversations with our guests in the beginning when we were getting to know one another. As we presented our ministry, they would typically entertain themselves quietly. Before we left for an appointment we would have the girls put a small bag together that included their tablet and headphones, a book or artbook/notepad, their favorite stuffed animal or blanket, a snack and a water bottle.   


3. Did your kids attend every church visit with you? 

Jackie: This was a tricky one at first because I thought as a good missionary family, our kids should attend every visit and be perfect angels to represent our family well! This only produced a lot of stress as it was not only unrealistic but not fair to our girls. We eventually concluded that they did not need to come every time. In fact, we realized that their home church experience was important to them, and with limited time left in the States, we needed to make it a priority for them. So sometimes, we would go visit a new church on Sunday while they went to our home church.  

The Bonkoski family before moving to Japan
The Bonkoski family found a balance between taking their girls to visit new churches and finding ways for them to prioritize their home church relationships.

4. What did partner development look like after a new baby? 

Simcha: Well, I am plain crazy, and with my third baby, we drove from the hospital directly to a missions board meeting! They offered to reschedule, but my mom was already watching the other two kids anyway, I was feeling well, and the baby slept most of the time. It was a great meeting! I have found that getting out and about with a newborn is way easier than doing the same with a toddler.    

Susana: We took a little time off after we had our baby, but after about a month, we were back at it. Having a baby to meet was actually great for people coming over to hear our presentation. 


5. What else would you tell someone who is considering becoming a missionary with kids?  

Simcha: Every family is different. Kids have different needs and families go through different seasons. As a mom, I feel I am in the best position to understand what my kids need and how involved I can be on any given day. I ask our kids to make some sacrifices, but I also make sure they are getting what they need.  

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