5 tips for parents to help their returned missionaries adjust to post-mission life

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(Image courtesy LDS.org Media Library)

When missionaries return home from their missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — whether it is early or after the full two years for men or year and a half years for women — it can be difficult to adjust back to everyday life. Sometimes well-meaning parents and family members can overwhelm returning missionaries. Here are five ways to help missionaries adjust to post-mission life:

1. Avoid scheduling surprises.

Fresh off a mission, it can be jarring for returned missionaries to have their schedule dictated by parents. They’re used to being on their own and being a self-starter.

Try to avoid loading up their schedule without consulting them. Unless it’s an emergency, most returned missionaries don’t want to be told that the day after they get home they have a dentist appointment, for instance. Allow some time to pass before those appointments are scheduled and consult with your returned missionary about the day and time. If you want to go to the temple with your returned missionary, ask when would be a good time to go, don’t just plan it.

2. Show genuine interest and ask specific questions.

Every returned missionary, of course, is different. Some are effusive when it comes to talking about their missions. Some are more reticent. But most returned missionaries are eager to share stories and experiences in the right setting. Asking specific questions such as, “Which was your favorite area in which you served?” and “What is the most important thing your mission president taught you?” and “What foods do you miss most from your mission?” are likely to give the returned missionary an opportunity to share insights and talk about their experiences. Also, ask to see photos from their mission and ask questions.

3. Offer genuine appreciation for their service and express love.

Returned missionaries feel a sense of accomplishment when they return home. Many have become fluent in a foreign language or have overcome illnesses or other trials. Let them know how much you admire them for serving and recognize how much they’ve grown and matured. Express your love for them often.

4. Be honest about things that have happened while they were gone but don’t dump on them.

During a period of 18 months or two years, a lot of things can happen, both good and bad. Avoid unloading on your returned missionary all the difficulties experienced at home during that time they were away. Some of those things will be readily apparent to the returned missionary. Missionaries try to live the ideal while they are serving but they have also had their eyes opened to the ordeals of life. If they are bombarded by negative things, it could be a setback during their adjustment period.

5. Talk about the blessings you’ve received during their service.

Missionaries bless the lives of countless people, including their families. Be sure to let them know about all of the blessings your family has received as a result of their faithful service, such as the positive impact they’ve made on siblings.

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Jeff Call has covered BYU sports since 1993, including the past 16 years for the Deseret News. He, his wife and six sons live in Cedar Hills.

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