Missionary Kids have it rough.
People feel that MK’s (Missionary Kid’s) must love living in a foreign country. To be very fair to MK’s, they usually have no say in where they are going to live. For the younger MK’s, this is seldom a problem. They are young enough to not really have too many “roots” down at home where they are living. They are oblivious to those attachments and look forward to the adventure of something new.
For the older MK’s (the teenagers), this is a huge problem. They have “roots” down in their present environment. For them to move to a new place, it involves the pain of ripping those deeply embedded roots. They can have resentments about being an MK which can result in lifelong family difficulties. Teenagers don’t forget as well as the younger do. If Missionaries could have the churches understand this, It would help many missionary families from difficulties with their children later in life.
When a family announces it is going to the mission field. There is a period of jubilance. But within a short time, they are gone from their friends, their church and their environment. They suddenly find themselves in a new environment with no church or friends. Most need to learn a whole new language and way of doing things.
The MK’s face this too, but on a different level. They face it on the level of their age. If they are teenagers, this can be extremely difficult for them. Before they came to the mission field, they were comfortable in their surroundings. On the mission field, they are extremely uncomfortable. Like any other child, they need social interaction with other people their own age. Even though they might be taken in by some of the people their own age on the field, they are still considered an “outsider.”
During deputation it can be even more difficult for the children of missionary families because they are never in one place long enough to make any real friends. Additionally, when they go to a church, they are on display even more so than their parents at times. They become part of the work of deputation. They are often expected to sing, teach a class or tell about their opinion of the field. Inside they may resent the whole thing because it took them from their comfortable environment. But on the outside, they want to be supportive. They feel torn and dislodged. They are treated special when all they want is to be like other kids their own age.
Many missionaries wish they could tell the churches to just treat their kids like any other kid their own age because, like any other child who has been torn from their environment, they too need some semblance of order and stability to heal. Being treated special everywhere they go might be thrilling for the moment, but in the long run they begin to resent it, and it is just not good for them. They just want to go to the playground like any other kid, but even when they do that, they still have no friends there, but the other kids who come to the same playground every day do.