When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

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When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by momto11 » 03 Jan 2014, 17:44

I have a daughter who is 18, graduated last year and is attending BYU. The last year or 2 of high school, it was hard to get her to talk about anything. My husband and i felt like she was disrespectful to us in the way she acted and the way she spoke. It was something we had even brought up with our bishop at one time. At church, they thought she was wonderful---they only saw how she acted around her friends---now how she acted around her family.

While she was still in high school, she would quite often use things without asking if it was ok. i had a 5 drawer organizer that had toys separated in it---I discovered it in her room one day holding her art supplies or something. I know that I have a mixed up mess of toys somewhere in the house that will need to be reorganized---I don't even know what she did with them. When she wanted boxes to pack for school, she went in my storage room and dumped the contents of containers together to get enough boxes. I didn't discover what she had done until I went downstairs looking for something in my containers, and realized things had been dumped together that had not been stored together originally. i haven't even attempted to fix that mess yet. she wanted a flower for something--she took one of the main roses out of a flower swag I had stored for future use---when I realized what she had done---I told her to make sure she put it back when she was done with it---she didn't, and when i asked her about it before she left for school, she said she didn't know where it was.

After she graduated, she mentioned going on a mission. She is getting serious about it now and says she would like to go In August. When she comes home to visit, I try to talk to her, but I just can't get her to say much. I tried to talk to her about honoring her father and mother---since it is one of the basic 10 commandments, i would think she ought to be trying to live that if she is planning to head out on a mission. I spoke in a calm and careful voice about the things she had done at the house that had left us with a mess. She blamed me for taking the boxes because she said I didn't get her any. I would have let her take my debit card any time she had asked and let her go get some containers. She just kept saying she needed to get some boxes, she never actually said, "mom, can I go and get some containers to pack my stuff in". After a few minutes of trying to talk to her, she started to get upset and told me that I was getting mad at her, I told her that I wasn't, that I was just trying to talk to her and that I was keeping my voice calm--she just kept insisting I was getting mad.

She informed me today that 2 of her sisters have told her that she can come and live with them when the semester ends because they live in larger towns and there may be more possibility of better jobs to earn money for her mission. She has never worked and we do not have the money to help pay for a mission. She has just gotten a job at the MTC and will start when she gets back to school after Christmas break. Neither of my daujghters has mentioned anything to my husband or i about My daughter coming to live with them and work when school gets out. This bothers me a little bit. I guess I feel like my daughter already has let us into her life so little, and now her sisters seem to be bypassing us and talking to her about living with them----we are being totally left out of the loop.

I am wondering how ready for a mission she really is if she cannot even treat her parents with much respect. She seems to prefer to avoid talking to us as much as possible.

Would anyone else be bothered if older married children talked to a child getting ready for a mission, without even mentioning a word to us? And, would you feel your daughter was ready for a mission if she hardly even talked to her parents?

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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Jan 2014, 17:53

Honestly, it really wouldn't bother me. I've said for a long time that once they turn 18 I want them to act like adults, and part of that is not needing to run everything past us.

My oldest was ready when he was 21. My second was ready when he was 16 (seriously mature kid) - and he didn't end up going, since his fiance really needs him. He is getting married in March without ever serving. My oldest daughter was ready about a week before the age change announcement - at 20. I have no idea how old the others will be when they are ready.
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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by momto11 » 03 Jan 2014, 18:43

guess i don't see making a mess of my storage room to get what she wanted as acting like a adult. I have no idea where anything is anymore, and i am not particularly well---it could take me some time to clean up the mess she left us with when she was 18 1/2. She could have told me what she did, and she could offer to clean up the mess she left us with.

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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by Oneofmany » 03 Jan 2014, 19:13

If I were to poll 100 people who knew me before my mission and asked them if they thought I was ready I would bet the large preponderance would say I was ready. Looking back on it, I am not so sure I was. That said, I think the mission was a good place for me. We used to quote on my mission "the church must be true or the missionaries would have killed it years ago." I still think that is somewhat true at least about the gospel part. I also knew missionaries that were not ready to go but went anyway. My mission presidents would probably disagree with me but sometimes a mission is a great place to get people to grow up. I guess to answer the question of the post, I do not think anyone really knows when they are ready but a desire to go on a mission goes along way to being ready to go on a mission. At least then it is her choice and not something you pushed her into. I guess I am like Ray, she is 18 and maybe the only way she will act like an adult is when she finally has to act like one. It is at that time that we all hope she remembers what you have taught her and she comes around.

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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by On Own Now » 03 Jan 2014, 23:05

momto11, I feel for ya. Obviously, you have a lot of experience with kids, but let me throw out a couple of thoughts from a neutral position, because I know how it is when you are in the middle of it...

As I'm sure you have experienced, kids are often jerks about the time they leave home. It is often their way of cutting the umbilical cord and establishing that they are independent and don't need you making decisions for them. More common in boys, in my experience, but not exclusive to them. IMO, it does mean that they aren't 'mature', but it also means that they are maturing... it is usually a sign that they are on the step just below the next floor. I've gotten myself through it by reminding myself that this is because they want to be independent and adult and at least they aren't content with living in the basement and playing Call of Duty until their late twenties.

For my part, I've found "honor your father and mother" to be less effective than, "Hey, stop being such a jerk." Just sayin'.

If you want to get this settled before the mission papers get sent in, then one hammer you might have in your toolbox is whether you and your husband are planning to help fund the mission. It really becomes pretty simple then, because you just tell her that it is a family matter and something that you should work out together. If you choose to go that route, remember that no matter how much money you contribute, she will be signing up for a much larger sacrifice, so she really should be the main voice in the discussion, but it still should be a mutual decision. If she's going to pay for it all, then I don't think there is much you can say beyond offering emotional support.

These are just generic thoughts that could apply to anyone, but may not apply in your specific situation where you know her, you know you, and you know your family.
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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by Ann » 04 Jan 2014, 03:19

My two cents: Some kids are very considerate and some aren't. I can set boundaries, remind about common courtesy, house rules, etc., but if they aren't as considerate as the next sibling, or aren't mature enough to "appreciate" me (I think they love me), there's nothing I can do to force it. If you can see that she has the skills to get along living with others, but she doesn't choose to use them living with you, she's still "ready" for something like a mission. Might be the best thing for her. Some kids are just more self-contained, or are nursing some kind of resentment of parents that they'll grow out of.
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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by Cadence » 04 Jan 2014, 09:12

As I recall with teenagers their thought process includes believing they and everyone in the world is smarter than their parents. Thus they act accordingly. Kids tend to grow up and realize this is not the case. Some sooner than others.

When should someone go on a mission? Personally I think sending anyone out at the current age is a bad idea, but I found a mission a troubling experience that I would not want to repeat. Others seem to think it was great. There are to many variables like, where do you serve, who is the mission president, what kind of companion to you get out of the gate. All those things have such an impact on a missionary and everyone will react differently in different situations. That is why my advice now is stay home and get your education. If you want some new experiences cheap join the military. In fact that sounds like just the ticket for your daughter.
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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by nibbler » 04 Jan 2014, 09:31

I'll go ahead and admit it. I wasn't ready to serve a mission when I left. My situation was a bit unique with respect to the reasons why I wasn't prepared, but I'm certain leaving on a mission while not being prepared is fairly common... and there are levels of preparedness. Emotional maturity, testimony, knowledge, finances, etc.

I converted to the church shortly before turning 20 and later felt the desire to serve a mission. For me serving a mission was a pipe dream because I knew my family and how they'd react to me going away for two years to help out "that cult." In the end I committed, fought the battles, and went. I wasn't ready on so many levels.

Side note: any little character flaw I displayed at the time was met by family saying "I thought the Mormon church taught you better than that." So yes, I had flaws and yes I saw firsthand how my flaws impacted the image of the church. I bring that up because it was a deflating thing to hear and it tore away at my feelings of being prepared.

The first time I ever had to share a scripture was in the MTC. Sure, I had given a few talks before serving a mission but up until that point I had never had to select a scripture that I had read to present to a group of peers. That was a very difficult thing to do for me and that first experience was ugly. I still remember the stupid things I said. There's no way I was prepared via holding multiple callings, sharing gospel principles in church, seminary, etc. but I did have the desire to share what I had found.

It was also my first time away from parents/family. After high school I continued to live with family to save money while furthering my education. The mission was the first time where all ties to both family and friends was severed. I also didn't have a cultural foundation of what it meant to serve a mission. Two years was an eternity to me at that age and when I left I fully "knew" that I would never see any of my friends again. They'd be married off, moved, graduated and gone, etc. Friends were something that I had to place on the altar and that perception created some emotional baggage.
Oneofmany wrote: My mission presidents would probably disagree with me but sometimes a mission is a great place to get people to grow up.
I think it is as well. You can't help but grow up during a mission, in fact serving a mission was probably the exact thing I needed at the time. The only way I would have grown.

I'm a weirdo with the way I look at things - allow me to change the subject while remaining on topic. When is a child really ready to have a baby? I'm not referring to children having children but when are people truly ready to become parents? When we started having children we had the temporal foundation - the home, loving parents, the means to support, etc. but I didn't feel prepared. I started to see that having a child was a part of the preparation process. If I waited until I felt like I was ready to have a child perhaps that moment would have never came and I would have deprived myself the experience. Having that first child forced me to step up... and I wouldn't change the decision to have children for anything.

I see the mission in much the same way. I don't think I would have ever felt 100% prepared but just going out there, taking a leap of faith, and doing it prepared me. While not perfect I felt more prepared to serve a mission by the time I came home, the mission helped me get closer to that goal. And sorry to all of my companions that had to deal with me. I think all the time about what I would have done differently, how I would have been better. I don't view those thoughts as things to tear me down, however; I use those thoughts as evidence of progress I've made.

The bottom line is that it's hard for me to say I've ever felt prepared for things before they happen for the first time. I do think that living the experience helps me be better prepared for the next time though.
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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by SamBee » 04 Jan 2014, 10:43

I think the church does itself no favors by treating YSA as children sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love the YSA program and really miss it in many, many ways, but it was ironic that the last time I was at it, we were making farmyard sounds. I'd been looking after myself entirely on my own for over a decade before that, and a friend of mine when he hit thirty had been working since sixteen - ie almost a decade and a half! So making YSA do juvenile activities like that is really stupid and infantalizes them.
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Re: When is a child really ready to go on a mission?

Post by journeygirl » 04 Jan 2014, 13:06

From what you said, it seems like her disrespect is reserved for you, her parents, so perhaps she is ready for a mission in the sense that she is able to interact with strangers or friends appropriately. That's unfortunate how she treats you, though. I've seen this happen in my family too. I have a brother who was quite rude to my parents while in high school, and actually I think he still is quite rude these 15 or so years later. In fact, I think I am the only sibling in my family who really respects my parents and sees them as individuals and not just their relationship to me. I really can't stand rudeness. I try to catch my children when they are rude and point it out to them so they can try again in a kind way. They are still young though, so who knows how the teen years will go.

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