Raising Kids Overseas—Who is Sufficient For This?


By Susan McCrary

What is the secret to raising kids overseas?

[Waiting with bated breath for an answer.]

Don’t we all want it to fare well for our little bunch? I wish I could offer the right advice for how to do it well—or at least just good enough. But I can only speak from my own experience.

My husband and I raised our two children overseas for a good portion of their lives. Our family’s health was a high value; we wanted to provide a good experience for our children. Certain moments stand out. They were relational. Some were fun, some were hard, but the key ingredient was that they were experienced together. Being in each other’s grip added the needed cement for a good experience.

There were also moments that felt less than good enough. This was a different kind of grip. It was the loosening of a grip that we thought we had or needed to have. It happened in moments I wasn’t privy to, situations that caused my child tears or anger or fear. It made me feel insufficient as a parent, unable to carry the full weight of guarding my child’s heart.

I have found that between the feelings of sufficiency and insufficiency lies deeper questions: am I sufficiently parenting my child overseas? And what is the measuring stick for this self-evaluative question? In my case, the answer was my grip. My measure was based on my influence, or truth be told, my control. If everything felt snug and comfy, then I thought I must have been succeeding. If it felt loose and evasive, then I must not have been succeeding.

Yet perhaps a better question is this: could the grip be loosening because I am gripping the wrong thing?

When controlling outcomes is the endgame, then we will likely feel insufficient

a lot of the time. We are to parent to the best of our ability as we simultaneously place our trust in the Lord for His sovereign will to be done in all things. In the words of Mary Mary, “Nobody told me the road would be easy, and I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me”. He’s still there. Look to him and rest in his grip. Then point your children to the One who grips them too. Then your sufficiency is based on his grace.

And that’s good enough.