In uncertain times, letter-writing can bring hope and comfort to your sponsored child and their family, but it can be difficult to know how to tackle sensitive topics. Here are our best tips for encouraging your sponsored child during a time of crisis.
23 Apr, 2020
Writing letters is a crucial part of developing a relationship with your sponsored child. Regularly hearing words of encouragement from you helps them to feel loved, appreciated and valued—especially when things feel uncertain.
While a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic can cause delays for some Compassion field countries in being able to deliver letters to children, you can still write. And when you do, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure thoughtfulness and sensitivity for your sponsored child.
This pandemic may be a brand-new challenge for our world, but crises are not. Your child may be facing a number of challenges at any given time, and it's important that we acknowledge them in age-appropriate and hopeful ways.
Here are some of our best tips for writing to your sponsored child in a time of crisis.
1. Respect their privacy
When it comes to talking about crises, it's important to keep your sponsored child's privacy in mind. For their safety, keep all health or family-related questions at high-level, rather than asking them for personal details.
It's okay to mention global crises such as COVID-19, but it's important to keep the questions general. For example:
- How have you and your family been doing lately?
- Have there been any recent changes in your community?
- How can I be praying for you and your family in this season?
2. Be sensitive
Whether it's a health or family crisis, we need to be gentle and sensitive, paying particular attention to the way we talk about tough times.
Unless your sponsored child has specifically mentioned the way a crisis has affected their nation, community or family, avoid bringing it up. Things like this can be very difficult to deal with, and we don't want to pressure children into talking about potentially traumatic events before they feel ready.
If they do mention the crisis, practise empathy and be gentle and encouraging in your response. Think about what kind of questions you would feel comfortable answering if you were in their shoes.
Try to keep your questions focused on feelings, rather than events. That way, your sponsored child doesn't have to talk about any details before they are ready, but they have the opportunity to open up about how they're feeling if they choose.
3. Talk about mutual experiences
One of the most effective ways of connecting with your sponsored child is by finding ways to relate to them. Even though we live in very different worlds, finding shared experiences can help to break down barriers, and make the distance feel much smaller.
Sharing your own experiences in hopeful, sensitive, and age-appropriate ways will remind them that they are not facing the crisis alone. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Talk about how you and your family have been spending your time in isolation
- Share what God has been teaching you during this time
- If you feel it's appropriate, share how you've been feeling
4. Remind them that God is with them
When we're going through tough and uncertain times, it can be easy to forget that God is in control.
In times of crisis, remind your sponsored child that in every circumstance, God is with them, and loves them unconditionally. If you feel comfortable, you could even share a hopeful Bible story or verse to remind them of God's love.
Again, practise empathy and think about what would feel comforting to hear if you were going through the same thing.
Prayer is powerful in every season. Even though our purpose is to remind our sponsored children that God is with them, don't forget that God is with you too.
Before you start writing, take some time to pray for your sponsored child, and ask God for wisdom to find the right words.
Let your sponsored child know that you are praying for them and their family— this can be comforting for them to know. If you'd like, you could even write down a prayer for your sponsored child to pray during this time.
We are so thankful for your ongoing generosity and heart for your sponsored children during this time.
We encourage you to continue to write letters of encouragement and prayers to your sponsored child, but please know that it will take longer for your letters to be delivered and your sponsored child will likely not be able to write back until centres are reopened.
To keep up to date with how Compassion is responding to COVID-19, click here.
Words by Claire Ince
Photos by Tigist Gizachew and Daniel Robson.
A version of this blog was originally published by Compassion International.
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