Parents in Poverty: In the Trenches of Child-Rearing

in the trenches Dave Walton is a Compassion Advocate of two years and a sponsor for nearly 30. He reflects here on his first visit with his sponsored child and the importance of recognizing and encouraging the child’s natural parents’ role in his life.

Whether or not our sponsored children realize their God-given potential has much to do with our support. Not withstanding this and the encouragement the parents and caregivers receive from us because we sponsor their children, we add value to the parents’ lives when we include them in our correspondence to “our kids.”

No different from parents everywhere, parents in poverty are in the trenches of child-rearing day in and day out. So, encourage your child’s parents in your next letter. Consider including a Bible verse or a small card “For Mom & Dad.”

I believe that by our encouraging and expressing appreciation for their efforts, they will be better parents and that will be reflected in the life of your sponsored child.

I recently had the opportunity to visit my sponsored child in Ecuador. I had anxiously awaited and prepared for this adventure for almost a year. While on the threshold of this event, I thought about the language barrier, the food, the water and what it would be like to meet Luis in his own country, culture and family. This was going to be different … very different.

Luis, like most young boys, is full of energy and adventure. When we met, he wanted to try everything. He handled questions and conversation easily, even through the dynamics of an interpreter.

Luis has a natural passion for ball games and ice cream, and he also has a younger brother as well as a sibling on the way. It was a delight to spend time with him.

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Though soft spoken, it was easy to tell from the tears in Luis’ mother’s eyes how much she and her husband appreciated that someone very far removed from where she lived would care enough to partner with them to give their son opportunities they could never provide alone.

The quality of time spent with Luis helped me to realize that Mom and Dad are doing the best they can with what they have.

I put together an assortment of pictures from our day together. I included a letter addressed to Dad and Mom and made a point to express admiration for the great job they are doing in raising Luis and the privilege it is to partner with them for his future.

From what I saw, Mom and Dad are making every reasonable effort to “raise up their son in the way he should go.” This truth is evident to me every time I look at Luis’ picture.

9 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    Sarah October 25, 2010

    Shannon, I did something along those very lines last year for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I copied an idea from when my now teenagers were young. They would bring home a sheet of questions which they had answered about their mom and their dad. What is your favorite thing to do with your dad/mom? What is his/her favorite thing to do with you? What is his/her favorite color/song/food, etc. Of course, the answers from a 5 year old are adorable and priceless. My husband and I still treasure them. I made up a sheet of questions for my sponsored girls to answer about their parents. I included stickers for them to decorate the sheets. I thought it was a great way to let their parents know how much they are loved in ways they might not normally think to communicate. It was a huge success!They loved it! As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated on different dates around the world, though, you’d need to check on the individual countries where you sponsor children.

  2. Avatar
    Donie October 24, 2010

    Shannon – I think it’s a wonderful idea! I had never really thought about corresponding with the parents, but my girl, Erika, is struggling with her writing, so her mother, Muriel, has been helping her. Because of that, I write 2 letters every time I write to Erika – one for her and one for her mom. This last letter I received from them had 2 letters also – one from Erika and one from her mom. In the letters before, Muriel had just been including her thoughts and Erika’s all in one letter. The relationship I am developing with Muriel is priceless. I am so blessed by it!

  3. Avatar
    Sandy October 23, 2010

    Toward the end of each letter I write to my sponsored child I include specific things for which I am praying. In addition to the item I am focusing on from the ’52 ways to pray’ list found on the Compassion site, I also regularly mention I am praying for the strength of his parents’ marriage & for his family to have a strong sense of loyalty & a deep love for each other.

    This does give me some ideas about ways I can be more supportive of his parents… including a paragraph to his parents thanking them for letting me be a part of their lives, Bible verses to encourage them, & to pray more specifically for them as parents (and to share those prayers in my letters).

    Thanks for the thought provoking article. It gives me ideas to be a more effective sponsor.

  4. Avatar
    Matthias October 22, 2010

    Very good insite. I think you’re right, letters can be a ministry to the whole family as well as the child.

  5. Avatar
    Teena October 22, 2010

    Wow, thanks for sharing. I have thought about saying something about my little boys parents…

    When I received my last letter it said it was written by his older sibling. So I will mention them too!

    Thanks again,

  6. Avatar
    Becky October 22, 2010

    I think that is a good idea. I also sponsor a girl living with her mother only. I was wondering if we are allowed to know the parents birthdate, so we could send them a card also.

  7. Avatar
    Shannon K October 22, 2010

    I’ve been thinking lately about what I could do to bless my sponsored kids’ families, especially as I just last week started sponsoring a boy from a single-parent family. I have an idea but would like to get some feedback from others.

    My idea is to write to my kids about how we use Father’s and Mother’s Day to honor and thank our parents — maybe include in my letter a list of 3-4 basic things for which I’m thankful to my parents. I think I might include a pretty little piece of paper with a Scripture verse of blessing and a couple empty lines for my kids to write what they’re thankful for; they could then give these to their parents. (For my new sponsored boy, of course, I’d mention only his mother.)

    Does this sound like a good idea? I’m a little hesitant because I don’t know much about my kids’ parents — I occasionally get a sentence saying that they send their greetings, but that’s about it. Does anyone have other ideas for what I might do? I do like Dave’s idea of writing a separate letter to them…

    1. Avatar
      DUANE WATTS October 22, 2010

      Sounds like a great idea to me Shannon, not that I’m an expert, but just on the common sense of it.

    2. Avatar
      Lauren October 22, 2010

      Shannon, I like your ideas. My only thought would be to include 1 basic thing each time you write, like on a 3 x 5 with your Scripture and as you mention a place for the kids to write. I say one at a time because I think it would be more powerful to include something along this very line each time or every other time you write, a gentle but fun reminder.

      Someone mentioned on another recent post, I think it was, How Are Children Told They Are Sponsored, that they sent a card or letter for the parents. I was intrigued by this as I’ve never done that but really loved the idea, something to say, “hey, I am standing with you in the Name of Jesus.” I send greetings in the letters, and like you get them in return sometimes. I am thinking, from what you’ve mentioned, you haven’t done this, if you do or actually have, let me know.

      The parent I know the best is actually a grandmother. She is my girl Winnie’s only guardian. I am going to send her a little card along with Winnie’s next letter. I feel funny as I don’t know her name but I’m going to put, To Winnie’s Grandmother on it.

      Again, I think your idea is really great and am thinking about it myself.


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