Tough Overseas Transitions for Kids–and God’s “Treats”

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transitions for kids

“I’m not going!”

My son sat on the floor, one shoe to his side, cheeks slick with tears. My heart twisted.

After our first few years in Cameroon, learning the local language, difficult circumstances had opened our eyes to the need for us to learn French–the language of government and business.

So here we were in Quebec, studying French at Laval University. We enrolled the two oldest in a French school, and a missionary wife agreed to watch the younger two while I studied French.

And transitions for kids–for any of us–are just hard.

Let’s just say our oldest, Jonathan, let us know he wasn’t game for this. He grew more emphatic once his teacher told him she would only translate for the first three weeks. (Anyone out there relate to your kids saying “not a chance” to your latest venture on the field?)

My son was…afraid. The poor kid cried every morning before school, every afternoon as he rode the bus home. My Mama Bear claws were poised to yank him out of that school.

But first, God reminded me of something.

Didn’t He love my boys more than I did?

And didn’t I learn to recognize His love and learn valuable lessons when going through difficult circumstances? Why did I think my children would be different?

Transitions for kids–and a tip that worked for us

Jonathan and I sat down and talked about something I learned to look for years ago: God’s “treats.”

When things are really tough, look for God’s love for you in the way of “treats”–special ways he shows his love that you wouldn’t see if you weren’t looking.

When Jonathan arrived home from school the next day he was all excited. God had given him four treats that day!

They sounded rather ordinary: A boy being nice to him. Understanding a little more in a French book he read. Getting out of school early. Finding a friend who spoke a little English.

When things are really tough, look for God’s love for you in the way of “treats”–special ways He shows his love that you wouldn’t see if you weren’t looking.

But since Jonathan was looking for God’s love via his treats, he saw each of these things in a new light.

In seeing these treats as God’s love for him, he grew to understand and know God a little more.

And isn’t that what we all want for our kids, especially in transitions for kids?

So I learned a lesson that day. As a mom, I long to protect my kids from every level of hardship or pain.

But God loves our kids enough to let them go through pain so he can show himself to them–and they learn to know him for themselves.


Gala Dallmann raised five children in three different African countries over 20 years (whew). Her husband John is a water engineer who brought clean water to many remote villages. In her words, their ministry consisted of “baby wipes and water pipes!” She now writes from Colorado Springs, where they serve with Engineering Ministries International.

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