The thought of reintegration is a sweet one. Knowing your military member is back from a war zone can do wonders for easing a parent’s mind.
Perhaps you’re exhaling for what feels like the first time in months. Even though reintegration is a wonderful and much anticipated time for military families, there are a few things that every Blue Star parent should bear in mind.
This is not an exhaustive list. Please share any tips you found helpful when you first faced reintegration with your son or daughter.
The landscape of life has changed for your son or daughter, and for you! Military members may see life differently than they did before deployment. Now is a good time to gain a fresh perspective on how much they’ve matured. This is a great place to update your relationship. Odds are you’ll appreciate your son or daughter in a whole new light.
Don’t over-plan when your son is coming home for the first time after deployment. Let him decide how much activity he is ready for and how many people with whom he wants to reconnect. It is a time for celebration! Some celebrations can be big and loud and others need to be more quiet. Find out first what he’s up for.
Lend an ear and a shoulder, but don’t pry. If your daughter has suffered the loss of a friend she may or may not be ready to talk. You can let her know you are there for her. Keep in strict confidence what she shares with you so she always feels free to come back and lean on you.
Lavish your military member with small pleasures. Fix his favorite meal. It doesn’t sound like much considering all he may have been through, but the sweet little touches of home spur relaxation.
Communicate any big life changes. At least mention to her if you have lost 40 pounds (but don’t go on about how you couldn’t eat when she was away because you worried all the time).
Don’t be offended if she needs some space away from you. She loves you but may need to readjust in her own way. Give her space. Be supportive. Be available.
You will never fully understand all he’s been through. Each deployment is different and each military member has his own perception of things. Avoid saying things like, “I know what you are going through.” Instead, be honest. It’s more truthful to say, “I will never fully understand, but I love you and want to understand as much as I can.”
Be aware of PTSD symptoms, but do not diagnose your soldier. Be informed, aware and supportive.
There may be changes in sleep patterns. It’s OK. Just as you are all adjusting emotionally and mentally, your military member may still be adjusting to another time zone and nine to 12 months of living in another world.
Every step in this post is lined with these principles: Be flexible. Be patient. Be prepared.
Be patient (it bears repeating!).
Photo courtesy of wyoguard