When a member of your extended family is facing deployment or other military moves, it’s easy to feel like there is nothing you can do to help. That can be especially true for military families new to the experience. It might feel like you’re prying or annoying rather than helping.
Here are 5 smart ways to help out a loved one without overstepping your boundaries:
Helping take care of children while a spouse is deployed is one of the easiest ways to make sure your family members know you’re there to help during a hard time.
New parents suddenly faced with single parenthood are incredibly thankful for family members who step up with support. Anything from a simple pick up from school to babysitting for a weekend can make all the difference in how smoothly a deployment runs.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a military spouse who minds an extra set of hands around the house or a babysitter.
Continuing on with normal family functions during deployment is a simple way to help spur a smoother transition.
The stability of a family routine helps children and adults maintain a sense of normalcy. Family get-togethers also provide a great reminder that family is there no matter what.
Continue to have birthday parties, celebrate holidays and meet up whenever possible to maintain a strong bond and prevent a feeling of isolation.
It is also important for you to keep in touch with your family members deployed overseas. A great way to still feel involved is to send a care package.
Lending financial support during deployment can be one of the riskiest yet useful ways to help a family member in need. Money is a very sensitive issue for many people and it is important to let them know you aren’t helping out of pity or obligation.
If you think those left behind during deployment are struggling to make ends meet you can carefully offer financial assistance or more discreetly offer to make dinner, give rides or help with other activities and save them the expense.
Sometimes the most important thing you can do is lend an ear to someone dealing with deployment. Chances are they are experiencing some very different emotions that they feel like they can’t share with anyone.
Be aware that you aren’t trying to force anyone to share their feelings; just let them know you’re there if they ever need to talk without feeling judged.
You may find that having an open space to discuss the difficulties that go along with the military lifestyle can be more helpful than anything.
Photo thanks to Virginia Guard Public Affairs via Flickr Creative Commons