It is an honor to be a parent of a United States soldier, they volunteered to fight for our country and you should be very proud of them.
That being said, you, like most parents out there, probably have many emotional and mixed feelings about a current or upcoming deployment. It is easy to start feeling helpless when your son or daughter gets deployment orders. You may feel like there is nothing you can do.
We put together the best tips and advice on how to support your child while he or she is deployed. They deserve all the support they can get!
Do not guilt your soldier or scold your soldier for their decision to join the service. Even if you disagree or did not want your son or daughter to join, once they have joined you need to move forward and they need your unwavering support. Often parents feel an urge to say a soldier shouldn’t have joined when they get deployed. This is sending the wrong message. You want to send a message of support and pride.
During deployment ask if their spouse need anything, communicate with their spouse about information and try to let their spouse lead the way on homecoming and other arrangements. Feel free to politely offer to help. It is hard to let a newer spouse take the reins for your son or daughter but remember that this is the person your son or daughter is choosing to spend their lives with. Supporting your son or daughter’s spouse is one of the best ways to support your soldier.
Each military branch has a liaison for families that remains stateside. If your child doesn’t have this readily available, you should be able to get any information you need from the main web site for their branch. Since the military doesn’t readily inform parents, as they do spouses, you may have to search and ask questions.
Find out how you can talk to your son or daughter as soon as possible. If you have never used facebook or skype, learn it ASAP if you wanted to be updated as much as possible. But also be prepared for little or no communication at times. They will contact you as much as they possibly can, but sometimes that is not very often, and it is never often enough for those of us at home!
Because there is no database of military parents and fewer groups for parents of soldiers you may find it is a little more difficult but it is important for you to have emotional support. You cannot help your son or daughter if you do not take care of yourself. Do not be afraid or too proud to seek out professional help either.
Watching the news, war movies, even joyful homecoming videos can all trigger powerful emotional reactions and some parents decide to limit themselves so not to constantly make themselves upset. (see out earlier article Spare Scare and Face Your Fears)
A handwritten letter is like receiving a piece of someone’s heart and is not replaced by phone calls, email, care packages, or even skype. It is something to hold on to and reread.
It will help you be a positive force in your soldier’s life. It is helpful to write affirmations of positive thoughts and things you are thankful for on a regular basis. If you stay positive it will feel more natural for you to be positive for your soldier.
Petty issues and stresses at home should not burden your soldier. (This is where those positive thoughts come in handy!) You want to make sure you tell him or her what is going on but feel free to skip over unimportant details that may bother them. They will feel helpless knowing about a problem that they cannot possibly fix.
Your son or daughter will not be the same person in many ways. They will have grown up, matured and changed and changed in some ways you may never be able to fully understand. If you spend your time trying to bring back your little boy/girl you will be disappoints. Instead try to see that all change isn’t bad. Accept your son or daughter unconditionally. Meet them where they are.
If you are a Mom or Dad of a deployed soldier, or a soldier who has been deployed, what has helped you the most? What ways can parents support their children that we have left out? Leave us a comment with your suggestions!
Photo thanks to TheNationalGuard via Flickr Creative Commons