What To Do When Visiting Family With A Deployed Spouse
Everyone knows that deployments can be just as hard on those left at home as they are with those that are deployed. The stress of solo parenting and the anxiety when everything seems to be breaking is enough to make anyone go running for the hills.
If you find yourself visiting family when they have a deployed service member, here some ways to be helpful.
No, showing up and being a “distraction” is not going to cut it.
– Back Them Up. Kids test their boundaries and exercise their attitudes regularly. Even more so when one parent is gone. If the parent made a decision to ground the kids from the tv, or no deserts, back them up in those parenting decisions. You deciding to throw them all out because fun Aunt Sara showed up only shows the kids that when family visits, rules don’t matter. Back up that parent trying to instill some discipline in their children.
– Do the Small Chores. Get up and help gosh darn it. Take that bag of trash out for them, take the dog for a walk, offer to vacuum, cut the grass, shovel the snow, heck even going to fill up their car for them. Those chores may seem small and mundane, but to that spouse not having to take Fido out for his evening walk means she gets an evening to sit and relax for those extra 30 minutes. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.
– Don’t Minimize Their Struggles. Deployments are hard. They suck. Add in a couple kids, pets, and life by herself and it can quickly get overwhelming. Telling her “she’s so strong” or “it’ll be over quick” or “at least it’s not a combat zone” don’t do anything to help. More then likely she needs to vent about how the kids can’t learn to listen, the dog chewed up the curtains or she is tired of the dishwasher and just wants a new one. Brushing off their feelings and struggles only makes it harder for them.
Written by our team of Stars and Stripes Doulas