Do you know someone who has a son or daughter serving in the military?
Sometimes we forget the sacrifices that parents make when they send a son or daughter off to war.
Here you will gain some insights in what parents may be going through and learn what you can do to encourage them.
Ways to help a mom with a child deployed
Copyright @ 2011
by Kathy Guzzo, a Marine mom
- Send cards and notes on a regular basis either through regular mail or email. Make some of them lighthearted and fun, and others just a short prayer or word of encouragement.
- Invite the mom (and or family) to fun events and your family gatherings. This is especially meaningful to single moms and for those whose only child is deployed. She may not attend the event, but having the option is great.
- At any type of gathering, don’t expect full engagement into conversation. Just being with others is important and for the mom it’s hard to explain her emotions to others.
- Let her talk about her child whenever she needs too.
- Don’t be caught off guard or uncomfortable if she begins to tear up unexpectantly.
- Be sensitive to her moods. She’ll fluctuate from anger and loneliness, to anxious and exhausted.
- Take an occasional meal over to the family or bless them with a gift card to a restaurant for those days when cooking just isn’t in the cards.
- Set up specific times to get together for a walk, coffee, manicure, or even take a class to learn something new together.
- Tell her that you admire her, that you’re proud of her child.
- Ask about her child’s favorite snacks in order to send a package.
- Get neighbors and friends together to help with things around the house and maintenance on her car. (especially if she’s a single mom).
- Offer to babysit other child so she (and her husband if married) can have a date night.
- Have a classroom of children, write to or make and send cards to her child and let her know they did.
- Donate to an organization that support the troops in honor of her child and send her a note explaining it.
- Whatever you say or do, be sincere. A woman knows when someone is just ‘acting’ the part and when a child is deployed they need sincerity, empathy and encouragement, not sympathy and meaningless offers.
Below are are additional insights submitted to Operation We Are Here from military spouses and parents. They were written in reference to a military mom sending her son to boot camp, but some suggestions apply to both situations:
- It's always nice to hear "I'm here for you whether it's to laugh or cry."
- Just let her know that you are thinking of her. Being a military parent is both difficult and a blessing. And understand that she is also embarking on a new journey.
- I would let her know that you are praying for safety and physical and mental strength for her son and for strength, peace and calm for her and that you're there for her if she needs you whenever. Let her know she can call you any time, day or night. And I would take her out to dinner or have her over at your house where she can relax with a glass of wine and a COMEDY movie, or maybe out for a pedicure. She needs to keep her mind off it as much as possible, and laughter sure helped me! We purposely rented comedies non-stop the first 3-4 months, no tear jerkers or war movies crossed our door! Right after my son left for basic, some of my friends came to my house and we all prayed together. That was a lovely blessing! A book that a dear friend gave me when my son first deployed was a lovely gift and helped immeasurably: "Mom's Field Guide, What You Need to Know to Make it Through Your Loved One's Deployment" by Sandy Doell. If he's just moved out for the first time, keep in mind she's literally going through a grieving process and her emotions will be all over the place. I would be totally fine, spot one of my son's favorite snacks in the grocery store and tear up. Same thing all day long. Fine one minute, teary the next. I would go in his room, sit on his bed, and just sob. I wouldn't let my husband clean his room or anything. Had to stay just the way my son left it for months. Grief is irrational! Keep in touch with her, get together with her as much as you can. Just listen, let her say whatever she needs to, whether you agree or not. Hug her, pray for her and with her.
- Just words of enthusiasm about a new adventure and your boys are now wonderful men. Thank you for raising men who care about giving service to the our country. Isaiah 66:13 "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you ..."
- Just tell her how honored you are to know a family who has raised their son such a selfless way, that he is voluntarily serving our country. You are proud of the man he has become and look forward to seeing his character continue to grow over the next several weeks. Then thank her for being a mother who is giving her son to do one of the most noble jobs in America. After all, she should be proud. I'm proud for her!
- I think any type of support is great! offer to send letters to the military member. Offer a listening ear.
- Both my sons went through basic last year. Then my youngest son's commander's wife posted pictures on Facebook. Each night I'd pour over the newest posted pictures looking for him. The older son, we didn't have pictures to look at but the Air Force has a website for basic- on that site there were videos showing what your airman was learning that week. It was nice to view those and then when we talked I had relevant questions to ask. Both of them are finished with basic and advanced training. I am very proud of them both.
- Don't say, "Don't worry everything is going to be okay." One thing I reminded myself of was that even though boot would be tough, to remember the more training the better prepared. Offering to be her "Boot Buddy" when she needs a friend to listen, to cry and laugh with, to just 'be' will be a great help.
- Just knowing that her friend cares and is thinking of he will mean a lot to that scared mom. I would say something like, "I'm proud of you and your son. I don't understand all the emotions you must be feeling, there is no way that I can but I want you to know that I am here for you and your son will be in my prayers daily as he travels this journey."
Photo courtesy of Kathy Guzzo
Copyright 2008 - 2022 Benita Koeman, Operation We Are Here. All rights reserved.
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