I have been posting about the plight of military children: separation from a parent, transition during deployment, consequences of PTSD on home life, constant relocation and attachment issues. Considering all these issues, how can we help military families with children?
A list of ways to help a military child
We often forget the power of relationships and the need for military children and spouses to simply beconnected to someone who cares, particularly when there is little or no family in close proximity. Connection gives all of us a way to help the military families who may live close by.
Plus, every now and again I like to refer to websites I find helpful. One such site is the Military Child Education Coalition. I have extrapolated its list of 10 Ways to Help a Military Child, but please visit the site as it has an abundance of helpful information.
How to help a military child or family
- Reach Out – Military-connected children are in every school, every town,
and every community, so ask around at your workplace, church, or your
local recreation center to find military-connected children and learn how
you can help.
- Know Your Neighbor – Life gets hectic, but take time to meet the military
families in your community and learn their story so you can better
understand what they are going through.
- Bring Brownies or Offer to Drive to Brownies – Deployment often
means the waiting parent becomes a single parent, so help out by
offering to carpool to activities, or bring over a home-baked meal or
goodies for the family to enjoy.
- Reassure, Encourage, and Praise – Reassure children that they are safe and loved and doing a good job.
- Share Your Strengths and Resources – Volunteer to share your Web-cam
so a military family can see their loved one serving abroad, or use your
computer’s scanner to e-mail their drawings and photographs.
- Do Routine Things Routinely – Especially in times of transition and change, children need routine and structure. Maintain their daily routines, and stick to a schedule to ensure balance and comfort in the child’s life.
- Keep Standards High – Military-connected children are kids first and
military children second. Offer them the same opportunities as every child
and maintain the same high expectations for their success.
- Stay Flexible – Also remember that deployment of a parent or loved one
means the family is operating with one less spoke in the wheel. Offer your
help instead of criticism if the child is a few minutes late to soccer practice
or forgets the juice on snack day.
- Be a Mentor – Step up to offer support for the child by becoming a part of
their daily life, or serving as a positive role model.
- Support the Deployed Troops – Make an effort with military-connected
children to reinforce pride in their parent who is serving, and to recognize
the nobility of their service. Help the child send a care package to their
parent, or help prepare signs for the homecoming celebration!
I think some of these ideas are so practical and would be quite meaningful to our military children and parents. Is there a military family in your community would welcome your help as they face the numerous issues of having a spouse or parent serving our country?
Thank you for considering how to help and for reading.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network