Parenting adult children can be a real challenge. When my oldest daughter moved out, it took a bit of time to find my place in her new life.
When my son joined the Army, I quickly realized that parenting a soldier comes with very unique challenges that are far different than if he were entering college or the workforce.
So how do we military parents do more than just survive while our children are serving? How do we learn to thrive and be the best parents that we can be to our soldiers?
Deepen Our Spiritual Roots
The most important thing we can do is fully understand that our children are not ours, they belong to the Lord. We have to trust Him completely. Knowing that God has my son’s best interests in mind, no matter what, makes the journey a little less stressful.
Remember these words:
The most important thing we can do is fully understand that our children are not ours, they belong to the Lord. @nerddomlife Click To Tweet
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
The life of a military parent can be a lonely one especially if you don’t have friends with children who are also serving.
There’s never a moment that I don’t feel this inner foreboding. Even while not in a combat situation there’s still a constant danger from live fire training and accidents. It’s a feeling that cannot be explained with words nor fully understood by anyone except those who have boots on the ground and skin in the game.
But our sons and daughters need us to be strong, even when we don’t feel like we are. That’s why finding support is so important.
Elaine Brye, author of Be Safe, Love Mom says, “The band of military mothers and fathers is strong, and its members know the price we all pay to let go time and time again…Whether you find them in person or virtually or simply know they’re out there battling with you in spirit, it’s a comfort to realize that you are not alone.”
If you don’t have anyone in your life who is also a military parent, reach out until you find them. There are numerous support groups online and you may even find one locally.
Find the Positives, Even When It’s Hard
One of the hardest struggles I faced was the need to help my son and make things easier for him. No parent wants their child to struggle, but we have to learn that our soldiers are going to face some extremely difficult situations. Naturally, they will want to vent and complain to us because we are their safe place.
It’s tempting to try to fix things for them, and sometimes it’s tempting to agree with them and add our own complaints to theirs.
Fueling the fire of their grievances puts our soldiers in an impossible situation. They may not like what they are being told to do, but they must do it. When we add our complaints to theirs instead of pointing out or helping them to find a positive in the situation, then we are doing them a great disservice.
While we may sometimes have to really stretch our ability to find something positive in a situation, it’s always there. Be creative!
Always Be Available
I asked my son what he needed most from us as parents while he serves, and his answer was very simple….be available. He rests easier knowing that he has a place to go when he has leave and he never has to worry about showing up at the last minute.
Being a military parent means being extremely flexible and available when our children need us. I’m not sure about the other branches, but in the Army it’s all about hurry up and wait…then go, go, go, when you finally do get orders. We don’t make plans too far in advance because those plans will always…always…change.
Make sure that your soldier knows you’re always there, no matter what, and that they are never an inconvenience to you.
Adjusting to military life is hard, for our children and us! But if we keep our focus on God, and the children He has called to be soldiers for our country, then the learning curve seems much less steep.