military-parent

Question of the week: What Can I Do to Support the Military Single Parent Family?

Family / Ministries //

On Veteran’s Day and various holidays supporting the military,  it is a good time to talk about celebrating the military single parents and their children in your congregations. This can be single parents who are currently serving or have served in our military.

If you have children of a deployed single parent in your group, send a Facebook message or an email to that parent today. Send a message or call the child of the single parent in your group. Tell them you are proud of them because while their parent is serving overseas, they are serving here at home by being that parent’s child. Many of these children feel like they are serving their country and they are proud to be serving.

There are thousands of single parents in the military. Generally a person who is a single parent cannot join the military. However, they may become a custodial single parent after they joined the military. They continue to serve with insurmountable stress as they juggle military life and parenting alone.

A couple of years ago I had a military single mom in my Single & Parenting class.  For several months this mom had to be on base at 5:00 am every morning. She had no family close by. Her child’s father lived in another state so he couldn’t help. What as this mom supposed to do? Thankfully the neighbor across the street invited the child to come to their house every morning at 4:30 a.m. The child got fully dressed at home and then crashed on the neighbors couch until time to leave for school.

FYI:  There are no exceptions on assignments of duty for single parents. If you are a single mom or a single dad and you get orders to deploy, you deploy. That means you must find someone to care for your child while you are gone.

From About.com we learn:

In the military, the mission always comes first. Absolutely no exceptions are made in assignments, deployments, duty hours, time off, or any other factor for single parents. Single parents in the military are required to have a nonmilitary person (in the local area) on call at all times, 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-per-week, 365 days-per-year, who will agree (in writing) to take custody of their child(ren) at no notice, in the event that the military member is deployed or called to duty.

Ways to help and affirm the child and military single parent

  • Pick up that phone and give the child of the single parent military person a call today or this evening and thank them; wish them well and tell them how much you appreciate their parent serving our country and how much you like them being in your group.
  • Pray with the child for the safety of their deployed parent.
  • Provide a home cooked meal for the military single parent especially when you find out the single parent is deploying.
  • Offer to find help for the single parent serving our country. Perhaps a family with a child the same age or a grandparent type figure that can provide a place for the child or children when the parent has to work late or has to be out of town on a temporary duty assignment.
  • Celebrate the deployed parent’s birthday with the child.
  • Celebrate the child’s birthday while the parent is deployed.
  • Be there for there for the child on special occasions or send a representative from the church to the concert, ball game or even high school graduation if the single parent is deployed.
  • Send care packages from the church. Ask the child what the parent likes for snacks or games or other things you can send to their parent. Invite the child to help package the items to be shipped. Include in scriptures and notes of appreciation.
  • For special holidays, like Christmas, send several packages to the deployed parent as well as give the child something special from the church. Christmas is one of the more difficult days to celebrate without a parent. And many deployed servicemen and women still have to work on Christmas when they are deployed. Having something from home and from their church will mean more than you can imagine.
  • Celebrate with the children when the parent returns.

 

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About the Author

Linda has been a children’s ministry director, developed DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids, dc4k.org), operated a therapeutic child care, and has extensive experience at successfully accommodating challenging behaviors. She currently serves as the DC4K Ambassador and Professional blogger at http://blog.dc4k.org.