Call me naive, but it never dawned on me until recently that our children will be growing up in a military home. And it scares me.
I fear the day my husband is deployed and our children are old enough to understand, but not fully grasp why daddy is leaving again.
I fear being a single mom for the days, weeks, months he is away and hope I can be a good enough mother.
I fear those days when I need to be strong for them and my husband, when I don't even feel strong enough for myself.
While I don't have all the answers, I do know there is a huge network for raising our children in this military lifestyle. 'It Takes a Village' could not be more accurate and I'm glad I have found a few resources to rely on. I feel better not being so alone in this, and while it may be a challenge, I feel better equipped to raise our children in this life.
FRG & Community Events
Family Readiness Group and any community events can be great outlets for children. Staying involved in the military community will not only be great for social interaction, but also because they are families and children going through the same situation. You can find more information on the individual branch's support groupshere.
All children can also utilize the youth center that is equipped with computer labs, gymnasiums, music and game rooms, and special field trips like swimming, bowling, or movies.
Books & Videos
Sometimes reading or hearing stories can be the best way to reach a child and have them understand the situation better. There are a variety of books and videos you can present your kids, and it's something a little more tangible than an activity. Below are a few books and videos you can purchase, fitting your family's current situation.
Military Youth Coping With Separation: When Family Members Deploy
Mr. Poe and Friends Discuss Family Reunion After Deployment
Sesame Street’s Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes
A little bit of a step up from community events, there are several camps that our military children can take part in. This is a great way to make friends and to take their minds off anything that may be currently going on.
Kids 11-17: RV Camp For Kids
AFR & ANG Kids 14-18: Teen Leadership Summit
Armed Services YMCA: Operation Outdoors
Operation Free Ride: Horses for Heroes
Operation Purple Camp: National Military Family Association
Our Military Kids
Care Package for Military Children
Little Patriots Embraced Care Package
Brat Town Bugle (free book)
Free admission to Sea World or Busch Gardens
Free admission to National Parks
A Story Before Bed
When your loved one is deployed, creating a deployment center or wall can be a great visual for your children. This can include a countdown of some sort, what time it is where your spouse is, letters to their parent, and any pictures you want to include. This will keep your spouse very much alive and around even when they aren't, and give your children something to look forward to taking part in.
I love having the reassurance that I'm not alone in this. My husband is a 'military brat' and was raised moving around and dealing with his father not being home in his early years. It's no easy lifestyle, but I know that it is doable. To all the military spouses out there raising children, we got this. We may not have all the answers, things will break, our kids will miss our spouses more than anything, but this is just a small sacrifice we make for our families and this country.
What is your biggest takeaway from raising your children in a military home?