Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
Most of my memories of 9/11 focus on the day and the immediate aftermath. Some have formed after the fact, spurred by things like visiting the World Trade Center site. But this year, I am thinking back to this time last year, when I had a chance to correspond with a number of military wives and learn more about how their lives have been influenced by 9/11. In fact, I had an opportunity to publish a guest blog post by military wife and mom Laura @ semperfimomma, in which she talked about her own experiences, both pre- and post 9/11.
This year, I’d like to link to Laura’s website, where you can read about how she is preparing her kids for their dad’s deployment with a very creative idea – using a puzzle with a picture of dad to help the kids keep track of the time he is deployed so they can anticipate when he will return. Each puzzle piece will represent a certain amount of time being deployed (e.g., 1 week), and each time a puzzle piece is added, dad’s arrival back home will be that much closer – culminating of course with a final piece of the puzzle signaling his return.
Best wishes to Laura and her family for a happy reunion.
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9/11, deployment, kids of deployed soldiers, military families, military wives, Semper Fi Momma | Categories:
Behavior, Health, Parenting, Red-Hot Parenting, Relationships, Stories
Friday, December 16th, 2011
A number of studies this year have documented the challenges military families face, particularly when a parent is deployed (you can read about one such study in my discussion of the 6 most important child development studies of 2011). The critical take-home message has been that those of us in the community can learn more about military families and ways we can support them, particularly given all that they do for us. So as the holidays are rapidly approaching, I’ve asked Laura@semperfimomma (who I have featured in prior blog posts) to tell us things we could do for military families during this busy (and perhaps bittersweet) season. Here are Laura’s thoughts:
Hearing of those looking to support a military family during the holidays warms my heart more than words can possibly describe. Here are 4 things to think about if you are looking to do such a kind act:
- Is there a deployed spouse? If so, maybe you could give the family a week or two worth of housekeeping.
- Also, with only one parent at home, she/he may have a hard time getting out of the house to do their Christmas shopping. A great way to support a military family during the holidays would be to either offer to do some of the shopping for them, or to watch the kids so that the parent can go out and do shopping on their own.
- To do a little something special for the parent who is deployed, offer to take a few pictures of the family to send to their loved one.
- We all know what a chore cooking a big Christmas dinner can be. Some military families do not live close to their families, and opt to stay home for the holiday. Offering up a precooked dish that can be frozen and reheated when needed is a huge time saver. Even when not deployed, the gift of time is always appreciated. If you feel comfortable enough, you can even invite the family over for dinner. This way you can help each other with the cooking and cleaning, and by opening your home you may help ease or lighten some sad emotions for a family that is used to being ‘home for the holidays’.
Getting Laura’s insider’s view on ways to support military families is invaluable, especially since her mission is to bridge the gap between military and civilian families. And to that end, please note that Laura is transforming her website -www.semperfimomma.com – into a platform that will host the voices of many other military moms.
Happy Holidays to Laura and her family, and to all of our military families!
Image of soldier at home during the holidays via Shutterstock.com
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Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Over the past few months we’ve had an ongoing discussion about the challenges facing family members — both non-deployed spouses
— when a parent is deployed. Today featured blogger Laura @ semperfimomma
offers some great suggestions for those of us who want to support military families:
Supporting a military wife and her family while her husband is deployed is easier than most think. My top 5 ways to support are as such:
1. Just be a friend. An ear. Usually, a husband comes home from work. The couple will chat about their day, or any current events going on in their lives. Often when they go to bed at night they lay there and talk about whatever is on their minds. This is time for a wife to vent, talk about something exciting, or share some new news. Either way, this outlet for conversation is now gone. Being a friend and giving a military wife simple, adult conversation is one of the most important things you can do to show support.
2. Lend a hand. In the simplest ways, mind you, as they are usually the ones that make the biggest impact. Taking a baked dish over saves a friend on prep time. If all she has to do is pop it in the oven you’ve afforded her some extra time with her kids, or possibly a little sanity by not having to rush around trying to throw something together while her children are squawking at her like baby birds.
3. Share neighborhood tips and info. If you see a military family just moving into your neighborhood, pass along some tips that you all know about the area. Like which places have the best deals, or what the closest places are and how to get to them. Personally, I’m directionally impaired, so this advice is extremely valuable to me.
4. Share a sitter. Have a babysitter? Maybe there is one that you and a few neighbors would recommend? Again, extremely valuable advice to share. Even under normal circumstance we all like to enjoy a little break: some ‘me’ time. However, it can easily be put off just for the sake of not having a sitter and not knowing where to look for one who is trustworthy.
5. Offer simple yard management
. And I mean simple. Little things like pulling trash cans in from the curb, or helping to rake leaves. This may seem fairly minor, but it really is the little things that make a big difference. A friend of mine
, who lives in a civilian neighborhood, said her neighbors were such a blessing to her while her husband was deployed
, and one of the reasons was the little yard work they did for her to help her out.
Thank you, Laura!
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Saturday, September 3rd, 2011
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, everyone who experienced this event is flooded with recollections of that day, its aftermath, and our current thoughts and feelings about it. By virtue of my prior posts about the lives of military families — including the challenges of being a non-deployed parent and being a child with a deployed parent — I have had a unique opportunity to listen to the voices of military wives. I have found that we all share a mission of bringing awareness to the sacrifices made by those who serve in the armed forces and their families. To that end, I am honored to feature in this post a blogger — Laura @ semperfimomma — who writes eloquently about the life of a military wife and mom.
I asked Laura to share her reflections on 9/11. Here they are:
When we hit our 11 year anniversary, my husband and I both agreed that the time had flown by so fast and it almost felt like yesterday we were married. Looking back and thinking about the attacks on September 11th, 10 years ago, feels a lifetime away to me. On a family fishing trip, I remember standing there staring at the television watching the second plane crash. I was in total disbelief. I thought to myself, “Life is never going to be the same.”
The ironic part is that to talk to anyone now, I don’t feel like my life is very different. Like I was then and now, I’m a military wife. We, just like our husbands, adapt and overcome all the obstacles and challenges in our lives. It’s what we do, not just as military wives but as women and mothers as well. We’re human. We evolve. And so do our children. Most of them don’t know any different of a life. Having their fathers gone for 6 months or more at a time is ‘normal’ to them, though that doesn’t make the absence any easier to bear.
This week Laura featured thoughts on 9/11 by three military wives on her blog — I encourage you to click here to read these moving pieces.
I’m very grateful for the chance I have had to start a dialogue with a number of military wives. My next post will focus on tips that Laura @semperfimomma offers us to help support military families as they take on their daily challenges.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2011
The goal of my last post was to start bringing attention to the many challenges that our military families face when a parent is deployed. The intent was to raise awareness of this issue amongst people who are not part of military families, and to stimulate conversation about ways that individuals and communities could offer support. The many statements by parents in response to this post have clearly shown us that there is a great need to have their voices heard, and I will develop ways in the near future for them to share their first-hand experiences within this blog. That said, I encourage all readers to begin to explore this issue in more depth by reading real stories from military families. A great place to start is the terrific blog by Semper Fi Momma, where you can find first-hand experience and lots of information offered via a mission to “… bridge the gap between the civilian and military worlds.”
In this same spirit, this post is intended to start a dialogue about the challenges facing the children of deployed parents. My perspective comes from published research, which serves an important function by quantifying how many families are affected. Current work by Dr. Anita Chandra and colleagues at the RAND Corporation have shown how parental deployment can have especially strong effects on children’s social and emotional well-being – a finding that can certainly be expanded upon by parents in military families (so please do educate us more about your experiences). Here’s Dr. Chandra’s perspective on the results from these studies:
While these youth are taking on new leadership roles in the household and new responsibilities that give them a sense of pride and accomplishment, the stress of these responsibilities can also make life difficult. It is clear from our work and other recent studies that a significant percentage of youth (about one-third) are reporting at least moderate emotional difficulties and anxiety symptoms. This is particularly true for youth whose parent has been deployed for more months.
This work raised my awareness of the need for friends, neighbors, and communities to start thinking about ways – whether big or small – to support the children and parents of deployed soldiers who are experiencing challenges that most of us cannot begin to imagine. I recently learned about one wonderful organization called Celebrate the Military Child that attempts to bring a little distraction and fun into the lives of children with a deployed parent. Please do check out their website, but here is the essence of what they do:
Celebrate the Military Child will bring parties to the Military Child. We recognize the importance of parties in the Military Child’s life and we believe that the gift of a celebration will provide normalcy, happiness, and hope in these military children’s otherwise ever changing lives… If the spirit of these children is lifted for just one day then Celebrate the Military Child’s mission has been accomplished.
Celebrate the Military Child was co-founded by Courtney Faith Vera and Frances Wolf based on their experiences as moms and as wives of a member of the military. I had the great pleasure of speaking with Courtney Faith and she shared with me how important it can be for a child with a deployed parent to take a little time away from their worries and enjoy a party with friends and celebrate who they are. I encourage you all to learn about ways to support their efforts on their website.
I’d love to get more ideas from other parents (dads as well as moms!) on ways in which friends, neighbors, and communities can offer support to children and parents in military families. For example, consider the comment by Heather in response to my last post:
Richard… Its simple things that help. My husband and I were both in the military. While he was deployed, I gave birth to our daughter. I had six weeks to recover before returning to work. That meant working long days, then coming home to take care of an infant and get ready to do it all over again the next day. I would get up at 0415 every morning and not get to sleep until about 2100. 9 out of 10 times I didn’t even eat dinner because I was just too tired. With how often my little one woke up, I averaged 4-5 hours of sleep. I would have LOVED if one of my neighbors just brought me over some dinner one night, or offered to cut the grass. Anything small that helps with the day-to-day life.
So … what are other ways we can help military families dealing with deployment?
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