Parents & Guardians - The Essentials

Family relationships require extra care when you're in the military. From deployments to single parenting, you'll find resources on Military OneSource to help you and your family stay healthy and strong.

Here are the essentials:

Leaving your child during deployment

If you have children, planning for their care when you have to be away is your top priority. Central to this is creating a family care plan and providing your child's caregiver – whether it is your spouse or someone else – with the legal documents they need to act on your behalf. And be sure to arrange how you will keep in touch with your child and how your child can reach you during your deployment.

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Single parenting during deployment

While your spouse is deployed, you may face emotional, financial and day-to-day adjustments that may put a strain on your parenting skills. Your installation's Military and Family Support Center is a good resource for support, including family readiness groups and babysitting co-ops. Through Military OneSource, you can get help with stress management or speak with a health and wellness coach. And remember, your spouse can continue to provide support to you and your children, so plan how you will communicate and how often.

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Caring for a deployed service member's child

If you will be caring for a service member's child or children during deployment, make sure you understand their wishes and some of the potential challenges awaiting you. You'll need the service member's family care plan and important legal documents. Resources and support are available through the Family Readiness System and the Exceptional Family Member Program (for children with special needs). Military OneSource also provides valuable resources to help you as you care for the children and help them deal with issues arising from separation.

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The New Parent Support Program

The New Parent Support Program helps military parents, including expectant parents, provide a nurturing environment for their children. Services include prenatal classes, parenting classes, home visits, playgroups and, if needed, referrals to other resources. The New Parent Support Program's services are free to active-duty service members and their families. Service members who have separated from active duty may also be eligible.

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Tips for single service members returning from deployment

Deployments can be difficult, but returning home may have its own challenges. It's important for you to take it easy while you settle back into your home routine. Careful about overbooking family events and parties, and don't be surprised if you feel out of sorts for a while. Talk to family and friends about how you feel, but if you continue to feel stressed – either physically or emotionally – seek confidential, non-medical counseling from Military OneSource to help you with your transition.

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