The Military Parenting Community: Building Resilience One Family at a Time
Raising a child can be the most exhilarating of adventures. It can also be exhausting, overwhelming or relentless — sometimes all at the same time. Just remember, you are not alone; the military community is also a parenting community. There are parents at the next desk in your office, up and down your chain of command, and in every aisle of the commissary. You and the Military OneSource community are in this together.
Ask for Help if You Need It
What it means to be a “good parent” may seem to change from moment to moment. Sometimes it means making dinner or getting the laundry done or baby-proofing the living room. Sometimes it means putting down your cell phone for a chat and some one-on-one cuddle time with your child. Sometimes it means calling a babysitter and taking some time for yourself to relax.
If you find you’re overwhelmed or stressed, remember the military parenting community has a lot of powerful support systems in place for parents and children alike:
- Military and Family Life Counselors are available to help talk through parenting challenges and military-life stresses.
- Several military community resources offer help and assistance to parents. Start with your installation’s Family Advocacy Program, New Parent Support Program, Child Development Center, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
- Access information and ideas 24 hours a day on Military OneSource and through social media support groups.
- Reach out to friends, family, neighbors, church groups, playgroups and others who can offer support.
The Military OneSource call center can directly connect you to resources. Call 800-342-9647.
Offer Help if You Can
The truth is, whether you are a parent or not, all service members are part of the parenting community. It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of military children. Not only is it the right thing to do, but family harmony is directly related to military readiness and resilience. Remember, it’s much better — and easier — to prevent a potential problem than deali with one after the fact.
If you see a parent who looks like they could use a helping hand, offer yours. Here are a few ideas:
- Babysit. You don’t need to offer your whole day or watch five kids at once to be helpful. If you can’t handle watching more than one child, or if you only have an hour to spare, still make the offer. Sometimes just a small break or a slightly lighter load is all a busy parent may need.
- Cook. Whether it’s an invite for dinner or dropping off a frozen casserole, helping with mealtime doesn’t need to be relegated to just the first few weeks after a baby is born.
- Listen. There is often tremendous pressure for parents to remain upbeat and chipper about parenting. For a parent in distress, having someone to talk to about the real-life difficulties of child rearing without judgment can be both a relief and a first step toward identifying that they may need additional support.
- Compliment. Don’t underestimate the value of a kind word or encouraging thought. Everyone likes to hear when they’re doing a good job. Be sure to tell the parents around you when you think they’re doing great.