Gems of Wisdom for Military Parents

By Lisa Cypers Kamen, [email protected]

When I was thinking about how to help support the parents of our service men and women I was reminded of Julie LaBelle whose son Alex, a Marine, is serving currently in Iraq. What was profoundly interesting is that Julie is married to a career Marine and has been through multiple deployments. However, the experience of having her son deployed was a new and unique. I would like to share with you her thoughts and thank her for her participation in providing this for everyone to share:

Gems of Wisdom for Parents Inspired by Julie:

  • Support your child’s decision to serve; it’s your role as a parent to let them make their own choices.
  • Don’t let them feel your worry and woes, but do tell them how much they mean to you and all of the loving things we should tell our children but often don’t.
  • Connect as much as possible but keep your messages positive. Fill them in on what’s going on but don’t tell them bad or negative news unless they really need to know.
  • At the end of a conversation, try to make sure they feel great so they can do what they have to do. Let them feel missed but not that they are missing out greatly.
  • Send letters, pictures, and care packages. Include things that are special or unique to them rather than just bombarding them with sweets and treats. Julie gave Alex a small square of his baby blanket, fondly named “Pinky,” in one of his first care packages. Alex kept Pinky in the pocket of his flak jacket, and often his buddies would ask to touch Pinky. With that little square of fabric, Julie was able to give Alex a piece of home.
  • Engage in activities that you enjoy. Surround yourself with hobbies and interests. Stay healthy and exercise frequently.
  • Journal or find a personal or private way to communicate your thoughts.
  • Develop your own support network. If you can, find someone who’s been there and can guide you. Or find someone with whom you can share a common bond.
  • Stay as informed as you can. Map their locations and what you know. Sometimes sharing that information with other helps, too. At her church and the post office, Julie helped create real maps of the world–complete with pictures of her son and other service members–showing where they were serving.
  • Keep track of milestones or special events so you can tell your service member about them.
  • Arm yourself with the knowledge that your child is fulfilling their destiny and following their goals. “This is the ultimate hope we all share for our children!”, says Julie.

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