As Mother’s Day approaches, many people think of how they can honor their mothers and what they will do with them on the actual day. But what about the mothers who are serving in the military? These moms will miss many events and holidays, including Mother’s Day, but it does not mean that they need to miss it all. There are different ways to keep the connection to their children and still be a guiding force in their lives.
Children who are living without their mothers due to military service face a unique challenge: how to hold onto the relationship without mom being present and knowing that there is risk involved in being deployed. Mothers serving in the military can keep the connection with their children through letters, emails, phone calls, and video chatting. Additionally, depending on the age of the child, creating videos where she reads a book to the child which can be played for the child at bedtime. Contact with mom can also include family discussions (e.g., 14 year old daughter wants to go to her first concert). This will help prevent the gap that naturally exists when military personnel return home and rejoin the family.
The family members that support the child while mom is deployed fulfill the caregiving needs but are not a replacement for mom. As much as possible, which may not be much as all would like, mom needs to be an active parent while deployed. Challenging and sometimes frustrating given the potential barriers of technology, time zones, and distance. However, challenging it may be, it is important that the children of mothers serving in the military feel the connection with their mothers and see her as a constant presence in their lives. Upon return, the family will need a period of adjustment to incorporate mom back into the daily routine.
Mothers serving in the military have challenges ahead as they try to parent their children from great distances. So, as we celebrate the moms this month, let’s celebrate the women who raise their children while defending our country. Thank you to all military personnel who serve and happy Mother’s Day to all moms!
Michelle A. Culver, LMFT