Raising a Child with a Military Co-Parent

Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States. On Veterans Day, I can’t help but to think about all of the brave individuals that sacrifice their needs to serve and protect our country. This really reigns close to home because my son’s father is a member of the military. As two parents trying to raise this beautiful human being, we have learned that co-parenting is very different when the military is involved.

Co-parenting is a really difficult situation to be in, but it is amplified when you co-parent with a someone who is active in the military. The commitment to serve along with splitting responsibilities for a child takes tact to manage. The amount of time away tends to affect relationships; deployments for months at a time are really hard to fathom for those children longing to spend time with the parent and the communication restrictions can be extremely challenging.

There are missed birthdays and milestone moments in our child’s life that my son’s father didn’t get to see because of the commitment he made to our nation. “All Sacrifice some, and some sacrifice all” is a quote that remains true as I watch how these military parents do their best to be present in their children’s life while honoring our nation through service.

Below I have listed two challenges that we have experienced while trying to co-parent. I have also listed some solutions that have worked in our situation that you could modify to help with yours.

1. Carrying the Burden

The parent who is not in the military may feel as if they are the one who is carrying all of the weight. When a child is sick, the military parent cannot just leave deployment or be there for an awards day. I know “carrying the burden” is something that I have felt before, but I had to understand that if the military parent could be there, he would. No one would want to purposefully miss out on being a part of their child’s life.

Solution: Lean on help from Village! The military community is tight knit and there are other people who may be experiencing the same thing. Lean on other military spouses for support and guidance during challenging times. Build your village so that you and your little ones have full support while the military parent is performing duties.

2. Separation Anxiety

My son loves his father dearly which tends to create a sense of separation anxiety when Dad is away serving the country. Seeing a child miss a parent is a really sad experience. This is why everyone cries when they watch the reuniting videos between a military parent and their little ones. This one of the most significant challenges when co-parenting with a military parent.

Solution:  Set visiting schedule. We try to ensure that my son spends as much time with his father as possible when the military schedule permits. We also are upfront about what a parent being in the military means. Our child is now old enough to understand what an honor it is for his parent to serve the country and how this also means my son may need to sacrifice some time with Dad for the greater good.

The ultimate goal of co-parenting is to show that equality of involvement between both parents. You would never want the child to feel like one parent is more involved than the other. Our son loves both of us equally, but constantly being separated from his dad due to the military commitment can greatly impact that their relationship which is something we refuse to let happen.

The ability to serve our nation is too great of an honor to allow it to adversely impact the way our veterans co-parent. As a non-military parent co-parenting with a military parent, I believe it’s imperative to overcome these challenges and help your children see you and your co-parent as equal in your roles as dependable adults and loving parents.

I hope you all read this and have a greater respect for those serving our nation and all that they sacrifice to protect us as well as gain a better understanding on how we can assist these military parents in overcoming challenges of co-parenting.

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