10 Ways to Be an All Pro Deployed Dad

“The curtains pull away. They come to the door, and they know. They always know.”—Major Steve Beck, U.S. Marine Corps

Sometimes Major Steve Beck would linger in his vehicle in front of an American home, like that of the parents of Lance Cpl. Kyle Burns in Laramie, Wyoming. Beck knew that every second he waited “was one more tick of his wristwatch that, for the family inside the house, everything remained the same.”

Beck is a C.A.C.O.—Casualty Assistance Calls Officer. It is his duty to inform a spouse or parents that their Marine had been killed. He is the scarlet thread—like the stripes on Marines’ dress-blue trousers, symbolizing shed blood—that connects these heart-rending stories. The glimpses of what he does come as the fallen are escorted home. When an airline passenger, noting an escort’s uniform, asked if the sergeant was going to or coming from the war, he repeated words the military had told him to say: “I’m escorting a fallen Marine home to his family from the situation in Iraq.”

If you know of a soldier deployed or deploying soon, be sure to thank him and give him the 10 ways to be an All Pro Deployed Dad:

LOVE YOUR WIFE

  • Formulate one reason you love your wife for each day you are separated – send daily by e-mail if possible.
  • Make regular, encouraging phone calls.
  • Send flowers.
  • Send gifts and/or cards on any holidays or special events while separated.
  • Send poems, e-cards to wife to let her know you miss her and to encourage her.
  • Send video via e-mail if communications squadron has capabilities.
  • Send the words to a love song with a video of that love song.

SPEND TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN

  • Have web cam meetings with children if possible.
  • Send video tapes and e-mails to children.
  • Read books with child on phone or via web cam.
  • Spend extra time with them before and after deployment.
  • Send daily emails of love.

BE A ROLE MODEL

  • Talk with children about opportunities you have had to help other people in your location. Send pictures of these events if possible.
  • Talk about worship services, books you are reading, and things you are doing to improve yourself.
  • Be faithful to God, your spouse, and your family while deployed.

UNDERSTAND YOUR CHILDREN

  • Understand mood swings children may have due to your deployment.
  • Be encouraging when speaking to them.
  • Compliment children on their special talents and gifts.
  • Praise them when they’ve done something special.
  • Remember they will be different when you return. Take time to get to know who they have become.

SHOW AFFECTION

  • Daily e-mail each of your children a reason you love them.
  • Send gifts to your children during holidays, special occasion and “just because.”
  • Give children a jar of Hershey Kisses equal to the number of days you are deployed. Have them take out and eat one a day as a symbol of your affection.
  • Have a friend take your children to a favorite event.
  • Always say “I love you” in phone conversations, emails and video clips.

ENJOY YOUR CHILDREN

  • Request videos/photos of special family events. At next contact, tell your children how much you enjoyed seeing them do certain activities.
  • Be joyful whenever you have the opportunity to speak with your child.
  • Be sure to spend lots of quality fun time with your kids before and after your deployment. Put it on the calendar.

EAT TOGETHER AS A FAMILY

  • Call at your family’s dinner time if possible.
  • Talk about favorite meals. Make plans for future meals together.
  • Web cam during meals.
  • Arrange for meals to be delivered to your family to save your wife time cooking.

DISCIPLINE WITH GENTLE SPIRIT

  • Support Mom’s/Guardian’s discipline when you talk with your children.
  • Always conclude with words of encouragement.
  • Strive to be consistent.
  • Ease back into a disciplinarian role when you return from deployment.

PRAY AND WORSHIP TOGETHER

  • Pray together during phone calls and web cam sessions.
  • Send CD’s/iTunes of contemporary worship artists.
  • Pick Scripture passages to read—e-mail questions and discuss key points.
  • Find websites with devotions. Cut/paste into an e-mail and send to children inviting their input.

REALIZE YOU’RE A FATHER FOREVER

  • Even on deployments regularly call your adult children and your grandchildren.
  • E-mail encouragement to your children and grandchildren. Let them know how much you love them and how proud you are of them.
  • Don’t forget birthdays!
  • Plan to meet up with your children and grandchildren at least once a year.

This 10 Ways to be a Deployed All Pro Dad was written by Chaplain Richard Holmes.  You may e-mail him by writing Richard Holmes in the subject line and e-mailing [email protected]

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