Serving the nation's military often comes with personal sacrifice and challenge, especially concerning juggling family life and career duties. As a member of the military, you are definitely not immune to many of the same family issues or marital problems that arise in other households. Dealing with divorce while serving in the military can be especially stressful; however, if you know your rights and have a strong support network in place, things may turn out just fine.
Supporting your children as they come to terms with the situation may be your biggest challenge of all. If you have several children, you might find that each of them reacts quite differently from the other when you discuss the upcoming changes they're about to experience. By tapping into resources in your own community, perhaps even on base, you can give your kids the tools they need to make the best of a difficult situation.
You can start by knowing what not to do
Part of being a good parent involves knowing what types of behavior to avoid when your focus is on helping your children adapt to a major life-change. The following list includes actions that often do more harm than good in such circumstances:
- Talking bad about the other parent: It may be tempting, but you should avoid it. Bad-mouthing your spouse within earshot of your kids lends itself to complicating their emotional conditions. They may already feel nervous about expressing love for their other parent in front of you; if you speak negatively about your spouse in front of them, it will likely only add to their confusion.
- Promising without following through: You might think that by assuring your kids their lives will stay the same or that they can see their other parent 24/7, whenever they want, you'll help them cope better with your divorce. The reality is that you probably can't keep such promises, so it's better never to make them in the first place.
- Using extravagance to show support: There's certainly no harm in giving your children gifts. However, trying to buy their loyalty or appear victorious in an unspoken contest for "coolest parent" with your former spouse is a major pitfall you'll want to avoid. Not only might it add to the conflict your kids already feel, you may wind up with massive credit card debt as well!
The military has its own guidelines and regulations regarding family matters such as divorce. You may already have a family care plan in place that will likely come in handy after settlement, especially if you happen to deploy on active duty. In the meantime, don't hesitate to find a fellow service member who has been through similar experiences or a more formal means of support whenever you feel that you need an extra helping hand.