4MCA.com  /  Operation Reach Out: Suicide Prevention App

5 Ways to Help Military New Parents

Written by

Becoming a parent for the first time is a huge adjustment for anyone, but add to that the stresses of military life and long distances from support networks and military families face unique challenges in adjusting to parenthood. Here are five ways you can help military families welcoming their first child.

1. Bring a Meal

When I had my first son the pastor of our church and his wife made a simple gesture that still stands out in my memory. The first night we were home from the hospital (after a C-section) they dropped off a rotisserie chicken, bag salad kit, and a loaf of french bread. It was a simple gesture with minimal monetary or time investment but it meant the world to us. Their visit was brief, no lingering over the new baby, just a congratulations, meal drop off, and “call us if you need us.” There was no pressure to entertain them or tidy the house which was a gift in and of itself at that exhausting time.

2. Be a listener

The adjustment to new parenthood is difficult. I challenge anyone to {honestly} tell me differently. The first days/weeks/months of being a parent involve a huge shift in priorities I don’t think any first-time parent can truly be prepared for. Most military families live away from family that would otherwise offer support. The simple gift of listening to new parents can often be a godsend. Let them gush, let them complain, let them tell you everything they are going through…it is a unique, special, and sometimes frustrating time of life-be there to let them share it (without offering unwanted advice!)

3. Offer household help

No one can prepare you for the vast increase in laundry and cleaning one tiny person can add to a family! Add to that the demanding work schedule of many military jobs and the lack of sleep for the household and housework can get thrown to the wayside. Like to clean? Offer some household assistance. More of the outdoorsy type? How about mow the lawn or weed the flowerbeds? Out of town relatives can help out by hiring cleaners or lawn service or sending a gift certificate. I can guarantee it will be much appreciated!

4. Babysit!

Many mothers have a hard time adjusting to the 24/7 demands of a newborn. If the new mom in your life is open to it, suggest she take an hour for herself while you watch the baby-even a nap or a quick pedicure can go a long way towards recharging an exhausted new mother. A much-appreciated date night can also do wonders for the sleep deprived new parents!

5. Be social!

Whether you have children or not, don’t exclude the new parents in your social group from invites to parties and get-togethers! Realize this is major time of adjustment for your new parent friends and they still want to feel a part of their social circle while valuing their new family. So while they may not always accept your invitation, please don’t stop offering them. New parenthood and navigating the world with precious cargo in tow takes time to get used to…they’ll be back in the swing of things before long with the support of good friends and a strong support network!