Serving in the military is an admirable decision, and the sacrifices made sustain the country's freedom. Many of these sacrifices, though, do not only affect those who are enlisted -- they also affect families. This is certainly true when it comes to deployment, kids and custody. You might be wondering how to negotiate caretaking for kids when one parent is enlisted.
According to the School Superintendents Association, there are 1.2 million kids who have at least one parent on active duty. Though there are challenges that come with the military family lifestyle, you are not alone in facing these challenges, and you can minimize your kids' stress by using the following tips.
Establish a family care plan
Whether you and your partner are together, separated or both enlisted, you should establish a family care plan that dictates exactly what course of action to follow in certain events. If, for example, both parents get deployed, your family care plan should identify who will act as caretaker for your children. Having a concrete plan will eliminate much of the stress that results from uncertainty.
Ensure you are in compliance
The military has its own regulations indicating how to handle custody for enlisted parents. These regulations depend on the branch you are serving in and how old your kids are, so you should check with your commanding officer before making any decisions. They may be able to provide guidance or resources that will help ensure you are in compliance with any applicable standards.
Always put kids' needs first
When you serve in the military, you are responsible for protecting the country. When you are a parent, you are responsible for protecting your children. These interests are not mutually exclusive, though, and you should remember that you are the only person who will be advocating for your children's needs. You might need to request accommodations to ensure the care of your children are while you serve.