My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.
- President Jimmy Carter
But sometimes a phone call isn’t enough. I’ve shared in previous posts that occasionally friends would just drop by to let me know they were thinking of me while Jimmy was deployed. These drop-ins worked because those stopping by were careful not to impose.
No matter what type of visit you plan, here are some basic guidelines to follow to keep it from inadvertently becoming a burden.
Take your cues from them.
Especially if this is an unexpected visit, it’s best to just assume it’s not a good time. This takes the burden of guilt and stress off the family. If it turns out to be a good time, they’ll let you know, but be guided by their needs.
Be on time.
If you plan a visit in advance, be sure to arrive when expected. Even if it’s just the spouse of a deployed soldier, they’re still shouldering extra responsibilities. That means life is busy, and there’s usually a schedule to help everything run smoothly. Respect that and show up when planned.
Watch the clock.
"Don’t overstay your welcome" is always a good guideline for visitors, no matter what the circumstances. It’s especially true for a family dealing with the hardships of deployment. Be considerate of bedtimes and mealtimes as well. It’s hard enough keeping kids on a schedule when both parents are in town. With a single-parent situation, schedules become a place of sanity in an insane world.
Remember: It’s not about you.
We all have tough things we’re dealing with. But if you’re offering support for a military family, make sure they feel that support. Give them the opportunity to share their struggles. Now is probably not the best time to burden them with your own stressful situations.
These are my tips. I’d love to know what you’d add to the list. Be sure to leave your comments in the section below.
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.