3 Things Not to Say to a Family Facing Deployment

Military families are a forgiving group. But to help you avoid some possible pitfalls, here are a few things to avoid.

Posted in , Apr 1, 2014

Outreach Ministries blogger Edie Melson

True confession time: When it comes to words better left unsaid, I’m at the head of the class.

Frequently this alarming tendency shows itself most strongly when trying to help. But I keep plowing ahead because I’d rather be guilty of misspeaking than not trying at all.

That’s a dilemma many people share when they find themselves trying to reach out to a military family facing deployment. The fear that they’ll say or do something wrong keeps them from doing anything at all.

When my grandson was having problems with relationships in a new job, I knew right where to send him—the Guideposts website, where he’d be able to read the work of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. My grandson is finding it helpful not only at work but in his relationships in general.               - JANE C., Cumming, Georgia

Really the list of what not to say is pretty short. Beyond that, military families are a forgiving group. We’ve all said things we wish we hadn’t. But to help you avoid some possible pitfalls, I’ve come up with the top three things to avoid.

1. "Did you see that news story about..."
This is a big no-no during deployments. Military families avoid the news at all costs. Watching adds to our stress and gives us more to worry about. If something happens with our loved one’s unit, the military will communicate with us before they release anything to the news media. Beyond that, we’ve found the news reports are incomplete at best, and out-and-out wrong more often than not.

2. "I hope your soldier makes it back."
You may wonder if anyone would actually say this, but people do. We know what our soldiers are facing. Truthfully, we’re all scared that something awful might happen and we really don’t need to be reminded about it.

3. "You must be so sorry your (husband, wife, son, daughter) is in the military."
Sorry... really? No, we’re proud–button-bustin’ proud–and we don’t appreciate those who think it’s something to be ashamed of.

The best way to reach out is to be honest. Admit you don’t have the words to take away the worry. Let them know you’re there and how much you care.

Now it's your turn. What helped you while your loved one was serving our country?


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