April is Month of the Military Child!

My little military brats!

They say that being in the military is a tough job, but I honestly don’t think it’s that tough as people may think. Yeah, the possibility of deployments, TDYs (Temporary Duties, or “business trips”), long hours at work, etc. may seem stressful initially, but they’re all quite liveable and I can get by… However, that’s just me coping with stressors, but I’m not the only one that carry these burdens on my shoulders. My children carry those burdens, too.

Growing up, I had the “luxury” of remaining in one place my whole childhood: I had the same group of friends growing up, grew up in the same house, went to the same school as my sisters, and even had the same job as one of them. And it’s funny that I can now call my own childhood a luxury compared to my children’s life and their futures.

My oldest just turned seven years old last month, and from what I can remember, he’s only had one birthday where he invited his friends from school and daycare. It’s not because we’re a super introverted family (because we’re not), it’s because military families are constantly moving around. In his lifetime, he has moved three times due to my PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders. And I am super grateful that he’s a pretty positive child that can make friends with just about anyone. Not only has my oldest endured these moves, but he’s also endured many other unfortunate events that have occurred in my personal life and military career. He never asked to experience any of this, but I am so thankful for having such a resilient child to pick up without being put down for a long time.

We are all reminded in the military to not take our families for granted, because when we take off our uniforms for the last time, our families will be the only thing we have left. Sometimes, days get hard and work just piles on our plate, so missing a few soccer practices are okay, but it’s bad when you neglect your duties as a parent. This is why this month is so important! Celebrate you children and love them everyday. You have only one shot at watching them grow up.

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Co-parenting is not competitive parenting

When I was going through my very bitter divorce, my ex-husband painted a picture of being the “perfect” parent for our son; therefore, the courts should agree with him that it would be in the best interest of our son to remain with him… This part, was at the beginning of our divorce, when we had to attend mediation for the sake of our son. When the situation got serious, as in, yes, we are having this divorce, it was like he just “vanished”. No response to the courts, and costing me a very pretty penny because I “lawyered” up just in case.

When our divorce was finalized, and he learned that I changed the parenting time schedule to him only having our kid every other weekend, he flipped out and called me every derogatory word associated for a woman. The “new” parenting time only lasted a couple months before he decided to leave the country… Yes, country. So, instead of having time with his son every other weekend, as planned, he decides to just leave. As what every “perfect” parent would do, I assume.

Now, let me put things into perspective – yes, he is overseas for his job, but he is not in the military. We agreed that he would call every Sunday to speak to our son, but he has gone weeks and months not even e-mailing me or trying to reach out to our son. Video-chatting and phone calls are not the only way that he could reach out to our son, because he also has our address, which means he could, at the very least, write to him.

Any way, compare this to my experience when I was deployed for six months, and faithfully reached out to him every week to speak to my child. Mind you, at the beginning, I actually spent every free moment I had, texting and calling my ex and my son, just to see how they were doing. That was short-lived because my ex insisted I called them only on the weekends to “save conversation and not make things boring”… Umm, okay? I did what my husband wanted, and even then, there were times that I’d call and my ex would say “Oh, he’s not here, he’s with so-and-so”. spent a couple weeks and months not being able to contact my son merely because my ex didn’t want me to. Of course, there are always two sides of the story: my son’s father may be very well busy where he’s at, much like how it was when I was deployed. However, the fact always remains that kids will surely remember who or what parent was always there, and which parent wasn’t.

Yeah, kids are pretty materialistic when they’re young, but when they become teenagers and emerge into adults, who’s going to be there for them when times get rough? You can’t just throw money at problems and expect them to go away… Although, I’m sure some people would disagree. Either way, kids need their parents and they don’t need toys or lavish things. They need memories and experiences. Most importantly, they need to know that someone’s out there, looking out whats best for them. Co-parenting is not about who’s the coolest parent, or which parent is Mr/Mrs. Money bags. In fact, throwing money at your kid to simply win their love, loyalty, and respect is the worst thing. It undermines the other parent’s effort in showing them actual love and affection. Co-parenting needs to be on the same level, where parents can just set aside their differences and anger of each other for the common good, which is their child(ren).

Sorry, for the long background story. This has been something that pops up in my mind very often. Are you in a co-parenting relationship? And if so, were you and your child’s mom/dad able to come away from competitive parenting?