Tips on Surviving and Thriving While Your Son or Daughter is in the War Zone

  1. Join a support group. “Praying with my local military support group has helped me tremendously,” says Ruthie, a mom whose son has served in both Iraq and Afganistan. It just takes one person to start a group. Pray for God’s guidance and that He will send others. “It’s hard to put into words how much better I feel after being with others who join me in prayer for our loved ones serving in the military. It’s so comforting being able to bond with others who are going through the same worries and concerns. We have days when terrible things happen in the news where our sons are in harm’s way and we know in our hearts we need to turn over everything to God. But we are human and not perfect and we get overwhelmed with worry, and it’s so comforting to come and be encouraged by others in our group and know we are not alone.”
  2. Don’t become a news junkie. Although it’s tempting to watch network or cable news 24/7 when your loved one is in a combat zone, it can stress you out and waste valuable time you could be doing things that would help you not just survive but thrive during this time, like walking, being with friends, reading inspirational books, etc. While we want to know what’s going on, I found putting some boundaries on my TV news time: like when I was walking on the treadmill at the YMCA rather than late at night or reading articles on the Internet for information helped immensely.
  3. Take care of yourself. One of the best things we can do is to take care of ourselves so that we’ll be healthy when our loved ones return home to us. Our group is finding ways to keep us healthy: we are walking more, sharing ideas on nutrition and eating right, enjoying going places and not feeling guilty about it when our son or daughter is in constant harms’ way, and finding other ways to stay active, be it swimming, tap dancing or whatever we enjoy to keep fit and handle stress.
  4. Continue wearing your t-shirts, flag pins, or having your “Support our Troops” magnet on your car. It can start up a conversation at the grocery store or standing in line at the post office to send a package overseas. These encounters enable you to encourage others to continue to support our troops and pray for them.
  5. Stay in the “now”—“As far as I know, he’s okay now”—and focus on the positive. Cecilia, another mom in our group has decided to focus on the good news during her son’s second tour of duty in Iraq which just began. Instead of focusing on the over 100 people killed this week there she focused on the good news that Saddam’s half-brother was arrested and gave thanks for that. It takes a conscious effort, but avoiding the “What ifs” is important. “FEAR means Forgetting Everything’s All Right,” says Cecilia—and she’s found that 90% of what we fear doesn’t come to pass.
  6. Instead of worrying, PRAY for your deployed loved one and rally others to pray as well! Our soldiers wear body armor, but we are to cover them with spiritual armor through our prayers. In addition to loving them and sending cards and care packages, praying for them is the greatest influence and gift we can give them.