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When a family member – especially an immediate family member – enlists in the military, it comes with a wide array of emotions ranging from insurmountable pride to uncontrollable worry. While this is common, it is also essential to support them as much as you can.
I recently had a fellow Devoted Grandma reach out to share that her grandson is attending basic training and that she writes him three times a week. Isn’t that wonderful? This got me thinking: What can we do to support our grandchildren (or anyone, really) in the military?
Here’s what I discovered – I hope that it helps all of you who may be experiencing the deployment of a grandchild:
The first point may be extremely obvious but also the most important. Regular communication and reminders of normalcy are crucial for those deployed and can significantly boost your grandchild’s morale. Letters, emails, phone calls, or even video chats can help maintain a strong connection and make your grand’s overseas experience a little more positive. (Speaking of positive, keep your communications positive and supportive!)
2. Care packages
Sending care packages filled with treats from home, favorite snacks, personal care items, books, games, and other small comforts can be a huge godsend to those serving – especially when it comes from their special grandma! Check beforehand to see if they want or need anything, and double-check on any restrictions for sending packages overseas.
3. Exercise listening and empathy
I’ve talked many times about being a listening ear and confidante for your grandkids, which doesn’t have to end after they’ve grown. It’s important to be someone they can talk to about their experiences if they choose, so listen attentively, provide comfort, and refrain from pushing them to talk about things they’re not ready to discuss.
4. Help at home
If your grandchild has a spouse, children, or even pets at home, offering your help can be invaluable. Babysitting, helping with home chores, providing meals, or just being there for emotional support can lighten their load and give them peace of mind knowing their loved ones are taken care of (and well taken care of, thanks to you!).
5. Honor their service
Show your grandchild that you value their commitment to serving their country, whether by attending ceremonies, acknowledging the importance of what they do, or simply keeping them in your prayers. It’s a small gesture, but it communicates your respect and admiration for your grandchild’s sacrifice.
6. Demonstrate patience and flexibility
Military schedules can be unpredictable (and that’s putting it lightly!), and with sudden deployments or changes, it’s essential to be patient and flexible. Understand that there may be last-minute changes or uncertainties. Yes, I know this can be hard on a grandma’s heart, but it’s part of the military life they’ve chosen.
7. Plan a welcome home party
I have saved the best for last: That wonderful day when your grandchild returns home safely! Aside from your wedding day and the birth of your children and grandchildren, your grandchild’s homecoming can be one of the most joyous occasions you’ll ever experience, so plan a party fit for a hero. Throwing a big shindig not only shows your grandchild how much they were missed and appreciated, but it can help them transition back to civilian life.
I hope these pointers give you some ideas on how to support your grandchild in the military. Every little thing we do counts, and no act of love, however small, is ever wasted. Let’s pour out our Grandma love in the best way we know how and support these heroes of ours!